Windows 11 not recognizing USB devices? Here’s how to fix it

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things surrounding it. He is passionate about... Read more
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  • When Windows 11 is not recognizing USB drives, the issue can be due to outdated or faulty drivers or certain power management settings.
  • Changing power management settings for USB Root Hubs might help when a USB flash drive is not detected.
  • Updating drivers for USB controllers is another potential resolution to take into consideration.
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Many users utilize portable USB drives to transfer files between PCs. Although Windows 11 is a brand new OS, the same old USB device issues can arise on it. USB device not recognized errors are among the most common ones on Windows platforms.

Some users have already needed to fix the USB device not recognized error in Windows 11. That issue shows up when they plug their USB drives into PCs. When they insert their USB drives into ports, this error message appears:

USB device not recognized. The last USB device you connected to this computer malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it.

Thus, Windows 11 doesn’t recognize USB storage devices when that issue arises. As a consequence, users can’t access their USB drives that aren’t recognized in File Explorer.

What causes the USB device not recognized error?

The causes for the USB device not recognized error often pertain to USB controller or device drivers and certain power saver features. These are some of the likely causes to consider:

  • Faulty or incompatible USB port: The USB port you’re plugging the device into might be faulty or incompatible with the storage drive
  • Power management settings that suspend (or turn off) USB devices and hubs can cause the issue
  • Faulty USB device driver: The driver for your USB storage device might be corrupt
  • Outdated USB controller drivers: Your PC’s USB hub drivers might need updating

Do you need to fix the USB device not recognized error in Windows 11? If so, give these potential resolutions a try.

How to fix the USB device not recognized error in Windows 11?

1. Plug the storage drive into different USB ports

USB slots windows 11 not recognizing usb

First, try plugging your USB drive into alternative USB ports. The error might not occur when you plug it into a different port. If that’s the case, one of your PC’s USB ports is probably faulty.

If the issue arises for an external hard drive, it might also help to change the device’s USB cable. At the very least, check the condition of the drive’s cable. You might need to get a new USB cable for the hard drive to resolve the error.

2. Disable the selective suspend option

  1. First, press the magnifying glass icon on Windows 11’s taskbar to bring up the search tool.
    The search button windows 11 not recognizing usb
  2. Enter the keyword edit power plan in the search box.
  3. Click Edit power plan to bring up the Edit Power Plan Control Panel applet.
  4. Next, click Change advanced power settings in that applet.
    Change advanced power settings windows 11 not recognizing usb
  5. Double-click USB settings on the Power Options window.
  6. Then double-click USB selective suspend to open the setting that you can see below:
    USB selective suspend setting windows 11 not recognizing usb
  7. Select the Disabled option on the Setting drop-down menu.
  8. Press the Apply button on the Power Options window.
  9. Click OK to exit the window.

3. Change the power management settings for USB root hubs

  1. Right-click Windows 11’s Start button to open a handy shortcuts menu.
  2. Select the Device Manager shortcut on that menu.
    Device Manager shortcut windows 11 not recognizing usb
  3. Click the View menu.
  4. Select the Show hidden devices option on the menu.
    Show hidden devices option windows 11 not recognizing usb
  5. Double-click the Universal Serial Bus controllers category.
  6. Right-click a USB Root Hub listed there and select Properties.
    Properties option windows 11 not recognizing usb
  7. Then select the Power Management tab.
  8. Uncheck the Allow this computer to turn off this device to save power checkbox to deselect that option.
    The Allow the computer to turn off this device checkbox windows 11 not recognizing usb
  9. Click OK to close the USB Root Hub window.
  10. Repeat steps six to nine for all USB Root Hubs listed in Device Manager.

4. Assign a drive letter to the USB device

  1. Plug the USB storage drive into your PC.
  2. Right-click Start and select Disk Management.
  3. Next, right-click the USB drive in Disk Management and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
    Change Drive Letter and Paths option windows 11 not recognizing usb
  4. Click the Add button on the Change Drive Letter and Path window that opens.
    Change Drive Letter and Paths window windows 11 not recognizing usb
  5. Press the OK button on the Add Drive Letter or Path window.

5. Update drivers for USB root and generic hubs

  1. Open Device Manager as covered in the first couple of steps of the third resolution.
  2. Next, click View and Show hidden devices.
  3. Double-click Universal Serial Bus controllers to expand that category.
  4. Right-click a USB Root Hub to select its Update driver option.
    Update driver option windows 11 not recognizing usb
  5. Select Search automatically for drivers in the Update Drivers window that opens.
    Search automatically for drivers option windows 11 not recognizing usb
  6. Repeat steps four and five for all USB Root Hub and Generic USB Hub controller devices listed.

Alternatively, you can update USB controller drivers with third-party driver updater software. Scanning your PC with a third-party driver updater utility will list all its devices that have outdated drivers.

Then you can select to download and install the latest drivers with the software, so don’t hesitate to check out DriverFix in that regard.

6. Reinstall drivers for the USB drive that isn’t recognized

  1. Insert your USB drive into your desktop or laptop.
  2. Bring up the Device Manager window as covered in resolution three.
  3. Double-click Disk drives in Device Manager.
  4. Next, right-click the USB drive for which you need to fix the not recognized error to select Uninstall device.
    The Uninstall device option windows 11 not recognizing usb
  5. Click the Uninstall button on the confirmation window that opens.
    Uninstall button windows 11 not recognizing usb
  6. Thereafter, unplug your USB device from the PC.
  7. Wait about one or two minutes, and then connect the USB drive with your PC again.
Note icon
NOTE
Windows should reinstall the USB’s devices driver when you reconnect it with the PC. If it doesn’t, however, you can also click Action, then Scan for hardware changes to reinstall missing drivers.

Who can I contact about fixing this USB error?

If you still need to fix the USB device not recognized error, try contacting Microsoft’s support service for Windows. You can do so by clicking the Get support link on the Contact Microsoft Support webpage. Then click Get Help, followed by Contact support after entering an issue description.

Some users might prefer to post on Microsoft’s support forum for Windows instead. Click Ask a question on that forum to open a text editor. Then, simply enter a forum post question in the text editor, and press the Submit button.

However, the potential fixes above might be enough to get rid of the USB device not recognized error in most cases. The second resolution is among the most widely confirmed to solve the issue. Give them all a try before contacting Microsoft support.

You can also try formatting the USB drive to resolve this issue. As that will erase all files on it, however, that’s hardly an ideal potential fix. If you don’t have any important files on the storage drive though, reformatting it might be worth a shot.

Of course, there might be more ways to fix the USB device not recognized error not specified above. If you’ve discovered another resolution that fixes this issue, feel free to share it in the comments below.

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