USB Flash Memory keys no longer work in XP

Posted on 2004-09-30
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I have a colleague with XP on a notebook.
Since someone tried to use their own memory key in his machine, no other memory key works. Indeed, totally new keys are not even detected.
All worked fine before.
I sense it's a driver issue.
I use these kind of keys all the time with little problem with any platform (except lower than 98SE - even ME seems to work) - but since XP technically has the drivers already, I'm just wondering why these have stopped working altogether.
Anyone got an idea of what I should look for to sort this out?
Question by:plutopants
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Accepted Solution

SirtenKen earned 125 total points
ID: 12190714
Try testing all of the USB ports on the laptop to see if other devices, such as a USB mouse, can be detected and used. This will rule out a malfunctioning port/laptop hardware issue.

Also check the BIOS to make sure there isn't a 'disable USB' setting that inadvertantly got switched on.

To help diagnose, make sure the account being used has admin rights and Go to Start -> Run and type devmgmt.msc. This is the device manager for the computer.
Plug in a device to the USB port and watch Windows detect the device and load the drivers. The screen may refresh several times before the process is complete.
A memory key that is working properly will have an entry under storage volumes and under the Universal Serial Bus controllers. It is possible that the USB memory key is mis-detected as another type of device, or as an unrecognized device. If this is the case, you may see an entry with an exclamation point indicating the system doesn't know which driver to load. You can right click on the device and select the option to update or install the driver.



Author Comment

ID: 12191815
That seems the thing I need to try. I will need to get the laptop from my colleague and report back.
I presume that deleting a device in devmgmt will enable the computer to redetect it should it be plugged in again.
LVL 91

Expert Comment

ID: 12198090
did the problem occur after installing SP2? if so, try uninstalling it. You can also try a system restore to a date prior to the problem

Author Comment

ID: 12212517
No, my colleague has not SP2. The problem seemed to have occured after someone used their own memory key on his laptop and almost certainly didn't stop the device before removing it.
LVL 91

Expert Comment

ID: 12212996
i think you should format it
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Author Comment

ID: 12213148
Format what?
The key or the laptop?

No other keys seem to work either.

My colleague's memory key works fine in my XP laptop - so formatting it is not an issue.
The problem occured ages ago - on an unrememberable date, so a rollback is not an option really. I think it's turned off anyway.
LVL 91

Expert Comment

ID: 12215035
the key; i would format it in FAT32 for best compatibility. If it does not work then, you are sure it's not the key.  Then i would delete the USB root hub in device manager and on reboot it will get installed again.
You can also delete all USB entries in the device manager, after checking in the "view" tab the option show hidden devices.

Expert Comment

ID: 12216473
Any results from testing the USB ports, checking BIOS or looking in device manager?

After inserting the key, you can also try typing diskmgmt.msc at a prompt and checking to see if there is an entry for a removable disk matching it.

Who is the manufacturer of the USB memory key and what size/model is it? We may need to locate the manufacturer's drivers and reload or update them. If you have other keys available for testing, please list them too.


Author Comment

ID: 12222096
My colleague is away - but I'll report back when I've tried.

Author Comment

ID: 12265383
Hi, an update.

I followed Sirtenken's advice and got the USB key working once again. My colleagues laptop also loaded my USB key fine.
Unfortunately, my colleague then did a Windows XP online Update and got SP2.

He had so much trouble running Outlook, Word and Excel (he lost an hour's work due to a system freeze) that I had to do a SYstem Restore for him to go back (yes, you've guessed it) to before the USB key fix.

So, I had to do Sirtenken's thing again!
Certainly the original problem was caused by someone being careless with their own USB key use on my colleague's computer - something that won't be allowed so readily again.

All is well now!

Many thanks to all for your help.

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