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5 Ways to Fix "Flash Drive Not Recognized" Problem on Mac and Windows

Normally when you plug in your Pendrive, flash drive, or USB into USB slots. Your system immediately recognizes it and notifies you that a device has been connected. You can now access the data stored in that drive. At times you might find out that the inserted device such as a flash drive or USB didn’t get recognized. If you are one of them who has faced this issue. Then we have a solution to your problem. Keep reading to find out an answer.

  • “One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it. For assistance in solving this problem, click this message."
  • "The device you connected to this computer malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it."
  • “Flash drive not recognized”

The occurrence of errors like these and others can give us stressful days and sleepless nights. Fortunately, we have tried and tested various ways to resolve USB flash drives not recognized on Windows and Mac error.

But before we start talking about ways to resolve this issue. Let’s have a quick look at why this error occurs.

What are the Reasons for USB Device Not Recognized Error?

These errors generally appear when an external device is connected to the computer but the operating system is unable to recognize or read it. Here’s why.

  • USB connection issues
  • Problem with USB driver
  • File System errors
  • Drive letter issues
  • Hardware damages

Table of Content:

  1. Try First Aid Methods to verify the cause of the problem.
  2. Recover Data from Unrecognized Flash Drive 
  3. 5 Sure-shot ways to fix USB not recognized on Mac
  4. 4 Proven ways to fix flash drive not showing up on Windows

However, these issues can arise in various versions of both Windows and Mac systems. The occurrence of these errors might indicate that your flash drive has gotten corrupt and sooner or later you might lose access to the data saved in it.

Try the following basic troubleshooting methods that can be used on both Windows and Mac to find out what exactly is the issue.

First Aid Methods:

Method 1: Restart your computer system

Usually, a simple reboot can fix a lot of issues including the USB flash drive not being recognized. Disconnect your USB drive, shut down your computer, and then remove the power cord from the power supply because modern computers do not shut down completely, so the motherboard is still getting power.

You can now connect the power supply, boot the system, and plug in the USB drive. Check to see if it's recognized and you can access the drive through File Explorer.

Method 2: Try Using Different PC

Try to connect your USB flash drive to a different PC. If the USB flash drive is not recognized on the second PC also, then the USB drive could be corrupt or damaged. You can also try and repair the USB flash drive by formatting but that will result in data loss.

Method 3: Unplug all the USB Devices connected to the PC

Sometimes, the presence of too many USB devices on the same computer can create conflicts and prevent other USB devices from working.

So, you can just unplug all the USB devices connected and then connect the USB flash drive to check if the issue is solved.

If the error still continues to pop up, we are sure that your device might have gotten corrupt.

Before you go ahead with the troubleshooting process, you need to safely recover your data and secure it onto any external drive. Because even though these methods might work to fix the drive not recognized problem. They can also lead to permanent data loss.

Recover Data from not Recognized USB Flash Drive – Remo Recover

Recovering data from any unrecognized devices such as Pen drives, flash drives, or USBs has never been this easier. Especially when you use Remo Recover. A tool that has been specially created to thoroughly scan your USB device and retrieve all files from it with just a few simple clicks. Moreover, the tool is compatible with all the newest as well as the older versions of Windows and Mac systems.

Download and try the tool for free now!!!

This software can also be used to recover deleted photographs from a CF card on a Mac.

Steps to Recover Data from Unrecognized USB Flash Drive:

Follow the below steps to restore files from a USB flash drive that is not recognized:

Step 1: Run the tool, then select Recover Volumes or Drives. On the following screen, select Volume Recovery.

Step 2: Choose the Mac disc or volume from which you wish to recover data and press the Next button.

Select the unrecognized flash drive

Step 3: From the next screen, you may select between regular and advanced scanning. To recover mac volumes, use the advanced Scan option.

Choose an appropriate scan type

Step 4: Choose the file types you wish to recover from your Mac hard disc and click Next to begin the scanning process.

Select the type of files that you want to recover

Step 5: When the scanning procedure is finished, the tool will display the recoverable data from the Mac disc in data and file type views.

The list of files recovered from the unrecognized flash drive will get displayed in data type and file type view

Step 6: Save the recovered files onto any safe location after activating the software.

Preview the recovered files from the unrecognized flash drive

Once, your data from the flash drive is securely stored, you can now proceed with the troubleshooting methods.

Moreover, Remo Recover can also easily recover files from corrupt flash drives.

5 Proven Ways to Fix Mac Not Recognizing USB

There are various methods that will help you to fix flash drives not recognized on Mac. If you are a Mac user and facing a flash drive not recognized or USB not detected error, here are some free methods. These 5 free methods can help you to fix the Flash Drive Not Recognized problem.

Method 1: Repair Unrecognized USB Flash Drive using First Aid

First aid is an inbuilt tool that is designed to repair minor issues with the internal or external disks.

Step 1: press command + spacebar and type DISK UTILITY, then press enter.

Step 2: Select the USB disk from the left side panel and click on the first aid option from the taskbar on top of the screen.

