A flash drive is a portable device that connects to a PC's USB drive and is used to store and transfer large numbers of computer files at once. Flash drives can become corrupted if they suffer a hardware malfunction or are physically damaged. When a drive is corrupted, it will become inaccessible and a computer will no longer recognise it when it's plugged in. You can fix an inaccessible flash drive that hasn't suffered extensive physical damage by reformatting it entirely.
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Verify that the USB flash drive is actually the cause of the problem by inserting the drive into a USB port on a different computer. Check to see if the drive remains inaccessible on the separate computer drive. Plug the USB flash drive back into the original USB port if it still shows up as inaccessible.
Open the computer's Start menu and then click on the "My Computer" button to bring up a new window with a list of the drives connected to the PC. Find the "Map A Network Drive" button at the top of the new window. Click on the button and wait for another window to pop up on the screen.
Click on the "Drive Letter" drop-down menu at the top left side of the window. Select a drive letter that you want to use for the USB flash drive. Click on the "Browse" button and then locate the USB flash drive. Click on the drive and then click on the "Open" button. Click on the "Finish" button and then restart the computer.
Return to the Start menu and then open the Control Panel. Double-click the icon in the window labelled as "Administrative Tools." Scroll down through the new list of options that will populate the window and then double-click the "Computer Management" link. Click on "Allow" if your computer's operating system asks for your permission to open the Computer Management menu.
Find the "Storage" button at the left side of the window and click on it to bring up a new list of options. Click on the option labelled as "Disk Management" and wait for the list of attached disk drives to populate the panel at the middle of the window.
Right-click on the drive letter you selected earlier when you mapped the USB flash drive to the computer. Click on the menu option labelled "Format." Make sure that the "File System" heading is set to "NTFS" and then click on "Start" to reformat the drive.
Restart the computer once the reformatting process has completely finished. Attempt to use the USB flash drive again. Purchase an entirely new flash drive if the computer still will not recognise the drive, as that will indicate it is defective or physically damaged somehow.
Tips and warnings
- Flash drives are called a "volatile" form of memory because of how they store and modify data. Using a volatile memory device correctly over an extended period of time can also cause it to become inaccessible and require a reformat, but the device would typically need to be used more than 10,000 times before becoming inaccessible.
- Formatting a USB flash drive completely erases every single file on the drive and restores the device to its original factory settings.
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