Why Won't My Computer Recognize My Jump Drive?

By Heather Marlman

One of the most common problems faced with USB jump drives is that they will suddenly appear to stop working when you plug them into a USB jack on a computer. Normally the USB drive is automatically detected by your operating system when you plug it into an available USB slot. However, if your computer doesn't automatically recognize when the drive is plugged in then some general troubleshooting methods can correct the problem.

Significance

Knowing how to correct the problem when your computer doesn't recognize a USB jump drive can save you time as well as unnecessary money to replace a drive you think is faulty. General troubleshooting techniques for USB jump drives are easy for even the casual computer user to learn.

Function

USB jump drives serve as a portable means of storage for your computer files. Because USB jump drives operate off of the USB mass storage protocol, additional software isn't required to operate the device. This makes them easy to move from one computer to another in order to have access to information stored on the USB jump drive.

Effects

Failure to recognize the USB jump drive by your computer can be caused by a drive letter discrepancy. When the USB jump drive is plugged into the computer, your computer will automatically assign a drive letter to identify the device. If this drive letter is in conflict with another drive then the USB jump drive will appear as if it is not connected to your computer.

Considerations

When attempting to troubleshoot problems with a USB jump drive, consideration should be given not only to the USB jump drive, but also to the USB port that it's being plugged into. Attempting to use the USB jump drive on another computer, or attempting to plug another device into the USB port on your computer can help to troubleshoot other potential problems.

Misconceptions

Problems with USB jump drives typically lead the user to believe that the drive has failed or has become defective. While USB jump drives can become damaged under some conditions, since they lack any movable parts, they have less of a chance of failure. More common issues involve hardware conflicts or corrupt data located on the drive.

Prevention/Solution

In order to correct drive letter discrepancies with your USB jump drive begin by plugging the device into an available USB port on your computer. Next, right click on the My Computer icon and select Manage. From the Computer Management panel, select Disk Management from the left hand panel. Once Disk Management has been selected the right hand panel of the Computer Management window will display the drives connected to your computer. In the bottom half of this window, scroll through the list of drives that are on your computer system. USB jump drives will fall under a category of USB mass storage device. Right click on the label for the USB jump drive and select the option to Change Drive Letter. Select Change from the new window that appears and select a new drive letter for your USB jump drive. After applying the changes, your USB jump drive should be automatically recognized by your computer and assigned the new drive letter.

References & Resources