How to cleanup and remove old USB storage drivers

USB Mass Storage devices include:

  •  External hard drives optical drives, including CD and DVD 
  •  Portable flash memory devices
  •  Digital cameras
  •  Digital audio players & portable media players
  •  Card readers
  •  Portable gaming systems
  •  Mobile phones

One possible cause of USB Mass Storage Device problems: Windows can get "confused" by all the old (and sometimes conflicting) USB storage driver data that tends to collect and remain installed on a PC

Here's why: By default, Device Manager only displays drivers of connected devices so the drivers you see in Device Manager aren't the only USB storage drivers that are really there! You probably still have drivers installed for devices you once connected then disconnected long ago!
  • Windows installs drivers for a USB Mass Storage device when you first plug it in to a port
  • Windows sometimes installs the same driver for the same device each time you connect it to a different port!
  • Problem is
    • These drivers aren't uninstalled when you simply unplug the device but only when you uninstall the device (or each device instance per port)
    • Driver data associates devices with drive letters and ports. Port and drive letter conflicts may occur as you start unplugging/replugging devices
You may be surprised at just how many old USB drivers are actually still installed on your machine!

Steps to Safely Cleanup and Remove old USB Mass Storage Drivers on your PC
  1. Shut down your computer. Unplug your USB storage devices: USB Disks, flash, CD/DVD, etc.
    •  Other USB devices like keyboards, mice and LAN adapters can stay plugged in
  2. Boot computer back up. Click for how to determine whether you are running 32 or 64 bit Windows
  3. Download, unzip and save to your desktop. Move the 32 or 64 bit version of DriveCleanup.exe to C:\Windows\System32
  4. Open a command prompt window as follows:
  5. After the command prompt enter: drivecleanup.exe
    • Your command prompt window should be similar to my example below.
    • If, instead, you get an error message like Command not recognized it means you didn't move Drivecleanup.exe to the right directory
  6. Reboot. Now just replug your devices for fresh clean device reinstalls! :)


authorHello, my name is Jack Sparrow. I'm a 50 year old self-employed Pirate from the Caribbean.
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