Windows Doesn’t Recognize USB – How To Fix

A USB slot, also called a Universal Serial Bus, is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to transfer data between a computer and other devices. But it can do more than that. You can also use it to charge devices, especially phones and tablets, and to turn your computer into an internet hotspot for your mobile phone.

Windows Doesn't Recognize USB - How To Fix

However, it’s not uncommon to experience problems connecting a device via USB to a computer. Here, we’ll explore some fixes you can try if your Windows computer doesn’t recognize USB. Keep reading to find out how to get things working again.

Why Windows May Not Recognize USB

Windows not recognizing your USB device can be quite an inconvenience. Various issues might cause the problem, but it’s hard to identify the exact reason. Common issues include:

  • Using a faulty USB cable
  • Working with outdated, unstable, or corrupt USB drivers
  • Working with outdated Windows OS
  • Faulty computer hardware
  • A temporary glitch in the system

How to Fix Windows Doesn’t Recognize USB

You can try many fixes if your Windows PC doesn’t recognize USB. Below, we’ll discuss each one of them in detail. Also, it’s important to try each of these fixes in the order that they appear because they rank from simple fixes to more complicated ones, such as updating the computer’s USB drivers.

Disconnect and Connect the USB

This is the first fix you should try if your Windows PC doesn’t recognize a USB device. The first connection might not work because of a temporary glitch in the system. So, disconnect and then reconnect the USB-powered device you’re using and see if it finally gets recognized by your Windows computer.

Switch to Another Port

If your computer doesn’t recognize your computer, then the culprit might be the USB port you’re using. Try switching to another USB port on the computer and see if that resolves the issue. This fix typically works for many users, but if it doesn’t work for you, move on to the other fixes below.

Ensure the File Sharing Option Is Enabled on Your Phone

If you’re connecting a USB cable to your Windows computer to exchange data between the computer and the phone, you need to make sure that the file transfer mode is enabled on your phone. Otherwise, the computer might fail to recognize your device.

In most cases, you should automatically see a pop-up asking you to enable the file-sharing mode. Just follow the instructions on the wizard and enable the mode.

If you’re trying to use your computer as a hotspot, follow the steps below to enable USB tethering:

  1. Open “Settings.”
  2. Click on “Connections.”
  3. Hit “Mobile Hotspot and Tethering.”
  4. Turn on the “USB Tethering” toggle switch.

Restart Your Computer

If none of the above fixes have worked, try restarting your computer. This sounds like a cliche, but a quick restart can clear up minor software glitches allowing your computer to detect and resolve hardware and software problems. So, restart your computer and connect the USB again to see if the issue gets resolved. If it doesn’t, consider the fixes below.

Try Using Another USB Cable

If your Windows computer doesn’t recognize the USB port, then the issue might be the USB cable itself. So, try using another cable and see if that resolves the problem. If your computer doesn’t recognize the new USB cable, then the culprit is likely the USB drivers.

Also, double-check that your USB cable supports the file transfer functionality. Not all USB cables are built to transfer data. To know if you can use a USB cable to transfer files, check for the share symbol at the larger end of the cable.

Unplug All the Other Devices

If you have other devices connected to the computer, they might interfere with the USB device you’re trying to connect. So, unplug all the devices from the computer except the USB cable and check to see if Windows will now recognize it.

Troubleshoot Your USB Connection

The Windows troubleshooting program is the best way to detect if your computer might be experiencing any hardware, software, or network problems, including USB issues. And the good thing about the program is that it automatically resolves the issues it finds, so you won’t have to fix them manually. So, run the troubleshooter and see if any problems come up. Here’s how to go about the process:

  1. On your computer, open the “Settings” panel.
  2. Navigate to “Updates & Security.”
  3. Select “Troubleshoot.”
  4. Scroll down and click on “Additional troubleshooting.”
  5. Finally, select the “USB ” and then hit “Run Troubleshooter” option.

Please ensure that you connect the USB to the computer before running the troubleshooter.

Update Your USB Drivers

If none of the above steps have worked, the problem may lie with your computer’s USB drivers. And if that’s the case, you have to update your drivers. To do so, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to your computer and search for “Device Manager.”
  2. Open the first option that comes up.
  3. Expand the “Universal Serial Bus Controllers” menu.
  4. Locate the device that Windows doesn’t recognize and right-click it. In most cases, this device will be marked with a yellow exclamation mark.
  5. From the options that come up, select “Update Drivers.”
  6. Select the first option from the widget that pops up to automatically search for the relevant drivers.
  7. Follow the instructions on the wizard to finish downloading and installing the relevant drivers.

