USB drives are plug & play on all desktop operating systems. The file system may be an obstacle to accessing files on the drive e.g., an NTFS USB drive cannot be accessed on macOS but there are apps that you can use to get around it.
USB drives are static so you don’t have to worry about damaging them the way a hard drive can be damaged. Unless a USB drive has been subject to physical damage, or it’s been stored in a humid and/or dusty environment for an extended period of time, it will work just fine.
Fix Please insert a disk into USB drive
The “Please insert a disk into USB drive” error normally points to a problem with the drive that you’ve connected however before you try to fix the problem, run through these checks.
- Connect a different USB disk and try to access it.
- Connect the USB drive you’re having trouble with to a different USB port.
- Connect the USB drive you’re having trouble with to a different system.
1. Backing up files
If you’re able to access the USB on a different system, but not on your own, your priority should be to back up whatever files you can. You should be able to access other USB drives on your system if not, we have a different fix for the problem.
Any computer that allows you to access the USB that won’t open on your system should be used to back up files.
2. Reinstall USB device
If you’re unable to access any and all USB drives on the system, regardless of which port you use, you have a problem with USB devices.
- If you’ve connected other storage devices e.g. SD cards to your system, remove them.
- Remove other devices that are connected to the USB port e.g., a phone, a dongle, or a keyboard or printer.
- Open Device Manager.
- Expand Universal Serial Bus Controllers.
- Right-click USB Root Hub and select Uninstall Device.
- Restart the system and the device will be installed again automatically.
- Connect a USB drive and check if you’re able to access it.
3. Drive letter conflict
This may work if you’re unable to access other USB drives on your system, or if you’re unable to access just the one drive. The drive may be inaccessible because it’s trying to claim a drive letter that is reserved by a hidden drive or a letter that is already in use.
- Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the run box.
- In the run box, enter
diskmgmt.mscand tap the Enter key.
- Open File Explorer.
- Go to This PC.
- Observe the letter that is assigned to the USB disk in File Explorer, and in the Disk Management tool. You will notice a discrepancy.
- Right-click the USB disk in Disk Management and select Change drive letter and path.
- Select a drive letter that is new i.e., not given to a drive in either File Explorer or in Disk Management.
- Once the drive letter has been changed, remove the disk and insert it again.
4. Scan for malware
Malware may have damaged the disk or it may be preventing access to it.
- Connect the disk to your system.
- Open File Explorer and go to This PC.
- Right-click the USB disk and select Scan with Microsoft Defender.
- Allow the scan to finish and remove any infections that are found.
5. Format USB disk
It is possible that the USB disk has corrupted sectors and/or files that are preventing the disk from being accessed. Formatting the drive will fix the problem but the files on the drive will be lost.
- Open File Explorer.
- Go to This PC.
- Right-click the USB drive and select Format.
- Uncheck Quick Format.
- Click Start.
- Wait for the format to complete and the drive will be accessible.
When all fails, formatting the disk will fix whatever is wrong but you will lose files. Once the disk has been formatted, you can try to recover files from it. Make sure you don’t restart the system or disconnect the drive before you attempt file recovery.