How to Fix a Dead USB Flash Drive?

Driver Guide How-To

You may think that a USB drive is one of the most simple devices of a computer system that can be plugged in and data can be copied from or to it. However, as simple it sounds USB drives are not that easy to use at all times. Have you been through a situation where your Pen drive just stopped working one fine day? This is a very common problem across the globe and most of us know that it is time to get a new USB Flash disk and toss this one out.

This is the general opinion because a USB disk does not cost much and can be easily obtained from anywhere. However, of all the USB drives tossed out, at least 50% of them can be restored to normal depending on their condition. Before you discard your Pen Drive, I suggest you read about the Preliminary Checks that can determine if your Pen Drive can be restored to normal or has turned into nothing more than a small paperweight.

Why Does a USB Flash Drive Die All Of A Sudden?

This is a rather difficult question to answer and the causes of one dead USB might be different from another one. Here are some of the reasons listed in the table below:

Reason What You May Face

What To Do

Wrong File System This can happen only if your USB disk was formatted in a different PC and used in your PC for the first time after the format You can choose to format your USB Drive in your PC if you do not require the data within or copy the data in the original PC first and then format it in your PC.
USB Port Issue Power Surges can cause USB ports on your motherboard to malfunction. Try another USB port or another computer. If your USB Drive works in another port. then you will have to get the previous Port fixed from the service center or a technician
Outdated Drivers This is only possible if you are using a PC after a long time. Use Smart Driver Care to update all your PC’s drivers in one go
Corrupt Drivers Drivers can get corrupted due to hard disk errors or malware attacks. In this case, you will have to scan for malware and reinstall the drivers. Use Systweak Antivirus to eliminate the malware first and then use Smart Driver Care to update all drivers.
Device Conflicts This is a rare situation where one piece of hardware is not compatible with another hardware. Try using the USB disk in another PC to ascertain it works fine and replace it with a USB drive of another brand.

These are the most common reasons that cause a USB drive not to detect or work properly on your PC. However, there is another common cause that sounds like the complaint below:

“My USB drive was working fine yesterday or before a few hours ago and it suddenly stopped working and now nothing happens when I connect it to my PC. It does not show up or give me an error message.”

If the above statement is similar to your story then the solution is rather tricky because you will have to diagnose the issue first. A proper diagnosis means 50% resolution because it will determine the appropriate steps that you have to take. Two other common USB problems are faced by many users:

Issue 1: USB Device Not Recognized.

Issue 2: Unknown USB Device Error.

If you are facing any of the above-listed errors when you plug in your USB Drive, then I suggest you click on the links above to get the steps for those issues. However, if you do not get any error message while plugging your USB Flash Disk and nothing happens, then read on further.

  • Quick Steps to get your USB Pen Drive Up & Running.

Step 1: Restart your computer and plug in your USB Disk in another port.

Step 2: Try your USB Disk on another computer.

If your USB flash drive does not work, then do observe the following:

  • Check if there is a red light visible (briefly) when connected.
  • Check if you hear a Windows notification sound when connected.

With light and sound present, the chances of recovering your USB Disk are far greater than when you don’t see or hear anything.

Preliminary Checks to Carry Out Before Troubleshooting a Dead USB Disk

Here are some Preliminary Checks that you need to carry out before you jump to the troubleshooting methods.

  • Ensure your USB Disk is powered on. When a USB Disk is connected to your computer it gets power from the USB port and hence some lights start flashing with a notification sound (in most cases) ensuring that the device is not damaged. If your USB device has a physical button, then make sure you press it to turn on the device.
  • Check for Physical damages. Make sure that your USB Disk is not physically damaged by checking for cracks and other signs of rupture. A damaged USB Disk has the least chances of functioning properly and even if you can make it work, then copy the data from the disk and discard it.
  • Use a Different USB Port. This has happened countless times and I haven’t figured out the reason yet. Just plug your USB Disk in another USB port and it works fine. And the best part is that if you unplug it from the current USB port and plug it in the previous not working port, it starts working as if nothing happened.
  • Restart your computer. This is the oldest trick in the book and it is the simple set troubleshooting step that has over 50% chance of success. Just restart your PC and most of the issues will just disappear.
  • Use a different PC. This is going to be difficult for some as they may not have a second PC lying around. But you can try the one with your neighbors, friends, and family. This way you also get an excuse to say “Hi”. If the USB disk works fine with another PC, then you need to get your PC fixed by updating the drivers or following the troubleshooting steps listed below.

Detailed Steps on How to Fix Your USB Pen Drive

With all the quick steps and prelim checks done, let us follow the major troubleshooting steps to fix the USB Disk that has been giving you trouble.

List of Contents

Sequence

Method

Result

1 Disk Management Tool If the USB Drive is detected, then you can allocate it with a drive letter and create a partition.
2 Windows Update Updating Windows fixes many Hardware conflicts and other issues automatically. Restart your PC after the update process and then check if your USB disk issues have been resolved.
3 Reinstall Drivers Corrupt or Missing drivers can cause hardware detection issues. Once the drivers are reinstalled, this will fix all the USB-related issues.
4 Update Drivers Outdated drivers also pose a challenge when detecting new hardware devices. Once the drivers are updated, your new hardware will function smoothly.
5 Disable USB Selective Suspend Although this power-saving setting is a great feature, it can cause your USB ports to power off due to inactivity and thus cause the USB Disk not to show up issues.