Please note that searching for the drivers automatically might not work in most cases because if Windows had access to them, it would automatically detect and install them – you wouldn’t have to search and install them manually. But in some cases, your best option is to search for the drivers on the internet and then download and install them.

Follow the steps below to find the name of the USB drivers you’re supposed to install:

  1. Open “Device Manager.”
  2. Under “Universal Serial Bus Controllers,” select the USB device you’re trying to connect to.
  3. Right-click the device and choose “Properties.”
  4. Navigate to the “Events” tab.
  5. You’ll find the ID of the device drivers in the first line of the “Information” box.
  6. Search for drivers on the internet, then download and install them.

Once the drivers are installed, restart your computer and connect the cable to see if it’s recognized now. If the cable still doesn’t get recognized by the computer, try the other fixes below.

Roll Back to the Previous Drivers

Contrary to popular belief, updating the drivers to the current version might also cause various software and hardware issues. And USB connection is no exception. So, try rolling back to the previously installed driver’s version and see if that solves the problem.

Update Windows

Working on a Windows computer that’s not up to date may attract bugs that may hinder the system’s normal functioning. So, always check that your computer’s operating system is updated to the latest version to be on the safe side. To know if your Windows operating system is updated, follow the steps below:

  1. On your computer, Open the “Settings.”
  2. Select “Updates & Security.”
  3. Click “Check for Updates.”
  4. If there are any updates available, download and install them.
  5. Once your computer has all the updates installed, restart it.
  6. Now, connect the USB cable to see if it’s recognized by the computer.

Disable the USB Selective Suspending Mode

The USB selective suspend mode powers down the USB external drive, which might cause Windows not to recognize your device. So, proceed to check if the mode is enabled. If it is, disable it by following the steps below:

  1. On your computer, search for “Power Plan.”
  2. Select the option that says, “Choose a Power Plan.”
  3. Navigate to your selected plan and click on “Change Plan Settings.”
  4. Go to “Change Advanced Power Settings” and expand “USB Settings.”
  5. Go to “USB Selective Suspend Settings,” then expand the “Plugged In” menu.
  6. Choose “Disabled” from the options in the dropdown menu.
  7. Now, go to “Apply” then “OK.”
  8. Restart your computer and connect the USB to see if the issue has been resolved. If the problem persists, try the next solution.

Check That the USB Cable You’re Using Isn’t Faulty

Sometimes, USB cables simply stop working, and you can do nothing about it. Even worse, it can be faulty straight out of the box. To check if a cable is defective, connect it to your computer and your phone and see if your phone is charging. If the phone is not charging, then chances are the USB cable is faulty. To be sure, repeat the same process with another computer. If the same problem occurs, consider using another USB cable.

Some computers have an LED light that turns on when the port detects a USB device or cable has been inserted. So, connect your USB cable or device to the computer and check to see if this light turns on. If it doesn’t, that signals that the USB is faulty and needs to be replaced.

Connect Your Cable to Another Computer to Check If Your Computer Is Faulty

When Windows doesn’t recognize your device, it’s easy to think the cable is the problem. However, it’s not uncommon to discover that computer hardware has issues. So, try connecting the USB you’re using to another computer to see if it gets recognized. If it does, then your computer hardware is behind the faulty performance.

If you haven’t had any luck with the above solutions, your computer may be at fault. In that case, it’s best to visit the nearest computer repair store, so a hardware specialist can examine the computer and determine the underlying cause of the problem.

Get Your Windows Computer to Recognize the USB Again

While there are many reasons why your computer might fail to recognize the USB, there are also as many fixes to the problem. In most cases, you can resolve the issue by disconnecting and connecting the USB cable, changing the port or the USB cable you’re connecting with, or restarting the Window. If these fixes don’t work, you may have to employ more extreme fixes, such as updating the drivers of your computer.

Regardless, we hope that some of the fixes mentioned in this article will get your Windows computer to recognize your USB cable again.

Have you ever encountered problems connecting your USB device to a Windows computer? How did you resolve it? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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