The issue of USB devices (especially USB storage devices) not recognized or malfunctioned happens frequently in Windows 10/8/7, which makes you can't access the USB device. Usually, Windows will remind you of this error with one of the followed messages:
1. The last USB device you connected to this computer malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it. (For Windows 7)
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. (For Windows 10/8)
This article will show you how to troubleshoot this error and help you analyze the causes thoroughly.
What's the USB device and how to confirm it is recognized in Windows?
A USB device refers to any peripheral device that plugs into the computer via a USB port, such as USB flash drives, keyboards, mice, cameras, GoPro, external hard drives as well as printers. Commonly, if the USB device like an external hard drive not being accessible, or not being recognized, it can't be found in File Explorer or can't be accessed when double-clicking. While if it is recognized, it showed up in File Explorer as:
|The USB device||The recognized USB device shows up in File Explorer as:|
|USB Flash drives||Removable Disk with a device icon like Removable Disk (E:)|
|External hard drives||A New Volume with a drive letter likeNew Volume (D:)|
|Cameras||A camera icon with the product number likeC195 Digital Camera|
|Printers||A printer icon with the product number likeMicrosoft CPS Document Writer|
|iPhones & Android phones||A phone or device icon and labeled mobile operating system likeApple iPhone|
|GoPro||A device icon with the product number likeGoPro MTP Client Disk Volume|
|Keyboards & mice||Not showing up at all but can be used|
Check if the USB devices not recognized caused by driver issues
Mostly, unrecognized USB devices are caused by driver issues. The device driver, as specific software, allows the operating system to communicate with a hardware device (including USB devices). It tells the OS about the functions of the hardware device. Then, the OS is permitted to do related operations to conduct its functions. That's why when you connect your printer to a PC, you can print documents with the printer via operating on the PC.
And Device Manager is the right place to check the driver issues. Right-click This Computer and select Management. Then, choose Device Manager. If the USB device driver has an issue, it will be displayed as 'Unknown USB Device' in Universal Serial Bus controllers in Device Manager with a "!" symbol. If the USB not showing up in Device Manager at all, it probably has connection issues.
Firstly, check if the USB device driver is working properly
You may have run into the situation that the USB device driver is unstable or has a temporary failure during operation. It can make that the USB device driver can't establish communications between the USB device and the OS. So, it can't be recognized by the OS.
- 1. Right-click Universal Serial Bus controllers (A common interface that enables the communication between devices and a host controller) in Device Manager.
- 2. Select Uninstall and then unplug the USB device (repeat both of the operations on all USB devices) to make the USB device drivers stop establishing connections between the USB devices and the computer.
- 3. Restart your PC, and then re-plug the USB devices to try to make them reconnected with the PC again.
Then, check if the USB device driver is corrupted, or incompatible with the USB device
Originally, different hardware devices have different device drivers. But nowadays, the operating systems have generic drivers that allow different hardware to work at a basic level without a specific driver. If the USB device driver is corrupted, or out-of-date, or even worse, the USB device (especially some mass storage devices) need its own driver, your USB device can't be recognized by Windows 10/8/7.
- 1. Right-click the USB device in Other devices.
- 2. Choose Update Driver Software...(It is to update the generic drivers of this PC) and restart your computer.
- 3. If it doesn't work, check the USB device's specifications that if it needs a driver of its own like WD SES Device USB device installed with a WD SES driver. Then, you can make your unrecognized WD external hard drive back to accessible.
- 4. If yes, go to download the device driver from the support site of the USB device.
Finally, check whether the motherboard chipset drivers are out-of-date or not
The motherboard chipset drivers are to help the operating system communicate with all devices (including USB devices) connected to the computer. They affect the stability and speed of all these devices. Thus, once the motherboard chipset drivers are out-of-date, the USB devices can't be recognized by Windows 10/8/7.
- 1. Confirm the brand and model of the motherboard chipset drivers by viewing the computer documentation. The most common brands of the motherboard chipset drivers are Intel, NVIDIA, VIA, ATI.
- 2. Go to the official website of the corresponding motherboard chipset drivers to download them. Then, install them on your PC.
Fix the unrecognizable USB devices result from the Windows issues
As mentioned above, before the OS has recognized a USB device, the USB device driver should establish communications between the USB device and the OS. When your Windows goes wrong or is too old, it can't recognize USB devices. So, checking the OS is very necessary.
Firstly, check if the system has a temporary bug during recognizing the USB devices
It's like people getting stuck when thinking, they won't talk out what they want to say. So does the system. When the system runs into a bug, for example, it may have invoked a mismatched device driver to drive the USB device when you connect it to the PC.
- 1. Uninstall the USB device. And right-click DESKTOP/LAPTOP in Device Manager and click Scan for hardware changes to let the OS automatically recognize the USB device again.