Method 1. Disk Management Tool

Disk Management Tool is a free in-built utility from Microsoft and has been available in all Windows OS. It helps to determine the storage devices and disks connected to your computer and provides information like free space, total capacity, file system, status, and more. The resolution via the Disk Management Tool depends on how the USB disk is detected. Follow these steps to launch Disk Management Tool:

Step 1: Press Windows + R on your keyboard to invoke the RUN box and type diskmgmt.msc in the text box followed by Enter.

Step 2: A new window will open listing your hard disk details. Connect your USB Drive and wait to observe if there are changes in this tool’s screen.

tool’s screen

I was surprised to see a 700+ MB of unallocated space from my hard disk lying vacant. I did a right-click and chose New Simple Volume and followed the online instructions and got a new drive space which I labeled as Drive Z. You can check it out in the following screenshot.

Disk management

Step 3: Make a right-click on the unallocated space and click on Properties to display the status of your USB Drive.

Properties

 The properties window displayed details about my USB Disk and it was good to see the Status as “The device is working properly”. It does not show up in This PC/My Computer because it is unallocated and raw space that needs a driver letter and some sort of allocation. I have another USB Drive that hasn’t worked for ages and I decided to plug that one in too because I was getting lucky recovering an unknown 700 MB of HDD space and the fact that my USB Disk was fine. Sadly, the other USB disk did not have the same problem and it displayed a different error that requires another approach to troubleshoot.

Troubleshoot

Step 4: Next, make a right-click on the Unallocated USB Disk and then click on New Simple Volume from the context menu to open the Wizard.

context menu

Step 5: Specify the Volume size, Assign the Drive Letter, Format the Partition are a few choices you will have to make while allocating the USB Drive.

Step 6: Once the drive has been allocated, it might not be used yet as it must be formatted first.

formatted

 Notice the change of status from Unallocated to Healthy Primary partition and also the change of options in the context menu.

Step 7: Make a right-click on the USB Disk and select Format. Choose the Volume Label, File System, and Allocation Unit Size followed by the OK button.

Format

This should format your USB Drive and make it up and running.

Method 2. Windows Update

The next step to resolve the USB disk not showing up is to update your Windows OS. Microsoft regularly provides system and security updates to ensure that your PC runs smoothly and without flaws. Here are the steps to update your Windows:

Step 1: Press Windows + I to open the Settings Window and click on Update & Security.

Window

Step 2: Click on the Check For Updates button and wait until the process completes and your PC is completely Updated.

Check For Updates

Step 3: Restart your PC after the final update has been completed and check if the USB disk is working properly.

Method 3. Outdated Drivers

Moving further, we need to check the current drivers installed in the system. For this, we will have to use Device Manager which is an inbuilt tool in Windows OS for Driver Management. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Step 1: Press Windows + R to open the Run box and type devmgmt.msc followed by Enter key.

run

Step 2: In the next box that opens, click on Disk Drives and expand it to reveal the disks attached to your PC.

Step 3:  Make a right-click on the USB drive and choose the Update driver option and follow the onscreen instructions to install the driver updates from Microsoft servers.

Device manager

Step 4: If the driver appears to be updated, then click on the Action tab on the top of the window and then click on Scan for Hardware Changes.

Step 5: If this does not work, then you can click on the Universal Serial Bus Controllers at the bottom and locate the USB Mass Storage Device and make a right-click on it followed by Uninstall.

Step 6: Restart your computer and the USB drivers will automatically install.

This should resolve the issue and your USB Disk will start showing up in your This PC drives list.

Method 4. Corrupt Drivers

If the drivers that are being reinstalled by Windows OS are corrupted or your USB device requires updated drivers that are not available on the Microsoft Servers yet, then you will have to use a third-party driver updater tool like Smart Driver Care. This simple process is explained in the steps below:

Step 1: Download & Install Smart Driver Care from the link below.

Step 2: Launch the app and click on the Scan Now button under the drivers’ section.

Update Network Drivers.

Step 3: Locate your USB driver issue among the list of issues displayed after the scan completes.

Step 4: Click on the Update Driver button next to the USB Driver issue and wait for the update process to complete.

Click on the Update Driver

Step 5: Restart your computer and check if the USB disk issues have been resolved.

Method 5. Disable USB Selective Suspend

The final method to resolve this issue is to disable the power-saving feature that suspends USB port power when it is inactive for some time. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Press Windows + S and type Control panel.

Step 2: The Control panel window will open. Ensure that the View by is set to the category in the far top right corner.

Control panel window

Step 3: Click on Hardware and Sound and then click on Power Options.

Hardware and Sound and

Step 4: Now click on Change Plan Settings and then on Change Advanced Power Settings.

Advanced Power Settings

Step 5: Now click on USB Settings and then choose Disabled under USB Selective Suspend Setting.

USB Settings

Step 6: Click on Apply and then on OK.

Now check if your USB Drive works fine.

The Final Word On How to Fix a Dead USB flash drive?

USB Disks are an important device and it hurts when one goes dead especially if it contains important data that you just received from someone. The above steps will help fix your drive provided you hear a notification sound and see a light in your USB when plugged in. You can also use third-party software to perform more advanced steps on your dead USB drive but that is a complex bit of troubleshooting and is another ball game altogether. Follow us on social media – FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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