Help! My PC no longer recognizes my Android as a USB drive


It’s a very frustrating problem: you want to transfer files to your Android so you plug your Android device to your PC via USB, only to discover that it it not being recognized as a hard drive. So you plug and replug and check the wire and that both devices are attached properly, to no avail. What to do? Read on!

This has happened with every Android device I have owned (which is to say, both my Galaxy Note and my new Nexus 7), and discovered that it is a potentially multi faceted problem, and solving it can involve a number of different actions. This post aims to present a comprehensive set of suggestions that can hopefully help you fix the issue.

Note that this article is about connecting your Android device to a Windows PC. Also, go these sequentially; the interventions that I believe are more likely to work are listed on top.

Intervention #1: Use a different USB cable

Sounds silly, but you should eliminate the possibility that this is the problem first thing. It actually is not a silly issue at all: if you happen to be using the cable that, say, originally served the function of connecting your laptop to a cooling fan to power it, or came with an old device of some sort that you no longer use, it may work for charging but not for transferring data, because it may have been designed for charging only or in any case not designed for transferring the kind of data that a smartphone requires.

Therefore try connecting with the original cable that came with your device or a high quality cable that you trust, and see if that solves the issue.

Intervention #2: Uninstall and re-install Android drivers

This is actually what worked for me. Here’s how to do it (on Windows 7, but the process should be similar on other versions):

  • Make sure your Android device is connected to the PC first (even if not recognized as a drive).
  • Go the the ‘Device Manager’:  either right click on ‘My Computer’ and select ‘properties’ then ‘Device Manager’  in the left sidebar, or go to ‘Control Panel’ then ‘system’ then ‘Device Manager’ from the left sidebar.
  • Next, find the Android device driver then right click uninstall. The driver may be listed under ‘Portable Devices’ or ‘Other devices’ or it may be listed under it’s own name (see the screenshot below for examples). Uninstall all entries you find. If not found at all then this intervention is not for you. Check some of the other options mentioned in this article.

Uninstall Android driver in Device Manager

  • Once the drivers are uninstalled, unplug your device from the PC. Make sure your computer is connected to the Internet and automatic updating is turned on, then replug your device and allow Windows to find and install the drivers all over again.
  • Finally, go to ‘My Computer’ and check if your device appears as a drive. If so, then your problem is solved.  If not, see if some of the other interventions mentioned here might work for you.

Intervention #3: Make sure that your Android is set to connect as a ‘Media Device’ (MTP)

Go to settings / storage. Next, go to more options (typically upper left dotted area, depending on your device) and click ‘USB Computer connection’. Next click on the ‘Media Device’ (MTP) checkbox. If already checked, try unchecking it, exiting out of settings, then coming back again and rechecking it.

If you do not find this option in ‘Settings/Storage’, move on to the next intervention.

Set to connect as a Media Device (MTP)

Now check if your device appears as a drive in ‘My Computer’ . If not, keep reading below.

Intervention #4: try to connect as a ‘USB Mass Storage’ device

This is an option that Android supports whereby your device storage and your external SD Card (if any) will be mounted as USB mass storage volumes in Windows.

Go to settings / more settings. Next, click ‘USB utilities’, then ‘Connect Storage to PC’ and ‘Turn on USB storage’. It may prompt you to turn off USB debugging if you have it enabled, and it may prompt you to unplug and re-plug your device. It will also install any needed drivers.

USB Storage step1USB Storage step2USB Storage step3

When done, click into ‘My Computer’ and see if the new volume(s) are there. It may not quite be the same as identifying your Android device (since in fact it is doing something different, mounting your Android storage as volumes in Windows), but you will be able to move files back and forth just as you would any normal USB drive.

Intervention #5: Enable USB debugging

This may be the issue in cases where you may have installed certain backup apps on your Android that require USB debugging or other cases where you may have installed Android desktop clients that communicate with and/or backup your device.

To enable USB debugging go to your Android’s settings, then find and click ‘Developer Options’. Click ‘ok’ at the warning screen, then enable ‘Developer Options’  (top right) and check the box next to ‘USB debugging’. Click ‘ok’ at the final warning screen.

