How-To Geek

Find Your Missing USB Drive in Windows XP

Have you ever plugged in a USB drive or any external device with a hard drive and wondered why you cannot see it in My Computer?

More than likely the cause is that Windows renamed the drive to a letter that is already in use. This will happen if you have several card readers, thumb drives or external hard drives attached. It will also happen if you are on a network and have mapped drives.

To find the drive and then rename it, you’ll want to right-click on My Computer and select Manage.


From the Computer Management screen, select Disk Management.


In this window you should see all of your connected physical drives, their format, if they are healthy, and the drive letter.


In this instance I am going to change the drive letter of my Lexar USB drive. Right-click on the drive in the list, and from the resulting menu select “Change Drive Letters and Paths…”


Click on Change so we can change the drive letter. You might notice that you can select Add, which would let you mount the drive into a folder if you wanted to. We don’t want to, so just click Change.


Select a new drive letter from the drop down list, preferably the one that you usually use for this drive.


Click Yes on the confirmation screen and you are done


If you have auto play enabled, you will get the normal pop up dialog asking what you want to do.


Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 04/18/07

Comments (299)

  1. Trevor G

    I am a tech for a local high school. we just got some new computers that had a muticard reader in them. sweet eh? well heres the problem. all the students get a networked drive, the networked drive takes H: , but before that gets set.. the muticard reader takes H: so i had to manualy change 40 computers muticard readers drive letter to the zxy..

    And this is what i did. Glade someone posted this for other people. its a good thing to know.

  2. Raj Moloye

    While this is a good article, it does not live up to its title. A better fitting title could rather be something like “How to change drive letter of USB Drive in Windows XP”.
    As explained in the article, the drive letter is NOT missing; it’s just assigned another drive and IS visible.
    The current title should rather explain what to do when the usb drive is connected, appears in the Safely Remove Hardware list, but no drive letter is assigned to it.
    On the plus side, it is a well written step by step guide to what it explains…and…it’s got a date stamp at the end…pheew!…finally a site that doesn’t keep us wondering if we a reading an up-to-date article…thumbs up!!

  3. The Geek


    Thanks for the comment. As the editor of this site, I was considering changing the title on this one…. I think your title might have been a better one. =)

  4. Paul Rafferty

    A good article.

    However… I have an external USB drive that connects and is visible on a win2k machine. The first time I attached it to a winxp machine, the drive was visible. Now when re-attached to winxp, the drive is not visible to windows explorer.

    When I look in disk management I can see the drive but it does not have a letter assigned to it: just the volume name appears and I cannot ‘change drive letter or paths’ since this is not selectable for this drive.

    Any thoughts?

  5. dennis parrott

    @Paul Rafferty:

    I had a similar sort of issue. There were 2 USB 2.0 hard drives attached to my HP dv6000 laptop (running XP MCE) and a USB 2.0 hub. When I plugged in a USB memory stick into the hub, it invalidated the drive letter for one of the hard drives and WinXP REFUSES to see that drive. I’ve rebooted, I’ve deleted all the USB entries in the system tree, yada yada, to NO AVAIL.

    Interestingly, when I ran an Ubuntu Live CD on a laptop and plugged in that drive, it ran with NO PROBLEMS.

    Solution: get rid of Windows! I am switching over to Ubuntu 7.04 with VirtualBox to host my old copy of Windows 2000 to run the few pieces of software I cannot easily replace with FOSS. (primarily Photoshop CS2 and some frame-accurate MPEG editing software)

    I end up with the best of both worlds: Ubuntu which seems to Just Work and Win 2000 which XP minus the broken crap and eye candy. I’ve switched over my old T40 laptop and I like it so much that I am planning to upgrade the hardware on my desktop box (HP a1030n) with more memory, better video card and a nice LCD panel and get rid of Windows on that box as well!

    Frankly, Windows is no longer worth the pain of its retarded USB manglement. Vista was off the table from the get-go for me so this is just moving up the time table a bit since XP was my last windows OS ever anyway…

    Get Ubuntu. It just works.

  6. Marc Munoz

    WHen I bring up the screen you have above I do not see any drives or drive letters. Layout, partition file system, etc is not there.

  7. bob

    Man…the whole “get rid of windows” rhetoric is so old and junior-high, Dennis. The reality is we don’t have that option, and most business can’t risk NOT using what the rest of the world does.

    Besides, if youwant to get into it…from a business perspective Windows TOC is simply much better than Ubuntu’s, or believe me business would switch like there was no tomorrow. Look at what businesses will do to save 1/2% of their operating costs…they’ll jump through hoops.

    So the bean counters have determined the RISK of switching is too great (big costs, retraining users, disruption to business, etc)

    you’re using the same lame rhetoric a certain brand of tree-huggers have used for a long time – that since YOU are willing to cross the hurdles of a different approach, EVERYONE should be willing to.

    Sorry, that’s not how the world works. Keep on operating with you rhead in the sand-I’ll see you in a few years when I still have job opportunites because I’m wiling to support ANY type of OS.

  8. guido

    I’m trying to connect a Connection N&C external drive (RJ45 and USB) to win 2000. While I connect it with RJ45, when I try to set it up by USB, windows cannot recognize it….
    I tried rebooting, reformatting, etc without any result…..
    Under manager setup the drive does not appear….
    Any help??

  9. Steve

    I have a problem with my Maxtor 6 external drive in that it “lost” it’s drive letter designation. It appears in my hardware listing (and I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled). The Plug and Play installation seemed to work but it does not appear on my list of drives. I don’t know if the drive itself went bad or it is a Windows XP issue. I have since reinstalled Windows XP (was having a whole host of problems) and the missing External Drive problem persists.

  10. Glenn Dixon

    Wow. You just helped me solve a department head’s problem! Muchas Gracias!

  11. Scott Campbell

    Thanks man – you just saved my demo (uses a VM on an external drive) which was due in 1 hour…

  12. Greg Davis

    I’ve manually assigned a drive letter to the USB drive. I can’t see it in Windows Explorer (double-click on My Computer) but I can access it through a command prompt and through Internet Explorer. In Internet Explorer I type ‘My Computer’ in the address bar and it shows the drives, including the USB drive (M:). I have a work around for my situation but not a fix. Anyone have a fix for this?

  13. Scott

    This title is perfect. I searched for “external usb drive will not mount in windows-xp” to get here. Although I am a highly experienced computer user, the concept of changing the drive letter did not occur to me. The external drive worked fine on two other machines, it just would not mount on my notebook where it is used as a backup device. Like so many other computer problems, I can look back and say, “Well, that was dumb!”

    What is still not clear is how the drive letter was “removed” from the drive. How did the drive go from having a letter to having no letter. I don’t leave it on or connected most of the time. Whenever I plug it in and turn it on, it mounts. This time, it would not mount. All of a sudden, no drive letter. The answer says that “Windows renamed the drive to a letter that is already in use.” I had not considered that Windows was as dumb as that.


  14. Kevin

    THANK YOU!!! That was EXACTLY what I needed to know!

  15. Scott

    On the subject of the USB external hard drive that Windows did not recognize in Explorer and that the Computer Management, Disk Management would not allow you to assign a drive letter, I have a possible fix.

    Following the instructions above, right click on the drive in the lower half of the screen, rather than the name of the drive at the top half of the screen (my USB drive did not appear in the upper half). Next select Partition. The wizard will then walk you through partitioning the drive and will allow you to add a drive letter. When complete, your drive will show up like any other hard drive.

    One consideration is that the above process may remove any data on the drive. For me it didn’t matter because the drive was new and blank anyway.

  16. Sabir

    Saying “thank you” isn’t enough to thank you. I’m bery much obliged getting yr help from
    I was going to format and re-install e/thing from the scratch. Yr trick simply save me time, at least 3/4days. This article is very easy to follow and detailed. Long live yr website. Long live the creators of this site.

  17. Jim

    Found your information on the first search. Well written, easy to understand, and now it makes sense why this would happen in an environment where drive letters change from time to time. THANKS for the help in solving the missing USB drive letter!

  18. Will

    Connecting to Disk Manager service…
    (This program is not responding)

    Well, now I’m screwed.

  19. Lakario

    Nice, that was exactly what I needed. I was going insane with this problem.

  20. justin

    ok how do i do that in windows ME

  21. Gordon

    I’ve read through all of these comments, and am still without a solution. I installed a Seagate 250GB external hard drive. At purchase it was partitioned as one large 232GB partion, which WinXP Pro would not recognize. I repartitioned it to an E: drive of 122GB and an F: drive of 110GB. In Disk Management both of the drives appear, both in the upper and lower parts of the window. E: says Healthy (Active) and F: says Healthy. They are, of course, formatted NTFS.

    The problem is that I cannot find these drives via any method other than Disk Management. In Explore, I only show C: and D: (DVD). Have I done something wrong here? What more must I do to make my system recognize those drives?

  22. Gordon

    I should also have mentioned that this external drive is via a USB port, and is direct, not through a hub.

  23. Gordon

    This is weird. Suddenly, with no action on my part, both of the newly partitioned drives appear in Explore, and I am able to backup files to them. I thank anyone (in advance) who might have considered an answer to my problem. It is now resolved.

  24. Eric Albert

    I took a drive from a defunct Mac laptop and put it in a USB2 box bought off eBay with some drivers; XP found the drive and installed Microsoft drivers as a “Generic USB Disk USB device”. However it doesn’t appear in Explorer nor does the disk management technique show it either. I’m assuming that it’s a functioning drive as it was installed, but am I wrong? Ultimately what I want to do is build a system on this and use it to boot from, but right now all I want is to “see” the drive and format it. Any help would be appreciated as have all the above suggestions/advice have helped. Thanks.

  25. ahsan

    I tried several times but it’s not working…. can’t make it visible in my computer…someone help me with a working idea!!!!!!!

  26. sachin

    Your comments resolved a major frustration.

  27. Dan

    Thanks much for this. Microsoft support site did not have any relevant information. I googled it and it led me right to you.

    The title is perfect for this by the way. I would not change it. I knew it had installed it I just could not find it. It never dawned on me to go to disk management. Just a reminder that sometimes you need to start with the basics to find the solution.

  28. Marcus

    Nice One! This was a great help with my 2.5″ portable partitioned HDD that was never recognised on my work computer ;-)

  29. pete

    Does anyone know if there is a way to do this in registry as I don’t have access to disk management at work. But I can use regedit through a little program I have :)

  30. Brian

    Thank you for this tip. You just saved my presentation tomorrow at a meeting.!!

  31. Dave

    I get angry with some folks who manage networks today.

    When i did my Novell Network managers Course we were told and had it drummed into us to start at the bottom end of the alphabet (eg Z,X,Y etal) for network drives thus leaving the top end of the alphabet for user attached devices what ever they maybe. All this was back in the 90’s.

    If this was a best practice for network managers then this sort of help would not be required by alot of users as whenever they plug in usb mass storage devices they’d “just work” (by grabbing the next letter after the one used last letter used is E add another USB device it grabs F) for the user.

