5 best Fix: A Device Attached to the System is Not Functioning

Getting the ‘A device attached to the system is not functioning’ error message could be troublesome as it can affect some of the most common actions like printing something or using an external keyboard. 

This error indicates that your laptop/PC is not able to properly communicate with the attached device. It can mainly occur when either the external device or the computer has some software issues. Other reasons include incompatibility, improper connection, outdated or wrong device driver, and so on. 

This is not a fatal problem and so, you don’t need to panic. It can easily be resolved and this article will show you how to fix this problem. Keep reading to find out!

a device attached to the system is not functioning error

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

This error means that your system cannot communicate and transfer data to and from the attached device. This error can come up when you connect your PC to a removable drive and there is some fault with the connection.

Some of the reasons include driver incompatibility, USB port problems, etc. Keep in mind that this error can also come up when there are no external devices connected. That being said, it can pop up while opening your doc, png, etc.

Causes of error device attached to the system are not functioning

It’s better to know what is causing this error to make more informed choices while trying to fix it. While there are several reasons why you could get the ‘a device attached to the system is not functioning’ error message, given below are the most common causes behind the issue:

  1. The external device is not properly connected to your system or is switched off.
  2. Drivers of the external device are incompatible, backdated, faulty, or corrupted.
  3. USB port of the system is not functioning.
  4. Or maybe the USB cable is not working.
  5. The application could have been damaged.
  6. The external device might have bad sectors and needs repairs
  7. The operating system is faulty. It might have corrupt system files, some virus, damaged Windows updates, and so on.

Incompatibility of Windows with newer iOS versions: The default image and video format in iOS 11 have been changed from JPEG/H.264 to HEIF, i.e. High-Efficiency Image Format and HEVC, i.e. High-Efficiency Video Codec. These new formats do optimize the storage space but the quality of the photos and videos are not compromised.

However, the problem is that Windows OS doesn’t support HEIF and HEVC formats. For the same reason, you could get the “a device attached to the system is not functioning” error while attempting to transfer files from a device with iOS 11 or higher.

How to Fix ‘A Device attached to the system is not functioning’ error?

Try the following 5 Fixes:

  1. Reconnect the external device or use a different USB port/cable
  2. Restarting the System and Reconnect The External Device
  3. Scan the system with System File Checker (SFC) and DISM
  4. Format the Disk Drive
  5. Update the Driver of SD card/USB drive/Hard drive

Solution #1. Reconnect the external device or use a different USB port/cable

As mentioned in the causes section, the connection between your USB storage device and the computer might be improper. So, try reconnecting the external device with your computer. The USB cable could also have malfunctioned. Use a different cable to check if the error gets fixed or not. Also, if there are other USB devices connected to your computer, remove them so that the connection doesn’t get affected.

Moreover, you should also try using a different USB port. Switch from the 2.0 USB port to the 3.0 one and vice-versa. See if that works.

Solution #2. Restarting the System and Reconnect The External Device

Another basic fix to try out is restarting your computer before you attempt to reconnect the external device. Rebooting can fix a lot of temporary problems with your system like incorrectly configured modules. Maybe your computer has installed an update that needs the system to be restarted to function properly. So, remove the device and reboot the system. Then, reconnect the device to check if the error is gone or not.

Solution #3. Scan the system with System File Checker (SFC) and DISM

There could be some corrupt files on your system that are causing this error. And to repair these files, we need to run the SFC and DISM commands. A System File Checker or SFC is a tool present in Windows that allows you to scan your system for any corrupt or faulty file in the OS. It is quite useful for diagnosing problems in the computer.

On the other hand, DISM can be used when you’ve found an error but the system is unable to fix it. Given below are the steps you need to follow to run these utilities:

Step 1. Go to the search bar of Windows and type Command Prompt

Step 2. Choose the best-matched result and click on Run as administrator.

Step 3. In the command prompt window, type in sfc /scannow and press the Enter button to proceed.

Step 4. Wait till the process is 100% complete. Then, reboot your system and check if the “A device attached to the system is not functioning” error has gone or not.

You can also use the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tool to execute an in-depth search on your computer. It can detect and solve errors that couldn’t have been detected by an SFC scan.

Step 1. Open the Command Prompt window.

Step 2. Type the following command and press the Enter button to run the DISM:

exe /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

Step 3. The DISM will now look for problems in your system and fix them automatically.

Step 4. Once the scan is finished, restart your PC to check if the error has gone away or not.

Solution #4. Format the Disk Drive

A lot of times the USB device is not formatted the right way and the wrong formatting can lead to the “a device attached to the system is not functioning.” To get rid of this problem, follow the steps mentioned below: 

Step 1. Go to Windows File Explorer

Step 2. Click on This PC from the left panel. Right-click on the external device/drive that isn’t working properly.

click on this pc from the left panel

Step 2. Select Format from the drop-down menu.

right click on the usb drive and select format option

Step 3. Now, set the formatting parameters like the file system type, allocation unit size, format type, and so on.

set the formatting parameters

Step 4. Hit the Start button followed by OK to confirm that you want to format the disk drive. 

