Solution: USB Device Not Recognized in Windows 7

I use many different types of external devices, and all connect to my desktop using the USB ports. Two of the devices are external hard drives that I use to backup my data files. One of the hard drives is a small, portable drive that I store offsite, while the other is a regular, full-size external hard drive.

Recently, however, I ran into a problem where Windows 7 was displaying an error indicating that it couldn’t recognize the external hard drive. The connection between the hard drive and the computer was fine, and the hard drive appeared to be functioning properly. After performing those checks I did some research online, and found my answer.

USB Device Not Recognized

My USB Device Was Not Recognized

As mentioned above, Windows 7 had trouble recognizing my external hard drive. I have been using that hard drive for a few years without any issues, so I was confused at what caused the problem.

The full error that was displayed in Windows 7 was as follows:

USB Device not recognized: One of the devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it.

After performing a search online I found that the error could be caused by several issues. Of course, since the problem is caused by one of many issues, there are a few solutions that I could have tried.

The Solutions

While I eventually determined the solution to my problem, there are many solutions to this problem. Below are the solutions that you can try if you also experience the same issue.

1. Reinstall the USB Device

There could be an issue with the installation of the device. To correct this problem, you can uninstall and reinstall the device using the following steps:

  1. Click the “Start” button, and then type “Device Manager” in the search box.
  2. Select the “Device Manager” item from the list that is displayed.
  3. Select the “Disk Drives” item from the list of hardware that is installed.
  4. Find the USB hard drive that is having the issue, and then right-click that device.
  5. Click “Uninstall” from the menu.
  6. Once the hard drive is uninstalled, unplug the USB cable from the computer, wait 1 minute and then reconnect the USB cable.
  7. After the driver is loaded, check to see if the drive is displayed in Windows Explorer.

2. Install Any Windows Updates

The problem with the hard drive could be resolved by updating your version of Windows. Performing a Windows update may solve the issue.

  1. Click the “Start” button, and then type “Windows Update” in the search box.
  2. Select the “Windows Update” item from the list that is displayed.
  3. Within “Windows Update”, click the “Check for Updates” option and wait for the scan to complete.
  4. After the scan, click the “Review optional updates” option.
  5. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen.
  6. Reboot the computer if prompted.

3. Install the Latest Chipset Drivers for Your Motherboard

Just like hardware installed in your computer requires drivers, the chipset that is on the motherboard will also require drivers. Many times these drivers will fix compatibility issues with devices.

The process for updating chipset drivers is different for each manufacturer.

  1. Determine the manufacturer of your motherboard by review the documentation that came with your computer.
  2. Visit the manufacturer’s support website. The manufacturer’s website will usually have a menu options called “Support” or something similar.
  3. Find the appropriate drivers for your motherboard, download and install the drivers. If you require assistance, you should contact your computer’s manufacturer.

4. Reinstall the USB Controllers

The problem could be the USB drivers. The drivers could have become corrupted or unstable and may require a reinstall.

  1. Click the “Start” button, and then type “Device Manager” in the search box.
  2. Select the “Device Driver” item from the list that is displayed.
  3. Find the “Universal Serial Bus controllers” item.
  4. Right-click a device under “Universal Serial Bus controllers” and then click “Uninstall” from the menu.
  5. Repeat step 4 for each device.
  6. Restart your computer and the USB controllers driver will automatically reinstall.

In my case I had to reinstall the USB hard drive. Once I uninstalled and reinstalled the hard drive, Windows 7 began to recognize the device once again. It has been a few weeks since the issue, so everything is good again and I can continue to backup my data.

Image credit: :: Wendy ::


About Paul Salmon

Paul Salmon is the founder of Technically Easy. He is a an experienced PC user, and enjoys solving computer-related problems that he encounters on a regular basis.

Facebook | Twitter | Google+



  1. Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    I Try your above methods but not use the same pop come again and again, when i connect. please tell me a good solution.

  2. Posted February 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Reachli – Amplifying your content reach online via, in-image, in-content,
    in-text and social (relevant ads).

    Reachli provides the easiest way to market your visual content online – Social Media Marketing, Advertising,
    Marketing Online, Advertising Online, Social Media Analytics – Pinterest,
    Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter.

  3. Posted February 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    great solution and well structured step by step to fix this all-time annoying message error, but the simplest way to fix usb errors upon insertion into the usb port is to remove and plug the usb into a different port

  4. David
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this post. I’ve had this issue off and on both my desktop and laptop Windows 7 computers. I used all of the steps above during the duration of an evening prior to the night when all my backups copy to the external drive Windows stopped using. Every step included a reboot, but without succes. Get this. The next morning I rebooted the PC one more time, and then the drive was visible in Windows Explorer with the mapping I assigned it. Any explanation?

    • David
      Posted October 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      Turns out my external backup drive was dying a slow death. The replacement is working quite well. By the way, I was using Maxtor Black Armur drive with built in encryption. The replacement didn’t offer encryption, but after formating it and using TrueCrypt to mount the drive, I once again have an encrypted backup drive. Thanks again for the informative post.

      • Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        It is good to hear that you manged to figure out the issue. Unfortunately, you had to replace your hard drive. I hope your data was ok.

        I use TrueCrypt also and find it works very well.

  5. Steven Stallings
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    My western digital hard drive works fine in windows xp but gives me a USB device not recognized in windows 7. NOTHING mentioned here works. Any thoughts?

  6. Nitya
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    thank you for sharing such information. I will surely try out this method.It will surely help out the poeple.

  7. Posted June 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    recently my western digital external hard disk was not recognizing the windows 7 i thought that USB drivers are missing after re installing the drives my hard disk was not recognized. then i realized the problem was in hard disk.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      A hardware issue can be troublesome, especially with regards to hard drives. Did you manage to gain access to your data once the problems was discovered?

  8. Posted June 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much!! This is what I came here looking for thanks a lot for sharing.

  9. Posted June 15, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    The USB standard has become very popular these days and so are thousands of devices that are using this connection. The problem is that, due to multitude of devices used, after a while the SO becomes a bit unstable in this area. Most of the times, the first solution given by Paul will resolve your problem. What I recommend to anyone (kudos Paul) is to upgrade motherboard drivers. This will probably solve a lot of other problems/bugs.

  10. Gilbert Rollins
    Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I just had a problem like that while using my modem on my computer, but I fixed it by simply unplugging and plugging in the modem.

    • Posted June 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      Sometimes simple solutions such as removing power from the device and then reconnecting the power can solve many problems.

  11. Posted June 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi Paul
    I have seen that error from time to time, but mostly on Windows XP machines that was not able to find the driver for the USB device. In Windows 7 I think that most devices are working each time.

    • Posted June 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t seen this error as frequent in Windows 7 compared to Windows XP. Unfortunately, when it does appear it can be annoying.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting

  • Get Free Email Updates

  • Follow Me

    Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Google+ Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Pinterest Follow Us on RSS
  • Recent Posts