Fixing ‘A Device Attached to the System Is Not Functioning’

October 9, 2019 |

greater than 6 minutes

You’re just from a huge event where you took dozens of stunning photos for the company or family album. But when you connect the camera or phone to your PC, you get the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ error message. This is a common Windows error that you may encounter when you plug any external device, such as a smartphone, tablet, USB flash drive, hard disk drive, SD card, or printer, into your computer.

Such an error can be quite frustrating and can easily ruin your day. However, all is not lost. In this post, we take a look at how to remove the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ error message and why it happened in the first place.

What Causes the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ Error?

Usually, when this error occurs, it becomes impossible to transfer data to or from your PC or from one hard drive to another. There could be a myriad of reasons why your computer is failing to communicate with the connected device. They include:

  • a disabled or improperly connected external device,
  • a faulty USB port,
  • incompatibility issues,
  • corrupt system files,
  • a faulty external device,
  • a USB flash drive, SD card or hard drive that is not properly formatted.

As we said earlier, this is a common Windows problem that users encounter every day. So, you don’t have to panic. Try the solutions below and you should get your device back to working properly in no time.

How to Fix ‘A Device Attached to the System Is Not Functioning’

Before you get deep into changing system settings, we recommend trying a few basic troubleshooting steps.

Restart Your PC

If there is a minor issue that’s preventing your device from connecting to your computer, a system restart could do the trick. Restarting Windows usually fixes dozens of common PC errors. However, if you reboot your system and still get the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ error message, then it means you could be having a real problem.

Reconnect the Device

Whether it’s a tablet, iPhone, USB flash drive, camera or hard drive, unplug the device from your PC and then reconnect it. If an external device is improperly connected, your PC won’t be able to pick up the communication. Likewise, some external devices like USB flash drives have an “ON” and “OFF” switch. So, be sure to check that the button has been switched on. You should also try using a different port to check if the current port is faulty.

Check If Your External Device Is Faulty

Now, more often than not, external devices like hard drives and USB flash drives may fail to function out of the blue. To rule out whether or not your external device is faulty, connect it to a different PC and check if you can transfer data. If you still get the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ error message, then you clearly have a broken device.

Likewise, if you use a cable to connect your external device to your PC, you should check if the cable is faulty. Try using a different cable to see if you still get the same error message. Now if none of the above troubleshooting steps work in your favor, try the solutions below.

Fix 1: Format Your Device

If you’re trying to connect a USB device to your computer and it presents you with the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ error, it could be that the device is not formatted properly.

To properly format your device, follow these steps:

  1. Open “File Explorer”, and click on “This PC” to see all the connected devices.
  2. Right-click on your device, and select “Format”.
  3. In the window that pops up, you can adjust a few settings. However, if you don’t have any idea about what to change, just leave the settings as they are and click on “Start”.

Once the formatting process is complete, try transferring data to check if you get the same error again.

Fix 2: Update Your Device Driver

The error is also likely to occur if your device driver is outdated or incompatible with your system. The fix is to install the latest version of the driver. To achieve this, here’s what you can do:

Option 1: Manually Update the Device Driver

If you opt to go with this method, you need to know the type, model and version of the driver that you intend to update. Normally, you would go to the manufacturer’s website and search for the corresponding drivers. Once you identify the correct driver, download it and then install it on your PC. To install the drivers, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press the Win +R shortcut and type devmgmt.msc in the “Run” box.
  2. Click “OK” to launch the “Device Manager” window.
  3. Locate the device whose driver you intend to update, right-click it and select “Update driver”.
  4. Select the second option, which is “Browse my computer for driver software”.
  5. Now, browse the location of the downloaded driver and select it.
  6. Click “Next” to install the driver.

Once you’re done, try using your external device again to check if the transfer succeeds.

Option 2: Automatically Update the Device Driver

Alternatively, if you lack the time or technical skills to accomplish the tasks, you’re better off using a reliable tool like Auslogics Driver Updater to automatically install all the driver updates for you. The program is easy to use, and you can update all your device drivers in just one click.

What’s more, Auslogics Driver Updater creates a backup of your previous drivers so that in case things don’t work out, you can simply restore them. The program scans your system to detect your system type and the drivers installed. If it finds any issues, you can check the full report by opening the “Diagnostics” tab. Here, you can select the drivers that you want to update and click the “Update all” button at the bottom of the page.

Fix 3: Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

If updating the device drivers doesn’t fix the error, try running the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter. The troubleshooter will try to find and fix issues affecting your device, and hopefully, your device should function again.

To run the troubleshooter, follow the steps below:

  1. Press Win + I to launch “Settings”.
  2. Select Update & Security > Troubleshoot, and then click on “Hardware and Devices” to highlight it.
  3. Click “Run the troubleshooter” and wait while Windows tries to detect and fix problems with the hardware and devices connected to your PC.

Still running into the same error? Try the next fix below.

Fix 4: Repair Corrupted System Files

It’s also possible that some of your system files have been corrupted by malicious software or a virus, leading to the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ error message. To repair those files, Windows has built-in tools like System File Checker (SFC) and DISM. You will need to apply a set of commands to fix this issue.

To run the SFC scan, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows key and type “Windows PowerShell” (without quotes).
  2. This search should bring up “Windows PowerShell” as the top result. In the right pane, select “Run as administrator”.
  3. Type the commandsfc /scannow, and hit “Enter”. Windows will start the scan, which might take a while.

If the SFC tool finds any errors, it will try to automatically fix them. Once it’s done, restart your PC and reconnect the external device to check if it now functions correctly.

However, if you get the “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them” message, try running DISM commands. To do so, follow the steps below:

  1. Open “Windows PowerShell” as shown above, type the following command, and press “Enter”.
  • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

This command replaces the corrupted files with good ones from the Windows update servers. The system scan may take a while, and you should allow it to run uninterrupted. After applying this fix, you should be able to use the device that was causing the error.

Let us know the fix that worked for you by commenting below.

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