When your USB thumb drive doesn’t show up in XP

Start->Run and type “diskmgmt.msc” then right-click the drive and select “Change drive letter and Paths” and change the drive letter to something completely different like T: or W:.

Hat tip to Java Jane.

32 Responses to When your USB thumb drive doesn’t show up in XP (Leave a comment)

  1. Chances are, you’ll probably need not do this because Windows XP is smart enough to assign new drive letters when something is already using them, usually when you unplug and plug it back in.

  2. Ryan

    This is an especially common problem when you have networked drives.

  3. Microsoft has a hotfix available that corrects this problem – http://support.microsoft.com/kb/297694

    The hotfix makes USB drives take the next available drive letter instead of trying to incorrectly use the first drive even if it’s already in use.

  4. Al

    One thing I find frustrating about this problem is that the USB drive will remember the settings of the last computer it was used on. When you plug it back in and the existing drive letter isn’t available, you don’t get any warning/notice/information dialog about it and it also doesn’t automatically attempt to find an unused drive letter.

    For those that are interested, you can also get to that same screen by going:
    -> Start
    –> Control Panel
    —> Administrative Tools
    —-> Computer Management

  5. This tactic also works in Vista.

    The diskmgmt console is user friendly, with many good features that should be explored :-)

  6. That post was so short it would almost fit in twitter. I have not had any problem with thumb drive detection in XP but I’ve set a few external drives to P, Q, or W to make them easier to spot among A,B,C,D and E defaults.

  7. Ahaa Matt, you too use Bill Gate’s XP ? I heard “Every time you use Google, you’re using Linux”.. So Googlers use XP at home ?

  8. Paul

    Hey Matt, which superhero do you think most represents yourself ? I wonder if you are thinking along the same lines as myself?

  9. > Hey Matt, which superhero do you think most represents yourself ?

    Perhaps you’ve seen Spam-man ;)
    http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-05-19-n23.html

  10. the drive does not show up under my computer because the drive letter is already used by another device, but it still will show up under diskmgmt.msc console, so changing the drive letter to something that is not being used by any other device the thumb drive will work. this could happen with any other external drive too.

    Good tip Mr. Cutts.

  11. how about if my usb has a img-kulot virus, how can i remove it?

  12. This has got to be one of the most repetitive problems we’ve seen under XP in out environment. The OS doesn’t look at both removable storage and networked drives before assigning a drive letter. And of course most enterprise users won’t have enough rights to run the Disk Manager.

    Luckily the main computer manager mmc lets you connect to remote XP machines and rearrange their drive letters too.

  13. kevin you have to eat the dog food – back in the day when I worked for preinternet online services (Telecom Gold/Prestel/DialCom) it was a deliberate policy that we acessed the service the same way the users did (Via x25 Pads).

    This was so that we developed systems they would be useable in the real world

    Google has a few gotchas in that some products dont work as well as they should with IE.

  14. There’s a bug in XP that if the F: drive is already in use when you plug your USB stick in, then it will not take the next available drive letter. If you can disconnect the existing F: mapping then the USB stick will then magically appear mapped to F:

  15. jf

    “Ahaa Matt, you too use Bill Gate’s XP ? I heard “Every time you use Google, you’re using Linux”.. So Googlers use XP at home ?”

    kevin – it’s important for Matts anti-spam /anti-hijacking work that if the users are getting hijacked with some nefarious and devious popup or botnet, then Matt himself will get hijacked in order to diagnose the problem and alert Google to it. As Maurice says, he has to eat the dog food.

    i seriously doubt that Matt uses XP for his non-work private boxen.

  16. ErnestHemingway

    Sometimes this trick doesnt work either. And I think xp does it automatically doesnt it?

  17. Nice! I suppose the next time I plug in my USB drive, it will automatically choose the drive letter I set (if available, of course)? If so, great! I wouldn’t get mixed up when I plug in different drives and get the short cuts to it mixed up.