Toggle USB debugging step1Toggle USB debugging step2Toggle USB debugging step3Toggle USB debugging step4

Cannot find USB Debugging in setting? In the latest versions of Android (4.2+) this option may be hidden. To unhide it, go to ‘settings’ then ‘About phone’, then scroll down to ‘Build Number’ and tap it seven times. (Note that it will take three taps for the your device to acknowledge that you are trying to unhide ‘developer’s options’. Persist and it will happen.

Once USB debugging is enabled, unplug and replug your device into your PC, and see if that solves the problem.

Intervention #6: check if your device has a faulty base

At this point, if nothing works, you might consider that you have a problem with your hardware. If you have had trouble getting the device to charge, or if you need to manipulate the position of the wire to get it to charge, these are all clues that the problem may be your charging base. (This can happen if you frequently lift your device using the charging wire, that the connection is physically damaged).

One last thing you might try: backup your Android (by means of connecting to your PC wirelessly; there are many apps that can do it for you), and once you are satisfied that everything is backed up, restore your Android to factory settings, and see if that solves the problem. But I actually do not recommend you do this, because it could be a bit of a  hassle. Better show it to a serviceperson who can tell you if the problem is in the hardware, and take it from there.


Hope this helps. If you solve this problem by any means different from the interventions above, please let me know about it in the comments section below.

  • Cat

    amazing what just trying a different USB cable can do. i found that to be the issue with an older Coby tablet that i use as an ereader. simply used a different cable and it works every time now.

    • MTP issues

      Having just experienced this, here are my findings: (Samsung SG2)
      I had similar issue – usual windows “failed to install MTP driver”.
      Tried removing drivers – no good
      Tried changing cables, no good.
      Tried #4 it kept telling me “cable attached” even though it wasnt.
      Finally, digging around what worked was powering up with cable attached (ie reboot with cable attached)
      Subsequently what i found was changing from Media to Camera and back solved the problem.

      • Ali

        I have just experienced same kind of problem for my Samsung Galaxy s3-sgh i747. i over come one this issue.
        1. Go to dial pad type *#0808#
        2. it displays USB settings
        3. select MTP+ADB option
        4. Press OK button
        5. Connect to USB cable to PC
        6. It shows Connected as a media device.


  • tobisham

    Never forget dust and any particles on the connector on the phone, very usual this days of miniusb and iphone-connectors. An old toothbrush do wonders.

  • bruno pagis

    So I’m not the only struggling with my USB devices… I have a Garmin Forerunner 350 running gear, that will perfectly be recognized one day, and totally ignored the next day (same cable same computer, same USB plug, same everything). What a frustration!
    I haven’t been able to download any data from the gear to my computer for the last two weeks, I’m gonna try the suggestion from tobisham, and cleanup the connectors, maybe it will help.
    Something I noticed also, that was not mentionned so far I guess: using a different USB plug on the computer sometimes make a difference.

    And as usual, a big thank you to Samer for freewaregenius.

  • If all fails, you can always install a free FTP server app and connect to your phone using an FTP client. The added bonus is that you can use sync software (that support FTP) to sync data. Or you can use Bittorrent Sync and share a folder between your phone and pc using wifi.

  • astral_cyborg

    You can also try (re)installing the official PC application of your mobile brand, which contains the USB drivers.

  • Levent

    Intervention #3: Make sure that your Android is set to connect as a ‘Media Device’ (MTP) work for me thanks

  • Marissa

    #2 worked for me. Thanks! very fast and easy steps to follow. 🙂

  • amrit

    Thanks #3 worked for me.

  • Felipe R Valera

    Hello , Very good post, great the info for how to activate developer options; it does not work for me, I checked everything, finally I connect my phone to another computer with windows vista, it works perfectly, it installed 2 drivers one for the phone, other USB composite device, in my computer with windows 7 was working perfectly but one day stops working , windows is not recognizing the phone, in my computer it shows nothing but if I open control panel devices I was able to see there my cell if I right click and go to troubleshoot this is the message I get problem with Samsung…. USB composite .. device driver software was not successfully installed, I think I have windows update automatically.
    Thanks so much