Step 3: Then click on Run from the popup message.

click on the Run button to start the scanning process

Step 4: Wait till the process is completed and click on Done.

click on the done button to complete the process

Important Information: Your USB flash drive may appear empty but actually be full due to a virus attack. if you experienced the same issue. Please read through this comprehensive guide to learn how to fix the USB displays empty but is full problem.

Method 2: Reset PRAM to Fix USB Device Not Recognizable on Mac

To perform this troubleshooting you have to return the PRAM.

Step 1 – Shut down your Mac system.

Step 2 – Press the Power button and hold Command + Option along with P+R while the system starts.

Step 3 – As the system starts release the buttons. This will reset the PRAM and might fix the flash drive not recognized error on Mac.

Method 3: Use the Terminal to check and fix errors

Step 1: In Utilities, open Terminal, type diskutil list, and press Return.

Step 2: Locate the disc number of your USB flash drive and enter diskutil info diskX followed by Return. (Instead of X, enter the disc number of your USB flash drive.)

Step 3: Enter diskutil eject disc X and hit Enter.

type in diskutil eject discX and hit enter

Step 4: Enter diskutil list and hit Enter.

Close the window when the USB disappears from the Terminal list.

Step 5: Exit Terminal and launch Console to examine your drive errors.

Step 6: Check for mistakes by clicking "Errors and Faults."

check for the errors by clicking on errors and faults

Step 7: Reconnect your USB flash drive to your Mac; if no error message appears, your USB flash drive is secure.

Method 4: Reset the USB ports to identify a USB Flash Drive

Step 1: Restart your Mac computer, and press and hold the Command + Option + P + R keys together until the Apple logo gets displayed on your screen.

Step 2: Connect the USB device that isn't showing up on your Mac computer. If it does not appear, click the Apple symbol and select "Sleep."

Step 3: After a few seconds, press any key to wake up the computer.

Step 4: Turn off the Mac, disconnect the power cable, and reconnect it after 15 seconds.

If this does not function, we should suspect corruption at this time.

Method 5: Format USB Drive on Mac

This method solves the issue after the drive is formatted and reconnected to the system. In order to do that, here are the steps;

Step 1 – Press Command + Spacebar and connect the flash drive.

Step 2 – Open Application and click on Disk Utility Option

Step 3 – Select the Flash Drive on the left pane.

Step 4 – Click on Erase button to complete the process

4 Methods to Fix USB Not Recognized on Windows

Once, your data from the flash drive is securely stored, you can now proceed with the troubleshooting methods. As said earlier, both Windows and Mac will have different methods. Read through the below procedure:

Method 1: Scan the Flash Drive for Issues

Every Windows computer has an inbuilt utility to scan and fix minor USB flash drive errors. You can use this method to fix any minor errors present within your USB pen drive.

Step 1 – Plug the USB drive into the computer.

Step 2 – Go to This PC (My computer for earlier versions) and right-click on the flash drive and go to Properties

Step 3 – Open the Tool tab and click Check Now

This will scan and show you the results for any issues with your USB device. You can further troubleshoot the issues or use any third-party element to fix them.

Method 2:  Check if your Windows is up-to-date

Microsoft provides hotfixes in the form of Windows Updates to address major issues on a regular basis. Try to check for the pending updates and install them.

Step 1: Click on the Start button, enter Windows Update, and then click the Windows Update option.

Step 2: Click on Check for Updates.

Step 3: Click on Install updates.

Step 4: Wait for all updates to be installed.

Step 5: Restart your computer.

In case this method fails to fix the error, then follow the next method.

Method 3: Upgrade your Device Drivers to Resolve Flash Drive Not Recognized Error

Drivers allow your gadgets to communicate with one another. Outdated drivers might create hardware-related issues, including flash drive not recognized error.

Step 1: From the Start menu, select Device Manager.

Step 2: Click on Universal Serial Bus Controllers option. From the drop-down menu right-click on the Generic USB Hub icon and choose Properties.

Step 3: Navigate to the Driver tab and press the Update Driver button.

Step 4: Select Automatically search for drivers. Alternatively, if you have drivers that require manual installation, pick them up by clicking Browse my computer for driver software.

If upgrading the drivers does not resolve your issue, proceed to the next method.

Note: Kindly refer to this article if your USB shows no media in Disk Management error.

Method 4: Format the Unrecognized Flash Drive 

Formatting your USB flash drive on your Windows computer might fix any minor system file issues. This reverts your Pendrive to its factory state. Be aware that formatting your USB drive will delete all the data that is present within.

Step 1 – Right-click on the flash drive icon and click Format; this opens the format window.

Step 2 – Go to the File system.

Step 3 – Toggle between NTFS and FAT32 and click Start

This will reformat your flash drive and it will fix the flash drive not recognized issue.

Click here to find out how to recover data after you have quick formatted your USB drive


Hopefully, by now your flash drive is free from any errors.  Reconnect the flash drive to your computer and start using it. As explained earlier, fixing a flash drive not recognized on Mac or Windows error using the above-mentioned troubleshooting methods might result in the permanent deletion of all the files present on the drive. So make sure you have recovered all the important documents, photos, videos, etc. from the drive and saved them in any safe location before performing any troubleshooting methods.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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