The system cannot find the device specified

Madeleine Dean By: Madeleine Dean
4 minute read

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The system cannot find the device specified

If you’re getting the ‘ERROR_BAD_UNIT’ error code with ‘The system cannot find the device specified‘ description, follow the troubleshooting steps listed in this article to fix it.

ERROR_BAD_UNIT: What is it and why it occurs?

‘The system cannot find the device specified’ error message, also known as error 20 (0x14), occurs when PCs fail to detect external devices connected to the system.

Sometimes, not all Windows utilities fail to detect the device. There are cases when Computer Management shows details of the respective device, yet when users right-click it in Disk Management, they get the message “The system cannot find the device specified”.

There are various elements triggering this issue, including corrupted files and folders, broken EXE, DLL or SYS files, malware infection, outdated software versions, faulty external devices, and more.

If you already plugged the device into another USB port, restarted your computer, yet the error message won’t disappear, follow the instructions listed below.

Fix ‘The system cannot find the device specified

Solution 1 — Run a full system scan

Malware may cause various issues on your computer, including errors. Perform a full system scan in order to detect any malware running on your computer. You can use Windows’ built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, or third-party antivirus solutions.


Solution 2 — Repair your registry

The simplest way to repair your registry is to use a dedicated tool, such as CCleaner. Don’t forget to first backup your registry in case anything goes wrong. If you haven’t installed any registry cleaner on your computer, check out our article on the best registry cleaners to use on PC.

You can also use Microsoft’s System File Checker to check for system file corruption. However, this utility is only available on Windows 10. Here’s how to run an SFC scan:

1. Go to Start > type cmd > right-click Command Prompt > select Run as Administrator

2. Now type the sfc /scannow command

3. Wait for the scanning process to complete and then restart your computer. All corrupted files will be replaced on reboot.


Solution 3 — Update your OS

Make sure that you’re running the latest Windows OS updates on your machine. As a quick reminder, Microsoft constantly rolls out Windows updates in order to improve the system’s stability and fix various issues.

Go to Windows Update, check for updates and install the available updates. To access the Windows Update section, you can simply type “update” in the search box. This method works on all Windows versions.


Solution 4 — Run the Hardware Troubleshooter

Windows 10 features a dedicated Hardware Troubleshooter that can fix general hardware issues.

1. Go to Settings > Update & Security > select Troubleshoot in the left hand pane

2. In the new window, select Troubleshoot Hardware and Devices > Run the troubleshooter.


Solution 5 — Use diskpart

There are cases when the external device no longer appears listed on your PC after ‘The system cannot find the device specified’ error message was triggered. In this case, you can use the diskpart command. Diskpart is a powerful tool for hard drive management,and using it can cause damage to your system. Be extra caution when using this command and keep in mind that you’re using it at your own risk.

  1. Go to Start > type Diskpart > right-click diskpart in the search results > Run as administrator.
  2. Type the list disk command to identify all the available devices
  3. Your external device should be visible, but there is no drive letter assigned to it
  4. Type select volume X (replace X with the volume number assigned to the device)
  5. Type assign letter Y (replace Y with the letter that you want to assign to the device).

Solution 6 — Run System Restore

If the problem started recently, run System Restore. Also, if this issue occurred after you installed new software on your computer, try uninstalling the recently added apps and programs. Restart your PC and see if the issue persists.

The System Restore option allows you to restore the previous well-performing system configuration without losing any files, except for a few customizable features and settings.

If System Restore is enabled, follow the instructions listed below (Windows 7 and 8.1):

  1. Go to Search > type system properties > open System Properties.
  2. Go to System Protection > click on System Restore.
  3. Click Next > choose the preferred restore point in the new window.
  4. Once you’ve select your preferred restore point, click Next > click Finish.
  5. Your PC will restart and the restoring process will start.

After the procedure has been completed, try to update your computer to see if the problem still persists.

Windows 10 offers a series of advanced recovery option that allows users to clean install the OS. If you’re a Windows 10 user, you can also use ‘Reset this PC’ recovery option.

  1. Go to Settings > Update & Security > click on Recovery under the left pane.
  2. Click on Get Started under Reset this PC > choose to Keep your files.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the reset.

There you go, we hope that the solutions listed above helped you fix ‘The system cannot find the device specified‘ error code. If you’ve come across other workarounds to fix this problem, you can help the Windows community by listing the troubleshooting steps in the comments below.

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