How to Repair and Fix USB Flash Drive Not Recognized/Detected

Overview of USB Device Is Not Recognized Error

"My SanDisk USB flash drive is not recognized when I plug it into my laptop. Is there any way to fix it and restore the data, as I have all my schoolwork on it? Please help if you know any solutions."

USB device not recognized

Like the user above, many people have encountered the issue "USB flash drive not recognized or detected" when connecting their USB device to a computer. 

The reasons causing this problem are varied, including:

To determine which fault has occurred and the current state of the drive, you'll need to use the Disk Management utility in Windows. This can examine the drive and give you further details of the solution required

Check The Causes of USB Flash Drive Not Recognized

With the USB flash drive connected to your PC, here's how to check its status with the Disk Management tool.

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Go to "Disk Management".

Step 3. You should now see your USB drive in one of the following states:

After identifying the specific state of the drive, you can now apply the corresponding solution below to fix the problem.

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Fixes for USB Flash Drive Not Recognized/Detected

Here are a few different ways to fix problems with drives that can't be recognized by a PC. Even if your drive isn't displaying one of the statuses listed above, it's well worth trying these tips to see if it will get your data back.

Fix 1. Recover Files from RAW USB Drive Before Formatting

Applies to: Fix USB becomes RAW.

File system errors can render a USB drive RAW, meaning that it can't be read by a computer. In this situation, you'll need to recover the files from the drive first, then convert RAW to NTFS or FAT32 format so you can use it once more.

To retrieve data from an inaccessible device, you can use the data recovery software - Deep Data Recovery. It perfectly supports deleted file recovery, formatted data recovery, RAW partition recovery, and other data loss situations.

To recover data from the RAW USB drive:

Step 1. Run USB Data Recovery Software

Connect the USB drive or pen drive to your computer and launch Qiling USB data recovery software on your PC. Select the file types, and click "Next" to start.

Select file types that you want to recover

Step 2. Choose the USB drive to scan

Select the drive which is labeled as a External drives, and click "Scan" to start looking for lost files.

Select USB/pen drive to scan and find lost files

Step 3. Scan and Search Lost Files on a USB Drive

Deep Data Recovery will thoroughly scan your USB flash drive/pen drive and find all your lost data on it. When the scan process completes, use the Filter feature to find wanted files.

Scan USB flash drive/pen drive to find lost files

Step 4. Restore All Lost Files from USB

A double-click will allow you to preview the files. Select the target files to restore and click "Recover" to save them to a secure location on your PC or other external storage devices.

If you are not good at DIY USB data recovery or USB repair, you can ask for help from Qiling's technical support team. They provide 1 on 1 remote assistance service to fix HDD/SSD/USB/SD card issues, recover partitions, wipe data, etc.

Consult with Qiling data recovery experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after a FREE diagnosis.

  • Fix HDD, SSD, external hard drive, USB flash drive errors, and restore data from all RAID levels
  • Recover lost partitions that cannot be restored by data recovery software
  • Fix disks that cannot be read or accessed because of bad sectors
  • Fix disks that become GPT protected partitions
  • Wipe data, unformat hard drive, Install/uninstall software or driver, etc.

After retrieving all the files, you can now format the USB flash drive and assign a new file system to the device, which will make it usable again.

Fix 2. Update Unallocated USB Driver and Create New Partition

Applies to: Fix USB drive shows as unallocated space.

If your USB drive is showing as 'unallocated space' in the Disk Management utility, then it could be that the driver is out of date or corrupted. To fix this you'll need to install a new driver.

Step 1. Connect the USB flash drive to the PC

Step 2. Navigate to "Control Panel" > "System" > "Device Manager" > "Disk drivers".

Step 3. Find and select your USB device, then right-click and choose "Uninstall". Next, select "Scan for hardware changes" to refresh the drivers.

Step 4. Restart your computer.

reinstall USB driver

If reinstalling the USB driver doesn't help, you can recover your data from the unallocated space with the help of the Deep Data Recovery. Then, once they're safe, you can create a new volume on the drive to make it ready for data storage once more. (The unallocated space will show up as "lost partition" in Qiling data recovery software. Choose the right partition to scan and then recover your data.)

To create a new volume on a drive showing unallocated space:

Step 1. Go to "This PC", right-click it and choose "Manage" > "Disk Management".

Step 2. Right-click the unallocated space and choose "New Simple Volume".

Step 3. Follow the wizard to finish the process.

Fix USB flash drive not recognized - create new volume

Fix 3. Change USB Driver Letter to Make It Detectable

Applies to fix: USB drive shows without driver letter.

Another reason that could cause the ‘drive not detected' issue is if the drive letter assigned to the USB drive is already occupied by another drive on the computer (or the letter on the USB is missing). To solve this problem, you just need to use the Qiling free partition software to assign an unused drive letter to the USB drive. This should clear the issue and allow you to recover all the inaccessible data with ease.

You can also assign a drive letter to your USB drive by using the Disk Management utility in Windows.

Step 1. Keep your USB connected. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage" > "Disk Management".

Step 2. Right-click the volume on your USB flash drive and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths".

Step 3. In the new window, click "Change".

Step 4. Assign a new drive letter to your USB drive and click "OK".

Fix USB flash drive not detected - change drive letter

Fix 4. Check USB Port and Change Connection to Make USB Recognizable

Applies to: Fix USB isn't showing up in Disk Management

If your USB flash drive is not detected by the Disk Management utility at all, it's likely that:

To fix the problem, try the following methods:

Finally, reinstall the drivers (detailed above). If these tips don't help, you should consider taking the USB flash drive to a specialist for repair.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are a variety of ways that a USB drive can be rendered unusable. Hopefully, you've been able to recover your files by following the steps in this guide. But we also recommend that you make regular backups of your data and be sure to eject drives properly from your PC each time you're finished with them.

FAQs About USB Flash Drive Not Recognized or Detected

Besides fixing USB flash drive is not recognized error and bring lost files back, some users may also want to know the causes of USB flash drive not showing up, and how to repair the USB drive, etc.

If you are interested in these questions, follow on and you will find a satisfying answer below:

1. Why is my USB flash drive not showing up?

If a driver is missing, outdated, or corrupted, your computer won't be able to load your USB drive. USB driver issue, drive letter conflicts, and file system errors, etc. may all cause your USB flash drive not showing up on Windows PC.

You can update USB driver, reinstall the disk driver, recover USB data, change USB drive letter, and format USB to reset its file system. For a detailed guide, you can refer to USB Not Showing Up in Windows 10/8/7 for help.

2. How can I repair my USB flash drive?

USB flash drives can become corrupt or damaged for a variety of reasons. Luckily you can fix your USB for free.

Windows chkdsk and Windows disk error checking are able to repair errors on your disk from the command line. Afterward, with Qiling data recovery software, you can get your data back from a failed pen drive without losing files. 

For a detailed guide, you may refer to USB Flash Drive Repair Tool for help. 

3. How can I recover my USB flash drive that is not recognized?

As recommended on this page, when your USB flash drive, pen drive or external hard drive becomes unrecognized, you can get rid of this issue with the following steps:

Step 1. Check USB status in Disk Management: 

Step 2. Fix related error on the USB drive and make it recognized:

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