What to Do When a USB Drive Causes a Computer to Freeze


USB drivers give you the flexibility to transport your data anywhere and onto almost any type of computer system. From bringing your music or home movies to a relative's house to keeping a safe backup of your important data to transporting work-related documents, USB drives bring the convenience of storage, often in a small and easily transportable package. However, these small, easy-to-use devices can cause large problems when they do not work properly.

Improper Drivers

  • To check for driver issues, open your computer's device manager by right clicking My Computer > Properties. In the System Properties window, click Hardware > E2Device Manager. Check for any devices with an "X" or an "!" next to them. If you find any USB controllers or devices with either mark, your driver is either incorrect or not functioning properly. To remedy this issue, either reinstall the drivers for the device using the manufacturer's CD or right click on the entry and select "Update Driver." Keep in mind that selecting "Update Driver" will only work if you have an active Internet connection. Additionally, you can visit the manufacturer's website to check for more recent and specific drivers for the device you are experiencing the problem with.

Power Needs

  • Many USB ports, especially those in laptop computers or desktop computers with a small footprint, do not produce enough power to support some USB devices, especially USB external hard drives. In many cases, getting a powered USB hub can fix the problem. A powered USB hub is connected to a USB port on the computer and expands the number of USB ports available to you. This can fix many freezing issues related to USB devices by providing them with ample power to operate, which will also keep your computer from freezing when USB devices are used with your computer.

Wrong File Format

  • Occasionally, people format USB drives using file systems not supported by Windows. Typically, Windows uses FAT, FAT32 or NTFS. If you are experiencing issues reading a USB drive you are unfamiliar with, contact the person who supplied you with the drive and verify it is a supported format. If it is not, it may be unusable on your system until it is formatted to a different file system on a system that can recognize the device.

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