Windows Vista / USB device detection problems

During the initial installation of a USB device (most often external drives, although not always), Windows Vista does not locate or install drivers for the device.

Windows Vista might report that there is “no driver found for you device” and/or will not display the pre-installed Vista OEM drivers. Even by manually selecting the driver, you will still get the “no driver found…” error.  This is most likely caused by a corrupted INFCACHE.1 file. This file stores the location of drivers and their INF files. This file is hidden, has restricted access, and can be found in “c:\windows\inf”.

Delete the INFCACHE.1 file and it will force Windows to rebuild the INFCACHE.1 file the next time Windows searches for drivers. To delete this file, you have to set the security permissions of it to allow Full Control for the User Group Administrators or full control for your user account. Please follow the directions below:

  1. Open a Windows Explorer window by right clicking on Start and then clicking on Explore.
  2. In the address bar, type C:\windows\inf and press Enter.
  3. Find and then right click on the file named INFCACHE.1.
  4. Select Properties.
  5. Click on the Security tab.
  6. Click on Edit to edit the permissions of the file.
  7. Click on Add to add User Groups.
  8. Type Administrators in the User Groups field and click on OK.
  9. Set Administrators to Full Control and click on OK.
  10. Move or delete the file INFCACHE.1.
  11. Reinstall a device to force Windows to rebuild the INFCACHE.1 file (DO NOT reinstall the same external hard drive that you were having issues detecting before. Please connect another USB device other than the one that Vista had an issue detecting).

This detection issue can happen several times in a row, but repeat the steps 1-11 and try again until this works.

UPDATE: To clarify a couple emails I received, this *only* applies to Vista (all editions, x86 and x64) but not to XP, or any other version of Windows.

68 thoughts on “Windows Vista / USB device detection problems

  1. Pingback: Windows Vista has USB Device Detection Problems « ServerBeach Blog

  2. I tried like this but i dint get…..The same problem …….If i am putting usb device it is not detecting….My is windows vista home edition………please help me..

  3. Jai, this “fix” only works if Vista has the correct drivers in place to begin with, that’s probably where I’d start looking.

    What type of device? Did it ever work? Is it listed as being Vista compatible?

  4. Actually i have the same problem with Jai.. My device always worked and faced this problem 3 days ago.. I tried to plug my usb driver on my pc and an error for drivers was on the screen! I was like “WTF?”

    Any other suggestions?

    i tried everything.. I think i tried this “fix” for like 6-7times. Also tried searching in the whole Drive C:..

    Just Nothing..

    Cheers

  5. Vista SP1 is now available — Grab it, then go to any USB devices which are still not recognized and uninstall them, then reinstall them.

    If this particular issue is causing you grief, that should fix you up. If it’s another issue altogether, then this may not help.

  6. USB mouse used to work KB938371 update seemed to have killed it, tried the fix above no help, next step I suppose is to restore to before the KB938371 update, seems this update messes up alot of usb things, my monstor 2gig ide to use doesnt work nor does my 8gig flash drive,,
    any other ideas?

  7. I have a Thinkpad T60p and a Lenovo webcam, after I installed SP1 it stopped working (“device not found”) so I uninstalled SP1 and installed again the drivers but now it didn’t recognize it anyway. I’m totally frustated, I surfed the web and nobody seems to have any clue or solution to the problem.

  8. Pingback: Windows Vista / USB device detection problems: How-To-Fix « Smokey’s Security Weblog

  9. check out http://www.webtlk.com/2008/05/05/usb-stops-working-after-installing-windows-vista-sp1/
    for the answer. Quoted is the essential part:
    ” 1. Go to Control Panel –System and Maintenance — System — Device Manager.
    2. In the Device Manager, expand the tree of Human Interface Devices.
    3. Update the driver for all Unknown Device.
    4. Of course Windows Vista won’t find any new device. When prompted select Browse my computer for driver software.
    5. Enter or browse to C:\Windows\winsxs as the driver location and press the Next button.
    6. If the system warns you about unsigned driver, just go on.
    7. At this point windows Vista should install the right driver for your device.
    8. Done!”

    It worked for me with all my problem usb devices, though I did it three times in a row to fully recognize my device

  10. SDW, you are the man! That fixed the problem I had with my Kingston 4GB flash drive.

  11. YOU ARE THE MAN!!!! Your last suggestion corrected my issue without me having to replace the infcache.1 file! Thank you so very much!!!!

  12. When I Enter or browse to C:\Windows\winsxs as the driver location and press the Next button, the system didn’t warn me about unsigned driver, instead it said that my unknown device is already updated.

  13. thank you very much!!!

    I have deleted the file INFCACHE.1 and then again connected my device, then in the browse for software window I have selected c:\windows\winsxs and drivers got installed!!

    Hurray!!
    This solved my problem

  14. I agree with Gin above, this recommendation does not work for me. I ran into the BIOS password issue a few months back. Unfortunately it was too little, too late and I didn’t install the update before it kicked over into the BIOS password. So I forked over $200 for someone to fix. Ever since then, my USB ports don’t work, USB device not recognized. Every forum seems to have a solution, but none of them work.

  15. Pingback: zune fixed! « thirdrow

  16. I had this very problem. After two days of searching WD’s website and reading forums I realized that I was not using the correct power cord (ac charger) supplied with the hard drive and once I put the correct one to use it worked like a charm. Make sure you are using the ac charger Switching Adapter made by Honor Electronics.

