USB or Hard Drive Not Detected: Solutions and Common Problems

What can be the problems? There are a few questions to keep in mind and solutions to the most common mistakes we make. The first and most obvious thing is to check if the USB port works and the device works too. In these cases, we will test if there are compatibility, format, driver problems …

Frequent problems

According to Microsoft itself, these are the most frequent problems:

  • USB driver is damaged
  • An update is required on the PC for problems that could conflict with Windows and an external USB hard drive
  • Important updates are missing in Windows to resolve hardware or software problems.
  • USB drivers have become unstable or damaged
  • The external drive may be in selective sleep state
  • PC motherboard may need updated drivers


Does the USB device work?

The main thing is to check if it works. Try other devices to make sure it’s not a formatting error or a computer error. If it works on others, we can try to solve the problem on our own PC. Otherwise, maybe you are using a corrupted USB stick or with some internal error. Check it. It is totally obvious but we tend to overlook the basics. Beyond using another computer or device, many USB sticks have an LED light that indicates the status. It may not turn on and it means something is wrong.

Does the port work?

Another of the most frequent problems is if the USB port works or not. Try another peripheral or another USB stick to see if it is the port or that device itself.


There are several types of formats in a USB flash drive and not all are compatible with all operating systems. For example, the NTFS format is compatible with Windows but it can give reading problems in some computers or systems with macOS or Linux. The opposite happens with HFS +, which is a format designed for Mac devices although you can read it in Windows but you usually have writing problems in the Microsoft operating system. So you should bear in mind that if your computer is not reading and you have problems with the USB stick or memory it may be related to this. To avoid this, look for a different device and test if it’s the format to rule out that this is the problem.

Uninstall and reconnect

You can solve problems if it is unstable:

  • Go to start on your computer
  • Type File manager in the search box
  • Select Disk Drives
  • Right-click on the external USB hard drive causing problems
  • Uninstall with the corresponding button
  • Unplug USB from computer
  • Wait a minute
  • Reconnect USB
  • The driver should load automatically
  • Find the connected drive in Windows explorer


Another of the most common problems, although it seems basic, is related to the drive letter. The drive in question may have an associated letter that we already have associated with a computer disk. Or that it doesn’t have any associated. In those cases, we must check it, see all the letters …

Keep in mind that you can only do it if you have administrator permissions. If so, you will have to follow some simple steps to be able to verify what we tell you:

  • Go to Control Panel from your computer
  • Tap on Start
  • Go to Disk Management
  • You will see all the disks and drives connected to the PC and their format

Find the drive that the browser does not recognize and check if it has any letter assigned or not. If it does, check that it is not repeated or matches a disc. If it matches, right click and tap on the option to change it.


If it is not solved with the previous step, we may have a problem with the drivers and it is one of the most basic options in some USB peripherals. How can we fix it? Finding the driver version. Luckily you don’t need to look for an installation CD like it was years ago … Just go to the website of the driver in question, look for the latest version and download it. Update or install the latest available version. When you’ve updated, reconnect the device.

Please note that it is recommended that the device in question is not connected while doing the update. When you have found the exact model and done the actual update, try connecting it again.


You must also have Windows updated for it to work:

  • Click Start button and type Windows update
  • Tap on Check for updates
  • An analysis will begin
  • Tap on the option “Check for optional updates”
  • Select the update box
  • Tap on the Install updates option
  • Accept and follow the steps indicated
  • Download and install
  • Restart the computer if prompted

Try again if the USB driver now works

Does not detect USB - Update

Disables selective suspend settings

This is another common problem but it has a solution:

  • Search power plan in from the Start button
  • Tap on Choose a power plan
  • Select the Change plan settings option
  • Check “Change advanced power settings”
  • Click on the USB Settings box
  • Choose USB Selective Sleep Configuration
  • Select CONNECTED from the dropdown menu
  • Choose Disabled
  • In the case of laptop: Select Battery and disabled
  • Press Apply and OK

Check if it already works correctly.

Selective configuration - USB not detected

Format the disk

Keep in mind that you can format the USB and it will work but you will delete what is on it. This is useful if everything comes out correctly in Disk Manager from the above options but if there is a problem on your PC and it doesn’t open or recognize it. From File Manager find the disk you want to format, right click and you will see a pop-up menu. Click on the “Format …” option and check again. Maybe this way you solve the format problem. Of course, remember that you will delete the content and it is not practical if you are interested in keeping what is in it.

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