Windows 10 V1903 shows suddenly generic USB drive icons

[German]A bug in Windows 10 is currently (since the weekend of November 9, 2019) unsettling users who use USB storage devices. Instead of a USB drive, the Explorer now displays a generic device icon. Here is some information about the problem.


I got aware of the issue through this comment left by blog reader John Doe within the discussion area of my German blog (thanks to user John Doe for the hint).

The error description

After reading the comment, I've tested the behavior on two systems with Windows 10 version 1903 with two USB sticks and made an interesting observation. When I inserted the first USB stick into one of my test systems, it was correctly recognized and displayed with a name and an icon for a drive in Explorer.

Explorer mit USB-Laufwerken und generischem Symbol

In the above screenshot this is drive G: named antiXlive. But what is already noticeable: The USB drive D: is displayed with a generic symbol in the form of a stylized computer. The drive had no media inserted on the machine, so it is hidden. I then unplugged the USB stick and plugged it into a second test machine and opened the Explorer. There the USB stick was already displayed with a generic drive icon (see image below).


Then I used a second USB stick to on the first test system with Windows 10 Version 1903 and plugged it in. First a proper icon for this device was shown. But after a few seconds the generic drive icon with a stylized computer appeared. So I ejected the USB stick and tried the 2nd USB stick. But both USB sticks was now be displayed with a generic drive icon in Explorer. In the screenshot above, it is drive D: labeled antiXlive.

Something happened with the USB drive detection and Windows 10 V1903 shows a faulty device icon.


I have inspected the relevant branches in the Device Manager (see image above). The USB stick is displayed correctly as SanDisk Cruzer Edge USB device and in the USB controller branch I can't find anything conspicuous.

Multiple hits in Microsoft Answers forum

Blog reader John Doe has pointed out several hits in the Microsoft Answers forum in his commentary (here, here and hier). What all users have in common is that the wrong (generic) device icon is suddenly displayed in Explorer. One user wrote:

My USB drives shows either as a generic device or a non-specified device

As the title stated, all of my USB drives shows with a "generic device icon" in windows explorer, and when im about to remove my device it shows as "remove "device"", when I plug the device it shows the normal drive icon for a split seccond and then changes to a generic icon, which it doesnt affect the performance of my drives, but makes me suspect that something is wrong on my computer while detecting my usb devices.

I've attached some screenshots of this so you can understand me a little bit more

Cheers (I apologize if you have a hard time reading the screenshots because my pc is in spanish)

PS: Most of my usb drives are made by kingston and it normally shows as "Data Traveler x.0"

The  MVP colleague tried to assist this users, and suggest in step 4 to roll back driver settings (which helped in this case). From what I understand, Greg Carmack has tried to give an explanation in this thread (he mentioned that 'MS changed the default away from Safely Remove' may be the case).

Changed drive policy or just a bug?

Based on Greg Carmack's explanation, that back in April 2019, Microsoft changed its policy for handling removable media (USB storage) and that may be the cause for the 'changed icon' – I tried to change that policy. Microsoft has posted this support article on the subject, and I reported this change in the blog post Windows 10 V1809: Changes removal policy for USB media with steps to on how to change the policy back to the previous behavior.

After I've changed the drives eject policy, I ejected the USB stick and plugged it in again. In fact, a proper drive icon for the USB stick appeared in Explorer shortly afterwards. When I wrote this article and went back to my test machine, the generic symbol has been displayed again in Explorer. So changing the policy didn't help on my test systems.

So it's my conclusion: It has nothing to do with the chanced device policy (I've doubt this, due to the fact, that this behavior just occurred, but the policy change has been there since April/May). It's simply a bug! I don't know, which update is responsible – possibly the cumulative update KB4517389 rolled out on October 8, 2019 (see Patchday Windows 10-Updates (October 8, 2019)).

Addendum: Got a feedback from my German blog readers. It seems that the issue also hit users of older Windows 10 builds, and also users of Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 as well. It seems, that the icons are getting downloaded (erronously) from Microsoft for 'new devices' (something with 'download user defined icons …' in extended device settings in control panel).