    I’ve moved away from MS to Linux (I’ve also moved out of IT as a job) and so i’m not so up todate with MS OS’es as i would otherwise be. I appreciate this howto page as i had done it once before with a card reader but forgot how i did it this page has reminded me. Plus if the IT manager had a clue they’d have network drives mapped to the bottom end to help stop this sort of thing from happening for their users within the corporate.


  32. jim

    On this subject…
    I administer a network environment where different users use each machine, but apparently the settings do not stay on the machine, each jump drive attaches differently, so I would have to log in to each machine as each user with thier device to make it work..and thats nearly impossible.
    the answer I have given is to plug in the device before they login, it will grab a mapped drive letter and put the data there, but they have to hunt for it since it dosent show it as a jump drive.
    Does anyone know of a piece of software or a registry edit to cure this?

  33. David

    I tried this workaround to get my USB stick to be visible in Explorer. I can navigate to it from the command prompt with no problem. If I type ‘My Computer’ into IE, I can get to the device with no problem. It appears that the issue lies within Explorer itself.

  34. Ryan

    I need help! My external HD icon appears in the tray that it is connected, but does not show up in disk mngt or my computer or anywhere. I have tried assigning my cd drives different drive letters so the computer will pick up the 1st available, but no luck. I have a WD 500g external HD with power cord and usb cord. Tried different cords and usb slots.

  35. Douglas

    The title is definitely misleading. A search led me here to resolve my problem, which apparently several people share:

    I also have an old internal drive (with data I would like to access) that I have moved to an external housing, and connected to the USB port. Device manager, the USB Plug & Play, etc. identify the drive, and say it is working properly. But Windows will NOT assign a drive letter. This makes the data contained on it inaccessible.

    Disk Manager says it is “Online” and “Unallocated”. This happens both on the W2000 Server machine it used to be installed in, and in an XP machine. Using Disk Manager the only option available to assign a drive letter seems to be to partition the drive, but I would assume that this would destroy the data. There MUST be a way to assign a drive letter…but how?

  36. Ason

    I agree with Douglass. I’ve tried everything from Device Manager to reboot /reinstall and nothing works unless I restart the computer then the computer only reads the external hard drive for 20 mins or so.

  37. Michael

    Once you’re in drive manager (I’ve re-installed computers where it couldn’t run for some reason that the service was disabled)

    and your drive shows up in the bottom (I came here be cause none of my cd/dvd-rom/rw s worked or showed up in the bottom.)

    Once those two are met it is easy to change drive letter or mount point as discussed above.
    It is also possible to add a drive letter or mount point when windows hasn’t done so for you.

    For example:
    1: right-click the partition you want below.
    2: choose-change drive letter and paths
    3: now instead of choosing the drive letter in the list and saying change,
    click add
    4: choose the drive letter (or browse the mount path)
    5: ok
    6: confirm

    If any one knows why my optical drives (both internals and one external usb) aren’t showing up in either the top or the bottom of device manager I’d be interested.

  38. John

    Michael- Thanks for the tip. I finally have the drive on my desktop and anytime it is used, the folder changes from a regular folder icon to a drive icon. I went through the mess of trying to open the System Volume Information folder and no such luck. I did all the obvious stuff, googled the problem, went a couple of different routes and still never got in it. Even went into safe mode and no dice. Thanks again! J

  39. Ason

    Just checking back in. I think I solved my problem.

    It seems as if it was a case of assigning alternate drive letters to my removable storage devices.
    I’m not sure why since the two removable drives I’m using were getting “E:” and “F:” letters usually far enough down to not cause a problem.

    I restarted my computer only plugged in one of the drives used the disk management–>right click and used change drive letters to something much further down “N:”. Did the same thing with the other external drive and they both seem to be holding steady for the past day.

  40. Ason

    I spoke too soon. I awoke this morning to find both o my external drives unaccessible, after disconnecting and reconnecting both, the drive letters again are not being assigned. When I go to disk management the volumes aren’t there either.

  41. Lance

    Thanks for the well-written tip! ‘Saved me a bunch of headaches recovering some old mp3s. This site rocks (for geeks, anyway)!


  42. Bruce

    Superb fix!

  43. Norman

    Good fix – and do not change the title, it came top of my google!

    I was almost there – in Computer Management under Removable Storage, but the properties for the “missing” USB Drive just lists the drive letter as “Unknown”. If it had listed it as the conflicting drive letter I would have realised the problem.

    In my case the persistance of the drive letter allocation was unexpected e.g. plug in two usb drives when only one drive letter is available, one stick gets “lost” = allocated the drive letter of the first network drive and is therfore not visible. But suprisingly after removal and re-insertion of just that drive it does not get the free drive letter, XP persists with the previously allocated letter so it remians lost for ever!

  44. Margaret DeFrank

    I am trying to connect my Ipod cord to a port and while it once worked it no longer does??
    I did get error messages about it not being a 2.0 port but it is and also something about a j drive
    other plug and play things work in the same ports

  45. Nigel

    Thanks for flagging up a common -but often misunderstood-problem in networked environments…as you say, XP hides the USB flash drive letter when the drive is inserted on an already-booted network – if the flash drive is inserted BEFORE booting on to the network it will invariably be recognised…but this is impractical usually.

    There is a neat and useful program – USBDLM – here at which cures this problem and runs as an OS “Service” to avoid problems of no-Administrator rights etc. It also runs automatically each time the system is booted up without the need for tedious repetitive configuration of individual drives. The program’s “.ini” file can be modified to particular requirements if needed. Note that the Service needs to be started for the first time by clicking on the Start command icon within the unzipped folder which itself is just copied into the C:\Program Files directory.

  46. Rick K

    The missing drive letter title was perfect for me. I saw and heard XP discover the Lexar Jump Drive, but couldn’t see it in Explorer. The Tutorial worked perfectly for me and was a real time saver.

    BTW, this is what I Googled and this site came up #7.
    “USB Jump Drive not showing up in Explorer”

    Thanks very much for taking the time to do this!!!

  47. Ben

    I have the same deal … my C and my external show in disk manager but the ext has no letter. In the bottom of the screen BOTH drives are shown as drive 0. It’s like the some how got combined. They both show even after removing it and restarting….

  48. Ason

    I’m still having the same conflict.

    I’ve figured out by trial and error it specifically has to be a conflict between my iPod 30 Gig video and a Seagate removal hard drive. They both work fine on their own when plugged into USB ports.

    I’ve tried the drive letter trick many times, without any success. I now believe there may be some problem with how my processor handles the USB connections. I was plugging the external drive to the USB port in the rear of the computer, iPod to the front. Now I’ve tried plugging it into the USB port in the rear of the machine BELOW where the external hard drive is plugged in.

    It seems to be working.

  49. Bob Banks

    THANKS! you are great!!
    Easy to find my USB with your directions

  50. lloyd

    thanks guys. i really solved the problem, that is, using internet explorer…

  51. Pat

    Perfect quick solution to an annoying problem. THANKS!

  52. Robert

    Windows XP SP2
    Trying to add external drive – USB
    Drive shows up in Computer Management as Disk 3 – says the drive is online and health – active.

    Problem is the option to change drive letter is greyed out.

    Any ideas?

  53. Robert

    some added info:

    It is a drive from an old computer FAT32 – I used them same external case and same drive on another WIndows XP SP2 computer to backup some of the files but now I have a new computer and want to do the same thing but now this problem.

    Losing the data is not an option.

  54. John Collins

    Brilliant. Since I’m using several hard drives in several caddies and swapping them over, they… well, anyway, I decided not to assign it a letter when I formatted it. That was the problem! EXCELLENT. I’ve read some of the mails critiquing the title of the article, and as one is not averse to critiquing mismatches between label and content, I should be more sympathetic to your critiques. But for me, it did what it said on the tin. EXCELLENT. This was my first trip, but I shall be back for more solutions!

  55. mysticgeek

    Thanks John! We certainly aim to please!

  56. Robert

    Well if you aim to please…. I can not format this drive, no reason to format, can’t loose the data, it should work just fine but doesn’t.

  57. mysticgeek

    Robert, I would recommend taking this issue to our Forum. We have a lot of great knowledgeable readers there! This way we can get more in depth into the exact issues related to your problem and serve you better!

  58. azis

    I bought a new plug and play flash drive that those not come with a disk.
    I’m using it already until it started reporting that i should insert a disk before i.e if I try to open it

    Please i need a solution to this problem.

  59. Sverrir

    Saved my life! Now I see my OCZ Roadster 1GB again!

  60. Jim

    hey there,, having same problem with drive E missing in windows XP. there one day, gone the next,, no one and I mean no one so far can tell me what has happened to it, other than its gone dude. had someone send me a disc to repair it,, how am I to repair it when it is the drive that runs the disc etc. all my documents etc on disc are thru drive E.. am sitting here with a double drive computer and the one I truly need is down,, suggestions ? thanks a bunch..

    Sarge,,, Semper Fi

  61. Paul Zaremba

    Thank you very much! This solved my problem.

  62. Brandon Harmon

    I have had the “tone but no drive show up problem” for a long time. Some solutions are simple but until smart people like you show us, well thank you.

  63. pat mc

    Great job thanks always wondered why it did that on Windows XP my old Windows does not have a problem but XP does.
    Strange one for me could not figure out where that drive was hidden.

  64. Sandy

    This windows xp is driving me crazy! I have a pavillion hp with no recovery disc and Hp will not give me one. You know they loaded the pavillion 9905 with a secret partition so it will recover it self. Well I am missing files; ststem32\kernel32.dll, system32\wsock32.dll, system32\user32.dll, system32\ntoskrnl.exe, system32\drives\etc\hosts can anyone help me please!
    Even if I had the files I don’t know where to put them when I do get them can you help? Thanks

  65. Rivi

    thanks allot, it helped e fix my problem in 2 seconds – very easy to follow instructions

  66. suresh

    A good article, Thanks a lot .This article really helped me to slove my problem very quickly with step-by-step pictures. Once agin thanks to the author. –suresh

  67. Vidya

    Thank you so much!! God bless you for posting this article!! :)

  68. Dave Evans

    Thank you for the great tips, and the time you toook to create this.

    One note that may also help: If you (readers of this post) have installed a brand new or unformatted disk in a USB enclosure, you will need to intitalize the drive first. You will know that you need to do this because instead of showing as “Healthy” (as in the screen shots above) the dirve will show “Unitialized/Unallocated.”

    You can remedy this following the steps shown above, except that you’ll first click the **LEFT** side of the disk manager display instead of the right side. In the above illustration, you would see “Disk 1 Unitialized” on the left (underneath Disk 0, which is your primary HDD) and “Unallocated” with diagonal hash marks on the right. Click the **left** side, then choose “Initialize Disk” on the **main menu** and follow the steps.


    Once you’ve initialized, click the **right side** area of your new drive (again, in Drive Manager/ Disk Management) and choose “Create Partition.” Follow the steps–it will automatically assign the next available drive letter–and then choose NTFS/ Quick Format (unless you really want to format the entire drive…which takes a while.)

