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How to Repair & Recover USB Flash Drive Not Recognized or Detected

Updated on Jul 18, 2019 by Abby Haines to Resource

Summary:
USB flash drive not recognized or detected is an issue happens quite frequently to users. Both minor and serious issues can result from the error. Before sentence the device as dead, there are many workable ways to fix the USB flash drive that is not recognized.

Overview of USB Device Not Recognized

"My Sandisk USB flash drive is not recognized when I plug it into my laptop. Is there any way to fix USB flash drive not detected and restore the data. I have all my school work on it. Please help if you know any solutions."

USB device not recognized

Like the user above, many users, including you now, have encountered the issue "USB flash drive not recognized or detected" when they connect their USB device to a computer. Actually, many factors could trigger this issue, including:

  • USB connection issue
  • File system errors that make your USB become RAW
  • Drive letter issues
  • USB driver error
  • Hardware damage

Although all the causes can lead to a USB flash drive not being detected by the computer, the USB will show varying status in Disk Management depending on the cause. Thus, to fix a USB flash drive that is not recognized by your computer, you first need to check the device in Disk Management and then repair it according to the reasons.

Before the Fix: Check the USB Flash Drive in Disk Management

Keep your USB flash drive connected and check it in Disk Management.

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Go to "Disk Management".

Step 3. Then you will see your USB flash drive in one of the following situations:

  • The USB shows as RAW
  • The USB shows as unallocated space
  • The USB shows without a drive letter
  • The USB is not showing up in Disk Management

After identifying the specific situation, you can now apply the corresponding solutions to fix the USB flash drive that is not recognized.

Fixes for USB Flash Drive Not Recognized/Detected

If you're not in one of the scenarios above, you can also apply the tips detailed below to have a try.

Situation 1. USB Becomes RAW

There must be file system errors on your USB flash drive that make your USB device not recognized. It could be file system missing, corrupted, or not compatible with Windows. To repair a RAW USB, all you need to do is to recover data from the USB that is not recognized and then convert RAW to NTFS or FAT32 file system by formatting. Formatting will erase the existing data on your USB stick. That's why you need to perform data recovery first. To retrieve data from an inaccessible device, you can use the professional disk recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. It perfectly supports deleted file recovery, formatted data recovery, RAW partition recovery, and other data loss situations.

To recover data from the RAW USB:

Step 1. Plug the USB flash drive into your computer.

Please do not use your USB flash drive once you lose or delete files on it. The sooner you take actions to restore lost data, the bigger chance you'll have to restore all of them.

Step 2. Run EaseUS data recovery software and scan flash drive.

  • Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose your flash drive under External Devices.
  • Click Scan to start finding your flash drive files.
Scan flash drive.

Step 3. Check and preview found flash drive data.

You can double click to preview found files.

  • Delete Files: List your deleted files there.
  • Drive: It loads all the found data there.
  • Lost Partition Files: Check first if it's for formatted recovery.
  • Extra Files: Finds files that lost names or paths.
  • Filter: A quick way to your wanted files.
  • Search: e.g. File name/file extension.
Find lost flash drive files.

Step 4. Restore flash drive data.

  • After checking and finding lost flash drive files, select them and click Recover to restore.
  • Please save the found files into a safe location on your PC rather than to your flash drive.
Restore lost files from flash drive.

After retrieving all the files, you can now format the USB flash drive and assign a new file system to the device, which will make it usable again.

Situation 2. USB Shows As Unallocated Space

If your USB is not recognized by the computer and becomes unallocated space, it probably results from outdated USB driver. Thus, you should try to reinstall the USB device driver.

Step 1. Connect the USB flash drive to the PC

Step 2. Navigate to "Control Panel" > "System" > ‘’Device Manager" > "Disk drivers".

Step 3. Find and select your USB device, right-click and first choose "Uninstall" and then choose "Scan for hardware changes" to refresh the drivers.

Step 4. Restart your computer.

Fix USB flash drive not recognized - reinstall USB driver

After all the operations, you may find USB not recognized issue is fixed and the flash drive is detected. If reinstalling the USB driver doesn't help, you can recover data from the unallocated space with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard introduced above and then create a new volume to make it ready for data storage. (The unallocated space will show up as "lost partition" in EaseUS data recovery software. Choose the right partition to scan and then recover your data.)

To create a new volume on unallocated space:

Step 1. Go to "This PC", right-click it and choose "Manage" > "Disk Management".

Step 2. Right-click the unallocated space and choose "New Simple Volume".

Step 3. Follow the wizard to finish the remaining process.

Fix USB flash drive not recognized - create new volume

Situation 3. USB Shows Without Drive Letter

Another reason for USB flash drive not detected issue is that the drive letter assigned to the USB drive is occupied by another drive on the computer (or the drive letter on the USB is missing). To solve this problem, you just need to try EaseUS free partition software to assign an unused drive letter to the USB flash drive. It will help you fix the "USB flash drive not recognized" issue and recover all the inaccessible data with ease. 

change drive letter to fix USB flash drive not recognized issue

You can also assign a drive letter to your USB in Disk Management.

Step 1. Keep your USB connected. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage" > "Disk Management".

Step 2. Right-click the volume on your USB flash drive and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths".

Step 3. In the new window, click "Change".

Step 4. Assign a new drive letter to your USB and click "OK".

Fix USB flash drive not detected - change drive letter

Situation 4. The USB Isn't Showing Up in Disk Management

If your USB flash drive is not detected by Disk Management at all, it's likely that:

  • The USB is not connected properly
  • There are driver issues
  • Your USB device is physically damaged

Therefore, you can first connect your USB connection including:

  • Change the USB port/cable
  • Connect your external hard drive or other storage devices to another computer and check whether the problem remains
  • Connect your USB drives to the rear port which provides a more stable power supply compared to the front ones

Then reinstall drivers (detailed above). If these tips don't help, you should consider sending the USB flash drive for repair.

The Bottom Line

When a USB flash drive is not recognized by the computer, there are varying causes. Once you can find the reason, you can easily make the decision on how to fix it. Besides, this issue also reminds you of the importance of growing a good habit of using your USB stick, like ejecting the device before disconnecting it and backing the device up regularly. Hope one of the solutions above could help to fix your USB flash drive that is not recognized or detected.