  18. Im impressed. I had such problem and just Googled for “USB thumb drive doesn’t show up in XP” and voila, this info.

    I think I spend way too much time in front of my PC/Google Search that somehow, you guys are just second guessing what I need, before I even knew I needed it!

    So, how’s work coming along on my main issue, ie, where I work?!? I look forward to seeing tips tomorrow, heh. :-D

    JohnC

  19. this may also apply if you a) have many (network) drives, b) plug in your iPod and c) don’t see it show up as a disk along with a complaint that your ipod may be to be restored. set it to a unused device label, eject it via the usb/winders hot-plug manager, disconnect and reconnect. if it shows up, yay! if not, it may actually be corrupted (boo!)

    -r

  20. Thanks for the tip! I have a PC at work tha I have been fighting with on a daily basis. I’ve been bringing in my mac laptop just to burn stuff in lieu of using a thumb drive as I’ve never been able to find it! Guess I won’t need to lug that around anymore. You’ve saved my shoulder some hardship thats for sure!

  21. Actually I never had such problem with USB Thumb drive.

    I am using XP 64-bit. Anyway, I think it is a quick and cool tip :)

  22. Evo

    That’s why you should use a Mac. You plug in the USB thumb drive and it uses the name of the thumb drive or it’s labeled as USB Drive.

    I swear it’s like Magic or something. I guess Mac just work better ;)

    Evo/

  23. It works on the Vista, thank you!

  24. hahah i really had this problem and i thought might be a USB problem and spend money on repairing it..so stupid.and i tried again on another USB which had same problem and it worked.whoa thanks ,so easy and i didn’t know..

  25. j noble

    When I plug a usb memorex thumbdrive into a computer running
    xp with service pack 2 it crashes immediately and goes into a continous reboot cycle. Have two different thumb drives fromm memorex but
    have not tried another brand. have scanned both thumbdrive for
    viruses and none found. Any comments? Thanks

  26. Fuzz

    Hey,

    I plugged in my thumb drive and when I tried to open a file, got this message: drive not formatted. it won’t let me open anything on the drive, and insists on formatting and thus erasing everyhing on it. prior to plugging it into my xp i was using it on a mac computer to transger some files.

    HELP! (all my uni work…)

  27. ordinary

    Paul Said,
    June 2, 2008 @ 2:25 am

    There’s a bug in XP that if the F: drive is already in use when you plug
    your USB stick in, then it will not take the next available drive letter. If
    you can disconnect the existing F: mapping then the USB stick will then
    magically appear mapped to F:

    It’s really works. But now, my H: drive never appear in ‘My Computer’. I first thought that was USB problems. But since my local drive also didn’t
    appear as it has been mapped with the H: drive.

  28. goldfishcrackers

    the problem with my usb drive is that it works on my xp computers, but not my vista one. i dont think its even recongized.
    Help?

  29. TNP

    My laptop is not reading my external hard drive. I connected it via the USB port, and my laptop recognized it initially. Then an error message showed up as I was transferring files, and after I clicked on Cancel, the external hasn’t been recognized since. It’s not working regardless of which USB port I connect it to. I tried downloading the hotfix from Microsoft, but apparently there’s already a more current version of the service pack on my Compaq. When I tried “Start->Run and type ‘diskmgmt.msc’”, only my C drive and CD drive showed up. I was unable to change the letter of my USB drive because it wasn’t even detected while my external hard drive was plugged in. Does anyone have any other suggestions on what I can do to fix this problem? Thanks in advance =)

  30. mpho

    my usb do not allow me to copy and to delete on it, it say “disk is write-protected. Remove the write-protection or use another disk.”

    so please help me on this problem.

  31. Azmin

    Paul…

    I had been searching for so long for a solution!
    I even changed my mobo and CPU thinking it’s the mobo that’s causing the problem.
    I was about to change my Power supply unit.
    I had originally partitioned my HDD and used C for my systems.
    But it got corrupted so I used the other partitioned which was labelled F Drive.

    I’ve just reformat and reinstalled XP to C drive again and my usb finally works!
    thanks a lot!

  32. Cool

    Thanks a lot….it worked…

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