    You’re set to go, and the dirve will be recognized in the future. If not, you now know what to do. ;-)

  69. Jeremy

    I admit, I didn’t read all the above posts, but it should be known that this fix also will mount a USB drive when if safe mode. This can be helpful when troubleshooting a computer with viruses and/or spyware/malware. The only difference for this is when you mount the drive, you have to select a totally different letter than what it shows it as in Disk Management. Hope this is helpful!

  70. mysticgeek

    Good call Jeremy!

  71. m

    Nice fix. But do you have anything a little more long term solution. In most corporations users don’t have permission to follow the instructions. Some users are in positions that require them to use usb drives from several different people. Network Admins are constantly asked to “change a drive letter”. Will microsoft ever fix this problem?

  72. Dave Evans


    There are a hundred answers to your question… ;-)) My favorite is this one: Corporations that *require* users to use multiple USB drives can elect to provide the permission to *those specific users* to follow these instructions. I’ve been in more than one corp environment where I had a day-to-day login on my laptop (that would have prevented me from accessing disk manager) and another that gave me local admin rights so that I could do stuff like this *when I needed to*. Of course, I had to be certifed as an admin first. If corp policy does not extend this permission case-by-case (or by user group) then in effect the policy is “bring your USB drive to a network admin so that he/she can look at it before it gets hooked to the corporate network.”


  73. mysticgeek

    @ Dave … “then in effect the policy is “bring your USB drive to a network admin so that he/she can look at it before it gets hooked to the corporate network.” …

    You are correct! This is the best policy in my opinion. Who knows what kind of crap could be on an end users flash drive? It certainly creates a headache for IT to have to go over each one on an individual basis (depending on company size) … however … if a rogue virus or malware attack is unleashed on the network … I will take a couple minute inconvenience any day!

  74. m

    @ Dave and mysticgeek,

    I respectfully disagree with both of you. I don’t believe any user should have to open up disk managment to change the drive letter of a USB device just because the OS is incapable of checking to see if a drive letter is in use. It should not matter weather or not the drive letter is being used by a local device or mapped drive. “In use” should mean “In use”.

  75. Reuben

    Thanks mate. You helped me out.

  76. Roland Stone

    My problem is that with a Networked drive already assigned to letter F (which for reasons I won’t go into here, can NOT be re-lettered), the fix you describe is a multiple-step workaround which must be repeated every time the Flash drive is re-inserted.

    Isn’t there any way to make Windows PERMANENTLY assign a drive letter to the USB Flash drive port for non-technical people who need to be able to just plug in their flash drives without going through half a dozen steps to find the drive?

  77. Marty Newell


    Wondering if you could help, if I change my external HD from Not Initialized to Online will I loose
    all the current data on it??


  78. mysticgeek


    I wouldn’t think so. What kind of Drive is it? Also what OS are you running?

  79. Sonny Breaks

    Brilliant – XP would not recognise my second USB device.

    In Disk Management, I created a new partition which allowed me to assign a different letter to this drive.

    However, it was a blank HD which was reformatted as part of the process. I’m not sure if you can avoid reformatting or not.

  80. Jothi

    thanks a lot it helped me to finish off my work and go home early.



  81. mysticgeek

    @ Sonny Breaks … you shouldn’t have to reformat the HD.

    @ Jothi Thanks for your comment! I am glad you were able to go home early!

  82. Chris

    Guess you never got around to changing that title, eh?

  83. Rene

    If you can access your USB drive under DOS but does not show up in Windows Explorer even if you can assign a letter drive in Disk management, check for the following file in windows/system32 directory: newdev.dll
    Get it from another XP computer and that should solve any device mounting problem.
    Also use the event logger under control panel– administrate tools – to find out what does wrong with the device mounting.
    Hope that helps!

  84. John Doe

    Your article solved my frustrating problem on my work computer. The IT department set the E Drive to some network drive and hence my computer though recognizes the external hard drive/USB sticks and installs the driver, never used to let me browse the files inside them.

    After reading the article, you solved the problem. Now I can use all my external hard drives, USB jump drives and card readers from my computer.
    Just want to leave a thank you note.


  85. Alex

    I have a related problem. I formatted my C drive (Windows XP Home SP2) and now I can’t see my second hard disk on the Windows Explorer. I can see it in Disk Management as Disc 1 Local Disc Correct (Active), but with no letter assigned. I right-click it and the Change Letter is shaded and can’t be accessed. Formatting not an option. Help!

  86. chewie

    Windows sux. You’d think they would have fixed this by now.

  87. Michael


    i just wanted to add a comment to this long entry of replies. I had the same issue and could not fix it for anything. Finally I uninstalled every single usb controller and anything related to usb in device manager. then i did a rescan and everything installed back including the drive and this time it assigned a drive letter.

    jsut thought id share that with everyone.

  88. Anthony Maw

    Windows handles drive letters through the Mount Manager. See MSDN for an explanation. Thus missing drive letters for external drives (I’ve seen this happen with both 1394 firewire and USB drives) are likely attributable to a bug (feature!!!) of this system driver (c:\windows\system32\drivers\mountmgr.sys).

  89. Greg


    This has been bugging me for weeks, and I knew it had to be something simple.

  90. anonymous

    I hav a external western digital 250gb drive which is set plug and play, turned on windows xp / my computer NO drive, But in divice manager / disk drives it appears….Now seeing her what you said under computer managment / disk managment o the right upper window nothing their about the external drive But below in the gray area it is listed their as disk 2 ???? hummmmmmm…
    i did formate the drive using a file from western digital and was again working EVEN tho i lost 150gb of info. was using the external drive again for a week or so having maybe another 30gb back on it and now it won’t come up in my computers, but as said above i do see in the areas explained above ;-( HELP…thanks so much appericating any n all to solve the problem hopefully not playing the formate game again and getting the same results….

  91. Martin K.

    This didn’t work for me, but I found another possible solution. I went to “Device Manager” and uninstalled the drive (from Disk drives) and the USB Mass Storage Device (from Universal Serial Bus controllers) then restarted my computer. It detected and reinstalled my USB drive and it works fine now.

  92. irish2u

    Hey thanks Martin BUt NO go , i followed your advice and did a fresh restart, turned on external, said new hardware was found and the device, so it s their BUT doesn’t load the files or does it show up in control panel as a lettered drive ;-(….

  93. Rpger

    Thanks – it was exactly what I was looking for – the title is just fine too!

  94. Anthony Maw

    The procedure to recover a missing USB drive is straightforward but not obvious: In Device Manager, select View / Show Hidden Devices. Under “Storage Volumes” there will be an “Unknown Device” – this is the missing USB drive. Right-click on it and select “Update Driver”. After a few momements it should then correctly identify the unidentified USB storage volume as “Generic volume” and the USB drive will be assigned the next available drive letter in Disk Management. I’ve seen this problem with 1394 Firewire drives and also with SATA disk drive arrays. Good luck!

  95. irish2u

    This is fine and dandy for those who have the driver either on the software or know where to point it in the right direction, be nice if the application searched the internet but it doesn’t, personally i bought the western digital 250gb external drive from someone who put it in a case and set as plug n play,ive been on western digital site with no luck except i was told that the drive was actually a internal BUT he made it a external, i found this on it , i seen something as of mention to 1st 2nd generation which i would havn’t a clue ;-( i did scroll down to
    2nd Generation Serial ATA WD Caviar SE – 7200 RPM: and downloaded Data Lifeguard Tools 11.2 for Windows and applied it , it formated the drive having to lose 150gb of info. but worked fine up until i put about 25gb back on it then it happen again disappeared ;-( it is seen in the device manager / disk drives appearing when i turn the drive on…But still it doesn’t show up in my computer under hard disk drives as it did ;-( if i had another computer id hook it to their and see what happens but don’t at this time , i also did as martin recommended above, and after deleting both, and fresh started it and then plugged in the drive, it said it founded new software and was ready to use But nothing in my computer ;-( so maybe its not being assigned a drive ?? for whatever reason ???..Thanks 2 all responding, hav a gr8 weekend

  96. John S

    Thanks… This worked in my case and I caused the problem when I assigned a drive letter to my Buffelo linkstation of “L” and the USB was also “L”.
    As soon as I changed the USB to “O” everything showed up as usual in explorer.Why can’ t windows just alert you to the conflect instead of just no show the drive????
    Thanks again.

  97. irish2u

    as said i think the person that i bought the drive from set it up as a plug and play, so it would come up as L for me, as if i put one pf my flash memorys in they come up on L\: ….glad it worked for you , thanks for the post.

  98. Jeff C

    This problem appears to affect only XP Home and XP MCE. I run XP Pro at the office with “F” as the network drive. When inserting any type of USB storage device XP Pro will assign “E”. However on my home network where I have the previous two XP variants, they will assign “F” to the USB device rendering it invisible. I’ve not seen this problem with Win ME or Vista. My solution was to map the network drive to the “Z” slot.

    Also regarding purchasing a new HDD and loading it into an external USB enclosure. I purchased a WD PATA drive and all that was required was formatting. On the other hand I purchased a SG SATA drive and it required to be initialized, partitioned, and formatted.

  99. Jeremy

    I am a Network Technician Consultant and I want to say that this is the first time belief it or not that the USB Backup HD did not mount the drive letter where I recongized that Symantec Backup Executive System Recovery did not find the volume letter and been missing backups. You article was so easy and WORKED. Now am able to backup our customer server once again.

    Thank you so very much………………

  100. Jason

    Thank GOODNESS!
    I have 3, count em, 3 different USB drives (one of which claims to be a hard drive and floppy drive) plus an MP3 player that my computer sees as another USB drive. Somewhere along the lines, one of the 4 misguided children took someone else’s letter. In the confusion NONE of my USb drives were working.
    I was slowly working my way through the ‘solutions’ I found on the web, but when they started talking reinstalling Windows, I freaked.
    Then I found your web site which had a solution unlike any of the other’s I’d found and it worked like a champ.
    I have given each of my drives their own letters and they’re quietly playing nicely right now.
    Thank you very much!!

  101. Rains

    I couldn’t see the drive in Computer Management but (eventually) found it in Device Manager. Reinstalled the driver and now it works.

  102. irish2u

    Ok i Now have a NEW computer Hp Media Center running Vista, pluged in the drive same ole same ole , it won’t come up in my computer BUT it is to be seen, as for trying to see whats up with drive letter won’t allow the option but is is seen in divice manager and so on and so forth,keep in mind in above post it was working just fine on my hp_winXp and 150gb down the road it disappered ;-( so ended up go to Western Dig sight downloading their program mentioned and link in aboved post i believe and it erased EVERYTHING and formatted it so i was back to a CLEAN 250gb drive, then 25gb into it it did it again just didn’t come up, but when trurning it on you could hear how windows sound goes off reconizing the drive BUT nothing in my computer but seen in divice manager as showin above so its their but not their ;-( so when i pluged into new computer same old same ole, haven’t messed with it since im sure if i used the western digital program again it would be working again and clean BUT for how long ??? i haven’t a clue and don’t want to lose more ;-( UNLESS the problem is solved….have a great weekend

  103. Chris

    After reading some of your comments wot worked for me was going into device manager –> storage device then click view –> hidden. I found my usb device not working, right click then click enable.

