USB drives, as convenient as they are, can still cause a lot of headaches. If suffering from logical damage like corruption, it may appear that your USB drive has Unallocated Space. This is a false reading, as your data is still there, it’s just inaccessible. Therefore, you need to act swiftly in order to recover the contents of your USB.
In this article, we’ll go over what you can do to recover data from a flash drive that’s not detected on any computer and how you can fix it.
How to Recover Data From USB Not Recognized
Even if your USB drive doesn’t show up in Windows Explorer, your computer may still be registering it. In fact, as long as it’s visible in Disk Management and showing the correct size, you will be able to recover data from a flash drive that’s not recognized. If it’s not visible in Disk Management, try to make it readable first.
To recover the data, we’ll be using the data recovery tool Disk Drill. It is designed to recover data from almost any device, including a thumb drive that’s not showing up. The key to successful recovery is acting quickly and refraining from using the USB until the data is recovered.
Follow the instructions below to recover data from a thumb drive that is not recognized.
Once complete, you will be met with an overview screen that details the recovery process. You can then go to the folder you chose for recovery and view your files.
How to Format an Unrecognized USB
Formatting a USB involves refreshing the existing file system or adding a new one. This process will delete any data that resides on the USB. Formatting has always been a quick and effective method to fix USB flash drives if not detected, as it’s basically restoring it to factory settings.
Once you’ve recovered your files from the USB to a safe location, perhaps you would like to format it to fix any issues that are preventing it from being read like normal. Follow these steps to format an unrecognized USB.
How to Make a USB Readable
If your USB isn’t visible with the correct size in Disk Management, recovery won’t be possible. But, there are a few solutions you can try to make it readable. The below methods will help you understand how to fix a USB flash drive that is not recognized.
Isolate the Problem
Before troubleshooting, you must first identify what is causing the problem. Determining the source of the issue can save you a lot of time that would otherwise be spent troubleshooting areas that aren’t relevant.
To do this, you must test the USB in a different port to see if the port you’re using is faulty. If another port doesn’t work, then you should try connecting the USB to another device to make sure it’s not a problem with the device you’re connecting to.
If the USB works fine when connected to another USB port or device, then the problem isn’t with your USB. If the USB still isn’t being read, try the next method.
Connect Directly to the Motherboard
The USB ports on your computer’s case, typically located at the front or top, connect to your motherboard using internal wires. These wires could have been damaged at some point, resulting in any device connected to the USB ports on your computer case becoming unreadable.
To avoid this, try connecting directly to one of your motherboard’s USB ports on the back plate of your computer if your USB thumb drive is not recognized. This way, you can ensure you’re getting a direct connection and avoiding any complications with the internal wiring of your computer case.
Clean the USB Contact Points
Physical substances like dust and dirt can build up over time. This can lead to a physical barrier that blocks the connection between your USB and USB port. Regularly cleaning your USB and USB ports can prevent this.
If you want to remove dust, use an air duster or can of compressed air to blow the dust out. For other, more persistent obstructions, lightly wet a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol and gently clean out the USB or port. Once complete, let it dry completely before use. Be mindful of how delicate the USB connections are and only clean USB ports when the device is powered down.
|Method of cleaning||When to apply|
|Compressed air||Save method to remove dust|
|Toothpick or similar narrow object||Best for removing stuck dirt|
|Alcohol||Ideal for removing sticky mess|
Windows comes with lots of powerful troubleshooters that are designed to target specific problems. The Hardware and Devices troubleshooter can scan your computer for issues pertaining to your USB and fix them so you can access a USB drive that is not recognized.
Use these steps to launch and run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter.
Update or Reinstall the USB Drivers
Any hardware you connect to your computer requires a driver. Drivers establish and maintain communication between your devices so you can actually use them. If your USB’s drivers are corrupted or out-of-date, it may result in your USB performing erratically, or your flash drive not showing up in Windows 10 at all.
Follow these easy steps to update or reinstall your drivers to fix your USB flash drive that’s not recognized.
Once the driver is uninstalled, simply remove your USB and connect it again to force the drivers to reinstall.
Reinstall USB Controllers
A USB controller is responsible for managing all your USB-connected devices, like your keyboard, mouse, and USB flash drive. It works with your device’s driver and helps your system understand how to use the device. Without it, none of your USB devices would work, even with their own drivers.
Reinstalling your USB controller can also help re-establish communication between your system and USB. Follow these instructions to reinstall your USB controller.
- Right-click Start and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
- Type msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic and press Enter.
- Click Next and follow the prompts to scan your computer and fix related issues.
- Right-click Start and select Device Manager.
- In the Disk drives dropdown, right-click your USB and click Properties.
- Click the Driver tab, then click Update Driver.
- Click Search automatically for drivers. If none are found, proceed to the next step.
- Click Close.
- Click Uninstall Device.
- Click Uninstall. Disconnect your USB and connect it again.