How to Fix Windows Not Recognizing a USB Device

Introduction

USB devices on top of a computer keyboard.
If you're having trouble with your USB devices not being recognized by your computer, this guide can take you through some troubleshooting steps that may resolve your issue.

1 USB Devices

USB is the most common type of connector used to attach peripherals to computers. Whether you have a wired or wireless peripheral, chances are they use this type of connector.
USB dongle and USB cable.
The majority are Plug and Play which means they will be recognized by Windows as soon as you plug them into the computer and you can use them right away. Others might require software or drivers to be installed on the computer before plugging them in.

The requirement to install software or drivers varies by manufacturer and device model. Refer to your peripherals documentation to find out if this is necessary.

? Are you connecting the USB device to this computer for the first time?

  1. Yes
  2. No, it's been already connected before

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USB devices on top of a computer keyboard.
If you're having trouble with your USB devices not being recognized by your computer, this guide can take you through some troubleshooting steps that may resolve your issue.

USB is the most common type of connector used to attach peripherals to computers. Whether you have a wired or wireless peripheral, chances are they use this type of connector.
USB dongle and USB cable.
The majority are Plug and Play which means they will be recognized by Windows as soon as you plug them into the computer and you can use them right away. Others might require software or drivers to be installed on the computer before plugging them in.

The requirement to install software or drivers varies by manufacturer and device model. Refer to your peripherals documentation to find out if this is necessary.

To better assist you, please answer this question.

The drivers may come with the peripheral on a disc or you can download them from the manufacturers website.

Method 1:

  1. Insert the disc that came with your device into the computer.
  2. You may get a pop-up on the screen asking you what you want to do with the contents of the disc. Choose the option that allows you to install or run the software from the disc.
    Windows autorun pop-up.
  3. If you don't get this pop-up, click on the Windows button on the bottom left corner of the screen, then click on File Explorer or its icon.
    File Explorer placement in Windows menu.
  4. In the File Explorer, look for the disc drive and double click it to open its contents.
    Windows File Explorer with disc drive highlighted.
  5. Look for the Setup or Install file and launch it, then follow the instructions to install the drivers onto the computer.

Method 2:

  1. Open a web browser on your computer.
  2. Navigate to the manufacturers website.
  3. Look for the Support heading on the website and click on it.
    Example of support heading placement on manufacturer website.
  4. The place where the drivers can be downloaded from varies by how the manufacturers website is designed. Sometimes you can find them under the Downloads section, other times under Software or under Drivers, or even a combination of these words.
  5. You can either find the needed drivers by typing in the peripherals name and model in the search field like in the image above or you can find them by clicking through the categories of devices like in the image below.
    Category based device search on manufacturer website.
  6. Once you've located the driver for your device, click to download it and save it onto your computer.
  7. Launch the downloaded driver and follow the instructions to install it on the computer.
To better assist you, please answer this question.

External USB drive being connected to power and other device.

  1. Plug in the power cable into the USB device (middle).
  2. Plug in the included power cable / adapter into a power outlet.
  3. Plug in one end of the USB cable into the USB device.
  4. Plug in the other end of the USB cable into the computer.
  1. Connect your USB device into the USB port.
    USB device being plugged into USB port.

  2. Windows will automatically recognize the device and set it up for you.
    Automatic device setup in Windows.

If Windows does not detect the device when plugged in, plug the device into a different USB port to see if Windows is able to recognize it.

Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.

To restart your device via power cycle:

  1. If your device has buttons or a remote control, press the power button to turn it off.
    Power symbol.

  2. Unplug it from the power outlet and wait for 10 seconds.
    Power cable unplugged from power outlet.

  3. Plug it back into the power outlet, then turn it back on from the power button if it has on.
To better assist you, please answer this question.
If your device's USB port is not working properly or at all, try using another USB port, if available.

Remove the USB hub and connect the USB device directly to your computer.

USB drive plugged directly into device.

If your device is not working, try replacing or charging it's batteries.
  1. Connect your USB device into the USB port.
    USB device being plugged into USB port.

  2. Windows will automatically recognize the device and set it up for you.
    Automatic device setup in Windows.

If Windows does not detect the device when plugged in, plug the device into a different USB port to see if Windows is able to recognize it.

Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
To better assist you, please answer this question.

To restart your device via power cycle:

  1. If your device has buttons or a remote control, press the power button to turn it off.
    Power symbol.

  2. Unplug it from the power outlet and wait for 10 seconds.
    Power cable unplugged from power outlet.

  3. Plug it back into the power outlet, then turn it back on from the power button if it has on.
If your device's USB port is not working properly or at all, try using another USB port, if available.

Remove the USB hub and connect the USB device directly to your computer.

USB drive plugged directly into device.

USB hub connected to devices.

If you have a non-powered USB hub connected to a USB port on your computer, and your USB device doesn't get enough power to be detected, then you can try the following:

  • Reduce the number of devices connected to the USB hub.
  • Bypass the USB hub and connect the USB device directly to the computer.
  • Replace the non-powered USB hub with a powered USB hub.
Disconnect the USB device from your computer.
USB device being unplugged from USB port.
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