  104. irish2u

    mine appears in disk drives and even in propertys it says (This device is working properly)under details tab its where it says property divice discription is not selected…

    at the top of the page i went to Computer and select Manage, Computer Management screen, select Disk Management, the drive is labeled
    #6, on the right says 232.88 GB unallocated right clicking in that window theri is NOT all the options as their is on the other drives meaning NO option to change drive letter if needed to be…the options are …New simple volume,New spanned and striped are greyed out, and properties and help…as the other drives their alot like 10 choices…..remember it was set as Plug and play if it makes any difference… this time im not even using it or racking my brain because i have ran across a fix as of yet…so who know i know if it gets formatted it will work again but not sure if it will be another quick fix and work as it did on the windowsxp and do it again ;-( on the new vista im using ….thanks

  105. Seb Patrick

    Just wanted to say thanks for this article! I was having the exact problem the article describes – my machine has a number of network drives that map through a script at logon, and so I couldn’t figure out why none of my USB drives/sticks/devices were showing up for me to browse! Turned out to be so simple, I should have figured it out myself. But thanks!

  106. Andy

    Hey, I had a huge problem, and you helped me fix it in record time.

  107. Paul

    You are the life savior. Turned out to be sooooo simple. I should have figured it out myself. But thanks! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  108. Muhammad

    Gr8 Artical. I was worried about the USB icon. But with this artical I got that in mins.


  109. irish2u

    Well glad it work for all of you ;-( , Happy Fathers day to the Dedicated dads, and for all who r dead Beats ,STEP UP 2 the plate n make a change today…

  110. Larinda Kimbrell

    I have read the information regarding the USB jump drive disappearing from my computer. I am afraid to reassign letters because everything is partitioned and it is showing a disk 0 and Udisk, I’m not sure which is supposed to be the USB drive. Can anyone help, I feel completely illiterate. The other jump drive works when plugged in????

  111. Paul

    Great post – thaks very much. However the disc (which is a hard drive caddy, and which I think was once a MAC formatted disc) is visible, is Healthy, is online, but is noted as a GPT Protective Partition, and you can right clickk to your hearts copntent but the menu remains greyed out – any suggestions????

  112. Sid Sidney

    Thanks! My drive was lost for weeks. Now I have it back.

  113. Sudhakar

    I have an NEC-3540 external DVD writer in USB 2.0 enclosure. When connected to a system running on windows XP, device manager shows the external drive under USB controllers. However i do not see anything under disk management . I also do find the drive in “My computer”. The USB port on the laptops are ok, as if i connect any other thumb drive they show fine.

    The driver details for NEC-3540 does not show any problem. In the system tray also i get a icon to show that the device is connected. I have tried re-assigning the drive letters. It does not help. I have connected the external drive to 3 different computers. All have the same problem.

    What could be the issue preventing windows from showing this in My computer as a drive ? Also when i boot the windows XP system with the external drive connected, it will not start. Once i switch off the external drive it would start automatically. The same while shutting down the windows XP system, it would not shut down , till i switch off the external drive.

    Any assistance will be highly appreciated.


  114. The Geek


    Please, Please, Please leave your questions on the forum, where you are much more likely to get a response.

  115. Brett Murphy

    This worked beautifully! Thanks!

  116. Scott Rassbach

    This worked great. Thanks.

  117. Ryan

    Thank you! You’re a genius!!

  118. ITHKS

    It does not work for me, i tried to change the letter so “x” and remove it and then plug it in but it does not pop up.

    Many of my USB sticks are like this, and i don’t know why.

    Help me?

  119. Rene

    @ ITHKS

    Look at the other comments here and try what they suggest. e.g. use the event logger under control panel– administrate tools – to find out what goes wrong with the device mounting.
    Hope that helps.

  120. Boyster

    A huge tnanx.Simple but saved me from a lot of trouble!!

  121. Marty

    You have just saved me a lot of time. Was working on a PPT for a training tomorrow! Thank you!

  122. Fred33

    I have a usb drive (120 Gb) which works on my other W2K laptop.
    But when connected to WINXP laptop (Compaq EvoN1005v), it sees absolutely NOTHING, neither in the explorer, nor in the Disk Management windows, nor in the “Safely remove peripherals” icon, nowhere !!!

    Curiously, the XP laptop sees some Flahdrives and not other flashdrive (particularly my MP3 player so I have to plug it in the W2K laptop and that sucks).
    Anyone has a solution please? I’ve browsed all the above answers but found nothing.

  123. Todd

    I hope people still look at this; I’m having an awful problem!

    I just recently purchased a Seagate external hard drive to use as a backup. I’ve had a bad experience with things crashing at bad times, and am tired of it. I used this drive with my laptop running Vista and it works fine, I can reformat; change drive letters, the whole nine yards. However, when I try to back up files from a desktop that is running XP, I cannot find this drive in My Computer. I can see it in the device manager, however when I right click on this drive (be it at the top or the bottom) every option is gray-ed out. I cannot reformat, I cannot change the drive letter, nothing.

    I even went as far as to change the drive letter in Vista, making it something that would never have been used on the XP desktop (T:) and still cannot see this external hard drive. I’m not asking for multiple automatic complex back up units … I just want to drag and drop, like a huge flash drive. I need help, because part of my justifying this purchase was telling my girlfriend I’d help back up her files too! Now she’s not liking the idea that I may have to buy another …

    Please help!!!

  124. Anthony Maw

    see my article above on how to get a drive letter assigned to your external USB hard drive.

  125. Paul

    just what I needed…thx!

  126. ziggy

    Thanks man :)
    I got my new HDD working thanx to this !!!
    Yahoo for school :))

  127. rakesh

    dear sir
    i am using win XP .my problme is desktop icon drop shadows .
    i go to system properties > Advanced > performance settings > visual effects > custom > click “Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop ” but problme not sloved .i have latest Quick heal antivrus 2008 updated .
    i try to differen login it’s working . i am facing these problme sinc last two months now i have to creat new profile and re-configer outlook , etc. for different users.

    can i slove these problme without creating new user profile

  128. Denis

    Though the title is not wrong, in my case, like Raj Moloye (the 2nd person to write a comment to this article), :
    “the usb drive is connected, appears in the Safely Remove Hardware list, but no drive letter is assigned to it.”

    In the Computer Manager it also appears under the but only as folders, no drive letters assigned. Right -clicking on Removable storage and selecting didn’t change anything. It did not appear as a disk either in Disk Management. No letters assigned to it, so could not re-assign a letter.

    After reading through this long list of comments, here’s how I managed to resolve the issue.
    Just one more step than described in this article, ..
    (Win XP)
    In Computer Manager (right-click on a visible drive in file explorer – select )
    .- click on Disk Management
    if your missing drive shows up there with an existing drive letter, just proceed as this article explains(right-click on the drive and re-assign a letter)
    .-if your drive does not appear there, right-click on , in the left pane, and select .

    My removable disk then appeared, and of course it was assigned an already assigned letter (my DVD drive’s). I was then able to re-assign a free drive letter as explained in this article.

    You might want to try Anthony Maw’s solution (May 1st 2008) also. It probaly works too: (I repeat it here to combine solutions in one comment and save you the search through this long list…in case you started with the latest comment…which I did not ;-) )

    Anthony Maw’s solution:
    “The procedure to recover a missing USB drive is straightforward but not obvious: In Device Manager, select View / Show Hidden Devices. Under “Storage Volumes” there will be an “Unknown Device” – this is the missing USB drive. Right-click on it and select “Update Driver”. After a few momements it should then correctly identify the unidentified USB storage volume as “Generic volume” and the USB drive will be assigned the next available drive letter in Disk Management. I’ve seen this problem with 1394 Firewire drives and also with SATA disk drive arrays. Good luck!” -Anthony Maw

    “The Geek”: You might want to add this “Re-scan disks” step in your article and maybe also add Anthony Maw’s solution, it would then truly live up to its title (ref Raj Moloye’s comment April 2007). Worked for me. Even after disconnecting and reconnecting, and mixing with or without a 2nd USB flash drive. It kept the letter I had assigned to it. Will it eventually cause a problem if all the letters get assigned like this, I wonder…


    Thanks to you and all the people who commented this article.

  129. Aquila

    Thank you Denis and thank you Anthony Maw. I recently bought a Toshiba 320GB external USB HDD and was getting VERY frustrated. I could see it from WIN XP SP3 disk manager, but not from Windows Explorer. I used Google and tried about five or six different “fixes”–NONE worked until Anthony’s. THANK YOU.

  130. Shannon H

    THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!! I thought I had lost family pictures and important files. You have saved my day!!!! Now I can stop blaming the hubby. THANK YOU!!!

  131. Joe West

    Thanks for your easy instructions. After following them, I was able to actually open my USB external hard drive from the Disk Manager. However, it still doesn’t show up on My Computer even after a reboot. In fact, after the reboot, I was back at square one. I had to go in a configure the drive letter again. I have tried EVERYTHING, I think. I’m running XP SP3, downloaded all the updates, the BIOS, I’ve uninstalled all the USB ports and hubs, installed drivers for the hard drive, and who knows what else. My PC won’t recognize ANY USB device. Your page was the only thing that gave me hope since I can now actually access my hard drive. However, I’m still going crazy! Help! This computer recently underwent a clean install from the backup CD’s, so that might help someone give me some ideas.

  132. kev

    Thanks for the information; It was helpfull.

  133. JimF

    I took a Hitachi 40 gb 2.5 inch drive from my wife’s old laptop (Win 2000) and put it in an external USB drive case. WinXP SP3 finds the drive and tells me it’s ready to use, but it doesn’t show in My Computer or Disk Management. I also don’t find it as a hidden device as one person suggested.

    When I right click Safely Remove Hardware, the drive shows as Generic USB Device at Location 0. If I uninstall in device manager and reboot, Windows goes through the discovery routine and finds it again, but it simply doesn’t show.

    I’d like to reformat the drive for use with XP as an external data drive. I did get one message telling me that drives from Win 2000 often won’t show in XP. No clue on how to make it show up though.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  134. anon

    Thanks, it worked for me!

  135. nathan

    I’m having an issue with a Lexar USB device. I tried to follow the above suggestions, but none of them have worked. The only way I can access my data in the drive is to find it under Disk Management, where it has been assigned a Letter, which is not being used by another device.

    If I left click on the device within Disk Managements, and select open, I can access my data.

    If I left click on the device and select explorer, it opens explorer and displays my data briefly. On the Folders portion of explorer I can see that I am in an unnamed directory within My Computer. Then almost instantly I am kicked back up into the My Computer directory, and my USB Drive is no where to be found.

