5 (legit) Reasons a USB Flash Drive Disconnects and Reconnects in Windows

Roll Play Scenario:

  • Windows: Sound of connected a USB flash drive to Windows…
  • User: Ah yes… let’s get to work!
  • Windows: The Windows sound of a disconnected USB device…
  • User: Oh no, what’s happening?

A quick Google search and here we are… let’s take a look:

Here are five legitimate reasons your USB drive might be disconnecting from your Windows computer.

1. Running on Battery

Windows OS is set at default to power down USB ports when running from a battery. The power down process usually doesn’t happen until 10-15 into a stalled USB port, but maybe your setting is different. So worth checking… but first… plug in your laptop and see if the problem is resolved.

To check your USB power setting do this:

Search for Control Panel and click Enter

control panel

In the Control Panel click the Hardware and Sound link

hardware and sound

From here (might be slightly different for everyone) click the Change battery settings and further click Change plan settings and then you’ll see an Change advanced power settings option. Click the Change advanced power settings you can scroll around to find the USB devices and adjust your power there.

USB power setting

2. Faulty USB Port

The number one reason for why a USB device doesn’t work is the physical USB port on the host computer. A laptop generally has only 3 or 4 ports and those ports get a lot of action. With a tower PC, the front USB ports on the bezel also get most the action. Question: When you insert the USB device can you wiggle it around? Was there very little tension or pressure when connecting the USB device? If the device wiggles, or extremely easy to insert… you might have a physically bad USB socket.

Try a different port. Like a USB socket on the backside of your tower PC or a USB socket less used on your laptop. If you have a laptop it’s worth the $40-$50 investment to get a docking station because the dock is cheaper than sending your laptop in to get a USB port (or HDMI port or Ethernet port) fixed. If a dock port/socket gets damaged or over-used, buy a new one. There are some great docks on Amazon for cheap.

3. Corrupt USB Flash Drive

Yes, this happens more often than you’d want to guess. The drivers of a USB flash drive can get scrambled up fairly easily. For example, if you try 3-4 write threads to a USB stick, it will probably brick. Meaning you are doing a “copy and paste” of four different streams of data to a USB stick at the same time. The device driver cannot handle this.

You will see a lot on the internet about “not” pulling a flash drive out of the socket unless you use Eject. 98% of the time it probably doesn’t matter because the write process in the background was completed and you won’t have damaged files if you yank the drive out… but it’s certainly possible. So think back, did you pull the drive out and say to yourself “I probably shouldn’t have done that?”

In this situation, try the thumb drive on a different computer. If you get the same unreadable issue then let’s take a closer look at the workings of the drive. Do this:

The drive may be suffering errors, such as bad sectors. In this scenario, you need to check the drive errors and fix them via the inbuilt CHKDSK.

  • To start with, search “cmd” in “Start Menu”
  • Then, launch “cmd” as admin.
  • Subsequently, in the “Command Prompt”, type chkdsk e: /r /f where “e” is the drive letter of your USB and press “Enter”.
  • Ultimately, reconnect the USB flash drive.

If the drive is unworkable, Windows will tell you.

4. Faulty Device Drivers

If you’ve battled computer viruses in the past, the virus may have compromised device drivers which run in your operating system. It is very easy to uninstall / reinstall your device drivers. Windows has backup device drivers for everything so not much work required on your part other than uninstalling your device. Do this:

  • First off, search “Device Manager” in “Start Menu”
  • Then click “Device Manger” in the found programs
  • Next, in the new window, expand “Universal Serial Bus controllers”
  • Find the USB drive that is giving you issues, probably a yellow triangle next to the USB icon
  • Right click that device listing and select “uninstall device”
  • Finally, after un-installation completes, disconnect the drive and reconnect it after a few seconds

5. Corrupt File System

The last category worth investigation is the file system of your host computer. Again, try and isolate the problem to the device or computer by connecting the USB to a different computer. Does the flash drive work and stay connected? If it does, then maybe a closer look at your trouble PC will get you to the path of USB resolve. The USB.inf is the first place to look. Windows .inf are setup files for Windows (ref). You can check the status of this file, and other operating system files by doing this:

In the search box of Windows type cmd – but don’t click enter.

You will see the cmd program listed as showing below… go and right click the cmd listing and run as Administrator.

run cmd as administrator

In the cmd window type csf /scannow and let Windows do its thing. If the scan reports back the USB.inf file is corrupt or bad, this would officially be a tough situation. You can search for the original USB.inf file which comes with your computer by search the manufacturers website or emailing them to ask. However; the best solution would be to back up your files, or set a restore point, and re-install Windows.

We hope one of the first four is your issue to a USB flash drive disconnecting from Windows. Good luck.

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Rich Gates

Administator for started in 2004 with the concept of providing USB information for everything USB related. At the time, USB was gaining momentum and every day new products, articles and news became published. Today, the site is focused on bringing technical information, tricks and hacks to USB related products. The site does publish off topic information as well, to keep the variety up. Please visit the footer area of any page if you or your company is interested in article or product placement via purchased advertising.

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