How to Repair and Fix USB Flash Drive Not Recognized or Detected

USB flash drive not recognized or detected issue happens quite frequently to users. Serious file loss and other issues may result from the error. Take workable ways are here to fix the USB flash drive that is not recognized error and bring all your files back with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

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Table of Contents

Overview of USB Device Is Not Recognized Error

"My SanDisk USB flash drive is not recognized when I plug it into my laptop. Is there any way to fix it and restore the data, as I have all my schoolwork on it? Please help if you know any solutions."

USB device not recognized

Like the user above, many people have encountered the issue "USB flash drive not recognized or detected" when connecting their USB device to a computer. 

The reasons causing this problem are varied, including:

  • USB connection issue
  • Drive letter issues
  • USB driver error
  • Hardware damage
  • File system errors that can cause your USB drive to format as RAW

To determine which fault has occurred and the current state of the drive, you'll need to use the Disk Management utility in Windows. This can examine the drive and give you further details of the solution required

Check The Causes of USB Flash Drive Not Recognized

With the USB flash drive connected to your PC, here's how to check its status with the Disk Management tool.

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

Step 2. Go to "Disk Management".

Step 3. You should now see your USB drive in one of the following states:

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

After identifying the specific state of the drive, you can now apply the corresponding solution below to fix the problem.

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Fixes for USB Flash Drive Not Recognized/Detected

Here are a few different ways to fix problems with drives that can't be recognized by a PC. Even if your drive isn't displaying one of the statuses listed above, it's well worth trying these tips to see if it will get your data back.

Fix 1. Recover Files from RAW USB Drive before Formatting

Applies to: Fix USB becomes RAW.

File system errors can render a USB drive RAW, meaning that it can't be read by a computer. In this situation, you'll need to recover the files from the drive first, then convert RAW to NTFS or FAT32 format so you can use it once more.

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 drive:

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Step 1. Choose the flash drive to scan

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose your flash drive where you lost important files. Click "Scan" to start.

Scan flash drive

Step 2. Check and preview flash drive data

After the scanning is finished, you can quickly locate a specific type of file by using the Filter feature as well as the Search.

  • Filter: A quick way to your wanted files (Click "Filter" > Choose "Type/Time/Size" > Click Tree View on the left side).
  • Search: e.g. File name/file extension.
Find lost flash drive files

Step 3. Restore flash drive data

After checking and finding lost flash drive files, select them and click "Recover" to restore. You shall save the found files to 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.

Fix 2. Update Unallocated USB Driver and Create New Partition

Applies to: Fix USB drive shows as unallocated space.

If your USB drive is showing as 'unallocated space' in the Disk Management utility, then it could be that the driver is out of date or corrupted. To fix this you'll need to install a new 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, then right-click and choose "Uninstall". Next, select "Scan for hardware changes" to refresh the drivers.

Step 4. Restart your computer.

Fix USB flash drive not recognized - reinstall USB driver

If reinstalling the USB driver doesn't help, you can recover your data from the unallocated space with the help of the free EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard . Then, once they’re safe, you can create a new volume on the drive to make it ready for data storage once more. (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 a drive showing 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 process.

Fix USB flash drive not recognized - create new volume

Fix 3. Change USB Driver Letter to Make It Detectable

Applies to fix: USB drive shows without driver letter.

Another reason that could cause the ‘drive not detected’ issue is if the drive letter assigned to the USB drive is already occupied by another drive on the computer (or the letter on the USB is missing). To solve this problem, you just need to use the EaseUS free partition software to assign an unused drive letter to the USB drive. This should clear the issue and allow you to 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 drive by using the Disk Management utility in Windows.

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 drive and click "OK".

Fix USB flash drive not detected - change drive letter

Fix 4. Check USB Port and Change Connection to Make USB Recognizable

Applies to: Fix USB isn't showing up in Disk Management

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

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

To fix the problem, try the following methods:

  • 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 drive to the rear ports on your desktop PC, which often provide more stable power supplies compared to the front ones

Finally, reinstall the drivers (detailed above). If these tips don't help, you should consider taking the USB flash drive to a specialist for repair.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are a variety of ways that a USB drive can be rendered unusable. Hopefully, you've been able to recover your files by following the steps in this guide. But we also recommend that you make regular backups of your data and be sure to eject drives properly from your PC each time you're finished with them.

FAQs About USB Flash Drive Not Recognized or Detected

Besides fixing USB flash drive is not recognized error and bring lost files back, some users may also want to know the causes of USB flash drive not showing up, and how to repair the USB drive, etc.

If you are interested in these questions, follow on and you will find a satisfying answer below:

1. Why is my USB flash drive not showing up?

If a driver is missing, outdated, or corrupted, your computer won't be able to load your USB drive. USB driver issue, drive letter conflicts, and file system errors, etc. may all cause your USB flash drive not showing up on Windows PC.

You can update USB driver, reinstall the disk driver, recover USB data, change USB drive letter, and format USB to reset its file system. For a detailed guide, you can refer to USB Not Showing Up in Windows 11/10/8/7 for help.

2. How can I repair my USB flash drive?

USB flash drives can become corrupt or damaged for a variety of reasons. Luckily you can fix your USB for free.

Windows chkdsk and Windows disk error checking are able to repair errors on your disk from the command line. Afterward, with EaseUS data recovery software, you can get your data back from a failed pen drive without losing files. 

For a detailed guide, you may refer to USB Flash Drive Repair Tool for help. 

3. How can I recover my USB flash drive that is not recognized?

As recommended on this page, when your USB flash drive, pen drive or external hard drive becomes unrecognized, you can get rid of this issue with the following steps:

Step 1. Check USB status in Disk Management: 

  • 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

Step 2. Fix related error on the USB drive and make it recognized:

  1. 1. Recover files and format RAW USB.
  2. 2. Update unallocated USB drivers and create a new volume.
  3. 3. Change the USB drive letter.
  4. 4. Check USB port, change USB connection
  5. 5. If none of the above fixes work, take USB to a local device repair center for manual repair.

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Updated by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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Approved by Martyn Casserly

Martyn Casserly has been involved with tech ever since the arrival of his ZX Spectrum back in the early 80s. He covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews. He is a professional content contributor for many known ITwebsites like Macworld.co.uk and techadvisor.com.

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