  • Kaavya

    thank you helped me a lot

  • Boom Pork

    hi hello i have a tablet i dont know who is the manufacturer, i just want to ask i do have the 3 option in “usb computer connection = (MTP, PTP and as Storage)” my android device don’t have “”””USB UTILITIES””” i already check that “””USB DEBUGGING””” thing and still my android device wont recognize, i already restarted it many times still it do nothing to my device, but when i connect the usb to my pc it is charging hope you can help me to fix this thankyou, if you have question please email me and if you already have my answer to fix this.

    here’s my

    • Roxy Carroll

      I am having the EXACT same problem. Had Samsung on remote with my pc and phone and it STILL didn’t help

    • HAHAHA

      Use #1 same thing happened for lenovo p780

    • Devendra Kumar Sahasi

      same problem 🙁

  • Megan

    You are a genius, Thank you. I had to do #5 and #2. I really appreciate you outlining all these options. It was a huge help!

  • sona

    thanku so much… u solved my problem… i wud give u 10 on 10 points for dis

  • Jinjer

    After a year or so not being able to access my phone via USB, your tip #2 solved the issue for me. Yay! Thank you so much!

  • Nick

    Thanks, as a newbie to Android, it was tip #3 for me!

  • Grateful!

    You just saved my sanity!!! Thank you!

  • Junk Data

    Hi! Every time I connect my android always pop up not recognized I already installed the usb driver. My android is not booting and power and volume button not working but the pc detected as unrecognized device. The LED light just light everytime I connect to pc or charging. Please help. TIA.

    • Margaret

      we have the same problem ;(

      • Anon

        Information on your phone might help. Check XDA-forums for more info. I am under the name “TheUnbricker”

  • Das Singh

    The second last tip did the Job for me!!! Thanks..

  • Ian

    Tip #1 for me. LOL. TY.

  • xatriya

    Thanks a lot ,step 3 reminded me the process usually i follow,don’t know how i forgot.anyway thanks a lot. and keep up your great work and help.

  • Bill de Haan

    I’ve had this problem with two Android phones (fortunately never with a tablet, but that may just be luck), and it’s incredibly frustrating. I’ve had it work for weeks, then suddenly stop, and then start working again two weeks later.

    Before your start playing with every permutation of every USB port and every USB cable, try the following first: put the phone in Airplane mode. On both phones where I’ve seen the USB data problem, putting the phone in Airplane mode restores it. And likewise, once you’ve completed all the PC/phone operations and disable airplane mode again, the phone once again becomes invisible.

    No guarantees it will work with everyone, of course. But it’s worked both on my 2011-era LG-500P (aka Optimus One) running Android 2.3, and my 2013-era Moto G (first generation) running Android 4.4.4

    • Matt Mentor

      Thanks Bill, your solution works for me. Airplane mode solved it in 1 second on my TP714AQ 7″ tablet by AGPTEK. Quite amazing, after trying just about everything else.

    • Joy Goswami

      Thanks Bill… it worked!

    • Oh thank you! So many complicated ‘solutions’ that didn’t work. I’ve been tearing my hair out. Your tip worked first time. Hooray for you, Bill. xxx

    • Harry Timothy Tumalewa

      Thanks Bill!

    • Gien Verano

      Brilliant Bill….. yehey! tried your tip and it worked the first time. Thank you!!!

    • Sufiyan Khan

      Thanks You Are Awesome You Are The First Who Help Me.

    • hexxuss

      Didn’t work, but so far nothing has… I think “Buy a new phone” is the option I’m leaning to lol.

      • Bill de Haan

        I just upgraded my Moto G from Android 4.4 to 5.0 to 5.1 last week. When it went to 5.0, it worked. When it went to 5.1, it didn’t. However, I’ve found that if I reboot the phone and then connect it to the PC while in airplane mode, the PC now sees it.

        Give it a shot. It probably won’t help, but it can’t hurt to try.

        • Shivam Shanker

          thanx bill.. it worked 😀

        • manas varpe

          while everything else failed this (airplane mode) worked for me. Thanks

        • Muzzairul Azrin Mohamad

          worked for me.. ty

    • Charity Seashell

      Didn’t work.

    • Champ Stark

      after airplane moed it started showing..but i cant cut paste …

    • dinesh kumar

      Thanks for the help.
      #3 worked for me.

  • Priyesh.P.B.

