Usually when USB devices are plugged in, they will be successfully recognised and installed. Unfortunately, there are those occasions when my wonderfully-archaic computer decides that it doesn't want all these USB devices, and so will simply render all USB storage devices inoperable.
It does this by suddenly forcing them to be "unrecognised"; often leading to data loss and MFT corruption. Other USB devices, such as my headset or USB mouse are unaffected. I have found that I can usually trigger this problem by having at least four devices plugged in - typically mouse, ext. HDD, headset, and then once a flash drive is plugged in both the flash drive and the ext. HDD become unrecognised.
The only possible way I've found of fixing this problem is to load Device Manager using
set DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS=1 set DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1 start devmgmt.msc
setting it to show hidden devices, uninstalling all USB drivers for all previously installed devices and hubs, shutting the computer down, and then unplugging it from the wall overnight. This becomes a very time consuming process for an issue that you would think would be something easy to fix.
I still have free USB ports when the issue occurs, but the fact that it requires leaving the computer unplugged overnight to fix suggests to me that it may be an issue with the BIOS or motherboard itself. How this happens though, I have no idea.
Any suggestions or thoughts to prevent this or alternative suggestions to fix the problem that take less time would be much appreciated.