How to Fix an Undetectable USB Flash Drive

By David Lipscomb

Locate your USB flash drive to restore normal operation.
i Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Although USB flash drives are undoubtedly convenient, that doesn't mean flawless operation with every computer is guaranteed. Missing drive letters, no drive appearing in Windows Explorer or a read/write failure all indicate the need to do a little troubleshooting. Windows offers automated steps and detailed methods you can take to hunt down and resolve the problem and resume using your drive.

Drive Recognition

Step 1

Ensure Windows recognizes your drive. Click the Start button, then type "Device Manager" in the search box.

Step 2

Click the "Device Manager" option within the Control Panel.

Step 3

Click on the small arrow next to the "Disk Drives" option to expand the list.

Step 4

Double-click the down-facing arrow over your undetected flash drive. Click the "Enable Device" option. Click "Next" twice when prompted, then "Finish."

Assigning the Drive

Step 1

Click Start, "Control Panel," then "System and Security." Choose "Administrative Tools," then "Computer Management."

Step 2

Locate your flash drive. Right-click on the drive and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths." Click "Add" and "OK." Click on the first drive letter from the list to assign it to your flash drive.

Step 3

Right-click on the drive once more. Ensure the drive is designated "Online."