11 solutions to fix USB device not recognized, working in Windows 10/8/7

By Katrina | Posted to Data Recovery Tips on May 7th, 2019 |

Summary: Have you got a USB device malfunctioned or not recognized error whenever you plug in USB mouses, phones, keyboards, cameras, or other devices? No worries. This guide will show you 11 solutions to troubleshoot this issue. Try them one by one until you can access the USB device. If your USB device is used to store important data, you may need a free and professional data recovery software - iBoysoft Data Recovery.

Table of contents
1. How to fix USB device not recognized/working in Windows?
2. What is a USB device?
3. How to recover lost data from unrecognized USB devices?
4. Verdict

USB device not recognized/working in Windows 10, help!

The USB device malfunctioned and not recognized error happens frequently in Windows 10/8/7/XP, which has frustrated a large number of Windows users. Here is a real example from the How-to Geek Forum:

Can anyone help me with this crazy message that keeps on appearing on my screen like a million times a day? It started appearing after I had some problems with my HP printer. The error message reads as follows:

USB Device not recognized - one of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it. For assistance in solving this problem, click this message.

I have opened this message and the following appears: Unknown USB device but it does not tell me how to repair this freaking problem.

When this error appears, the USB external hard drive won't show up in File Explore or work on your PC. That means if it is a storage device, you will not be able to open your device or access data stored on it. In different operating systems, the error is followed by different error messages:

1. "The last USB device you connected to this computer malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognise it."

USB device not recognized

2. "One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it. For assistance in solving this problem, click this message."

USB device not recognized

What is a USB device and how to use it?

A USB device refers to any peripheral device that plugs into the computer via a USB port. Today, there are many different USB devices that can be connected to your computer, anything from USB flash drives and external hard drives, to keyboards and mice. They are essential to function your everyday computer applications and to store important data. External hard drives and flash drives are common USB devices. These USB storage devices are so cheap, fast and lightweight that you can easily back up important data and transfer data between different computers.

How to use a USB device? Generally, it's easy as a pie for everyone to connect a USB device to the laptop. There is no need to turn off the laptop, run a special program or wave a magic wand. Just plug the USB device into your laptop and it will be recognized at once. A USB flash drive, for example, may appear instantly in the My Computer window, ready for access.

How to fix USB device not recognized/working in Windows?

Annoying as it seems, it's still possible to fix the USB device not recognized/working error. The following part provides 11 effective solutions that can help you fix this error.

Solution 1: Try a different USB port

First and foremost, you should make sure whether the USB port is working or not. You can disconnect the USB device which cannot be recognized by your Windows and then reconnect it via a different USB port. If you are using a desktop, you can try connecting the USB device to your computer via the USB port on the back of the case instead of the front. If the USB device can be recognized and works as normal, the USB port is at fault. If the error still continues, try the following solutions.

Solution 2: Restart your PC

Sometimes, a simple reboot can fix Windows not recognizing USB error. Disconnect all USB devices, wait for a few minutes and then restart the computer. Once you have started your computer, try to plug the USB device back in again.

Restart your PC

Solution 3: Reconnect your USB directly to your computer

If you connect many USB devices to your computer via a USB hub, the system may be confused to recognize various devices now and then. What you should do is to remove the hub and reconnect the malfunctioned device directly to the built-in USB port.

Solution 4: Try a different computer

Try plugging your USB device into a different computer. If it doesn't work fine on another computer, your USB device might have some problems. You need to get it repaired or replace it with a new one.

Solution 5: Run the built-in hardware and device troubleshooter

Windows has a built-in hardware and device troubleshooter that can help you fix devices related problems. It checks for common issues and makes sure that any new device or hardware attached to your computer was installed correctly. Here is how you can do it:

  1. Step 1: Hold down the Windows logo key, then press R to bring up the Run box.
  2. Step 2: Type "control" in the Run box and press Enter to open.
  3. Step 3: In the search box, type "troubleshooter". Click "Troubleshooting" when displayed.
  4. Run Windows Troubleshooter

  5. Step 4: Select "Configure a device" under the Hardware and Sound section.
  6. Run Windows Troubleshooter

  7. Note: You may be prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. The "Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter" window will open.

  8. Step 5: Select "Next" to run the troubleshooter.

If any problems are found, you will be prompted to "Apply this fix". However, if these problems couldn't be fixed, you can click "Explore additional options" to try again.

Solution 6: Update the USB port driver

If the methods above don't work in solving your problem, it's very likely that you're using an outdated USB port driver.

To update port drivers, you need to press "Windows Key + R", type in devmgmt.msc, and tick "Enter" to launch Device Manager. If Windows is not able to recognize a USB device, you may also see in Device Manager that the device shows up as an "Unknown Device" and the device status indicates: "Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems (code 43)." In that case, you should right-click on "Unknown Device", click on "Properties", then click "Update Driver" and tick "OK".

