Can’t Open USB Devices in Windows 7? Try This!

July 21, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Usually USB devices are pretty versatile. They can be headsets, webcams, keyboards and mice, even external hard disk drives or flash devices.

But if such a device cannot be detected by your computer, it’s pretty useless.

In order to troubleshoot USB device detection issues you will need to take notice of the following advice. While these tips will not resolve in a solution on every occasion, there is some good information here that can be used to force any apparently healthy USB devices to run as intended under Windows 7.

Windows 7 USB device detection issues

Checking Device Manager

When you insert a USB device into a suitable port on your Windows computer, there are two things you might expect to see. The first would appear if the device is being added for the first time – this is the operating system installing the necessary drivers to run the USB hardware. The second, meanwhile, is confirmation that the device has been detected.

Without either of these being displayed, there is a good chance that the issue can be resolved by forcing Windows to check for drivers.

Before doing this, however, double-check that the USB device will run without issue on other conmputers, just to rule out an issue with the device itself.

In Start, right-click Computer, then select Properties > Device Manager. Next, find Universal Serial Bus Controllers, right-click on the Host Controller, select Uninstall and confirm this action by clicking OK.

Also, check for any USB devices with a yellow exclamation mark, which will indicate that there is a problem. If you find any items like this, uninstall these, and then restart Windows.

When Windows boots up again, the uninstalled USB devices should reinstall correctly. Note that you might need to have the driver disc handy, depending on the type of USB device in question.

USB Drive Isn’t Detected

If none of the above seems to work, and your USB device doesn’t seem to be detected, there are a few useful tips that you can follow to access the data on the device.

First of all, are you using a USB hub? These devices are notorious for causing problems, and while they might be useful in some cases they can often be more trouble than they are worth. The smart option would be to disconnect any USB hub where it can cause problems. If you connect a USB flash device via an extension cable – it might be tricky to access the port – then try it without the cable.

Other ways of testing the USB device include connecting to different USB ports and different computers, from desktops and laptops to Linux and Apple devices.

You should be aware that deice detection problems such as these can be the start of something else, such as issues opening drives and reading the data within. If this is the case you should take a look at our guide to recovering data on USB flash devices.

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