    The same occurs when I select open from the Disk Management section, and then click on Folders to display where I am on My Computer. Explorer kicks me up to My Computer, and my USB Drive is no where to be found.

    So I can access my data, but it’s a nuisance having to go through Disk Management anytime I want to utilize it. Any suggestions?

  136. sneakerdog

    This advice was very helpful. I had to try several times to get the correct letter for my external drive in disk management, but when I got to E it worked!

  137. Jens Dalsgaard

    Thank you very much for this good guide!

  138. Pete

    Hey, this is a great ‘how-to’. I was actually wondering if there was another way to do this. I’m trying to get my computer at work to recognize my jump drive, but I don’t have administrative priviledges to access the disk management, so I can’t change the drive letter that way. It used to recognize my jump drive until I had a differant one plugged in to it, then it assigned the drive letter to that jump drive, now I can’t change it back. Any suggestions would be muchly appreciatted.

  139. Aquila

    Pete, it’s simple: ask your IT administrator!

  140. Sunflower

    Very Helpful!

  141. Karlo Balandra

    My win xp pro does not recognize my maxtor 320Gb HD. It connects via USB, but it appears in my computer as “the one” (the name I gave it some time ago), upon clicking on it, my computer slows to a crawl, and stops responding, other times it responds fine, and I use that opportunity to go to system volume disk management to try and change its drive letter and what do I notice when I click on the volume letter’s drop down arrow, the list starts off on “E” not in “A” as it is supposed to.

    Two questions here:
    a) Why does my win Xp pro not recognize my HD? It was working before, i have tried on 2 diff computers, 2 diff USB cables, this happened after I installed Motorola V3 software drivers, these installed it said clear log? I pressed yes and apparently some drivers were removed, I have uninstalled this software.

    b) Why does the system volume, disk management only display E:-Z: as the only possible drive letter choices, as opposed to displaying A:-Z:?

  142. Tyler

    Thanks, solved my problem!


  143. Jordan

    How do I find the info about the accession events and actions for a particular volume (Win XP)? I suspect someone’s accessed the system while I was gone and messed with some important files. I want to confirm that and see when, where, what happened, etc. Thanx, (detailed) advice HUGELY appreciated!

  144. Haidee

    Thank you for this website. I thought my computer had a virus because the drive just disappeared completely. You see, I am technologically challenged. What happened was I copied pictures from my home computer on my usb which is the F drive. I went to work plugged it in my work computer and just couldn’t figure out what the world happened to my pictures. It told me there were no pictures to view. Then I realized that my work pc had it assigned to E drive as opposed to F drive. Search on the internet, found this site and wallahhh I could see my pictures. Thank you very much. I printed the instructions in case this happens to my drives again. Hopefully not. Ciao!!!

  145. pete

    Hi Thanks for the tip; not finding my flash drive almost drove me to drink! Don’t change the title – I wouldn’t have found this site otherwise.

  146. BigRMV

    Just an FYI. We’ve endured this for years. The reason, according to what I’ve read, is that XP does not have the “FIRST DRIVE LETTER” option that Win9x and 2000 offered. So instead of letting you start adding drives at M, for example, your drive letter is simply assigned by the system. This would be all well and good EXCEPT for the fact that XP IGNORES LOGICAL MAPPINGS in favor of local drives.

    What this means is, if you have a network with numerous connected or mapped drives–say drives E, F, G, H–Windows XP will ignore them when another device (like USB flash drives) is attached to the system. Ergo, your USB drive “takes” the first perceived available drive letter. That would be Drive E in this example.

    We have yet to find a registry hack or other fix to this problem other than that mentioned in this thread.

  147. Charles Wade

    I can’t even begin to show you my thanks!!! I really appreciate the forum man!!!

  148. Richard Foster

    I could not see my drive and thought is was the disk, then the USB case, and with this info, solved the problem in less than 60 seconds. Thanks A L O T guys/gals.

  149. Roger

    The suggestion above is not working for a 10GB drive I have in a USB enclosure. it shows the drive to be healthy, Diagnostics are reported by system but the there is no drive letter. This being the case is there a way to attach to the drive using the same path as the System diagnositcs As I mentioned the drives 3 partitions show all to be healthy. Thanks

  150. Anthony Maw

    If your USB drive is not getting assigned a drive letter, try the solution in my posting above on May 1, 2008

  151. Nithin Joji

    When I connected my USB drive,safely remove hardware appeared in the task bar but I don’t find the USB drive in My Computer ! How can I solve this problem? Some one help me PLEASE…………

  152. Omer Hameed

    Thanks a lot
    I wasted 2 hours trying to connect disconnect ,restart etc but I was unable to see USB device in My Comp untill I asked google and found this solution.

    Thanks & Regards

  153. feckineejit

    Wish i had saw this yesterday, had to format my laptop, ended up losing all my kids photo’s due to my laptop not showing up my flash drive before i formatted, sods law i’d find this after formatting :-(

  154. daz

    here goes…
    iv got a windows xp but i cannot use my printer or anything else that runs off the usb port.
    iv also looked on device manager and i cannot see the usb icon.
    iv recently had service pack 3 installed,do you think this could be related with this problem?

    please help.

    thanks for you time.

  155. kasper

    so what do you do if you want to acces the drive, but you deleted the patition. and don’t vant to delete files on it ?

  156. John

    i have a problem with my usb hard drive case.conflicting with a hard drive wdc 640 gb)

    starngely the usb case is not in conflict with other hard drive I’ve also a 500 giga WDC on my computer

    I can only use one of them ( the usb hard drive case or WDC 640 Giga)
    by disabling.

    Please Help

    many thaks in advance

  157. Kenny

    Thank you for posting this. This solved my problem. I didn’t even think to check Disk Management.

  158. Biswaranjan

    as u have mentioned i tried to change the drive letter but its telling that “The operation on volume is not complete because the partition or volume is not enabled”.. What should i do for this??

  159. Amy

    Thank you very much!!! I found these instructions extremely helpful in that they explained *why* the problem was occurring and *exactly* how to fix it. I will definitely come here for tech support in the future.

  160. Shihab

    I have 2 Gb Transcend USB pen drive. Unfortunately my usb pen drive does not work and does not show in my computer and also do not show Disk Management area. So plz help me anybody and how to recover it?.

  161. k1d

    Here’s great one:

    Best Windows XP usb flash edition 2009

  162. ashik

    Wow ! Thanks friend!!! it really helped me to solve the problem :) :) Thanks again !!!!

  163. Cheryl

    Thanks so much. I’ve been trying to figure this out since I installed a new DVD drive a few months ago. Your instructions were very clear and easy to follow, and it was fixed in no time.

  164. Arunava Ghosh

    I’ve a external hard disk ..Of late the prob arised that my PC detects the external drive but it doesnt show up in My Computer ..It shows in Device Manager ..I even tried out ur tip but of no use coz it even doesnt shown up in disk management….whenevr I plug in the drive it gives a alarm saying the drive is detected but I cant see the drive no where ..Please help

  165. Mike

    I was unable to get my portable USB-powered harddrive to mount. It didn’t show up in Disk Management or anywhere although I could feel that the drive was spinning. I finally figured out that I needed to plug-in it into an additional 2nd USB port so that I guess it received enough power. The cable that came with the drive had 2 USB plugs in it. Once I plugged in the 2nd one it immediately mounted. What’s particularly interesting is that the first time I mounted this drive on the same computer with the same other USB devices connected it only required one USB port…

    This is Windows Vista SP1 and a Transcend 25M drive.

  166. Tony

    What I have found with windows microsoft, even with registry cleaners and so on, you can spend a lot of money and hours, when repair and re-installs do not work, It best to do a fresh install, About once a year, so I learned for affordable reasons, Unless you have a D drive but best to have OS disc to reformat and re install, I have XP home edition, hard drive, [I Do Not have disc,]which has stopped recognising Lacie 120 GB pocket drive, it shows up in Bios menu, but not in Disc management, or device manager, Sound is heard when connected, Safely Remove Hardware does not Show. But it shows up in Vista home premium hard drive,[I have Disc] and in XP Professional [I have Disc.]spare installed hard drive, The downside is that I cannot replace installed software, in XP home edition, which I use frequently, even the lacie booster did not help. I have tried re installing usb drivers, as of yet no success, I even reformatted Lacie, as was to NTFS.

  167. Bilge

    Me and 252 others thank Paul Gu|blog for this answer!

    Full article at

    It works!

    Note: It installed System Information folder of approx 130Mb, I later connected the drive to a Windows Vista PC, and deleted this folder to return the 130Mb for storage.

    “How to delete GPT Protective Partition

    In Windows XP Professional, if you cannot access or modify GPT disk, you can convert a GPT disk to MBR by using the clean command in DiskPart, which will remove all data and partition structures from the disk.

    1. You may see S2VR HD 5 Drives in GPT status.

    2. Go to DOS command line (click on “Start Menu”, then “Run”, type in “cmd” in textbox, and hit “OK”)

    * Type in “DiskPart” in command line.
    * Type in “list disk” in command line to show all disks in this machine.
    * Use “select” to set the focus to the specified partition, for example “select disk 1″.
    * Use “clean” command to remove GPT disk from the current in-focus disk by zeroing sectors.

    3. Go back to Disk Management, you can see all S2VR HD disks are “unallocated” now. Right click on disk info, choose “Initialize Disk”.

    4. Choose all drives in S2VR HD and initialize them.

    Warning: This command will erase all data on the disk, so please backup your data first.

    Filed by Paul Gu at January 6th, 2008 under Windows”

  168. Zelig Lui

    My USB memory stick which I use daily just didn’t work all of a sudden as there is no detection after plugging into the USB slot. I tried on several PC already and still no detection. I have extremely important data on the USB thumb drive……anyone can help?

  169. Michael

    I have two transcend USB 4GB thumb drives. One works fine and the other stopped working. The drive that is not working contains one year of work.


    Anyway, when i plug it into any of my three computers, i am receiving the following error message, “One of the USB devices attached to this computer malfunctioned and windows does not recognize it.”

    I have tried numerous USB ports. Same issue. When i go to Devmgmt, it list Unknown device. When i check the Details of the Hardware Instance ID in device manager, it does not list the VID, instead it show 0000&000_etc. The hardware ID should be 058F

    I am running Windowx XP SP2.

    I have not made any changes to the PC recently.. All other USB devices works just fine. I may have to cut my losses and move on, but the information on this drive will takes MONTHS to restore!!!

    HELP pleaseeeeeeeee…

  170. Yohan Perera

    For worse situations you can follow this advice from Microsoft. Involves a registry hack..

  171. Mike

    I have a similar problem execept for one exception. The drive I have is also an old c drive off a computer I retired. My problem is when i go into disk manager there is no drive letter assigned to this particualar drive, so when I try to change it the only option I get is to delete. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  172. Jim

    My “missing” USB drive is the one in the top corner which is not given a letter, and when I right click on it all the options are greyed out. How can I get windows to recognise it?

