My Flash Drive Isn’t Showing Up

This is a problem I hear once or twice a month, and it’s usually from someone who desperately needs to print an assignment right now. The usual remedy is to move to another PC or try a Mac. But, if this isn’t an option there is another (last resort) way. Be methodical and work slowly, follow step-by-step.

  • Attach your flash drive to one of the USB ports on the side of your PC screen.
  • Right-click My Computer
  • Choose Manage
  • Then click Disk Management
  • The right side of the window will now list the available drives on your computer. You’ll see Disk 0 Basic (which is the main hard drive).
  • Your flash drive will be listed below your hard drive.
  • Look for Removable and the size of your flash drive. It should say something like 1.87 GB. It may also describe your flash drive (model, manufacturer) to the right.
  • Once you’ve found it in the list, right-click once on it and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  • Stop, think, and reconsider if you are contemplating renaming drives C, D, or E. Have you really selected your flash drive?
  • When you are certain, click the Change button and choose a new drive letter for your flash drive. Choose something like Z, Q, Y, or X. You can also open up My Computer and pick something not already listed there.
  • Once you’ve changed the drive letter, save and exit the window. You should now be able to see your flash drive when you click My Computer with the new drive letter.
Screen shot of change drive letter and paths

Screen shot of change drive letter and paths

Once again, only do this is if you really have to. Moving to another PC or working on a Mac usually works. Don’t forget that MS Word documents written on a PC can be read on a Mac and vice-versa.

If you are wondering why this sometimes happens it’s because you or someone else may have been working on a networked computer, and the letter assigned to your flash drive has already be taken up by some other device. Thanks to Centre College Help Desk for tips on how to manage this issue.

I am a reference librarian at Bank Street College Library.

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