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Restore Your Missing USB Drive in Windows (updated for Windows 7)


Ever suffered from that sinking feeling when you insert a USB flash drive into your computer and it fails to register? Yeah, annoying isn’t it? No to mention the panic attack as you realise it contains the only copy of the data you need.

Well kudos to the HowtoGeek folk for coming up with a simple cure which recently worked for me on a drive I was about to throw away as broken. Apparently a lot of the problems with USB drives that go missing occur because Windows –  bless! –  messes up the drive letter assignation, and your drive gets lost in the shuffle!

Quick cure?

  • Right Click on My Computer (or Start –  right click Computer in Windows 7)
  • Select Manage
  • Select Disk Management


  • Look for the removable flash drive in the listing (it will have no drive letter assigned to it in the bottom pane)


  • Let’s pretend that my Disk 3 has no letter assigned in the fig above. In that case just right mouse click on the drive, select Change Drive Letter and Paths… then select Add, and click the ‘Assign the following drive letter’ button and add the letter you want (I would choose a mid-rank letter like N). Click OK for all windows.



  • Bingo! Your flash drive will be visible to Windows once again. Magic eh?

The above screens are for Windows 7, here’s the original article for Windows XP. Nice to see that Microsoft has fixed this 3 year old glitch, eh? Not!

 Have you ever plugged in a USB drive or any external device with a hard drive and wondered why you cannot see it in My Computer? More than likely the cause is that Windows renamed the drive to a letter that is already in use. This will happen if you have several card readers, thumb drives or external hard drives attached. It will also happen if you are on a network and have mapped drives.


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