  173. spyke

    i cannot see my pendrive under explorer.
    when i insert a new pen drve a wizard for installing drvers appears and after the wizard all it says is drivers not found.

    no my usb port is alright since my windows mobile gets detected and work fine .

    i cannot access the drive from commandline also also when i insert my pd , a sound is heard but no sign of drive , even disk management also doesn’t show that a drive is attached. but under other device section of device manager i can find the name with a yellow “?” on its name.
    pls help me out .

    if the problem is with drivers suggest a way to find the drivers.

    waiting for reply………………………………………………………………….

  174. Baba

    Hi Gays I have computer, but the USB is not working and want install a progam that I most use a usb in other to install so is there anyone who can help me.

  175. Qamar

    I have a HP laptop it was working fine suddenly my battery goes off and the charger stop charging charger is working in another Laptop but its not charging my laptop the pin in the laptop light is shows one when i plug the pin plz help me

  176. Bryan

    Thank you so much. I just had to change drive letters for each of my flash drive to unused letters and bam, fixed. Maybe it’s because I’ve been up all night but I should have known that. Thank goodness for google and web sites like this.

  177. John Coupland

    Just brilliant, I had encountered this problem on a number ooccasions, and it has caused me real grief.
    How wonderful to find such a well laid out description of the solution.

    Many thanks

  178. PHP

    While it means well, this article is misleading. I have an external E drive that became lost after a simple reboot. This article does not help me find it.

  179. Murray

    I want to thank you for this article. I paid an IT guy $200 to fix this for me. Alas 2 weeks later it came up again. I was able to fix the problem following your instructions. Thanks.

  180. Andy

    Great article! help me a lot with fixing my boss’ PC after fiddling around for more than a week..
    Thx again

  181. Jose Hamilton


    Works fine. Thanks

  182. Ben Ramsey

    Thanks this was just what I needed to find my missing flash drive!

  183. Cellulean

    Hey Geek,

    I have a similar problem.

    However, when I get to disk management it does not show the drive letter.

    I see “disk 1 unknown and not initialized”

    Any ideas here?

    Thanks in advance

  184. zi

    What can I say… thank you just isn’t enough though my problem lied in the fact that the external USB drive was a new drive and was not formatted but still Your tip helped me find the way to format it and assign the missing drive.


  185. sig

    This problem has been puzzling me for a while. Thanks for the great tops. They are very helpful

  186. Jeremy Person

    Thank you so much, worked great for me!

  187. Pragnesh Kachhia(CANADA)

    Hi Dear,
    I have major concern about my external Sata Hard Drive(750 GB). Until yesterday, It was working and stored 500 gb data. Suddenly, my Laptop Inspiron 6000 has system(Windows Xp) now its’t recognize even not in My computer in manage as well. What to do I don’t understand pls help over here. Asap

  188. Jess

    Thanks!!! This totally fixed my problem!

  189. carbrook

    My new USB external drive is not allocated a drive letter automatically. If one is applied in Disk Management it is not visible in Explorer but is in Accessories\Command Prompt and I can copy to & from and access files on the drive using the command line. The drive letter is lost on rebooting.

    However, if I allocate the drive letter using Paragon Hard Disk Manager it is visible in Explorer as well as in Command Prompt – I can then drag and drop as normal. Again, the drive letter is lost on rebooting.

    I have tried disabling the Firewire port and using an unprotected power socket. I have checked Logical Disk Manager, the associated Administrative Service and Removable Storage Services are all set to automatic – all to no avail. Western Digital are sending me a dual socket USB cable to see if an improved power supply helps.

    If anybody has another suggestion it would be appreciated.

  190. Kelvin

    Brillian!!! This issue has been nagging me for a while. Thanks for sharing.

  191. Eko Budi Santoso

    Thanks for the article. I just have the problem. My external drive suddenly gone. It is shown in the device manager but I couldn’t find in in the explorer. I tried it in Ubuntu and it works. It means, my expernah hard drive is OK. So something is going wrong with my XP.
    Thanks for your help.

    Eko (Indonesia)

  192. John von

    My original hard drive was getting a blue screen error message of BLUE_SPOOL_CALLER. I bought a new 3.5 inch PATA Western Digital hard drive, replaced the bad one, reinstalled XP, updated to service pack 3, reloaded and updated my anti-virus program, reloaded and updated Internet Explorer (version 8 with updates), got my internet connection reestablished, reloaded Adobe Reader, etc.

    Now I’m having a problem trying to get my data off the old hard drive. I bought a Sabrent IDE hard drive enclosure, put the old drive into it, plugged in the power cord and USB cable. In the disk management section of My Computer, I can see that the PC knows that the drive exists and is plugged in. But in My Computer, the drive does not appear. I see the master drive, the floppy drive, the CD drive….but not the “new” external drive (meaning my old drive in the new external enclosure).

    The instructions that came with the enclosure say that the drive has to have the jumper in the “master” position. According to Western Digital, for dual drives, the jumper goes on pins 1 and 2 for “cable select” and pins 5 and 6 for “master”. I’ve tried both positions and neither one works. And I tried the “slave” position of pins 3 and 4. Nada. I also tried nada…no jumper at all. I called Dell tech support and their guy couldn’t figure it out.

    Then I put the old “bad” drive into the computer itself. Still nothing.

    In the My Computer/Manage/Disk Management screen, the “bad” disk shows as 39 MB FAT Healthy (EISA Configuration) and also shows as 111.72 GB NTFS Healthy (Active) but there is no letter assigned. And it won’t let me assign one. Any suggestions? (I just want to get files and data off the old drive…not actually use it as a working drive since it’s probably corrupted.)


  193. FWJPhD

    I use Drive Manager 4.09 to make “invisible” USB drives visible.

  194. Simon

    Thanks. This tip worked a dream just when I thought I had a 500Gb weight for my fishing line!

  195. Steve

    Hi, just wanted to say a big thanks for the info on lost USB drives. Logged on this morning to find my Samsung Story Station had disappeared (panic!!) then after spending several hours trying to find some useful help (and couldn’t) I located your page and in no time was up and running again. Brilliant….

  196. Tony

    You guys are genius, these are so helpful……..

  197. Walter

    Thanks so much, you solved my problem.

  198. Cradelikz

    I can’t believe this info is this much old (2007) and still works fine (MAR 2010)!!

    I had a problem with my flash drive not appearing just because it decided to do so from one day to another!

    And God knows I searched all over the web for two months (CNET people neither YA! had a procedure I hadn’t tried and some of them insulted my tech knowledge) but I am truly glad to tell this works even on Vista Home Premium X64 :D♥♥♥

    Thanks truly Mr Geek editor, this IS why I love HowToGeek♥♥♥

  199. jackie woolf

    Sometimes a letter comes up for my flash drive and sometimes it doesnt but when it does it wont let me back anything up —it now is ‘G:\’ and when i try to save it to it i always get the message You do not have access to folder ‘G:\’ See your administrator for access to this folder—i took the harddrive in to be repaired but all my usb ports are working and the tech said there was nothing wrong—this is a new sandisk flash that goes in the usb port–always worked before —someone grabbed the old one but it said it was full but it wasnt—i think i am going to have to buy a new computor cause i need to back up some programs that i need to keep—who is the administrator and can i fix this myself?


  200. sharib khan

    4 some reason when i plug in my usbdrive or mp3 player into a usb port they dont show up in my computer. they show up in disc managment and if i click on “change drive letter and paths” nothing happens.
    show hidden devices in my computer is enabled
    i tryed removing all usb drivers and reinstalling but no luck.
    i am using windows xp.
    both drives are FAT format and work fine on other computers.
    it also doesnt let me format them.
    any suggestions :?:

  201. Deepthi Pedagandham

    Thanks , it worked :)

  202. Houston Art Teacher

    Wwoo Hooo!!! You have saved me and my students soooo much pain. We are constantly having trouble when trying to read all the different student USB’s throughout the day. Thank You!

  203. Saul Shiffman

    Advice on “cleaning” Mac-formatted drive using diskpart was perfect. Thanks!


  204. CGJ

    Thanks! Exactly what I wanted to know – fixed my problems in seconds!

  205. Andrea

    Thank you! I finally get my external hard drive back :D. This how-to work under Vista too!

  206. Yuri

    Did not solve my issue.
    I see mass storage device driver loading when connecting drive (in device manager), but can’t see it in admin tools as was suggested.
    Any ideas?

  207. Dmitry

    I was fighting for 10 hours straight not knowing whether to blame Western Digital or Microsoft. I tried tones of different advices. The one by commentator Anthony Maw worked for me:

    “In Device Manager, select View / Show Hidden Devices. Under “Storage Volumes” there will be an “Unknown Device” – this is the missing USB drive. Right-click on it and select “Update Driver”. After a few momements it should then correctly identify the unidentified USB storage volume as “Generic volume” and the USB drive will be assigned the next available drive letter in Disk Management. I’ve seen this problem with 1394 Firewire drives and also with SATA disk drive arrays. Good luck!”

    Many thanks to Anthony Maw as well to howtogeek site and the author of the original article!

  208. Henno Täht

    Had a similar situation like Greg Davis:

    Windows Explorer won’t show external USB drive but Disk Management does. Command prompt lets me access the drive but Windows GUI says “The folder G:\ does not exist.” when typing G:\ to address bar. Also, when I type “My Computer” to Internet Explorer’s address bar, I can see the drive and access it.

    I suspect that either Daemon Tools or Dell Virtual CD drive had something to do with it. Either way:

    Delete HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E967-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}\UpperFilters key and reboot! After that Windows finds Generic Volume and asks for another reboot

  209. Sara

    I have a USB, which only works on a particular desktop computer. Every time I insert it into my laptop, it cannot be detected. I managed to find it as “PE” in the Disk Management section of Computer Management, however I cannot change its’ name. It is also Healthy, but apparently the “Partition” is unknown. Help please!

  210. Robert

    Phenomenal Article thanks

  211. ramesh

    when i click on drive, change drive letter and path canot be hilight. give me solution please..

  212. Jayroll

    thanx dude you helped me alot when i had to download new games from my pc to my psp, at first i doubt it but when i try it it seemed to work !!!!!!!!!!! 5/5!!!!!

  213. Claus Futtrup

    Thank you for this information. It just saved me. I bought a disk and a USB disk unit. The disk was formatted with Linux stuff. When plugged into my Win XP machine, it showed no letters and no nothing. This article showed me how to “Find my Missing USB drive” … exactly what the headline promised. Thank you.

  214. PFeri

    W7 64: the USB drive I used for moths suddenly disappeared, tried to fix for two weeks until I found this method “for XP”. Procedure and result exactly the same with W7. I found my USB HDD without drive letter, so instead of changing I had to assign a drive letter.
    I am also proposing to change the title to “Find Your Missing USB Drive” because it seems even Vista and W7 facing the same problem with the same repair procedure. Or “Find Your Missing USB Drive XP, Vista, W7” to be more Google friendly.

  215. gw307

    There’s a registry hack available at that automatically renames the flash drive letter on a Windows XP machine to avoid conflicts with existing drive letters in use. I’m not the programmer, I just use this hack on my machine. Use it at your own risk.