    Thanks A Lot…!!! I Could Solve My issue with Micromax Android 1 Phone using Invention #3. Thanks A Lot Again…!!!!

    • Srikar Mutyala

      hi even i am facing the problem with micromax android one !! can u help me out with this?

  • Kira Hokuten

    OMG #3 solved my problem, I was so stressed on how to resolve this, thank you for your effort in making this very helpful article =)

  • Monika Jahan


  • So Kay

    none have these steps have helped my computer recognise my phone for transferring data

    • John

      Same 🙁

    • Homa Dimkpa

      Having .. its frustrating.. The option to use USB Internet and all that is faded and wont respond to touch.

  • James Stephen Barrett

    Thanks alot, step 3 worked for me

  • fleetstreet10

    thanx for the help..enabling usb debugging let me connect to pc with my android

  • narasimha

    nothing helped me to show my media files on pc,

  • narasimha

    i had done all my efforts to connect but it was hardware problem

  • Jim C

    Thanks for the great sequence of steps, although none of them worked for me. I finally got this solved by removing the battery and sim card, waiting for a while, putting them both back in and turning the phone on. After the phone booted, I reattached it to the USB cable and voila!

  • Vins

    finally solved – go to setting then storage then enable computer – Android 5.1.1

  • Anupam Das

    Thanks for the nice article.

  • shmuelman

    Fantastic and stupendous. Thanks. Problems both with a cable and somehow set to connect for charge only.

  • Dolores Mingione Ninerell

    I finally connected via bluetooth with my computer and through the photo Gallery on my phone was able to select the large folders and send them to my computer using the bluetooth icon (as opposed to email or FB, etc) then selecting my computer from the bluetooth options. Nothing else has worked for me. I even tried to use the Samsung software Smart Switch which I really thought would help but it still didn’t recognize my phone even after I selected to reinstall the drivers. At least I can get my pictures and videos now.

  • George

    Had issue with Nexus 4. Samer Kurdi you are a superstar. I had done it the number 3 way some time ago but had forgotten. Thanks so much! Anybody had luck with HTC one M7?

  • okiecarl

    Here’s another possible solution. On my Samsung Galaxy Avant after screwing around with it for about an hour and a half I got desperate. Shut it off, pulled the battery for about 20 or so seconds, put it back together and turned it on. Plugged it into the ‘puter and everything worked!!!! Ahhhhh, I love tech.

  • Steve

    I have to say, thank you very much. I was going through updating all kinds of drivers on my computer and many other things. Few hours of work. Using a different cable worked for me. Of course it’s the simple solution I never thought to try.

  • Patrick G

    Every time I plugged in my phone, Windows made a binging noise and said it couldn’t recognize it. After a lot of messing around I realized that I needed to push the plug further into my phone and jiggle it around a bit more, and then Windows recognized it as an external drive.

    You would think that Windows would either recognize the phone or not – not recognize it for some things and not others!

  • Cynthia Marquette

    Thank you Samer! I have a Galaxy III, Windows 7. Under portable devices, my driver was named: SPH-l710. Uninstalling and allowing windows to update the driver worked for me.

  • Aaaaa

    Intervention #1 worked just fine for me. Thank you. I totally didn’t expect this.

  • Prasanth

    Thank you Bill. It worked. Very helpful.

  • HS

    BEFORE you format and loose every thing try these 2 methods ::

    Reboot your phone into ODIN mode by holding (Vol Down + Home + Power)
    then press (Vol Up)
    Connect your phone to PC and let it install drivers
    Remove phone’s battery and start it normally
    Now you should be able to connect your phone normally.


    Here is another solution:

    in the dialer dial:
    you will get “USBsettings” or “UltraCfg”
    Now choose the first option (MTP) and reboot 🙂

    • fenil Jain

      Hey *#0808# solution helped. Tried so many different ways but failed. Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Andrew wilson

      I FUCKING LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

      the Dial soution worked for me!!! ¬

    • DD

      Awesome. *#0808# worked for me

    • hexxuss

      “USSD Code running”
      “Unable to process request.”

      I think this is just a case of my phone being one big huge steaming pile of crap at this point… not a single thing on here worked to make it connect properly to my PC.