Solution #5. Update the Driver of SD card/USB drive/Hard drive

The error could also come up if your device drivers are outdated and so the computer is finding it difficult to transfer data. So, you should try to update the device drivers to check if the problem subsides or not. 

You can choose to update the drivers either automatically or manually. We recommend you to start with the former option and if it doesn’t work go for the second one. Given below are the steps that tell you how to do so:

Step 1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run window. Type “devmgmt.msc” in the dialog box that comes up and hit the Enter button. The device manager window will open up.

click on device manager option

Step 2. Right-click on the device driver you want to update and click on “Update driver.”

device manager window
right click on the drive and select the update driver option

Step 3. A dialog box will pop up asking you which way you wish to update the driver. Click on the first option to execute an automatic update: Search automatically for updated driver software. 

click on search automatically for updated driver software

Step 4. This will look online for updates and then you need to follow the on screen instructions to complete the driver update. 

Step 5. If the automatic update fails, then you need to download the driver update manually and click the second option that says “Browse my computer for driver software.” 

Step 6. Choose the driver update file you downloaded and update.

Step 7. Restart your system for the changes to take effect.

5 Fixes To Solve “A Device Attached To The System Is Not Functioning” Error On iOS Device

If the problem arises when you connect any iOS device with the computer, then there could be some issues with the iPhone or iPad. Try inserting another phone or device into your computer to check if it gives any error or not. If not, then the issue is probably with your device. The fixes mentioned below should resolve the problem in this case:

  1.  Free Up Space on iOS device
  2.  Reset Location and Privacy
  3. Update iOS drivers / iTunes
  4. Alter the Transfer to Mac or PC Settings on iPhone To Keep Originals
  5. Update iOS to Latest Version

Solution #1. Free Up Space on iOS device

One of the most common causes behind this error is the lack of space on your iOS device. This is incurred while the device attempts to convert HEIF or HEVC photos and videos. So, first go to Settings and check the storage space on your iPhone or iPad. Tap on General in the phone settings section, then choose iPhone Storage

Solution #2. Reset Location and Privacy

Step 1. Open iPhone Settings, then choose General

go to settings and tap on General

Step 2. Navigate to the bottom and tap on Reset

Step 3. Select Reset Location & Privacy and type in your password

tap on reset location and privacy

Step 4. Hit Reset Settings for confirmation.

Solution #3. Update iOS drivers / iTunes

Step 1. Use the CopyTrans Drivers Installer application for this method. Remember, this is a temporary fix. Uninstall iTunes to reshuffle the components of the drivers.

Step 2. Once done, install iTunes again. While installing, all the needed drivers will be downloaded and installed automatically.

Step 3. To update drivers:

If you have downloaded iTunes from the Apple website, open the iTunes app. Go to the Help section and select Check for updates.

If you downloaded iTunes from the Microsoft Store, click on the Start button and open the Microsoft Store app. Now, click on the three dots located in the top right corner and select Downloads and Updates

Solution #4. Alter the Transfer to Mac or PC Settings on iPhone To Keep Originals

As mentioned earlier, ‘a device attached to the system is not functioning’ error can arise because the image and video format in iOS devices gets converted from HEIF/HEVC to JPEG/H.264. So, we can stop the format conversion and not get this error anymore. Here’s how to do the same:

Step 1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone

Step 2. Keep scrolling until you find the “Photos” settings and click.

Step 3. Once you enter the Photos settings, scroll down to the “Transfer to Mac or PC Settings.”

Step 4. Select the option “Keep Originals” and transfer the files now.

tap the keep originals option

Step 5. Check if the issue is resolved or not.

Keep in mind that Windows does not support HEIC files. And so, for it to support HEIF or HEIC files, you need to download the HEIF codec on your computer.  

Solution #5. Update iOS to Latest Version

Many times, updating your system software to the latest version can solve a lot of errors like problems with connecting your iPhone or iPad to a computer. So, back up your iPhone or iPad first, then open Settings > General > Software Update and download and install if there is any available update.

Can the Ways to Fix Airdrop Not Working on iPhone or iPad Also Work for Fixing Devices Not Functioning?

If you’re struggling with devices not functioning, the same ways to fix airdrop issue on iPhone or iPad can be helpful. You can start by ensuring that both devices are compatible and have the feature enabled. Additionally, restarting the devices and checking for software updates can also solve the problem.


External device errors on Windows can be very annoying because it prevents you from doing important work with the external device. The above content gives you plenty of solutions to try out and fix the “A device attached to the system is not functioning” error in Windows 10. We hope you have found the solutions helpful and have gotten rid of the error successfully.