Why the laptop does not see a flash drive or memory card


Laptop owners face a lot of different problems. One of the fairly common problems is the detection of removable media, namely flash drives or memory cards. Below we will figure out why the laptop does not see the flash drive, and how to fix the problem.

Why the laptop does not see the USB flash drive

If the laptop does not see the flash drive, then two options should be considered: the problem is in the flash drive itself, or the malfunction is related to the gadget. First of all, it is worth dismissing the option with a drive malfunction. To do this, you can insert it into another device. To check the laptop, you should insert another media into it. If he does not see any memory, then the source of the problem lies precisely in the laptop.

The port is polluted

If the laptop does not see the USB flash drive, first of all, you should check if debris has got inside the port. Sometimes a piece of paper or dust interferes with the normal connection of the contacts. The device does not see the drive, while it seems to the user that it is inserted as expected. The best way to clean a connector is use a can of compressed air. They are sold in hardware stores.

Dusty ports

Important! Do not clean the ports with sharp objects, this can lead to breakage.


The second possible option is the action of viruses. In fact, it is unlikely, but still it is possible, so once again check gadget with antivirus won’t be redundant. The problem may go away after cleaning the system.

Driver Issues

There are two types of driver-related failures: sometimes the problem is in the connector driver, and it may happen that the problem lies in the flash drive driver. In the first case, the user needs update USB port driver. To do this, you can download it on the manufacturer’s website, use utilities to automatically search for software, or find the desired node in the «device manager» and select «update driver» in its menu. The last option is the most useless, since usually the system cannot find the program you need.

Important! And here’s how the «device manager» is useful — you can see in it whether there is a problem with the ports or not. If there is a yellow exclamation mark next to «USB controllers», then they definitely do not have a driver installed. Most often this happens after reinstalling Windows, but it can happen due to a failure or due to an OS update.

What should I do if there is no “USB controllers” item in the device manager, or nothing is displayed in it? In this case, the problem may be that the system does not see USB ports, which means they are disabled in the BIOS. How to fix this will be discussed a little lower, but for now, you should learn about a few more useful features that are contained in the «Device Manager».

USB port disabled

Sometimes the problem with the fact that the device does not see the USB flash drive is that someone has disabled the port in Windows. This is done in the «Device Manager», by clicking on the «USB Root Hub» with the RMB, it can be enabled or disabled. In the latter case, he will no longer see the devices connected to him — from a mouse to a flash drive.

Device Manager

The last situation in which the laptop may not see the usb media is ports are disabled in the BIOS, or settings are lost in it. You should be aware that in the BIOS it is not always possible to disable the connectors, it depends on its type. You can check if the problem is in the BIOS as follows.

  1. We enter the advanced menu (in BIOS) and look for an inscription that will contain the word «usb».
  2. If there is one, and opposite it is written — disabled, then the ports are disabled. You need to switch to enabled.
  3. When you exit the BIOS, save the changes.
  4. If there is no suitable item, then open the Exit tab and find the line “load optimal defaults”, that is, “load working settings”.
  5. After that, we exit the BIOS with saving the changes and check if the ports are working.

The flash drive is visible, but it does not open

It happens that after connecting a USB flash drive, the system beeps about connecting the device, but nothing happens, or an error message appears and the drive simply does not open.

No flash drive driver

If the laptop does not read the flash drive, then the reason may be in its driver. Usually a laptop installs a driver once, and after that all flash drives are connected through it. If the device was bought a long time ago, and an old USB was inserted into it, for example, version 2.0 with a slow speed, then after a while more modern drives may not work on this driver. In this case, the solution to the situation is as follows.

  1. Open the «device manager», and in it the USB controllers.
  2. We insert the drive and wait until a new one is displayed among the available devices.
  3. Click «remove device», pull out the flash drive and re-insert it.
    remove USB device
  4. The system will automatically install the new driver.

Wrong settings

In any OS, Windows 7 and above, there is memory utility. It can be run through the «run» command dskmgmt. If the external drive does not appear in «my computer», or it does not open, you should go to this utility and see what it could find. If the connected USB drive is visible in it, then we look at its status. If it is “healthy”, then the first option is to select “make active”. If this item is not available, then you should assign a letter to the drive. Click on the appropriate item and follow the further instructions. If the status of the memory is «faulty» or «not initialized», then the problem is in the drive itself, that is, it is faulty.


