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Chromebook not recognizing USB drive? Check these solutions

chromebook cant recognize usb

There’s no Chromebook with the DVD-ROM out there so all data you want to import from external sources has to come from flash drives or SD cards. Now, some users report that their Chromebook is not recognizing USB for some reason, which makes the whole data-transfer endeavor so much harder. If you’re among them, check the steps we provided below.

Chromebook not recognizing external hard drive

There are a few reasons why your Chromebook won’t recognize or read your USB. Here are the most common:

  • Your USB flash drive is corrupted or formatted in an unsupported format.
  • USB ports on your Chromebook are faulty.
  • The data on the USB flash drive is encrypted.
  • Files on the USB flash drive are unsupported.

You can fix these by trying with a different port, formatting the USB flash drive, or resetting the hardware on your Chromebook.

1. Switch the port

The first thing you should do is switch the port and try out the USB on another device like a Windows PC. There might be something wrong with one port but the chance that the same issue plagues all ports is low. Also, make sure to open Files and check if the USB is visible or not.

If that doesn’t help and the Chromebook still can’t recognize your USB flash drive, try the next step.

2. Perform the Chromebook Hardware reset

The next thing you can try is to reset the Chromebook hardware and see if there are any improvements. If you suspect a serious issue with the hardware, it can come in handy. A hardware reset is a common troubleshooting step and you don’t need to worry about losing data. It won’t do anything with any of your files.

Here’s how to perform the hardware reset on your Chromebook:

  1. Power off your Chromebook.
  2. Press and hold the Refresh button and press the Power button to turn on your Chromebook.
  3. Let go of the Refresh button as soon as your Chromebook starts up.

3. Format the USB and try again

When transitioning from Windows to ChromeOS, users tend to forget that ChromeOS is not as versatile when it comes to many things. It’s a rather simple and often limited OS but still more than capable of many tasks. In this case, we’re referring to supported formats and filesystems.

Ideally, your USB will be formatted in any given variation of FAT format (FAT32, FAT 16, or exFAT). The NTFS format is supported but there are reports that NTFS flash drives are not working on some Chromebooks.

Therefore, we suggest taking a safe route and formatting your USB drive to FAT32. That should make it work. You can format your USB drive on any Windows PC by following these steps:

  1. Insert the USB flash drive.
  2. Open This PC or My Computer.
  3. Right-click on the drive and select Format.chromebook not recognizing usb
  4. Choose Fat32 from the File System drop-down menu.
  5. Click Format at the bottom.
  6. Check if the USB drive works on your Chromebook.

On the other hand, if you can see the drive but can’t access the content, Chromebook can’t open all that many file extensions. The list of available extensions can be seen in the screenshot below.chromebook not recognizing usb

4. Find another way to transfer files to your Chromebook

If you want to transfer something to or from your Chromebook to another device, consider alternatives. You can upload files and download them or transfer them to an SD card if your Chromebook comes with an SD card reader.

Hopefully, these steps helped you address the issue. Thank you for reading and do share your 2 cents about the problem in the comments section below.

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in January 2022. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.

Picture of Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Managing editor at Mobile Internist. @lemmingspain My fascination with mobile technology, particularly Android and iOS, began years ago and continues today. I'm captivated by the constant evolution in the smartphone industry and its impact on our daily lives, always anticipating the next big innovation. That’s the main reason why I found myself writing instructive content on the subject for users who are not as familiar with all the bells and whistles.
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