    • Achyut raj

      it works…

  • Kieran Mountney

    Thanks! Really helpful!

  • Roman Reigns

    Hey I Have done every thing from #1 to #6 they doesnt worked i also tried What bill said it didnt work i also tried the solution of HS. Then finally i decided to restart the phone

    Aaahh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it worked hurray!!!!

    Just Restart the phone

  • Robert Redskins Croson

    My computer suddenly stopped reading ANY phone device. I have tried multiple phones and many USB cords. The USB card will only charge my phone; it is as if it doesn’t even recognize ANY phone as hardware or drives. It doesn’t even say “does not recognize device” for any device I use.

    This suddenly happened without me altering any settings. How should I fix this?

    • me

      actually my problem is same with you… my notebook stopped reading any phone device (2 phones cannot read by my nb), with any port and any cables (i’ve been tried 4 cables).

      even i formatting my phone there is no luck. I’m not sure is this mainboard issue or what???

    • John

      Same !

  • John


  • Jerome Zepeda

    This must be weird,but the method 1 worked for me, i use samsung galaxy v and i used a different cable from a new phone i bought and it worked real well………? it will be easier if my samsung has removable cable in its charger…but not.

  • jjy74451

    I tried Intervention #3 above, and when I did, the “USB computer connection” option was greyed out on my Android Lollipop tablet. Any ideas?

  • Jonilo5

    The first step worked for me!! WHOHOOO! 😀

  • Gopi Krishna H

    That “7 taps on Build number” finally solved my 3 month-long problem.
    Really helpful ! Thank you 🙂

  • Kmykzy

    Thank you for the post. I just facepalmed myself after I solved this problem by using step #1. Yes… I feel like a dumb-ass 😀

  • Intelligent Commenter

    It was the cable, your first suggestion. Thanks!!

  • Not_Another_Voyeur

    Solution #2 did it for me! Thank you!!

    I tried uninstalling the driver but it didn’t work until I checked the delete option.

    I have 2 Nexus S 4G’s, the laptop didn’t recognize mine but my wife’s worked fine. The cable worked with mine on the desktop and my work PC saw it right away as well.

    After powering the laptop and phone and removing the battery, I tried (unsuccessfully) airplane mode, and dialing #0808# (I got a recording telling me it was not a valid number).

  • martijnhoekstra

    To install drivers for at least Samsung and Motorola, you need Window Media Player. If you installed an N version of Windows these won’t be present, causing automatic installation to fail, possibly silently.

    You’ll need to install the windows media player feature pack to fix that, which is available as a free download from Microsoft.

  • Liana

    did NOT HELP me

  • hexxuss

    Nothing on this list seemed to work, so I combined a few suggestions – I restarted my phone while it was plugged into my PC and THAT actually worked.
    Stupid phone… NEVER buy a KYOCERA Hydro {model doesn’t matter} phone – they are pure garbage after a year – everything just randomly stops working.

  • bengast

    I was like: this cable I use worked before so why wouldn’t it know? I switch cable it works, well rip my sunday afternoon haha XD

  • justmega

    Android 6.0.1 does not have some of these options. They are to be found in developer options, USB configuration, MTP option. It was defaulted to ‘Charging’. The first time I toggled to MTP the notification bar started flashing a magenta color. I immediately switched it back tried again to see if it was a fluke thing which it then worked. I was able to DL media from my storage card.

  • V1ct0r1a

    The changing cable really help I thought there was something wrong with my phone or computer thx for ur help!!!

  • ??????? ??????

    None of this have helped me.
    I managed to get access to my Android files from PC only having special software (in my case Xiaomi PC Suite) installed. But thank you, OP.

  • kaushal

    intervention 2 is worked for me thanks guys

  • Thom Harmand

    ooh boy, I think I have tried just about everything. Problem is, my older ( 2012) HTC One X hads a damaged SIM card slot. So, since I have no service provider and cannot afford another smart phone for another month or sao, I just use the phone as a music player with You Tube offline videos, songs, etc..and I can get online when I have a Wifi connection. Really love the Beats Audio, but been trying to sync music from my PC for a month with no luck. THe AT&T update is not available, and no options in the storage, etc…So….Maybe I should try to repair the phone and get service? Any other way to get the HTC Sych tunes working?? This has been very frustrating! Thanks!

