What Are MTP USB Devices?

By Kefa Olang

MTP USB devices include any portable USB drive configured with the Media Transfer Protocol, or MTP. These include flash drives and memory cards found on older computers, cellphones, MP3 players and video players. This was a popular protocol several years ago, primarily on Microsoft Windows XP computers. While it was an improvement on the Picture Transfer Protocol, or PTP, it has since been overshadowed by the Mass Storage Protocols used by most USB storage devices today.

About MTP USB Devices

MTP is used on some portable MP3 players, video players and cellphones to transfer or sync content to and from media applications. MTP mode enables you to sync content automatically without using the "drag and drop" method in Windows Explorer. MTP mode was primarily used to sync content using Windows Media Player and supported subscription music services. It was also used to transfer digital rights management files and metadata files.

Enabling MTP Mode

Some media players and cellphones enable MTP mode automatically when you connect them to a Windows computer. With other compatible Windows devices, you must enable MTP mode manually for the computer to recognize the device. If you have an older device that uses MTP, it should work on Windows 8, provided you have updated the drivers. Developers wishing to experiment with MTP using Windows 7 or Windows 8 computers can download the Windows Portable Device Enabling Kit for MTP (see Resources).

Troubleshooting MTP Connections

Before connecting your MTP USB device to the computer, refer to the system requirements information on the manual to verify its compatibility with your operating system. Some devices are only compatible with certain versions of Windows and require a minimum hard disk space, memory and processor speed to function properly. If your computer is unable to detect the USB device even in MTP mode, connect the device to another USB port. If the USB ports aren't responding, restart your computer to reset them. Occasionally, multiple USB devices connected to the computer causes conflicts with some MTP USB devices, so unplug the other USB devices and connect the MTP device alone. If the connection problem persists, refer to your device's manual for solutions to connection problems.


In most cases, devices should be used in Mass Storage mode rather than MTP mode, due to limitations in MTP. MTP doesn't alllow for drag and drop, whereas a Mass Storage mode USB device does. Mass Storage also allows for multiple simultaneous operations, while MTP allows only one process at a time. If you transfer a file using MTP, it's not visible in the drive until the process is complete. Using Mass Storage protocols, the file is visible and accessible even while it is still being transferred.