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USB Drives not viewable in My Computer

Posted on 2006-07-22
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Last Modified: 2008-02-01
My brohers standalone home PC running XP Home.

Recently it has stopped showing his memory stick and digital cameras as removable drives in Expolrer or My Computer.

I had a look in Control Panel: System@Hardware, they both appear on the USB section and both appear under the Disk Drive sections. Right clicking on My Computer:Manage: Disk Management, I see the drive (E:).

There are no drive letter clashes that I am aware of (he has a C hard drive and D CD drive). Right clicking and Explore, I can read the pen OK.

I have a search of the Net and tried some of their solutions. Logged in on a Guest account and the drive appears on Explorer OK. So one solution I found said it was a security policy issue which was "hiding" the drives from Explorer. Unfortunately, that solution was a corupted NoDrives value.

I have looked in the Registry on here under the software/windows/policy/explorer and there is no NoDrives keys. Also searched the registry for it and found none.

Any other places to look to find out what secirity policy may be hiding the removable drives??

Many thanks in advance.
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Question by:rayshields
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:Crash2100
ID: 17161601
Try downloading and installing TweakUI.  Run TweakUI, and go under My Computer->Drives, and make sure the drive letter for your USB drive is checked in the list.

TweakUI
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp
http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistler/Install/2/WXP/EN-US/TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:scrathcyboy
ID: 17161853
remove all USB devices but one.  Then do into computer management, disk management, and assign that USB drive some other drive letter than the next availble letter.  Maybe start at H or something.  Close disk management.  Now remove that USB device, and insert another, go back to disk mgmt and assign it a different drive letter.  Do this until ALL USB devices have unique letters assigned to them.  This does not mean each disk or Mem stick, it is the USB device itself (reader) that need separate drive letters.
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 17161867
To have it show:
With the external drive plugged in, right click the drive in the folders list, then left click Properties and Hardware. Left Click the name of the external drive in this list, then click Properties and Policies.
This takes you to the "Write caching and safe removal page". The default position in my XP is "Optimize for quick removal" not "Optimize for performance" as implied by Freecom and Microsoft. You can put the icon in the notification area by clicking the underlined "Safely Remove Hardware" on this page.

or:
 right-click the notification area, and selecting Properties. Under the Notification area heading, click Customize. Find the Safely Remove Hardware icon and select un- hide in the Behavior column next to it (press OK and Apply to back out).
If he has removed these usb devices  without stopping them first the mass storage device that is.

or:
C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll

This will bring up the add remove wizard. When I did this, it put the icon back in my task bar as soon as I removed my USB drive

Your brother should learn how important it is to stop the mass storage device before unplugging it.
USB Flash Drive FAQ
http://www.usbflashdrive.org/usbfd_faq.html#whatis

hope it helps you.
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Author Comment

by:rayshields
ID: 17162981
Crash2100 - installed TweakUI, it already has all drive letters enabled.

scrathcyboy - already removed all USB devices and rebooted and let XP re-find all the hardware. Using right click on My Computer, Manage, and assigning different drive letters, I can right click on Open and I can read the drive fine. However, if I do Explore, it opens the drive in Explorer and then straight away closes it down. When I reboot the PC has forgotten the assigned letter for that mem stick or camera.

Merete - can't right click on it in Folders, as it doesnt appear in Folders. I have the Safely Remove Hardware Icon in my Taskbar already. Clicking on it I see USB Mass Storage Device: Generic USB Flash Drive USB Device, and I can stop it OK, but it still never appears in Windows Expolorer or My Computer.

Its like Explorer/My Computer has been told to hide removable drives. It the same with the Mem stick or the camera. If I log into the PC as a Guest, they both appear in My Computer no problems.
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Author Comment

by:rayshields
ID: 17163038
As a follow up:-

when I run the Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) and assign a drive letter to it e.g. G, it has a status of Healthy (Active). All seems fine. It also indicates it knows its a removable drive by showing it as an Icon with a wee blue disk over on the LH side.

I can then go Run: CMD to the DOS window, do G: and get a directory listing no problem of the drive. My Computer still refuses to list it as a drive.