  216. Vivian Duford

    How do I find A DVD drive when it dosent show in my PC I had it until I had to re do my hard drive. Now it wont show it all Dell helped my drdo my hard drive But didnt put in my DVD drive. It is out of warnitenity . Time has alaspted Since then . Does any one have an answer for me ..If so please help. tHANK YOU

  217. Slava

    Now, before I go any further I want to explain that I went to Disk management section of my PC, and I my USB flash drive is not even listed there. No letter asigned, no trace of it. Medion flash drive 8 GB is the one I am having problem with.
    I am using Dell Windows 7 64 bit PC. Everything was ok until today. I downloaded movie(I have about 8 movies in there), and checked flash drive with Norton Antivirus, just to make sure there are no viruses. l I had no viruses. However, All of the sudden, flash drive stopped responding. it flashes, but I cannot open it.I hear clicking sound, like computer is trying to open it, and nothing is happening. I have several Removable disk drives,on my PC, OS (C:) is healthy : Disk 1: Removable E: No media,
    Disk 2: Removable F: No media; Disk 3: Removable G:; and Disk 4: Removable H. None of them have any media. If I change the any of these drives to another letter , will this solve the problem? Could it be a driver issue? However, when I plug my other flash drives, I have no problems, they are clearly visible with letter assigned. I plug flash drive one at a time to see whether they are all working.
    I spoke with Dell agent over the phone, and she told me that my flash drive is faulty, as my USB is able to read the other three flash drives. They are also seen when I access them individually on the Disk management. However, Medion 8 gb flash drive is not seen. Do you have any other solutions for me rather than discarding the corrupted flash drive? Are there any recovery data software?
    Most of all, how would I be able to change the letters when flash drive is not even visible and no letter is assigned . Perhaps, this flash drive needs to be put in a garbage can?

  218. Aliza =)

    When i click on the letter to changed it…it says “windows cannot modify the letter of your system volume or boot volume” can you please help me

  219. rastarrph

    Thank you, reading your instructions sort of “reminded” me that even though an “internal” drive is placed in an “external” usb enclosure, and thus accessed via usb, it still needs to be “formatted/partitioned” duh!

    no wonder it wouldnt appear in “My Computer” even though it said it was installed and it was there in device manager.

    I was worried my seagate barracude 1tb was a waste of money, spent hours looking for seagate baracuda 1tb drivers for windows xp and was literally about to do some McGyver madness with a nokia cable proposed elsewhere on the net…:) LOL!

    Thanks again.

    word to the wise: Always format an internal hard drive designed to be internal, it wont just plug and play just because you placed it in a usb enclosure…:)

  220. Brian

    My problem is a little different. I have a USB Drive that I can access, but one of the Folder Icons within it has disappeared! The files within that folder are still there because I can see their names go by when I do a Malware scan – but how do I get tro open them with no folder icon??
    Would appreciate some help with this. Thanks.

  221. danny

    you guys rock i like this web site so much!!!

  222. Gary

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed

  223. Leafgreen

    I’ve read through most of this thread and do not see my exact problem stated.

    I’ve got a Lenovo T61 laptop with XP SP2. The T61 has only USB 2.0 connections, no eSata nor firewire. I’m attempting to connect a Hitachi Desktar 250GB hd installed in a Startech USB/eSata combo external case. It has mounted in the past fine, but that was a few months ago.

    Now the external hd won’t mount, won’t show up in Disk Management nor Device Manager -> Disk Drives. However, when I connect to my friend’s new Toshiba Windows 7 laptop, it mounts instantly. I have tried all combinations of restarting my laptop, with and without the external connected, with and without being first powered on. Nothing. Help? Is the XP USB driver corrupted, perhaps?

  224. Tony

    HP External Harddrive not being recognised windows see it as virtual cd rom…

  225. David

    I like the title the way it is. I did a Google search for
    “cannot find usb in my computer”
    and this came up. Exactly what I needed. Thanks.

  226. Mabel

    Awesome Article! Just what I needed! Solved my prob after few minutes of surfing the web!

  227. Michael

    Thanks!! I have two identical external USB drives and could not connect them at the same time. You saved my day (and the drives, I almost threw them out the window!)

  228. Steve

    Awesome! It worked like a charm. Thanks!!

  229. Dalen

    Thank you for helping me save my flash drive by learning how to partition it and assign it a drive letter. I was going to throw this thing away, but wanted to search online one last time to see if I could fix it. You rock!

  230. Cher

    None of the above solutions worked for me. I have a WD 1TB hard drive that suddenly stopped showing up yesterday. The problem is, it shows up in device manager, I have uninstalled it several times and plugged the hard drive back in but nothing comes up. I have installed and have run a lot of different programs that have been suggested on every tech website. I cannot assign it a drive letter because it doesn’t show up at all in disk management, and it doesn’t show up when plugged in other computers. It installs the drivers but doesn’t open at all. What could be the problem? Is there a virus on my hard drive? I downloaded and saved a t.v. episode on it and that was the last I was able to use it. I have family pictures, school term papers, and lots of music and movies saved to the drive and all will be lost if I am not able to open my hard drive!


  231. Txmjornir

    This doesn’t work for me. When I go to disc manager only the C drive is there, and D if there is a disc in it. The drivers are all in place, but nothing shows up when I put a flash drive in the USB port. It does have power, but nothing else. Help and thanks.

  232. Vid

    Thanks to the author!
    You saved me from being angry for lots of hours!
    Thank you very much!

  233. yogesh

    pls sajest me solution..!
    problem is my pen drive is dont show the icon.i think so is anythingsolution…..!


    Dave Evans. Thank you. I think you’ve fixed my Ex.HD. Just waiting for it to format now

  235. cessie

    i have tried this solution but it still doesnt work. i still cant find my usb drive.. help please..

  236. Peter A

    THANK YOU! Your explanation was simple and clear, and I fized the problem in 2 minutes. I had spent 2 hours of fruitless search on Microsoft web site – useless!

  237. Paul

    Not a computer wiz here, so bear with me. I am looking to find out (step by step) how to recover one of my drives(dvd/rw cd-rw). My computer suddenly does not recognize it, it does not appear on My Computer, it will not open. It is as if all history or record of it exhisting has dissappeared. Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I have a cd in the drive and can not get it out so that I can use it in the other drive.

  238. Georg

    I have a more curious problem. I have T30 running XP service pack 2. My D: drive is a logical drive, i.e., a partition on the hard disk.

    I was scanning a multi-page document via Acrobat, using a WIA-HP ScanJet 5300C, USB scanner, when I was distracted and left the scanning half way through for some time. When I returned, the scanning dialogue had disappeared, with the pages already scanned showing in the Acrobat window. There was some message (presumably an error) showing on the screen, but I accidentally clicked off on it, before I read it. Anyway, I picked up with the scanning where I had left off, and the whole scan completed successfully.

    However, when I went to save the file, which had been created, to the D: drive, there was no D: drive listed in the ‘save’ dialogue. I then tried to open a different file, but again, there was no D: drive in the ‘open’ dialogue.

    I subsequently went to My Computer, and there, where the D: drive should have been in the window, was the scanner, and indeed, clicking on it, took me to the scanner interface. There was also an E: drive missing, which had always previously shown, but that drive is for another OS on the dual boot system.

    Both D: and E: drives show up as healthy under Computer Management. From a command prompt, I can get up a DIR of D: and all sub-directories. D: is basically data, but also some programs. I can execute a program on D: from the command line, and I can load and save documents by entering the full path in the appropriate dialogue. I can’t search from the graphical interface, because it does not show D:

    Using RegEdit, I have restored the registry values to a point just before this happened, but to no avail.

    Can someone please tell me how to fix this.

    Thanks in advance-

  239. Alex

    This resolved my issue. Thank you!!!

  240. Joe

    I reformatted a new USB drive and XP couldn’t find it after that. This fixed my problem. Thanks!

  241. Washington

    Thanks a lot, Henno Täht. My portable HDD was missing and now is back.

  242. Jeremiah Wilson

    Hello, for some reason my external hard drive Western Digital Elements 1.5TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive WDBAAU0015HBK-NESN is not showing up every once in a while and I would really like to know the reason why. It can’t be broken because this thing is sturdy and hasn’t droped or suffered any water damage of any kind. I would really like help in figuring out this problem since I have so much saved to it and I need it because I save stuff from school onto the hard drive. Please Respond to this for me to my e-mail. Thank you, I hope you can help.

  243. Jeremiah Wilson

    Oh and heres my e-mail please contact me with any information you have to give me.

  244. UAE

    when i did the steps, i got a message saying ( you need to format the drive before you can use it) !!!!!!!!!!!!! HELP

  245. bruno

    georg, just do system restore, and if i may say, dont use regedit unless you are pro.
    you really dont need it.
    registry programs are not to be messed with, ever.
    trust me on this one.
    if u want you can download free Ccleaner and only delete unused reg entries but thats all.
    it will do it itself once u start program.
    hope this helps.

  246. bruno

    paul, right click any drive in my computer window, go to properties, then hardware, click on that cd drive, it will show up there, click on properties on the bottom of the window, and on next window you will see at the bottom use or dont use this drive. you know what to do next…

  247. Mandy

    I formatted my hardrive as non of the stuff cant be loaded, i tried checkdisk /f or /r both wont work so i decided to format the whole hardrive. I managed to partition to few parts however for the last gb cant be formated. It kept on saying cant be formated, try closing disk management or restart computer. Both doesnt work: somehow now it cant be detected by any of pc whether in “My Computer” or disk management. Is it damage? however it can detect in device manager on the disk drive. Need your help! Cheers!

  248. Thomas Lukasik

    This tip/trick made my day today! I’ve got several Windows 2003 Servers, and every one of them did the same thing when I plugged my WD 1600 USB drive in: they loaded the driver and announced everything was fine. The trouble was, it didn’t show up anywhere in Windows Explorer.. which drove me nuts for a long time — but not any more thanks to you and your advice!

  249. Martin

    Great article thanks, you have just saved my skin!

  250. Gabriela

    Thank you. You save my time, data and nerves :))

  251. Georges

    I just bought an USB 3 external drive got this problem. It’s the first time it happens to me. I was firstly thinking driver, but as my computer could recognize it has a HD attached I finally end up there.
    I’m a quite expereienced user, but I learned something today!
    Thanks a lot you save me a lot of time and troubles

  252. Harshad Pandit


    I purchased a samsung 2TB device, and have it in an external enclosure. When I connect it to my 3 different laptops ( 2 running XP and 1 running vista), they all identify the hard drive and run the driver. However, the drive doesnt appear in the windows explorer under a drive name. I looked into several forums and accordingly ran the manage computer application (rt clicl my computer>>manage>>storage>>computer management) and the samsung drive only shows under the lower pane. It DOES NOT appear in the upper pane along with my C drive. Right clicking on the samsung drive in the lower pane only gives me information on properties but no choice to assign a drive name or format it. Please help.


