USB-Stick disappeared from Windows Explorer

Has your USB-Stick suddenly disappeared?

It is always the same,

you plug in your USB-Stick into your computer and it won’t show up. You try several times to unplug it and then plug it in again. You try this for several minutes and still nothing.

Then you try the same procedure with another USB-Slot. Still nothing. Then you start searching on Google for a solution and the only answer you get is: Your USB-Stick is probably broken. Damn, you tell yourself, what have I done. I have no copy of the data. But I tell you: don’t throw it away! I’ll show you how to make it work again.

There are mainly two options,

to do this.

  1. The first option is, to check if your windows system has messed the drivers or the letter assignment up, or
  2. if it’s really broken. In this case, please don’t throw it away, but reformat it with my method.

For case number 1

  • First go to your control panel
  • After that type into the search bar “device manager”. After that open the device manager with admin rights
  • Now search through the list for any driver that doesn’t work properly. You can recognize this, by looking out for a yellow or red error symbol
  • If you’ve found something like this, open the driver for this device and first try to update the driver using Internet
  • If that didn’t work, uninstall the driver and restart your computer. The driver will be automatically reinstalled.
  • If that still didn’t work, look for the error code and Google it.
  • If this problem still exists, go on with step 2 (We won’t reformat it quite yet)

For case 2,

  • open a console window with admin rights. Now type in following command
  • wait until the configuration ends and type in two other commands
    list volume
  • Now when you’re finished with that, search for your usb-stick, portable hard drive, or whatsoever.
    You can recognize this best by looking for the filesystem format (For small usb-stick mostly fat32, for bigger portable hard drives mostly exFAT or NTSF, for integrated hard drives, with windows on it, it is also mostly NTFS or exFAT), and for the size. Notice that your drive will be always smaller than the specification, so your 4gb big usb-stick will be something like 3.xx GB big
    now type

    select [volume]

    where you want to replace [volume] with Volume 0, Volume 1, Volume 2, etc. depending on, where you found your device (the table row)

  • Now first try to type
    assign letter [letter]

    where you want to replace [letter] with the drive letter you want to assign the usb-stick to

  • If this still didn’t work, please proceed, but

To proceeed,

  • please type into the diskpart Shell
    list volume
    select [volume]

    to make sure you have still selected your stick, drive, whatever and don’t format anything important

  • Now type
    create partition Primary
  • For the next step type
    format fs=[filesystem] quick {compress}

    where you please replace [filesystem] with the filesystem you want to format your usb-stick with. The common options are: fat, fat32, exfat, NTFS. The compress option is optional. For this you would replace {compress} with compress

  • Now wait for the format to complete and again type
    assign letter [letter]

    where you again would replace [letter] with the desired drive letter

If this still doesn’t work,

your usb-stick is really broken and you probably want to replace it.


I had these problems with several usb-sticks and hard drive and the owners all were told by good-educated tech guys, they have to buy new hard drives, etc. With this method I had all brought them back to life!

Hope this method has saved you from spendingĀ some money

David Holland


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