Whenever I plug a USB stick into my laptop, I am told the drive is 'not formatted'. I've tried this with three USB sticks (with data on them) on all available ports and it's the same.

I'm using Windows XP Service Pack 3. After a day of research I've concluded that the problem might be to do with SP3, and I was going to roll back to SP2, only to remember that I did a fresh install of XP with SP3 already included about a year ago. So I have nothing to roll back to!

I am faced with doing a complete reinstall of Windows only to access about 2.5GB worth of files on my USB, or finding a way to install SP2 over what I have now. Or maybe someone knows how to tackle this software issue directly (I am sure it is a software issue; I never recalled problems with the ports on this computer before, so all three dying at once seems a bit suspicious).

Any ideas?

  • 1
    Have you tried the sticks on other system? (Both before and after trying them in this system.) Have you rebooted the system? Have you tried deleting and reinstalling the USB stick driver? Will anything work on those USB ports? May 20 '12 at 12:19
  • Yes, all other computers I've tried can access them. However I need them on this computer as they're music project files. I've tried rebooting too. As for other peripherals working, yes I've tried both a mouse and external keyboard and both work fine. I haven't reinstalled the USB driver... How do I access it, and do you know where can I find a clean version to download?
    – Sputnik
    May 20 '12 at 14:01
  • Open Device Manager, open "Disk Drives", RMB on the memory stick, and click "Update Driver Software". May 20 '12 at 14:25

That does not sound like an issue with SP2 vs SP3.

Has this issue always existed?

If getting the files off of your thumbdrive is your main goal, you could just boot off of a Linux live disk and access your files from there

  • No it hasn't always existed. This is an aging Toshiba laptop, about 8 years old now, but it has been very reliable. I did a clean reinstall about a year ago, and I suspect it started then because I don't use USB sticks often (and this isn't my main computer) so I may not have noticed it until now. That is an option but I don't have a Linux live disk available, nor a CD-burner (I'm visiting family so all my stuff is at home). I'd say my main goal was figuring out the root cause of this so I don't have to avoid USB drives in future...
    – Sputnik
    May 20 '12 at 14:12

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