My USB flash drive/memory stick won’t work on my Windows 7 PC but does work on Windows XP and Windows Vista PCs

PROBLEM: My 8GB USB flash drive works as it should on a Windows XP and a Windows Vista PC and on a Windows 7 laptop, but won’t work on my Windows 7 desktop PC. It does not report a problem and reads other flash drives, such as earlier, lower-capacity models I have. I have tried plugging it directly into a USB port instead of into a USB hub, but with no luck.

ANSWER: Flash drives can be annoyingly inconsistent in ways such as the one you are experiencing. I know of someone who had six drives that all failed irrecoverably during use, so don’t ever use a flash drive as your only backup source. Note that there are many free online storage providers, such as Microsoft’s OneDrive that currently (Jan. 2015) provides 15GB of free storage to anyone with a Windows Live ID, which anyone has who has a Hotmail or email account. OneDrive is accessed from within the Hotmail/ account along with free online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

When removing a flash drive always pull it straight out without putting any sideways pressure on the connector, which can be weakened fairly easily, and don’t leave it inserted in a front port where it can be brushed against, stepped on, etc.

If a USB port in not able to deliver enough power, the drive can’t be initialised, so try plugging it into a USB port at the back of the computer, because the ports at the back usually have the highest power output. If you plug it into a USB port provided in the front of the case, remove any other USB device also connected from there to ensure the maximum amount of power can be drawn. If doing that doesn’t work, if you were using a non-powered USB hub, try using a powered model that comes with its own power adapter. You will probably find the cost of doing that not worth while when you could just buy another flash drive that will no doubt work instead. Sometimes there is nothing that works to get a particular flash drive to work on a particular computer. I have come across a PC that would not work with several flash drives. If you can’t get flash drives to work on that PC and you need to use one, the cheapest solution would be to replace its motherboard with one that is compatible with the existing RAM memory and processor. I recommend motherboards made by MSI, Asus and Gigabyte, none of which have given me any incurable problems.

About Eric 275 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.