How to Fix a USB Drive Not Showing Up

Reinstall drivers, check the format, and other solutions

This article explains how to determine why a USB drive isn't showing up and how to try to get it working again.

Reason Why a USB Flash Drive Is Not Showing Up

There are many different reasons why your USB flash drive is not showing up on your computer. Here are the likely reasons:

  • The drive isn't seated properly in the port.
  • The drive isn't on (this is rare, but some some models of USB drives have a physical power switch).
  • The USB port on computer is bad.
  • The USB drive itself is broken.

How Do I Get My USB Drive to Show Up?

If you've tried basic troubleshooting fixes for getting your USB flash drive to show up, there are other options. Here's how to get your USB drive to show up.

  1. Make sure the USB drive is fully seated in the port. It sounds funny (or a little gross), but check to see if anything is stuck in the port of the computer or the drive plug itself.

  2. This is rare, but is the drive on? Some USB drives have power switches, so check to see if it does and if it's in the "on" or "enabled" position.

  3. Try a different USB port. If your USB drive won't work via one USB port, try a different one on your computer. If the drive shows up when you use a different port, you likely have a bad USB port on your computer. If the drive doesn't show up using any USB ports on your computer, try a different computer.

  4. Restart your computer. A predictable if often effective method, try restarting your computer. Sometimes, it can fix a temporary issue.

  5. Use it directly. If you use a USB hub and your USB drive isn't detected, try unplugging the hub and plugging the drive in directly. Some hubs don't have the power for external drives, particularly if they're old.

  6. Reinstall the USB drivers. If your USB drive won't work and nor will any other USB devices, you may need to reinstall its drivers. Open Device Manager, click Universal Serial Bus controllers then right click the USB hub and click Uninstall device. Restart your computer to reinstall the drivers automatically. 

  7. Use Device Manager to scan for changes. Windows Device Manager has been around for many years. It's a great place to look for any issues. Open it then select Action > Scan for hardware changes to force the computer to find your USB drive.

  8. Partition the drive. If your USB stick shows up as an unallocated space in Disk Management, you will need to create a partition on it to use it. Creating a partition is fairly simple and is accessible via Disk Management. 

  9. Allocate a letter to the drive. If your USB drive shares the same drive letter as an existing hard drive, it may need to be allocated a different letter to work. Use Disk Management to change the drive letter to an unused letter of the alphabet.

  • How do I fix an unreadable USB flash drive on a Mac?

    If restarting your Mac doesn't help it read the drive, and nothing is wrong with the port, you should use Disk Utility. This solution will only work if the computer recognizes the drive but can't open its contents. Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility in the Finder, select the drive, and click Check Disk or First Aid, depending on the version of macOS you're running.

  • How do I fix a bent USB flash drive?

    The first thing you should try if the USB drive is physically bent is to carefully try to push it back into alignment. If that doesn't work, other solutions include removing the casing to give the drive more clearance to sit in the port, or you can try using a male-to-female USB cable.

  • How do I fix a corrupted USB drive?

    The only way to "fix" a corrupted USB drive is to reformat it. Use Disk Manager in Windows or Disk Utility on a Mac.

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