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I'm using Windows XP, SP 2, which is not something I can change (work computer).

When I put in a USB stick, it never mounts. I get the two-note audio signal that means "USB activity" or whatever, but I never get the stick appearing in "My Computer". I always have to use Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management, find the drive and click "open".

After that it will work.

But only "open" works, not "explore". With "explore", the contents appear for a moment in the right-hand pane, then disappear again.

And although "open" works and the drive shows up as, say, J:\, the J:\ is only visible in the blue bar across the very top of the window, not in the Address bar, which remains blank. And if I open a new window and manually type J:\ into the Address bar, I get "Cannot find 'file:///J:/'. Make sure the path or internet address is correct".

Any ideas?

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Sounds to me as though your work machine is locked down - there are a bunch of products out there (e.g. Safend) designed to "protect" (*) the corporate environment from USB devices.

(*) Both in terms of preventing unwanted software (e.g. viruses and other malware) from being imported, and in terms of prevening corporate IP from being exported.

You need to be aware that some of these products can operate with no visual clue that they're present - no icon in the system notification area, no menu items under the start menu, no services listed in the task manager, even no visible directory under Program Files (you can hide a lot by tweaking the ACLs in the right way).

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Websense too. Although I prefer to call it WebNonsense™. – Sathya Oct 25 '10 at 3:35
Interesting assumption, but other people with similar computers don't have this problem, and I can always get them to mount by the procedure outlined in my original post. And my iPhone mounts OK and so does a stock Canon camera. – Ambrose Oct 25 '10 at 5:52
Fairly clear that my answer is wrong, then! For your case, anyway. – Bevan Oct 26 '10 at 6:43

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