Addendum 2: This is also the hint given from Miguel Simões_PT within this MS answers forum thread – cite: '

This problem didn't come from the latest CU. It's a server side problem. Every time a device is plugged in, it requests metadata from microsoft servers about the type of device , name, model, etc. Opening the window "Devices and printers" seems to be what triggers the bug.'

Or has anyone seen the bug on older Windows 10 builds? I will try to point Microsoft's software engineers to this article, in the hope, that they will fix this issue.

Addendum 3: Bleeping computer has an interesting addendum to this article describing the location of the metadata cache. But I wasn't able till now, to revert the broken icons back.

Similar articles:
Windows 10 V1809: USB Type-C Shutdown bug confirmed
Windows 10 V1903: External USB storage as Upgrade blocker
Windows 10: Not enough USB Controller resources
Windows 10 V1809: Changes removal policy for USB media

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13 Responses to Windows 10 V1903 shows suddenly generic USB drive icons

  1. Greg Carmack says:

    As he's pointed out twice in the thread now, Luis marked the post as Answer because Step 4 in the Windows 10 Performance and Install Integrity Checklist – Microsoft Community to turn off Startup freeloaders resolved his problem. I only mentioned the Safely Remove Hardware change because he asked in a follow up question why it is no longer appearing in his System Tray.

    Why did you claim that I was suggesting this as the Answer to generic icons? I made no such claim as is clearly obvious to anyone reading the thread. It violates the MVP Code of Conduct to make clearly false inferences to another MVP. You will cease and desist and retract the false accusations immediately.

  2. Pingback: Windows 10 Bug Causes USB Drives to Show the Wrong Icon | Bleeping Computer

  3. Pingback: Windows 10 "impazzisce", mostra l'icona sbagliata delle unità USB - Siti Web > Notizie di Marketing e comunicazione

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  5. George MacDonald says:

    Don't know if this is relevant. One USB stick previously showing the correct custom icon which is formatted as Fat32 now shows the wrong generic icon but another formatted as NTFS still displays the correct custom icon.

    • George MacDonald says:

      No. Not relevant. I formatted the Fat32 drive as NTFS and used the same autorun.inf and .ico from the drive that displayed the custom icon and it still showed the generic drive icon.
      The USB drive which displays the custom icon is USB3 while the other is USB2 .
      I don't imagine that is pertinent to the problem though.

  6. uBlast says:

    For anyone facing this problem, there´s a solution:

    1 – Unplug all USB devices.
    2 – Disable the feature to download manufacturer´s metadata and custom icons for installed devices.
    3 – Delete all contents inside this folder: %PROGRAMDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\DeviceMetadataCache\
    4 – Install the program "Device Remover" –
    5 – Check the option to show detached/unplugged devices and delete all references to USB Devices (pendrives, volumes, mass storage, etc..)
    6 – Insert the USB device (or devices) again and the driver(s) will be reinstalled, now without the internet check for advanced icons
    7 – No more unspecified devices and weird icons

  7. Goltrane says:

    I'm also getting the generic icon and a Code 10 error with my SATA disk drives, USB RAID disk array, and USB Bluetooth adapter in Devices & Printers; everything is fine in Device Manager. Stupid Microsoft.

  8. Novagene says:

    I though I could wait out an update self-correcting this issue. Nope. Then I tried every "fix" for this issue to no avail, messing with Device Remover programs and other ideas on the cribbed from the Internet.

    On one hand, it wasn't bothering anything, but on the other hand it would trigger my obsessing compulsive disorder every time I inserted a USB stick and saw the blank icon.

    I finally did a repair install. Download Windows to USB using Microsoft's Media Tool and reinstall (note that it doesn't seem to call it repair install anymore, just pick the reinstall option that keeps apps and User data, backup first of course).

    A few screen flashes later and USB icons restored. No other issues, so all went well.

    Windows 10 Pro Version 1909 (OS Build 18363.836)

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