These days, USB flash drives are considered to be a very convenient and easy way of storing and transferring data, which is evident from its popularity among users. But it is not true that data on these drives is never lost or corrupted. Their problems include file corruption on the drive, computer not reading the drive, virus being transferred to the computer, issues while transferring data, and problems while ejecting the drive.
Most problems related to the flash drive can be solved by formatting it in the correct format accepted by your computer, and scanning periodically for any virus.
Troubleshooting Your Flash Drive
In case you have bought a new flash drive and you are unable to write anything on it, you need to find out what is the correct format for your operating system. FAT is the ideal format your new drive should be in, as it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. If it is not in the right format, you need to change its format. Do this by double clicking on the 'My Computer' icon, and then right-clicking on the drive icon in the window which opens. From the list which appears, click on 'Format'. Choose the correct file format and click on 'Start'. For Mac users, you need to open the 'Disk Utility' tool and choose your device. Then click on the 'Erase' option and set the right format.
If you notice that the flash drive is not conveying information to your computer and vice-versa, then check if the USB port on your CPU is working properly or not. Remove the drive from its current port and insert it in other ports to see whether it is working there or not. If it is not working in all ports, disable the 'Firewall' on your computer. At times the firewall does not allow plugged-in devices to be accepted by the operating system on your machine.
A flash drive can keep ejecting from Windows irregularly, and on its own. This could be because it is not properly removed from the computer, or because of some virus. Whenever you need to remove your flash drive, you need to click on the 'Safely Remove Hardware' icon present near the clock, at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Mac users can simply drag the drive icon and leave it on the thrash can.
Flash Drive Troubleshooting on Vista
USB problems are common with Windows Vista users. Most of these problems are corrected in the newer versions of the operating system, but you may need to make a few adjustments to ensure that flash drives run without issues on your system.
A common problem is the unavailability of the 'Import' option in Windows Media Center, which facilitates copying of files from the USB drive to the computer. This problem arises because some flash drives appear in Windows as a local hard drive instead of a removable storage device. Because Window Media Center is applicable only for removable storage devices, the 'Import' option is missing.
To solve this problem, click on 'Start' and open the Windows Media Center. Click on 'Music Library' and select a video, right click on it, and choose 'Library Setup' option. There will be an 'Options' tab you need to click on, which will be just besides the 'Add a Folder to Watch' option. Now follow the prompts which keep popping up and choose to add a folder from an external drive.
When you connect certain flash drives to a computer with Vista, it may register an error. The error is common for a few particular types only. You can simply click on 'Cancel' when the error appears and continue working, but if you do this, this will be a perennial problem whenever a flash drive is inserted in the USB port. A better idea is instead of 'Cancel' select 'Repair' to allow Vista to repair the USB drive, preventing the error message from appearing again.
Sometimes when the USB drive is formatted to work in the NTFS file system, it is not recognized by the operating system. This is because Vista is not capable of listing NTFS formatted drives. You need to format your drive following instructions given in 'Step 3' under 'Troubleshooting Flash Drive Problems', and set the file format to FAT system.
To troubleshoot USB problems in Windows 7, you will again have to check for the correct format of the flash drive. You can also try the 'Repair' option whenever an error message pops up, as Windows 7 is well equipped to resolve the issue by itself.