Plugged in your USB Flash drive but Windows can’t see it?

You’ve probably run into a drive lettering conflict.

Possible Symptoms

  • At home, your PC sees your flash drive as drive letter E. (I’m using E as an example)
  • You go to work and plug in your USB stick, but it doesn’t show up.

The likely culprit

This is probably because your PC at work already has a Drive E assigned – Windows can’t have two drives with the same drive letter, so your Flash drive can’t be used. To use it, we need to change the drive letter assigned to the flash stick.

How to fix it

  1. Right click on My Computer.
  2. Click ‘Manage’.
  3. Click ‘Disk Management’ in the Left pane.
  4. Locate your flash stick in the right pane.
  5. Right click on it, and choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths…’.
  6. Click either Change or Add, and assign the drive a new letter. (I usually pick something high up the alphabet, like ‘R’)
  7. Ta-da! Your Flash drive should now appear :)

13 thoughts on “Plugged in your USB Flash drive but Windows can’t see it?

  1. Phil Wiffen Post author

    Hey James,

    Without knowing more about the scenario, I can only guess, but one possibility is that your IT department has disabled USB Mass Storage devices, or restricted access to only approved devices. Try checking with them to see :)

  2. Carol Holmes

    Woohoo! I couldn’t find anything else about this. And I could not for the life of me imagine why Windows couldn’t see my device. But this worked! THANK YOU. :)

  3. Naked Chimp

    Oh yeah, wish I read more posts like yours…ones that actually work. Thanks for the help

  4. Rastislav Hrdlicka

    I have same problem, if i plug in USB mass storage device in my computer windows cant see it. But also in Computer management -> My Computer/Manage/Disk Management. There are only 2 drives Disk0 (C:\) and CD-ROM drive (D:\). Windows detect my USB mass storage because there is icon that USB Mass Storage Device was added. In properties of USB mass Storage Device in section Device status shows everything is working properly and also in Device manager shows no problems. Any idea how to fix it ?


  5. mitch

    guys my USB works perfect with flash drives, but i have only one flash drive that the computer can’t see or recognize , i tried changing the letter and this stuff but nothing worked , wn i open My Computer , it can’t see it ”Removable Disk” that’s what i get , and in the “manage” it sees disk1 , but nothing in it …
    plz send feedback

  6. Marty

    Two points….
    My flash/thumbs were working perfectly the last time I used them
    When I look at the left pane there is nothing there but the D & E items

    Tried inserting and removing the flash to no effect.
    So, I’m still lost

  7. Marty

    2 points
    all was working normal and well the last time I inserted
    only D & E in the right pane…devise does not show up

    tried inserting and removing…still no show

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