Update unknown drivers Windows

Solution 7: Uninstall the USB devices controller

It's possible that Windows fails to automatically recognize the USB controllers, hubs and devices. If so, you will end up with no USB ports working. Fortunately, you can follow the steps below to uninstall all USB devices:

  1. Step 1: Press "Windows Key + R", type in devmgmt.msc, and tick "Enter" to launch Device Manager.
  2. Step 2: Find "Universal Serial Bus controllers" and double-click it to expand. Click "View" on the top menu bar, then select "Show hidden devices".
  3. Show hidden devices

  4. Step 3: Right-click on USB device controllers and click "Uninstall device". Uninstall all USB controllers by these steps one by one.
  5. Show hidden devices

  6. Step 4: After you uninstall all your USB controllers, unplug your USB device and restart your PC.
  7. Step 5: When your computer starts up, reconnect the USB device. The driver should automatically load.

Solution 8: Fix the USB root hub

While multiple devices are attached to the same hub, one of the devices may function correctly. In this situation, you can use Device Manager to disable the USB root.

  1. Step 1: Open Device Manager. Find the "Universal Serial Bus controllers" option and double click it to expand.
  2. Step 2: Find the "USB Root Hub" option in this category. Right-click it and choose "Properties".
  3. Fix USB root hub

  4. Step 3: Go to the "Power Management" tab and uncheck the "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power" option. Then click "OK" to save your change.
  5. Fix USB root hub

  6. Step 4: After you uninstall all your USB device drivers, unplug the USB cable and restart your PC.
  7. Step 5: When your computer starts up, reconnect your USB device. The driver should be automatically installed and loaded.

Solution 9: Change the power supply setting

The next thing you can try is to change the power supply setting.

  1. Step 1: Open "Control Panel">"Hardware and Sound">"Power Options". Click "Choose what the power button does" > "Change the settings that are currently unavailable".
  2. Change the power supply setting

  3. Step 2: Uncheck "Turn on fast start up" and then press "Save changes". Finally, restart your computer and plug in the USB device to see if it works.
  4. Change the power supply setting

Solution 10: Disable the USB selective suspend settings

The USB selective suspend feature allows the hub drive to suspend an individual port without affecting the operation of the other ports on the hub. But sometimes, the setting will cause the USB not recognized error. Here is how to disable it:

  1. Step 1: Right-click on the Windows icon and click "Power Options".
  2. Step 2: Click "Change plan setting".
  3. Disable the USB selective suspend settings

  4. Step 3: Click "Change advanced power settings".
  5. Disable the USB selective suspend settings

  6. Step 4: In the "Power Options" window, find and expand "USB settings", expand "USB selective suspend settings".
  7. Step 5: Choose "Disable" from the drop-down list.
  8. Disable USB selective suspend setting

  9. Step 6: Click "Apply" and "OK" to save the settings.

Solution 11: Install the latest motherboard chipset drivers

The motherboard chipset driver can affect the speed and stability of all connected devices. If it is outdated, the computer won't recognize your USB external hard drive. So, it's necessary to be sure that your chipset drivers are updated to the latest version.

To install your chipset drivers, the first thing you have to do is review your computer documentation which contains the name of the motherboard manufacturer. Then visit the manufacturer's support website and find the appropriate drivers for your motherboard.

How to recover lost data from unrecognized USB drives?

None of the solutions above works for you? The USB device might be damaged seriously, you can only seek for help from a local repair shop or replace it with a new one. But if the unrecognized USB device is a storage device which contains important data, you should try professional USB drive data recovery software at first. iBoysoft Data Recovery is the best free data recovery software that can help to recover lost data from unrecognized or malfunctioned USB disks, to get lost data back even when your USB flash drive not showing files and folder, or external hard drive not recognized after accidental unplugging, etc. The software is compatible with Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003.

Besides, iBoysoft Data Recovery also solves other data loss problems. It is able to recover deleted files, recover lost data from formatted drives, recover lost data from RAW partitions, recover lost data from deleted/lost partitions, etc. It works on different storage devices, including hard disks, external hard drives, SD cards, memory cards, USB flash drives, CF cards, etc.

With only three steps, you can recover lost data from USB drives with iBoysoft Data Recovery:

Step 1: Download iBoysoft Data Recovery and install it on your Windows computer.

Step 2: Select the USB drive that you want to recover lost data from and click "Next" to scan for data on this drive.

Recover lost data from USB drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery

Step 3: Double-click to preview the scanning results, choose files you need to recover and click "Recover" to get them back.

Recover lost data from USB drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery

Tips: After recovering data from the USB drive, you can try reformatting the drive to fix the USB device not recognized/working error.Open Windows Explorer, click the "Computer" section in the sidebar, and find your drive. Right-click on the drive and choose "Format". Select the file system you want, give your USB drive a name under "Volume label", and make sure the "Quick Format" box is checked. Click "Start", and the computer will reformat your drive.

If unfortunately, the USB drive cannot be formatted, the drive may be physically damaged. Just send it to local repair center or discard it.


This article is a detailed guideline for how to fix the USB device like WD hard drives (usually as external drives) not recognized error. Hope one of the solutions above will solve this error. If not, post a comment below and we'll try to help. Moreover, these solutions can also help with other USB device problems, such as unknown USB device and Windows error code 43.