Why can’t the TV see the flash drive?

Updated: May 22, 2023
6 min read
Why can’t the TV see the flash drive?
by Oleksandr Kamennyi
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

Modern models of TVs, such as Samsung, Philips, and LG, can connect to memory cards or more simply – flash drives. However, users often face the fact that they cannot rely on flash drives. The reason for this is unsupported formats or file systems drives, a large memory, and other factors. Here's the explanation why your TV doesn't see the flash drive, and how you can fix it.

Before we start

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How should you connect correctly

Before looking for complicated solutions and manipulating the flash drive, make sure that the connection is done correctly.

  1. On the back panel (sometimes on the side) you should find the USB output. It is a rectangular connector with a gray or blue tab. It is better to choose the second option because the blue color means the USB 3.0 version. It is faster and supplies more power, which can make a difference.
  2. The flash drive or the cable from the hard disk drive is inserted into the selected connector. It is worth looking carefully at the plug – there is only one position in which it will fit.
  3. If connected correctly, the screen will automatically tell you the drive is connected. If it doesn't then use the remote control to open "Signal Sources" and select the USB connector to which the drive is connected.

Initial check

If everything is connected correctly, try taking the following steps.

  1. Check the flash drive on another device, if it is displayed on the PC, then the cause is definitely in the TV.
  2. If you are using an extension cord or hub, you should check them – to do this, make a direct connection.
  3. It is worth checking the functionality of the stick in all USB connectors, perhaps one of them is just broken.
  4. Ports can sometimes be used for service work (software updates, firmware installation, etc.). Usually, they are labeled Service or RemoteControl. If this is the case, then such a slot will not read the flash drive.
  5. If possible, check the port with another USB drive.
  6. Sometimes unplugging the TV for a few minutes clears up glitches.

New TV doesn't see the drive

If the TV is new and you are using a flash drive for the first time, you should first read the TV manual, maybe you didn’t take into account some of its features.

Filesystem incompatibility

Almost every TV is flashed to use additional memory cards of a particular format or rather a file system. This is often the reason why the TV set can't see a USB flash drive. If the TV is set to read devices with the NTFS file system, but the flash drive is formatted under FAT32, then of course you can't use them together. Therefore, before you connect removable media, it is worth checking the manual for the device "preferences".

Memory card size

Another feature of modern televisions is the limited amount of flash drives that can be used in the device. In this case, the instruction manual also comes in handy. If there is no limit on the volume, then the reason can be the format mismatch or their conflict.

Format conflict

It commonly happens that the information on the flash drive is played only partially. For example, you can play music, and view photos, but when it comes to video, the device refuses to play it. This problem can be easily solved. To do this, find in the manual which describes which files can be read on the TV, and then on the computer using a special program to convert media files.

The flash drive is unreadable after repeated use

The TV can't see the card it was playing before? This problem is common either. It seems that recently everything was fine: watching your favorite movies, listening to information – everything functioned properly. But then the flash drive stopped being detected by the device. There can be several reasons.

Most likely, the TV stops seeing the flash drive because the file system is worn out or there are corrupted sectors on the media. If the damage is not significant, and the reason is in the file system, then formatting the medium will help. But it is worth remembering that this procedure destroys all the data on the flash drive. And when formatting, you should choose a file system that is compatible with the TV.

There are situations when a memory card simply fails – it doesn't last forever either. Sometimes the cause is a virus-infected file. Here a good antivirus product and again formatting can help. When using a memory card with various devices and downloading files from the Internet, the probability of a virus entering the medium is high.

Connecting a flash drive via third-party devices

If the flash drive works, but it cannot be read on the TV, you can view content from it with other devices.

  1. Blu-ray player, digital receiver, media player, etc. Here, the flash drive is connected to the USB connector of the device, and the device itself is connected to the TV. Usually, HDMI or Tulip are used for this, but there may be less convenient options. On the TV, the signal source turns on the selected device. Such equipment always has an interface, so the files on the flash drive are controlled via the remote control.
  2. Laptop or computer. Connection is possible in two ways: by analogy with the above described or via the network environment via DLNA. The last option is relevant for a smart TV. In this situation, the control is done through special utilities on the TV itself.
  3. The USB flash drive can be inserted into a router, which is connected to the TV via DLNA just like a PC. In this case, you can access the USB flash drive through the TV interface, which will appear as just a third-party drive in the network environment.

If the memory card is still not detected, but it opens perfectly on any other device, then we can conclude that you should search for the problem on the TV itself. Most likely, the USB port is simply not working. You can try to repair the TV with your hands or use another device as a storage medium. For example, you can connect an external hard drive. You can also watch movies directly from your laptop by connecting it to the TV.

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June 04, 2023
Can't believe I didn't know this stuff before.
Zara Sullivan
May 25, 2023
I just don't get why my TV can't see the darn flash drive. Should be a basic feature, you know? 🤨
2 reply
  1. Xanthe
    May 25, 2023
    Zara Sullivan, Had the same issue, friend! My TV didn't see the flash drive until I formatted it to FAT32.
  2. MarabiPulse
    May 25, 2023
    Zara Sullivan, No kidding! I had that problem too. Formatting to exfat did the trick for me. Seems like tvs have their own compatibility quirks.
May 22, 2023
The article sheds some light, but it doesn't change the fact that my tv just can't read flash drives, probably I need to by a new one

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