Thumb Drive Not Recognized

A thumb drive not recognized when inserted into your PC can be frustrating. If you insert a thumb drive and it’s not recognized in Windows, there are a few things you can try to get it to show up in My Computer. Thumb drives, or flash drives, are USB devices that should be automatically recognized by Windows when you insert it.

There could be conflicts or partition issues that prevent it from showing up or being used to store data. Follow these steps to troubleshoot a thumb drive not recognized in your computer.

Troubleshooting Thumb Drive Not Recognized

If you insert it and thumb drive not recognized, follow these steps to try and correct the problem:

  • Go to Start and right-click My Computer (or Computer) and select Manage. Under Disk Management, locate your thumb drive, right click and choose change drive letter. If it already has a drive letter, try assigning it a different one, as it could be trying to use a drive letter that’s already assigned to another device.

Thumb Drive Not Recognized

  • If that doesn’t work, try rebooting the computer with the thumb drive still inserted in the USB port and see if that helps.
  • Try other USB ports, or try unplugging other USB devices that might be interfering with it.
  • Under Disk Management again, confirm the thumb drive is partitioned and formatted. If not, right-click the drive and proceed to format it. Note: all data will be erased from the drive.

Thumb Drive Not Recognized Tips

To prevent accidental damage of your thumb drive, be sure to remove it correctly from your computer after each use. If an external drive is connected to your computer, you should see a Safely Remove Hardware icon in the system try by your clock. Before removing a USB thumb drive, click that icon and find your drive in the list and choose “remove.” It will display a message stating when the device has been stopped. You can also open My Computer and right-click the drive and then select “Eject.”

remove hardware

Thumb drives are fragile and quite unreliable. It may be possible it has completely failed. Be sure to use thumb drives only as temporary storage and also try and keep backups of any data you store on removable drives.