How to fix “USB Device Not Recognized” in Microsoft Windows

How to fix “USB Device Not Recognized” in Microsoft Windows

USB device not recognized is probably one of the most common errors that people get with flash drives and other usb devices. I get this question emailed to me almost daily at this point. So I’ve decided to put together this guide to not only to show you how to solve the problem, but also address the various causes and ways to get around them in the future.

The unfortunate fact is that this could happen to any of your usb devices. Think about your keyboard, your computer mouse, your speakers, your headphones. All of these items are now (the majority of the time) connected via the usb ports on your computer. In the worst case scenario (which is also quite common) all of your usb ports could be giving you the same “usb device not recognized” error regardless of what usb device you’ve plugged in.

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First I’ll start with the quickest, easiest, most reliable fix for this problem. 9 times out of 10 this will work. Now, there’s always the possibility that it won’t work too, so read on to find out the other fix procedures you can go through as well.

Here’s the overview for those fixes before anything else. This includes uninstalling the usb drives for all your devices and then reinstalling them. You can also do something called a “system restore” or go to your device manager and uninstall all of the usb devices under the usb controllers section. Then restart your computer and reinstall the usb drivers. You may also see in device manager that the device shows up as an “Unknown Device.” Remember, I’ll go through each of these processes in detail below, I’m just mentioning them for now so you can have an overall idea.

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Motherboard reboot

The fastest and easiest fix does not involve editing the registry on your computer or uninstalling/reinstalling any usb drives. All you have to do is unplug your computer from its power supply. That’s pretty much it. Now, keep in mind that this does not mean that you just turn off your computer. Newer 2013 computers don’t really “turn off” completely when you press the power button since the motherboard still gets power.

For those of you who don’t know, the motherboard is where all of the hardware on your computer is connected to, (including our naughty usb ports). Sometimes your computer’s motherboard needs to be “rebooted” (turned off and then back on again) because something could go wrong with the communication process. Let’s say for example, your usb ports could suddenly stop working.

The small microprocessor on the motherboard will reload the drivers and your usb ports should then be back (fully operational) to recognize all of your usb devices. Ok let’s go through it one more time.

Turn off your computer using shut down or pressing the power button. Next, unplug your computer from the wall outlet. If you have a laptop, remove the battery as well. Let your computer sit for a few minutes (1-3 minutes) and then plug it back in.

9 times out of 10 your motherboard is going to be the problem and the solution. A simple reboot should solve the problem, but obviously this won’t always be the case.

Still having the same issue? Read on to learn about some of the other causes and solutions.

Other causes

When your computer starts back up from a standby or hibernation, there is a 5 to 10 second window when the selective suspend feature of your usb drivers interfere with detection of the new usb device. The time delay really depends on:

  • Host controller hardware
  • Attached hubs
  • Attached devices
  • USB driver versions
  • Support for USB 2.0
  • Additional system hardware or configurations that may change the timing

Using the device manager to recognize your usb device

The device manager is another way to get your devices working with your computer again. Well, it’s kind of like the whole purpose of the device manager really. Follow these steps with the device manager and see if it works:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type Devmgmt.msc, and then click OK. The Device Manager window opens.
  2. Click to select your computer as the location for the scan.
  3. On the Action menu, click Scan for hardware changes.

Windows XP recognizes the new device.

  1. Close the Device Manager window.

Disable power management of the usb hub

Similar to the motherboard reboot method, power management is kind of like a hardware reset of the electrical communication channels for the usb hub (port) itself.

  1. Click Start, click Run, type Devmgmt.msc, and then click OK. The Device Manager window opens.
  2. Expand Universal Serial Bus controllers.
  3. Right-click a USB Root Hub in the list, and then click Properties. The USB Root Hub Properties dialog box is displayed.
  4. Click the Power Management tab.
  5. Click to clear the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power check box, and then click OK.
  6. Repeat steps 3 through 6 for each USB Root Hub in the list.
  7. On the Action menu, click Scan for hardware changes.

Windows XP recognizes the new device.

  1. Close the Device Manager window.

Reinstall usb controllers

This is your final resort (and probably most complicated fix). The idea here is that something went wrong with the way your usb device is communicating with your usb port on a software level. Maybe the drivers didn’t install correctly or something else happened that just made everything all confused. No worries, just follow these steps to reinstall your usb controllers:

  1. Click Start, then type device manager in the Search box and then click Device Manager.
  2. Expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers. Right click a device and click Uninstall. Repeat for each device.
  3. Once complete, restart your computer. Your USB controllers will automatically install.

Hopefully your issue should be resolved. In worst case, if it’s not resolved, you may have to try installing hotfixes, or install latest updates of the Windows operating system or install motherboard latest chipset drivers. If you are still experiencing problems, please leave a comment for me below, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible and try to walk you through it in my response.

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Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is the Universal Serial Bus (USB) Guru for USBtips.com. When he's not writing tutorials and catching up on the latest USB news, Vincent is busy preparing his next blog post and answering USB questions from his readers and subscribers.

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