Q: XP recognizes but does not give access to USB flash drives. Says that they need formatting.

Recently, my Windows XP SP3 started to not open the usb flash drives I connect to my computer. Windows assigns a letter and describes the drive just as "Removable drive" although it has a particular name. Then, when I click on it to open, a pop-up message says that the disk is not formatted and asks me if I want ot format it. The problem is not of the USB flash drive, since I tried two different drives with the same result. Also, when I connect the same flash drives to a different XP SP3 machines, they work fine.

What I've tried with no result:
1. Connecting the USB drive to a different USB port.
2. Connecting the drive. Then uninstalling the  "USB storage device" from Device Manager, removing the drive, rebooting and then reconnecting the drive. The drive is then recognised as new and the drivers are installed again.

1. I have used my flash drive with Windows 7 Home Premium and scanned it for problems, after windows 7 prompted me to do so, without any problems reported.
2. I have run "chkdsk /F" on the flash drive at my XP computer. Chkdsk recognizes the drive with its name and reports problems with the file system.
3. A while ago I installed a patch for the exFAT file system (, but had no problems with my FAT32 flash drive until revently.

Notice: I'm using the greek version of Windows XP, so some terms may not be exactly tranlated in English




It seems that flash drive is not formatted with a compatible file system. You may try the steps from the link and check if it helps:


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I followed the procedure suggested by Meghmala Support Engineer: I copied the contents of my flash drive to another XP computer and then tried to format it on mine. From the file system options I chose FAT32, but Windows could not complete the format. The same happened when I chose FAT. It only worked with exFAT (this option was there beacuse I installed the relevant patch). Then, of course, the drive was not readable by the other XP computer, which does not have the patch! So, I formatted the drive again with FAT32 on the other XP computer.

It seems that, after installing the patch for exFAT, my computer is unable to read usb flash drives or format them in FAT32 or FAT, although this didn't happen immediately! How can I get rid of the patch? Hopefully, that way the problem will be restored.

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I had the same problem and found your post.  After more troubleshooting I found a I had a rootkit that had invaded my MBR. 

I downloaded the rootkit remover, GMER, and it cleaned it up.  Its worth a shot.  I have seen quite a few new threads about this.  It could just be a new malware running about.

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Dear Microsoft Software Engineer: 

1.0.1 -- Microsoft released versions, year 2008, of exFAT file system ( pending Microsoft patent 016,440 ) for software operator system 64-bit Windows 5-2002XP ( Microsoft /  OEM ); and separate versions each for 32-bit Windows 5-2002XP SP2 /  SP3 ( Microsoft /  OEM ), 64-bit Windows 5-Server 2003 ( Microsoft ), 32-bit Windows 5-Server 2003 ( Microsoft ), and finally for IA-64 Itanium edition of Windows 5-Server 2003 SP1 /  SP2 ( Microsoft ).  Editions of exFAT file system for 64-bit and 32-bit Windows 5-2002XP/2003/Server 2003 lack support for Transaction-safe exFAT ( Microsoft patent 7613738 ) which is a backup file allocation table
( FAT ), and of allocation bitmap included with Windows 6-Vista /  Server 2008 ( Microsoft ).  ExFAT
( Microsoft ) is also part of extended Secure Digital ( SDHX ) standard for Secure Digital storage hardware devices.  

Microsoft.  Support -- Description of the exFAT File System Drive Update Package.  October 8, 2011 4.0 Revised Edition.  Microsoft Knowledge Base article number 955,704.  Redmond, Washington:  Microsoft, sans date. .  URL accessed November 24, 2011.    

Shullich, Robert, author.  Sys Admin, Audit Networking, and Security ( SANS ) [ Technology ] Institute, corporate author. Reverse Engineering the Microsoft Extended FAT File System
( exFAT ):  pp.  5-6, and 41-41.  A SANS Institute Information Security Reading Room Publication.  Bethesda, Maryland:  Escal Institute of Advanced Technologies /  SANS
[ Technology ] Institute; December 1, 2009.

1.1 -- Author and PROGRAMMER is running a copy of Windows XP Professional SP3+
( Microsoft not OEM ) on a Think Pad X40 2382-HCU ( IBM ) ultraportable computer system; with a 32 GB Secure Digital ( A-Data ) flash solid state memory card.  PROGRMMER formatted this 32 GB Secure Digital ( A-Data ) flash solid state memory card exFAT
( Microsoft ) file system, during year 2009 or 2010, for backing data on ultraportable computer system up.  PROGRAMMER did not assign "read only" attribute to 32 GBS Secure Digital
( A-Data ) volume.   

1.2 -- A few days ago in past, PROGRAMMER ran Windows XP Professional SP3+
( Microsoft ) < My Computer < 32 GB A-DATA < Shortcut MENU < Removable Disk DIALOGUE FRAME < Tools PANE < "Error Checking" program for exFAT file system on 32 GB Secure Digital ( A-Data ) flash memory card; but, after all five phases were run, Windows XP Professional SP3+ ( Microsoft ) reported volume to be "read only."  More recently while running "Search" for files and FOLDERs Windows XP Professional SP3+ ( Microsoft ) began to report instead "The device is not formatted.  Do you want to format it now ?"  Logging out and powering off seemed to be restoring exFAT ( Microsoft ) file system with interruption, but seemingly without loss of data on drive. 

