Fix a Memory Card or USB Drive that Doesn't Appear as a Drive in Windows 7 or Windows 8

Edited by Doug Collins

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There are a few things which can cause a Memory Card or USB not to show up in Windows when inserted. One reason could be that the USB device or Memory Card is defective, another reason could be that the computer itself has some sort of hardware failure. If the USB device is known to have worked on the computer before, and works on other computers with no issues, then check another USB slot located on another location on the computer.

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  1. 1
    Sometimes, the firmware that comes with the USB reader will not recognize certain devices such as SD card readers, while the slots on the front may have different firmware specifications.
    If the drive still does not mount from anywhere on the computer, check to make sure that some other similar device will work on a chosen slot. If other USB devices work in the same slot as the one in which USB drive will not mount, then the USB should be checked on another computer to see if it will mount on those.
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  2. 2
    If the USB drive will not mount on another computer, it will be highly unlikely to retrieve any data from it.
    Before replacing the USB drive, it may be worth checking to see whether it is a defect, or something which can be fixed in the Windows system.
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  3. 3
    If the drive worked on a computer before, Windows would have installed the device in a way which would allow Windows to recognize the drive and communicate with it.
    This reference in the Windows database may be out of sync with the current state of the device. To create a fresh start between the computer and the USB drive, the drive's reference will need to be uninstalled in the database.
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  4. 4
    Windows uses the Device Manager to list and manage hardware connected to the computer.
    Plug in the USB and open Device Manager. With Windows 7 and below, the Device Manager is in the Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Hardware and Printers > Device Manager. In Windows 8, right click the bottom left corner of the screen and select Device Manager.
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  5. 5
    In Device Manager, select View and make sure Show hidden devices is selected and close the Device Manager.
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  6. 6
    Then open the command prompt.
    To make sure all of the possible installed devices are listed in Device Manager, enter these commands:
    set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
    start devmgmt.msc
    
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  7. 7
    This will allow "ghost" devices which will not show up even as hidden devices to be seen in Device Manager and will also open Device Manager.
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  8. 8
    The device should now be located in the device list.
    If there is a known error with the device, there will be a yellow triangle on the icon. Right-clicking and selecting Properties will open the interface to view known information about the device and manage it's references. If the driver cannot be updated, the device will need to be uninstalled.
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  9. 9
    From the Device Manager, right-click on the troubled device and select Uninstall while the device is plugged in.
    Then unplug the device and reinsert it. Windows should automatically install a new reference.
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  10. 10
    If the device will not work anywhere and this method yields no success, the device my be defective and will need to be replaced.
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