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How to Format A USB Drive That Doesn't Show Up

If you are looking for a solution on how to format a USB drive that doesn't show up, you are in the right place. This guide provides three solutions to format unrecognized USB.

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Updated by Roxanne on Apr 10, 2024
Written by Cici

Key Takeaways:

  • USB drives not showing up in Windows or not being recognized can result from connection problems or USB issues.
  • Failure to format an unrecognized USB usually occurs after the Windows Explorer utility fails to recognize the drive as valid.
  • Before formatting, make the USB visible, e.g., update the driver and check the connection. Then, format the unseen USB drive using a professional formatting tool - EaseUS Partition Master.

When we connect a USB drive to a Windows PC, you may find that the USB drive is not visible on your computer. USB unrecognized or not showing up is a common problem reported by many users, which may be due to a corrupted USB or other reasons causing drive errors. So, how to format a USB drive that doesn't show up? EaseUS provides you with detailed step-by-step instructions.

⏱️Duration 3-5 minutes
🧑‍💻Difficulty Easy, suitable for newcomers
⚒️Software Required EaseUS Partition Master, Disk Management, CMD

Stage 1. Make USB drive Show up in Windows

Stage 2. Format the USB Drive

How to Format A USB Drive That Doesn't Show Up

It's normal for a USB not to show up or not be recognized in Windows File Explorer. Here is a typical case from Quora:

When I was formatting a USB, it was accidentally unplugged mid-format. Now, my computer refuses to recognize it, and I cannot edit it anyway. Is there a way to fix this, or is it gone for good?

If you have a similar problem with how to format a USB drive not showing up, then this tutorial can guide you. We will provide two stages to help you fix and format the USB drive successfully.

Quick Guide: Use EaseUS Partition Master to Format USB Not Showing Up

I highly recommend you choose a professional formatting tool - EaseUS Partition Master Free, which can easily format unrecognized USB or a USB drive that doesn't show up. It sometimes directly detects USB that Windows does not detect.

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Windows 11/10/8/7100% Secure

This tool breaks the limitations of Windows built-in tools and allows users to easily format an external hard disk to NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and other formats. You can easily format an unreadable USB drive without the need for specialized computer knowledge or mastering command parameters:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 1

Step 2. Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 2

Step 3. In the Warning window, click "Yes" to continue.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 3

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 4

If this solution doesn't solve your problem, read on. We have a two-stage process to help you continue formatting the USB:

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2 Stages to Format A USB  Drive That Doesn't Show Up

Stage 1. Make USB drive Show up in Windows

You can try some quick options for troubleshooting first:

  • After connecting the USB device, restart your computer to check if Windows can show it.
  • Connect the USB to another computer to make sure it is not damaged.
  • Check if the USB drive can be in Disk Management or File Explorer: If the USB bootloader can't be displayed in File Explorer but can be displayed in Disk Management, you can directly refer to the second stage of the solution to format it.

With these simple checks, you can see if the USB has a problem. If you want more comprehensive scenarios, please refer to the following articles for more advanced scenarios.

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How to Fix USB Flash Drive Not Showing Up

Encounter the issue of USB flash drive not showing up in Windows 11? Discover troubleshooting solutions, expert advice, and step-by-step guides to resolve this common problem and ensure your USB Flash Drive is detected and accessible.

usb not showing up

Stage 2. Format the USB Drive

Once you have made the USB bootloader visible or recognizable, you can format it in a number of ways. This section will provide three comprehensive formatting options:

Way 1. Use Disk Management to Format Unrecognized USB

When the USB does not have a disk drive letter, File Explorer may ignore it. Please try to format it using Disk Management.

Step 1. Click Windows + R to open the Run window and type "diskmgmt.msc", or right-click the Windows icon to open Disk Management.

Step 2. Right-click on the unrecognized USB drive and select "Format."


Note: If the USB drive has a black bar at the top, right-click on the unallocated space and select "Create Simple Volume." Then, use a compatible file format.