1.3 -- Finally PROGRAMMER began copying data on 32 GB Secure Digital ( A-Data ) flash solid state memory card to other disks and cards; pre-requisite to re-formatting instead with NTFS.  Windows XP Professional SP3+ ( Microsoft ), and Path Too Long Utility ( ABTO ) each reported these copy backups to have been successful.  True -- this was not a verified backup with a third-part backup software program.  Regrettably, while digital files loose in directories ( not in FOLDERS ) are intact; digital files in named FOLDERS were not copied leaving only empty named FOLDERs -- which is a catastrophic or series loss of data of which any serious PROGRAMMER always makes every effort to avoid ( since PROGRAMMER was in a rush and re-formatted 32 GB Secure Digital flash memory card ( A-Data )).   

1.0.2 -- There is in long run no reason to eschew reliance on NTFS ( Microsoft ) file system instead for exFAT ( Microsoft ) file system; all or many even most releases of UNIX and LiNUX can both write and read NTFS file system, but not exFAT file system.

2.1 -- PROGRAMMER in not denying that, with release date of exFAT for Windows 5-2002XP /  Server 2003 ( Microsoft ), Microsoft did mention greater unreliablility of exFAT ( Microsoft ) for inter alia Windows 5-XP SP2 /  SP3 ( Microsoft ) than NTFS, or forTransaction-safe exFAT
( Microsoft ) which nonetheless only rarely results with failure of exFAT ( Microsoft ) file system.  Impute that consequence of a known but undocumented defect and failure of exFAT
( Microsoft ) file system for inter alia Windows 5-XP Professional SP3+ ( Microsoft ) is that Microsoft decided to make exFAT ( Microsoft ) Transaction-safe for Windows 6-Vista /  Server 2008 ( Microsoft ); but not to warn exisiting customers of earlier editions of Windows that exFAT ( Microsoft ) without transactional support in fact actually is unreliable; while circumstance is imputed by Shullich, published during month of December, 2009.   

2.2 -- For those curious PROGRAMMER may also relate that many business organizations offering public access 32-bit Windows 5-2002XP/2003/Server 2003 ( Microsoft ), are refusing or failing to include exFAT file system for customers whom rent time on public access computer systems running referenced edition of software operator system Windows by Microsoft; no true explanation for omission unless those insider information technologists whom install and maintain software on those public access terminals know that exFAT is not reliable without transactive support.  

1.4 -- Individually this PROGRAMMER decided today -- never in future to install released version of exFAT file system for Windows XP SP3 ( Microsoft /  OEM ) which is not Transaction-safe exFAT on any new install of Windows XP Professional SP3+ ( Microsoft /  OEM ) -- no matter how many backups are available, that is not even on RAID-capable storge systems.  One inexplicable failure of exFATfile system for Windows 5-XP Professional
( Microsoft not OEM ) did occur with loss of data in addition to experience related independently three months earlier by G.  Katsillis with same version of exFAT file system for Windows XP
( Microsoft /  OEM ).  Another possibly relevant complaint could be: 

Walcherich, Pseudonym; and Jessen P.  , Microsoft Software Engineer.  Problems with DATATYP exFAT.  In Microsoft Answers.  July 5, 2011.  July 6, 2011 Supplemented Edition.
.  URL accessed November 24, 2011.  

2.1 -- Regrettably this PROGRAMMER will not be, since April 13, 2009, paying Microsoft for Extended Hotfix Technical Support contract whereby a technical support case will immediately be opened to result with hotfix, and transactional exFAT for 64-bit and 32-bit Windows XP 5-2002XP /Server 2003
( Microsoft ).  in spite of indication of unacceptable, and unpredictable risk, or even very small probability of loss of data digital files in FOLDERS -- "[ which ] should no happen[,]" yet it did occur.  Regrettably documentation of defective file system is beginning to appear, only within past four months ( after duration of whole thirty months ).  Microsoft can eventually include transactional exFAT with a hypothetical yet not projected SP4 for Windows XP 5-2002XP /  Server 2003 ( Microsoft ), year 2014; no promise that Microsoft will do. 

Protalinski, Emil.  Windows XP Mainstream Support Retired, But No Need to Worry.  One Microsoft Way
( 1/One MW ) - The Microsoft Ecosystem.  April 14, 2009.  Boston, Massachusetts:  Conde Nast imprint of Advance, 1998.
/windows-xp-mainstream-support-retired-but-no-need-to-worry.ARS/ .  URL accessed November 24, 2011. 

***** FOR REPLY =------>  This does not stop anyone else to include Microsoft Software Engineer from suggesting to Microsoft that a Transaction-safe exFAT hotfix be developed for SP4 for Windows XP Home /  Professional ( Microsoft ); nonetheless this would not in retrospect be a thank you note.    
EnD OF MessagE.   

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