  253. John S

    Windows XP T40 computer Iomega 250 GB portable: E: Iomega disappeared overnight
    Followed the ‘geek’ procedure to find missing E: drive. Full of hope until I got to Disk Management. Instead of Lexar (F) as in the example, I got “Disc 1 – no letter – 232.88 GB – Unallocated”. Cannot change the letter because there is no letter to change. Oh darn!
    In devmgmt.msc under disk drives it shows ST925031 5AS USB Device – Rt click Properties – The
    device is working properly. Troubleshooting doesn’t help, introduces confusion. I tried uninstalling that and the USB hub, re-booting, re-plugging etc. to no avail.
    Guess I need to assign a letter to a disk without a letter and I don’t see how to do it yet. Is there something in Anthony Maw’s letter that I’m missing that would help.
    The ‘Geek’ procedure was the clearest and best solution to any computer problem I ever saw laid out. Even this 74 yr. old could understand it. But it’s missing what you can do when the usb drive you find has no letter. Any suggestions?
    Thank you. John S Surrey, BC

  254. Manikandan

    I am one of the fan to this website. This article really helped me while I got this issue in my company. Thanks a ton!

  255. maryam

    my usb was working all fine but suddenly got disconnected and not it doesnt gets connected neither to my laptop nor to my pc :/

  256. John S

    The Iomega external hard drive letter that was lost HAS BEEN FOUND!

    A friend who knows what he is doing, plugged my Iomega drive into his computer (Windows 7) and the computer did not assign a drive letter although it was reported as operating normally. When he checked it was “unassigned”, the same as in my laptop with XP.

    He used an Acronis Recovery Expert program – which recovers deleted or lost partitions automatically. He reasoned that an unpartitioned drive like mine would be treated by Acronis as a drive with a single partition and recover that. Turns out that he was right.
    I’m not geek enough to explain exactly the steps he took, but getting Acronis set up to analyze and recover the lost “partition” was a matter of a couple of minutes. Although previous analyses of his own larger drives was completed in 10 – 15 minutes, for some unknown reason the Iomega was under search and analysis for 10 hours! Watching the “Completed” thermometer grow was like watching grass grow.
    Patience was rewarded however and he reported this morning that the Iomega is functioning well, “good as new”. There are a number of files that “Windows can’t open” but 99% seem good.
    We will now be taking steps to partition and bullet-proof both the laptop and the Iomega drive without losing any data.
    Hope this is a help – the Acronis program costs $50.00 or so – best if you can find a friend or friendly geek shop with the recovery disks.
    Good luck. John Spence Surrey, BC

  257. Green Apple

    Hello everyone,

    I can’t see my hard disk partitions on disk management … not only USB … anyone can help plz

  258. snavin

    Beauty Mate! Sorted me out in a jiffy! Ta heaps

  259. SwashB

    Very helpful indeed. In my case the drive had not ‘initialized’. Once I completed that all was hunky dory.
    Thank you

  260. Cool

    All the initial criticisms of this article, about its title being wrongly phrased, are frankly speaking, just a bunch of sour grapes.

    This article is the best in the Web addressing this problem, and solves it without having to buy registry cleaners, etc. Even the Microsoft Fixit solutions failed, when this article’s solution worked instantly.

    You’re a genius! Thanks!!!

  261. ud

    its works, thanks

  262. Keemie

    I followed all your steps but when i tried to assign a letter to my usb it says system cannot find the file.

  263. Sergio (Italy)

    You great boy!
    You saved my life.
    God bless you.


  264. Will

    I have fought this issue for years. Thank you so much.

  265. aj

    Thank you!!

  266. CrisP

    This was so helpful. you are a lifesaver!

  267. Amanda

    I can’t see any of the USB ports anymore (i:, j:, k:, l:, etc). I have unistalled all USB root hubs and host controllers and restarted windows (xp, SP3). All controllers come back but still can’t see the ports. Any help appreciated, thanks!

  268. athaylaytun


  269. sherly

    i have inserted the usb drive but i dont see any drive on my computer, and whatever u have have suggested if do the same it showes it’s in the c drive if any thing goes wrong who will help me on the same

  270. Setanta

    I had the same problem after a winxp pro SP2 install and my external hard drive wasn’t detected even in ‘manage devices’ as explained above…what I did was..THIS….start…control panel…system…hardware…device manager…other devices… there a USB controller with a YELLOW ! (exclaimation mark there?…if so ‘double’ click it look for ‘Reinstall Driver’ on the next screen under the ‘General’ click that and let windows install the driver…it worked for me…I hope so for you as well….Slainte

  271. Sarah

    Didn’t work for me, as I was not able to rename my drive(the option was not there). However, I found a solution that worked for me.

    1. Go to Disk management.
    2. Right click the drive you are having problems with and select “Delete partion”. If there are more than 1 partions, remove them all. BUT ONLY DO THIS IF THE DRIVE IS EMPTY OR IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KEEP YOUR DATA
    3. Right click again and select “New Partion”, agree to format drive, and proceed with creation of a new one.

    After completing the steps above, check my Computer and you’re drive should be there.

  272. HERSHY

    wonderfull thank you

  273. JulieS

    Check the formatting of the USB drive. If it’s formatted for 64 bit, your 32 bit pc is not going to find it. Make sure the data is off of the USB drive, then reformat it for 32 bit. The drive should be discoverable once reformatted.

  274. vikas choubey

    it was really very good article with explanation.

  275. puneet

    my pro isn’t geting solved by this way

  276. Joel

    Great tip and great article! Windows was trying to map this drive to one that was already mapped. This quite little tip did the trick. Thanks!!

  277. bwake

    Thanks, good tip. Solved a nagging problem I’ve had for months!

  278. Antz

    I’m very thankful I stumbled upon this article. Our IT department thought this (problem ondetecting USBs) was a virus problem, that they had to re-format my profile on my business laptop. Good thing I don’t need to bring my unit to IT again. :D

    Thanks again!

  279. joshua alade

    THANKS so much
    my psp didnt show up in my computer when i plug it in but using this method i can now see it in my computer
    thanks again now i can put stuff on my psp again

  280. Sandee

    I don’t have a *MyComputer* Icon on my Desktop and I can’t find out how to put it there…
    I’m so frazzeled cuz I’m not a PC Smartee! LoL
    Any help will be greatly apprecited.
    Oh what to do??
    Thanx for your attention XoXo

  281. Suresh D

    Dear all,
    good day to you all there.
    please help this worried soul.
    i have been using one of a 16GB USB Drive for long.
    just from yesterday, when i used it in a Browsing Center, many of my folders and files are shown as shortcuts (with upwards arrow) only, and when i hover the mouse over the folder or files, they show as C:\Windows\System32.
    will any of you please advice me how to recover my lost or corrupted or infested files and folders?
    I hereby appeal to each and anyone who see this message and advice me urgently.
    May the God Almighty Bless you all for a long trouble free life.
    Thanks and expecting a sooner corrective measures or software to be used for recovering.
    +91 9444 717956

  282. Mark Williams

    I have a similiar, but not the same problem. I tried your fix, and it did not work. Any USB storage devices I plug in are not recognized in my computer. While trying your fix, the computer does see the drive and states that it is operating, but will not assign a drive letter to it. Past history time, I had a trojan virus called security tool which would not allow me to plug in any devices with a fix to the virus. We eventually got around it by installing another copy of windows and installing a virus fix program there. The virus had made several changes to my registry, which we had to manually locate and fix. I still have to shut down my main windows program and go to the alternate windows to move files between my hard drive and any other usb drives. This is very inconveinient since all my other programs are on my main copy of windows. Can you help?

  283. Ron Cashman

    Wow i couldn’t find my 1gb WD external drive .
    Thank$ to info here a simple rename of drive letter & i can see it & access it on my laptop.

    Very happy as i thought it was goodnight to my ext drive !!!:)
    Such a relief .

  284. Anthony C

    That worked wonderfully. Thank you so much for the help

  285. Albert

    My PC see the drive,but it isn’t listed anywhere,I can see..The device manager list as USB drive but this is the only place where it has the USB listed,Help! Its not list as above!

  286. Rams

    Hello this is rams, iam using westren digital external hard disk. when i was connected it to my laptop, its not showing any thing .even it is connected or not i dnt know but the power supply is ok. i dnt want any data just i want format to my drive. can u suggest how is it possible ? thx …..

  287. Pok Beng Lim

    Thank you for your help. However, after changing the drive letter and only after rebooting the usb drive would appear but if it was removed and reinserted the next time the drive would disappear again. Finally, the problem was solved by re-installing the OS (XP). When I was trying your fix several times, the keyboard of the notebook suddenly stopped responding. After re-installing the OS, the keyboard was also back to normal. I have spent so many days trying to fix the problem that I feel my experience would help others too.


  288. DMCD


    can anyone help here? I have an external hard drive and yesterday mounted it to a permanent folder on my desktop as I want to use it as my iTunes music folder. All seemed fine yesterday anyway. Today though, when I turn on the PC I can’t access the drive. (“…refers to a location that is unavailable…”). And there has been no letter assigned to it and I can’t see it in My Computer or Disk Management.

    Any help gratefully received.


  289. issac

    Thanks a lot! This tip was extremely useful to me. I wasn’t able to figure out why my USB drive which was working till yesterday has stopped working suddenly today. Must have been because of some disconnected and reconnected network drives.

  290. mark

    im not able to open the usb drive , im not able to view the drive in the disk management also

    kindly help .
    mark .

  291. rasulul amin murad

    Thanks Boss!! ur tips is tooo useful to me….

  292. Dead Person

    I did everything but when it comes to right clicking on the drive in the list I can’t click on any of the things in the drop down menu. AHHHHH. super annoying. Please help

  293. nicolas

    I did follow your instruction to solve the impossibility for my laptop to read all external object ( usb and others) but unfortunately i dont see LEXAR so that i can fix this problem.Thanks for answering . I would like to know some explanation concerning noise every time i plug a usb in my unreadable usb ports.

  294. Melissa

    Perfect, just what I needed to know!

  295. Elizabeth

    I have tried different options, including the above.. with no luck.
    My external usb hard drive worked at least for 2 years.. and disappeared from computers. under systems it shows as being healthy. Under computer management, it does not appear in the top bit with a drive path, but I do notice on the bottom half it has “Disk 5” unknown Not initialized (and that is my disk) I am not a computer wizzard at all. A stay at home mum trying to fix a problem – can someone help me??

  296. Elizabeth

    Forgot to mention. If I plug another external hard drive into that usb, it works.

  297. Simon


    I googled and found this article when my Win 7 machine stopped recognising my usb pen drive which was inserted directly to G:

    Followed this guide and renamed the drive P:

    Now P: is not listed underDisk Management. Any help would be appreciated.

  298. Malcolm

    Awesome! I was able to reformat an external USB drive that wouldn’t show up in My Computer, using these great instructions. Many thanks.

  299. diane

    kahit nah anung gawin koh gnun pa rin hindi madetect pero nailw nmn ang usb

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