Incompatible file systems

If the gadget does not open the memory, the problem may be that it is formatted in the «wrong» file system. This can happen if the first connection was not to a Windows PC or laptop, but to a TV, MacBook and similar devices.

On a note! Windows is good because it formats memory in a universal way that is readable by almost any other gadget. Other devices can make the file system “for themselves”. That is why it is recommended to first insert a new USB flash drive into a laptop, format it in NTFS, and then connect it to other devices.

If the problem is in the file system, then the only option to run it on Windows is format as needed, and this is a guaranteed deletion of all data on it. This point should be considered before the procedure.

The flash drive may not open due to the fact that it basically unformatted.. This happens with new memory. In this case, the laptop itself reports the problem to the user, and all that is needed is to format it.

Format disk

SD card not being read

The reasons why the laptop does not see the memory card are exactly the same as in the case of USB drives:

  • no driver installed;
  • viruses;
  • the card reader is not working;
  • memory card is defective;
  • the memory card is not inserted correctly.

All of the above malfunctions are treated in the same way as correcting errors with a USB flash drive. The driver for the device can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website, and in the laptop itself, the desired device is located along with USB media and has a name that contains the words «card reader».

card reader

A common problem that the laptop does not see the SD card is that the card is not fully inserted (there should be a click). It must be inserted into the device with the correct side, usually with the contacts down, and pressed until it clicks, while in Windows 8 (7,10,XP) the connection procedure is accompanied by a sound notification.

SD card

The microSD connector is designed in such a way that the card springs a little, and it happens that it is inserted, but not fixed, while the gadget made a sound that the memory was inserted. It is important to check if the card is recessed in the slot, otherwise it will not be displayed, since in fact there is no external media in the gadget.

Important! If the SD card is detected, the laptop opens it, but does not allow something to be written or deleted, then the reason is that the write protection was activated on the flash drive case. You should remove the card and move the slider signed lock.

If the laptop does not see the flash drive from the camera, then the problem was described above — wrong format. To fix this and not delete the photos, you should connect the camera itself to the laptop and download drivers for it, then it will be possible to extract the necessary data through a utility developed by the camera manufacturer.

Why can’t I see the bootable flash drive?

Modern laptops are often not equipped with disk drives, so a bootable USB flash drive is used to reinstall the OS. Often, users are faced with the problem that the laptop does not see a bootable USB flash drive. In this case, there are the following solutions.

  1. Bootable flash drive not written correctly. To create it, you need not just to throw off the image or copy the files, but to do this according to a certain procedure and with the help of utilities designed for this. A great option is the Rufus app.
  2. To install Windows from a flash drive, in the BIOS settings you should set to boot from USB, while such an item in the «boot» menu may not be displayed if the user has not previously inserted a USB drive into the connector. Sometimes users put in «first boot» — «hdd-usb». This is not a boot from a USB flash drive, which means that when you try to install Windows from it, nothing will work.

The last and most likely problem is that the bootable flash drive was created in a boot mode that is not supported by the particular BIOS.. Modern gadgets support two options — Legacy and EFI. Without attaching any importance to this when writing a flash drive, the user does not set the desired option, and EFI is selected by default, while the BIOS can only be designed for Legacy, respectively, he will not see the flash drive.

You can fix the problem by activating the desired mode or by overwriting the USB drive in the correct version (the Rufus utility was mentioned above, it has the ability to select the appropriate boot option). In modern devices, EFI mode is enabled by default, but you need to activate Legacy. To do this, in the BIOS you should find one of the inscriptions:

  • legacy support, legacy boot;
  • CSM;
  • OS.

Next to the inscription should be set to «enabled». In different BIOS versions, the location of the boot switch may differ. After that, the memory will begin to be read.



Solving the problem with the «invisibility» of a flash drive or memory card is quite simple. The recommendations listed above help in the vast majority of situations.

Important! It is worth noting that when connecting memory through a hub, in case of malfunctions, you first need to edit the splitter and only then proceed to troubleshooting using the methods described above.

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