- 2. Still no changes? Unplug the USB device and then, re-plug it to have a try.
- 3. If it still doesn't work, try to check whether the system is attacked by a virus or not with a virus scanner. If yes, fix it with a virus removal tool.
Secondly, check if the OS defaults in 'Turn on fast start up'
'Turn on fast start up' is a default setting in Windows, which can make the computer start up fast. However, this setting makes your computer startup from the hibernation file (The operating state of the OS when your computer shutting down, including processes, services, etc.). This may also cause the USB devices connected to the computer to be unreadable after the computer boot up in 'Turn on fast start up'.
- 1. Type 'Control Panel' in the search box.
- 2. Then, select Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Choose what the power button does.
- 3. Uncheck 'Turn on fast start up' and then click Save changes to turn down this fast startup setting.
- 4. Shutt down your computer and then restart it, and plug in the USB device to see if it works.
Thirdly, check if the OS has been updated regularly or not
As we all know, Windows 7 doesn't support the mass storage USB devices. With the advent of more and more advanced USB devices, their requirements for operating systems are getting far higher than before. So, the OS should be kept updating to support the latest firmware and software.
- 1. Confirm the supported OS of your USB device from its product specifications, for example, the WD game USB drives only support Windows 8.1 & above.
- 2. If the current computer can't support your USB device, use the USB device on a supported computer or update the OS to match it.
Check if USB devices not recognized due to the insufficient current
After checked and fixed the device driver and the operating system issues, your USB devices are probably recognized and shown up in File Explorer. If they are still not, it is so unfortunate that your USB devices have some other unusual issues, such as power, connection, and even hardware issues. Don't worry, the following part will tell you the detailed solutions.
To make the USB devices to be recognized, the basic hard condition is to meet the current required for its running. There are mainly two common problems:
Problem 1: Multiple USB devices are connected to a same USB hub, which may divert the current.
How-to-fix: Directly connect the USB device that you need to your computer.
Problem 2: The default power supply settings lead to insufficient power of the USB device
The default setting 'Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power', as the words mean, is to help your computer save power. However, this feature may also lead to the USB device runs without enough power. So, don't use this feature is okay.
Open Device Manager > Select Universal Serial Bus controllers > Double-click USB Root Hub and choose Properties > Click Power Management > Uncheck 'Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power' and click OK > Unplug all the USB devices and restart your PC > Reconnect your USB device.
There's also another feature: USB selective suspend setting. It allows you to automatically put USB devices in a very low-power state when they're not actively in use. But when you need to use the USB device, it may still stick in the low-power state, then it will not be recognized. To get rid of this issue, just disable this setting.
Right-click the Start button > Power Options > Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings > USB settings > USB selective suspend setting > Disabled > Click Apply and OK to save > Restart your PC and replug the USB device.
Check if the USB device not recognized caused by the connections issues
The connection issue usually is resulted from the USB ports not working, which can lead to USB external hard drive not showing up.
Firstly, check the compatibility of the port of the USB device
Different USB versions (like USB 2.0, USB 3.0, etc.) have different transferring rates. So, the port of the USB device should be compatible with that of your computer. For example, when you plug a USB 2. 0 device into the USB 3.0 port of your PC, the USB 2.0 device may unrecognizable for the transferring rate of the USB 2.0 device is lower than that of the USB 3.0.
- 1. Open Device Manager and double-click Universal Serial Bus controllers to check what types of USB ports it supports.
- 2. Use a USB hub to make the port of the USB device and port on your PC compatible.
Secondly, check the port or the data cable of the USB device or your computer's interface is damaged
How-to-fix: Reconnect your USB device to the other port on your PC, or ports on the other PC to confirm if your PC's USB port is damaged. And change a new data cable to see if it works; if yes, the data cable is damaged.
Repair the USB device not recognized because of the hardware problems
Usually, the hardware issues of a USB drive can't be fixed. However, the system tool: chkdsk, also a command, can be used to check and fix the errors of the USB storage devices except for bad sectors.
- 1. Press Win key and R key to open the run box.
- 2. Type 'cmd' , and then type 'chkdsk /f e:'
The /f means to fix the USB storage device, the letter e: should be replaced with the drive letter of the USB storage device.
- 3. Type ' Y ' when asked whether to check and fix this USB storage device when your PC restarts next time.
- 4. Restart your PC.
The chkdsk can't make any changes? After reconfirming that the connection is okay, connect a new USB device to your PC. If it is recognized, it means the USB device is damaged. You can send it to a professional repair center.
The issue of a USB device not showing up in Windows 10/8/7 is very common. Face the issue and fix it, and meanwhile try to avoid it. This article offers systematic solutions and causes about USB device not recognized and hopes you can get help from it. If you are worried about the data on your USB device, you can try to use the data recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows to recover it.