  • Thom Harmand

    ooh boy, I think I have tried just about everything. Problem is, my older ( 2012) HTC One X hads a damaged SIM card slot. So, since I have no service provider and cannot afford another smart phone for another month or sao, I just use the phone as a music player with You Tube offline videos, songs, etc..and I can get online when I have a Wifi connection. Really love the Beats Audio, but been trying to sync music from my PC for a month with no luck. THe AT&T update is not available, and no options in the storage, etc…So….Maybe I should try to repair the phone and get service? Any other way to get the HTC Sych tunes working?? This has been very frustrating! Thanks!

  • anup

    Great article. No-2 worked out for me.

  • Lovina May

    #2 works! Thank you!

    So many solutions online and this one only works!

    At first the name of my phone is not on the other devices but there is an MTP. I’ve tried to disconnect it so that I’ll be sure if that is my phone. After I confirm that it is my phone, I’ve done the #2 steps. Thank you!

  • Just happened to me. Samsung Galaxy Note edge. Phone photos became full, I deleted 50 of them and storage space became even tighter. Built in File manager just shows trivial nothing. Unable to install any other file manager. Phone will only connect to PC in charging mode nothing fixes this. Tried every solution outlined above, nothing works.

  • Mithlesh Meena

    nice technic … thanks it working

  • Jay Max

    found a solution: s3 not being recognized on windows 7 computer, when i plug in the phone to the computer i hear windows sound that device is connected and i see on the phone that it is connected but no icon comes up: (make sure you have no open programs you are working on because you will have to reboot the computer and lose any info you were working on) go to start button,control panel, system,device manager,all the way on the bottom universal serial bus controllers start removing all the usb controllers right click each one and uninstall but be advised that it removes the mouse and keyboard!! if it removes the mouse just use the keyboard up or down arrows then use the right click options on the keyboard (the button between the crtl and alt key on the bottom right on most keyboards) and start removing as many devices as possible the keyboard and mouse will stop responding (because you removed the usb driver from the computer) then hold down the power button and shut the computer, then turn on the computer by pushing the power button you will see all the usb drivers reload and you will get back the phone icon hope this helps Jay

  • Priyank bhardwaj

    thanx!! device manager did the trick

  • John Reindl

    After spending many many hours going crazy in trying all sorts of things, I switched cable, and lo and behold, it worked!!

    so much for the chat room of LG….

  • Alfonso Alcalde

    Interventions #2 and #3 have worked for me! Thank you very much 🙂

  • sem

    It will 100% work. check the description of the video after watching the video

    And if you have recently installed new windows 8,8.1,10 it must be done and works fine then..
    thank you. this is the best solution.


    I had faced same issue in windows OS and I had successfully trouble shooted it.
    Follow these steps:
    1. Right Click “MY COMPUTER/MY PC” and select properties.
    2. Select Device manager
    3. Select the USB which is connected to the computer. Mostly there will be error symbol will be displayed
    4. Right click the USB port and select update driver
    5. Select “Browse my computer for driver software”
    6. Select “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”
    7. This will present a long list of potential hardware types–Select “Android Device” or “Android Phone” or Android Tablet as per your phone. (For Lenovo Vibe k4 select Android Tablet)
    8.Select MTP USB Device and press Next
    9.The device driver will then install over the old one, and your Android device will be recognized as a multimedia device as a File Manager.
    10. Congrats, you fixed it. Now whenever you open File Explorer you should see your Android device and be able to open it, browse the file system, and add or remove content as you like.

  • Anandajoti

    Struggled for ages to find a solution, then #1 above solved it. Glad to be able to access my Android again. Thanks!

  • Champ Stark

    step 2 worked…tnx

  • Aga J

    Thx a million! The first option to use a different USB cable actually worked for me!

  • Thanks for sharing this valuable info…

  • WoW!! Great info…… Really impressed content…..Thanks for sharing

  • bighawk

    few months ago i had that problem.
    i fixed it and worked nicely till few days ago.
    the problem is that i completely forgot what i did.
    i can only remember that there is a program or patch stored on the phone itself that i had to locate and install on the computer.

    do someone have a clue?