Restoring an Etcher Flashed USB that isn’t showing up in Windows

This post as absolutely nothing to do with video games or anything else I’ve ever written about. This post is being written right now because StackExchange and Google have failed me on solving this problem, so maybe one day someone else can use this post to fix their USB (also for the future me, because I’ll probably use Etcher at some point again). This is fixing a really oddly specific problem, so skip this post unless you’re bored – I’ll make a normal blog post again later, I swear.

This is what happened to me.

  1. I made a bootable drive with Pop!_OS on it, following this tutorial. This takes the Pop!_OS .iso and flashes it onto a USB stick via I used version 1.5.81 (for Etcher).
  2. The drive works perfectly fine, and I can boot into Pop!_OS.
  3. Some time later (aka today), I want to use the drive for something else, so I plug it in and lo and behold, the USB isn’t showing up.
  4. The computer is clearly recognizing the drive because I can see it in Disk Management.
  5. When I right click on it, everything is grayed out except for Properties and Help. I can’t format it or change the drive letter or anything like that. I tried uninstalling it, but that didn’t help.
  6. I do a lot of Googling and all of it is extremely unhelpful. After a while I consider that it might be a problem with Etcher.
  7. Etcher also seems recognizes this USB, so if you just want to re-flash the USB, then none of this matters.

This does seem to be a problem that might occasionally occur. I stumbled on this and this forum post. This is ultimately the reply that fixed my problem:

Windows 10 type cmd in search then right click choose run as administrator then type diskpart the command line drive utility then type list disk and choose your usb number then type select disk and its number then an asterisk should be by it if you type list disk again make sure you have your USB and not your boot drive then type clean after that close cmd open disk management click on usb and create new simple volume and usb good as new with luck

I’m going to use this post to lay this out in a slightly more organized fashion. Note that this will completely wipe your USB clean.

  1. Firstly, follow the tutorial here. This write up is supposedly for if you have a half-flashed drive. As mentioned before, my drive worked perfectly fine, but do this anyway.
    1. Open the command prompt on Windows
    2. Type diskpart.exe
    3. In the new window that opened up type list disk
    4. Figure how which one is the USB you want cleaned. Note the ID.
    5. Type select disk N where N is the ID of your disk.
    6. Type clean
  2. The drive now shows up in my This PC window on drive D:/ but when I click on it, it errors and prompts me to insert a disk
  3. Open up Disk Management again
  4. If the USB shows up, the entire disk is marked as unallocated (the top bar is colored black). However, if you right click on it, things aren’t grayed out anymore!
  5. At this point I right clicked on the disk and changed the drive letter to D:/. I don’t think this actually did anything, but I’m including it here just in case
  6. Right click on the unallocated volume and select New Simple Volume
  7. Assign it to some letter and then format the entire disk as FAT32

And now I can successfully see the drive and click into it.

Hopefully this works. If this doesn’t work then I unfortunately don’t know what the problem is 😦

You know, for a while I thought it would be fun to write up a tutorial blog post one day but I was hoping it would be about something cool, like a difficult boss or an obscure secret. Broken USB? Not so cool.

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