Step 3. Select the desired file system: NTFS, FAT32, or exFAT, and change the volume label and allocation unit size.

format usb

Step 4. Select Perform Quick Format and click Finish.

Way 3. Use Diskpart to Format Unrecognized USB

Diskpart provides the same formatting features as Disk Management. If you are used to using command line tools, then this method is perfect for you. As long as there are no problems with the physical drive itself, you can follow the steps and format a USB flash drive that does not show up in Windows Explorer:

Step 1. Press Windows + R to open the Run window and type cmd.

Step 2. Type the following commands to create a partition on the USB and press enter:

Note: If there is already a partition on the USB, skip this step and see step 3.

list disk
select disk 0
create partition primary size=20480

After completing the above commands, you can solve the problem of no partition on USB.

Step 3. Enter the following commands to format the USB drive:

list disk
select disk 2 
list volume
select volume 10format fs=ntfs quick

format usb cmd

After completing the above commands, you can format the USB drive successfully.

If you find the text tutorial difficult to understand, you can refer to the video below.

Why A USB Drive IS Not Showing Up

There are many reasons why a USB drive may not display or be recognized on a Windows computer:

  • USB port failure
  • USB corruption
  • USB format incompatibility
  • Outdated USB driver
  • File system error
  • Disk drive conflicts

No matter the reason for the USB not appearing on your computer, you can use the solution provided in this article to solve the problem. Then, format the undetected USB drive using EaseUS Partition Master.


After reading this tutorial, do you know how to format a USB drive that doesn't show up? You can first try EaseUS Partition Master, which sometimes directly detects external drives that are not detected by Windows and provides a quick formatting solution.

If that solution doesn't work, try some fixes to make the USB drive recognizable within Windows. Then, format the USB using Diskpart or Disk Management. Also, we have provided possible reasons why the external drive is not visible so that you can be more vigilant next time you encounter such issues.

FAQs About How to Format USB Drive That Doesn't Show Up

This section will provide some additional FAQs and answers about format unrecognized USB, so read on if you are interested:

1. Can I force a USB stick to format?

Yes, you can force a USB to be formatted in a number of ways. If the USB is not displayed, use EaseUS Partition Master to perform a quick format. If the USB is recognized, you can format it directly via Disk Management or Diskpart.

2. Why is my USB drive not showing up?

There are several reasons why the USB is not showing up:

  • The drive is not installed correctly
  • The USB port is damaged
  • USB format incompatibility
  • Outdated USB driver
  • File system error

3. How to fix usb not showing up but making a sound?

If the USB drive makes a sound, it may be a hardware problem. You can check the USB connection by switching to a different port or connecting to another computer.

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About the Author

Updated by Roxanne

Roxanne is one of the main contributors to EaseUS and has created over 200 posts that help users solve multiple issues and failures on digital devices like PCs, Mobile phones, tablets, and Macs. She loves to share ideas with people of the same interests.

Read full bio

Written by Cici

Cici is the junior editor of the writing team of EaseUS. She accepted the systematic training on computers at EaseUS for over one year. Now, she wrote a lot of professional articles to help people resolve the issues of hard drive corruption, computer boot errors, and disk partition problems.

Read full bio

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  • I love that the changes you make with EaseUS Partition Master Free aren't immediately applied to the disks. It makes it way easier to play out what will happen after you've made all the changes. I also think the overall look and feel of EaseUS Partition Master Free makes whatever you're doing with your computer's partitions easy.

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  • Partition Master Free can Resize, Move, Merge, Migrate, and Copy disks or partitions; convert to local, change label, defragment, check and explore partition; and much more. A premium upgrade adds free tech support and the ability to resize dynamic volumes.

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  • It won't hot image your drives or align them, but since it's coupled with a partition manager, it allows you do perform many tasks at once, instead of just cloning drives. You can move partitions around, resize them, defragment, and more, along with the other tools you'd expect from a cloning tool.

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