  17. Pingback: Vista USB fail « It’s blog, it’s blog, it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.

  18. Hi i had this problem with my USB mouse … earlier the mouse was detected automatically and it was working fin e… but after 2-3 days when i connected it again vista showed .. cant recognize the device .. not only that out of 4 ports of my sony lappy only 2 seem to be working … please help as to what might be the problem and will the method mentioned in the post solve it .. i am a noob .. please help me out here …. thanks…

  19. I’m using Vista 32 bit on service pack 1 i’m trying to install and use a two year old WD My book that has all my files on it….sometimes vista recognizes it…but cant’ find the drivers for it….my 3rd gen nano ipod won’t work either. crashes my computer everytime….???
    paulswifka@att.net

  20. Your fix saved me from having to reinstall vista.
    My machine was held prisoner by this small but crippling problem as no usb hard drives or pens were detected.

    Thank You very much!

  21. None of this worked. i have no clue why…its not recognizing anything, I used a utilites optimize software, it messed up all, bcomputer wouldnt boot, got to safe mode,tried to restore point, it did it, but now it recognizes nothing and says all the drivers are up to date…vista home premium 32 but…any advice please.

  22. I have the same problem with my WD 250 GB hard drive but it shows same in all computers with different usb cables. Tried both INFCACHE.1 method and the device manager method still no joy. Could it be my external HD is fried up?:(

  23. Singha888,

    Can you test the same USB drive on another machine, or another USB drive on your machine to try and rule out whether it’s your machine/OS or the drive?

  24. I have this frustrating problem. I’ve tried deleting the Infcache.1 method and the device manager method, I’ve recovered my computer to the factory settings (out of the box). Using Vista Home Premium. USB ports stopped one day. Any other ideas?

  25. Chippy, if your USB ports still don’t work after restoring to factory settings, I’d guess hardware problems. Any idea if USB keyboards work during the bootup?

  26. Everything works except the USB ports. Tried to connect a new out of the box mp3 player but nothing. I’m on a laptop.

  27. Do you have any USB keyboards? — I’m trying to identify whether or not the USB ports are working from outside Windows. In other words, is the problem Windows specific?

    A USB keyboard works on most laptops during the boot sequence, pressing F2/F12/DEL (or even numlock) might give some clues to whether the keyboard can communicate with the laptop.

  28. You could try a Linux LiveCD to see if booting from CD into another OS works to see a webcam…

    Beyond that, I don’t have any other suggestions beyond to say that my guess is that it’s a hardware issue here.

  29. Thanks for this fix.
    I also have had problems with both a USB hard drive and Logitech remote, neither of which would recognize their drivers during installation. I’ve followed these instructions and fixed both problems first time.
    As Logitech support raised this issue to a Tier 2 support agent after being unable to fix this, I’m very grateful for your post.

  30. Having had a long exchange of emails with the maker of my external drive, and they still could not advise me in simple terms how to solve the problem of my drive not being reconised by Vista.
    I find your website and problem solved in 2 minutes, many many many thanks.

    Thanks Sandy

  31. I have the same problem with my WD 500 GB hard drive. It worked a month ago but it was not hooked up again till 2 days ago. Tried both INFCACHE.1 method and the device manager method still nothing ggrrrr. I have checked the drive on another computer and it works fine! 🙁 Please help!

  32. thx god the c:windows/winsxs way work for me
    its the unique thing i make solve this problem
    thx soo much!

  33. Hi and I am not technical
    Already posted this on Vista Forums but nor response
    I am trying to restore some pics I took on my Samsung SGH-F480 mobile phone and then deleted. On the phone’s own memory, not extension card. There’s plenty of data recovery software but I need a drive letter for the phone on my PC or the software can’t see it. I can connect the phone to my PC via USB and Samsung PC Studio 3 Phone Explorer sees my PC, but I can’t make the PC see the phone. There is no conflict with any other drive letter I think – there is no other USB device attached. If I go into Windows Explorer there is no sign of attached device.
    If I go into Windows Explorer/Computer/Manage/Storage/Disk Management I can see C drive, D drive (Hewlett Packard recovery), and E (DVD drive), but no sign of anything else, not even with no drive allocated.
    But if I go into Computer Management/Device Management/USB controllers I can see a Samsung USB composite device driver.
    Can I somehow make use of the fact that there is a driver there to allocate a drive letter?

  34. I have a Dell inspiration 1200, running Vista

    previously working USB memory stick produces error “you need to format this device before you can use it ”

    previously working iPod produces “your ipod is corrupt and need to reformat it ”

    both worked fine befor ein this PC and continue to work fine in another PC

    when I try to delete the USB devices in Devicwe manager, they reappear automatically in the devic emanager upon re-boot

    Do I need to move the infcashe.1 file for this problem ? or what am i doing wrong ?

  35. Update on USB

    Printer continued to work

    removing the INFCACHE.1 file (renamed xxINFCACHE.1) did not result in a new INFCACHE.1 file being created

    elsewhere on the WEB i have seen the suggestion to copy the INFCACHE.1 from another fuctiong Vista PC and paste it into my inf file ?

    problem seems to be with any USN device that has memory ie , memory stick, Ipod, camera

  36. Pingback: Cannot Connect to CPU - Android Forums

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