When Your Computer Won’t Recognize Your Flash Drive

If your Windows XP computer is not recognizing your flash drive, its likely that you computer simply is confused as to what drive letter to assign to the memory stick. Fortunately, the fix is a simple one. This trick also works when your computer refuses to recognize a USB drive or other removable storage device.

First, hit Windows+E to open an Explorer window.

Select “My Computer.”

Right click and choose “Manage” from the contextual menu. This will open a window called “Computer Management.”

Select “Disk Management”, which is under “Storage”

On the bottom right side of the window, you’ll see a list of all of the storage devices currently attached to the computer. If your flash drive is listed there, that’s great—you can fix the problem. If not, this solution won’t work.

Right click on the drive listed in that window. This will bring up a contextual menu. Choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths.”

This will bring up yet another window, which will show your “missing” drive. Choose “Change” at the bottom.

Another window will pop up. This one will have a drop down menu on the right hand side. Choose a letter “higher” than the one currently assigned to the drive. If it’s “E”, for example, choose a letter between “F” and “Z.” Its probably best to pick one toward the end of the alphabet.

Once you’ve selected a drive letter, a warning message will come up saying that “Changing The Drive Letter of a Volume Might Cause Programs No Longer To run.”

That’s OK. It’s likely that all you’ve got on the drive is data. Click on Yes.

That will return you to the Computer Management Window.

Your drive now should function properly.

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12 thoughts on “When Your Computer Won’t Recognize Your Flash Drive”

  1. What if the flash drive is not listed? What is the solution. It was there about a week ago and now it is missing. Tried doing a system restore but that didn’t work.

  2. yeah my flash drive is not listed either.  it works on another computer though.  and it’s not the usb ports because they work for my camera and ipod to plug into.


    Not only does this work for XP, it worked for Vista as well.  I have been dealing with this for a while and this walktrhough fixed the problem.  Thank you!@#!@!@#

  4. there are 2 different problems:

    1st the flash is not strong on the platine. so you can open the housing and hold the platine and flash together. Sometimes is works for a while. only for restore the data.

    2nd case can be the controller is damaged. then the data and the flash drive is also damaged. you canßt restore.

    for one-time-use is the USB-archive very important. look at our blog: http://www.usb-archiv.de

  5. Some flash-drives you can restore. some not. when the platine and controller broke down, the data ist gone.
    my tip: don´t hold many data on the flashdrive. this will be destroid. use a small 1,8” storage. it is fast and very useable. http://www.prometrix.de

  6. @Scott: I had this problem the other day, so I can verify that this works equally as well on Windows 7! Between your comment and mine, I’d say Windows is pretty well covered with this fix, huh? =)

    Thanks for the tip, Golf Blogger; came in handy for sure!

  7. Using Windows7 I found the path to get there wasn’t as simple. Had to go through “Administrative Tools” and then “Create and format hard disk partitions”. However when I get to the list of drives it shows an “removable (F:)” Drive which I can change the letter for but when I plug in a flash drive it shows up as a seperate and unnamed drive which when I click on “change drive and paths” it always gives me an “operation failed” message. I’ve tried a different flash drive with same results. What’s up with this?


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