Windows is designed to be almost universal in its support of PC accessories, particularly USB-based add-ons like external hard drives, flash drives, game controllers, webcams, microphones, and other peripherals. Most things work out-of-the-box thanks to pre-loaded drivers, but occasionally a gadget will still give you the dreaded “USB device not recognized” error.
There are a lot of different ways that this problem can manifest, and unfortunately Windows still isn’t very good at actually telling users how to solve it. Here are the most common issues and—in at least some cases—how to fix them.
You Might Be Missing Drivers for the Device
Starting with Windows Vista, the operating system loads thousands of generic and specific drivers at the time of its installation, and adds new drivers for detected hardware periodically through Windows Update. So if the gadget you’re plugging in to your computer is simple enough, or it comes from a major manufacturer like Logitech, it should work right away or after a quick, semi-automatic download.
If it doesn’t, it might mean that your device isn’t covered by Microsoft’s generic built-in drivers or the larger database of drivers on the Windows Update servers. That means you’ll need to download the necessary drivers from the manufacturer’s website.
Most drivers should install just like any other Windows program. If that doesn’t work, though, read on.
Your Computer Might Be Using Incorrect or Outdated Drivers
As handy as Windows’ automatic driver detection is, it isn’t perfect. Sometimes it matches the wrong driver with the device, or the device hardware has been updated by the manufacturer to the point where the original driver is no longer applicable. If the installed drivers or ones downloaded from the manufacturer’s site on the web aren’t working, you’ll need to manually select the device and driver using Device Manager.
Open the Start menu and type “Device Manager”. Select the…