“USB Device not recognized” is a dreaded message that every PC owner hates to see as it usually means that it’s time to dig into your pocket and get a new device. However, don’t be quick to loosen the purse strings just yet as a lot of the time the problem could be down to a simple software, operating system, or driver glitch that you can easily remedy without seeking a replacement.
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Read on to find out how to solve this USB not recognized error and salvage an otherwise functional USB device.
How to Fix USB Device Not Recognized Error in Windows
1. Update your drivers
90% of the time this error message is down to a missing or outdated driver and therefore Windows can’t understand the connection hence does not recognize the USB device. Updating your drivers is a good way to ensure that that is not the case and you can do so as follows:
1. Open the start menu and look up “Device Manager” in the search panel then click on through to the subsequent page which should bring up a list of various adapters and devices.
2. Scroll down to the furthest option titled “Universal serial bus controllers” (or something similar depending on your version of windows, this is from a Windows 10 perspective) then expand the directory by clicking on the said name.
3. Upon doing this, a drop-down list will appear portraying the various states of the USB ports and the devices connected to them. Look for the one labelled “Unknown Device” then double click on it to conjure another subpage consisting of five tabs namely “General”, “Driver”, ”Details”, “Events”, and “Power Management” in that order.
4. Navigate to the “Driver” tab then hit the “Update Driver” button to update the software. You will be presented with two alternatives to either source for the update locally from within your computer or automatically from the internet. Choose the latter.
If that doesn’t work, then you can carry out the download directly via the manufacturer’s website making sure to update your exact USB device model.
2. Uninstall hidden devices
Some of the time, the error can also be caused by the tendency of the operating system to conceal unused devices only availing those in use thereby causing this conflict.
In this case, you need to make public hidden devices by eliminating useless devices to free up space, and here’s how you can do just that:
- Navigate to the command prompt by searching up the word “cmd” in the start panel then highlighting the similarly named application file (cmd.exe). Right-click on it then select “Run as Administrator”
- Once the black screen pops up you’ll need to key in the following commands exactly as they appear. It’s better if you copy and paste them to avoid any errors and be sure to press “Enter” after each of the following three lines of code:
- set DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS=1
- set DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1
- start devmgmt.msc
- The above will take you to a hidden side of the Device Manager encompassing an option to “Show hidden devices”. Uninstall unknown devices (the ones that are greyed out) until the problematic device is removed and reinstalled a new one when you plug it in afresh.
Other Possible Solutions
Since the root cause of your malfunctioning USB device spans several reasons, there are also consequently many other remedies you could try out should the aforementioned two fail. The most effective being:
Unplugging your computer
If you’re lucky, your solution could be as simple as turning off your computer and starting it back up again. This doesn’t mean using the “shut down” button rather disconnecting your PC from the power source all together so as to force a “hard reboot” of the motherboard whose hardware- including USB ports- tends to work incorrectly from time to time. Doing so will cause a reload of the USB ports and associated drivers and will hopefully fix your problem. Remember to follow proper “shut down” procedures first i.e. shutting down via Windows routines lest you damage the motherboard. For a laptop, you’ll need to out both the power cord and the battery to completely alleviate any sources of power.
If none of the above methods worked and you’re still getting the “USB drive not recognized” message, you could try turning off the USB selective suspend settings that can be found under.“USB settings” from “Change Plan Settings” which you can get to by typing in “power plan” in the windows search box. Alternatively, try switching to another USB port as the current one could simply be damaged. Lastly, rescanning devices via the Device Manager menu can also do the trick.