SanDisk Cruzer memory sticks ship pre-formatted and should be visible to your computer straight out of the box. However, this is not always the case, as drive letter conflicts, mechanical faults and formatting issues can all render your Cruzer invisible to your computer's operating system. In addition, knowing how to get your Cruzer drive working could help you to rescue important data in the event that an already used device becomes unresponsive.

Initial Troubleshooting

If your computer won't recognize your Cruzer drive, try plugging the Cruzer into a different USB port. If the drive becomes visible when plugged into an alternative port, it is likely that the first USB port is faulty. You should also confirm that your computer's operating system meets the required minimum specifications. Cruzer drives are compatible with Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, XP Service Pack 2, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines, as well as Apple computers running Mac OS 9.0 and above.

Check Device Manager

The Windows Device Manager is a directory of all components that are connected to your computer, allowing you to troubleshoot the individual pieces of hardware that make up your PC. Device Manager is accessed from the Computer Management pane in the Control Panel. With the Device Manager window open, select “Disk Drives” and then right-click on your SanDisk drive's icon. Select “Uninstall” from the drop-down list and then select “Scan For Hardware Changes.” This forces your computer to re-install the Cruzer's drivers, potentially solving certain software issues.

Fix Drive Letter Conflicts

Windows systems use a lettering system to distinguish between drives. If two drives have the same letter, the system will struggle to address them, potentially rendering both drives inoperable. You can ensure that your Cruzer has its own unique letter by opening the Disk Management pane of the Computer Management window in the Control Panel. From Disk Management, right-click on the Cruzer's icon and select “Change Drive Letter And Paths.” Select a letter that no other drive is using and then click “OK.”

Format The Drive

Formatting your Cruzer is an option if your computer recognizes the drive but you are still having issues reading or writing data to the device. Formatting installs a new filesystem on to a storage volume, removing all content that the volume previously held. To format your Cruzer, open the Computer pane and right click on the device's drive letter. Select “Format” from the drop-down menu and choose a filesystem from the following menu. Most Cruzer devices use either the FAT32 or exFAT systems. Click “Start” to format the drive.