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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:Ryan_R
ID: 17164552
goto www.freshdevices.com and get FreshUI - very similar to TweakUI
in the Explorer>Drives section there are sections to hide and restrict access to drive letters (whether they are populated or not) - check in here to make sure no one has done this to you
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LVL 44

Accepted Solution

by:
scrathcyboy earned 200 total points
ID: 17164687
then your windows XP USB driver files are corrupted by something added later.  Why not do a "repair install" which will rebuild all the basic system files again, then reapply SP2, and it will fix any signficant driver errors in the OS.  You do a repair install by inserting the XP CD, then going through as if you are going to reinstall, but you are not.  When it finds the existing OS, press R to repair, it is easy and usually works.
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LVL 69

Assisted Solution

by:Merete
Merete earned 50 total points
ID: 17166131
I have the Safely Remove Hardware Icon in my Taskbar already. Clicking on it I see USB Mass Storage Device: Generic USB Flash Drive USB Device, and I can stop it OK, but it still never appears in Windows Expolorer or My Computer.
see if these can shed any light, is this your problem rayshields  the usb drives donot appear in explorer and my computer?
ok more to browse thru. go luck:
have you updated the usb host controllers drivers?
In system devices look at the top tick to how hidden files you may see a few more usb host controllers
than you should have if so you will have uninstall all of them in sfaemode. So that windows can refind the correct.
Has you brother had any image tools installed daemon tools etc? These create a virtual drive and may push these drives out if not unmounted.
===========================================================

Windows Explorer does not display the correct volume information for a removable media device that is changed when the system is in standby or hibernation in Windows XP SP2
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/922678/en-us
========================================
Device Manager does not display devices that are not connected to the Windows XP-based computer
SYMPTOMS
Device Manager displays only non-Plug and Play devices, drivers, and printers when you click Show hidden devices on the View menu. Devices that you install that are not connected to the computer (such as a Universal Serial Bus [USB] device or "ghosted" devices) are not displayed in Device Manager, even when you click Show hidden devices.
 Back to the top

WORKAROUND
To work around this behavior and display devices when you click Show hidden devices: 1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
2. At a command prompt, type the following command , and then press ENTER:
set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
3. Type the following command a command prompt, and then press ENTER:
start devmgmt.msc
4. Troubleshoot the devices and drivers in Device Manager.

NOTE: Click Show hidden devices on the View menu in Device Managers before you can see devices that are not connected to the computer.
5. When you finish troubleshooting, close Device Manager.
6. Type exit at the command prompt.

Note that when you close the command prompt window, Window clears the devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 variable that you set in step 2 and prevents ghosted devices from being displayed when you click Show hidden devices.
If you are a developer or power user and you want to be able to view devices that are not connected to your computer, set this environment variable globally: 1. Right-click My Computer.
2. Click Properties.
3. Click the Advanced tab.
4. Click the Environment Variables tab.
5. Set the variables in the System Variables box.
NOTE: Use this method only for troubleshooting or development purposes, or to prevent users from accidentally uninstalling a required device that is not connected to the computer (such as a USB device or docking station that is not connected to a laptop computer).
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315539/EN-US/
=======================================
http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2004/11/10/255047.aspx
===========================================
Windows XP Patch: USB Devices May Not Work After You Unplug a Downstream USB Hub from the Host Controller
Brief Description
This update addresses the "USB Devices May Not Work After You Unplug a Downstream USB Hub from the Host Controller" issue in Windows XP.
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=4E370D0F-BCA4-4A2A-9CDE-DFE2DA16672A&displaylang=en

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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:Ryan_R
ID: 17173259
try this experiement:
insert 1 of your removable drives and run Disk Management. change the drive letter to B: - should be available unless you have 2 floppy drives (perish the thought)
can you now see it in My Comp?
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Author Comment

by:rayshields
ID: 17200135
I will be going back to my brothers on Monday for a few days and will try out some of the above suggestions. As this started happening after he had a major crash, so possibly corrupted drivers.

I am at present trying to persuade my own PC to accept my new Datawrite 2Gb pen - it keeps asking me for drivers :-)

God love USB!
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 17246007
:)  indeed..
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