Android Won’t Connect to Windows Over ADB? How to Fix in 3 Easy Steps

Is ADB not working or detecting your device on Windows? If Android can’t connect over the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), fixing it only requires three basic procedures.

We’ll show you how to get it working again.

ADB Can’t Find Your Device? Here’s the Fix

Sometimes, Android USB devices won’t connect to a Windows system. Failed ADB connections usually have one root cause: bad Android USB drivers that load in place of the right ones. Windows doesn’t make it easy to remove the wrong drivers, unfortunately.

But before attempting to troubleshoot an ADB connection, first enable USB debugging on your phone if it’s not on already.

When turned on, USB debugging gives you direct access to the file system of an Android device from a desktop computer. Without debugging enabled, it’s only possible to interact with your phone’s media storage, such as the SD card or a specially formatted media directory.

If you meet the requirements, fixing the problem takes about five minutes and three basic steps:

  • Connect your Android device to your PC via USB and remove the ADB drivers. Then disconnect your device.
  • Run a USB driver eliminating utility, such as USBDeview, to kill all unnecessary Android drivers.
  • Install Universal ADB Drivers.
  • We’ll go over each step in turn. Here’s the software you need:

    Download: Nirsoft USBDeview (Free)

    Download: Universal ADB Drivers (Free)

    Step 1: Connect Your Device and Uninstall the Current Driver

    First, connect your Android device to your computer via USB. This step allows your device to be displayed in Windows’s Device Manager. Open this by typing Device Manager into the Start menu to search for it.

    Next, in the Device Manager, remove your currently displayed Android ADB driver. To remove it, right-click on the category that contains your phone. For example, this might be Portable Devices, LeMobile Android Device, or something similar.

    Under this, you’ll see the Android Composite ADB Interface driver. Right-click this to bring up the context menu, then select Uninstall device.

    Make sure to check the box for Delete the driver software for this device. However, sometimes this check box (particularly on Windows 11) won’t be available.

    You can now disconnect your Android device from your PC. Doing this prevents the same incompatible driver from loading upon reconnecting the Android device. While eliminating drivers is technically not required, it can identify the driver causing connection issues in case it somehow reloads itself. You can always reinstall this driver from the manufacturer if it turns out that it’s the correct driver.

    Step 2: Remove Bad ADB Drivers

    The Nirsoft USBDeview utility comes as a zipped executable. That means you must unzip it, and it doesn’t require installation. The utility may show up as malware in a virus scan, but rest assured, it’s safe.

    After unzipping the file, open the extracted folder and run the executable utility inside it. USBDeview displays the total number of installed USB drivers on your computer, both connected and disconnected.

    Look for the colored status indicator on the far-left of the USBDeview window. There are four colors. Each represents a different status:

  • Green indicates that the device is connected and that it functions properly.
  • Pink means the device can unplug and works properly (although in reality, it may not work).
  • Red indicates a disabled USB device.
  • Gray means the device is installed but not connected.
  • Now, remove all gray items with the words “Google”, “Linux”, “ADB”, or “Android” in the title. If you want to be extra cautious, remove all non-green items.

    Removing the device driver means that you’ll need to reinstall the drivers for that USB device if you want to use it again. Fortunately, most of the time Windows automatically installs USB devices, so removing entries here is not dangerous.

    Step 3: Install Universal ADB Driver

    Universal ADB Drivers works for all Android devices. Installing the driver package should automatically select the right driver for Windows to recognize your phone over an ADB interface.

    Optional: Manually Install a USB ADB Driver

    To do a manual install, first run the executable package for the Universal ABD Driver executable you downloaded earlier, which installs the driver to your computer.

    Second, plug your Android device into your PC via USB. The correct USB drivers should load. You can check by going to Device Manager in Windows. If there is a different driver listed than what you saw in the first step, you probably have the correct USB driver loaded now.

    In the Device Manager, locate the new ADB/USB driver. This will likely be under your phone’s name in the Portable Devices section, but Android devices can appear in different locations in Device Manager. You may need to check each possible device class (such as Android Phone or Samsung) in the Device Manager before you find yours.

    If you can’t find it, sometimes you’ll need to check the pull-down notification shade on your Android device for additional steps. This allows you to authorize a specific computer to connect to your device beyond charging purposes.

    Once you find it, right-click on your device and choose Update driver. From the resulting menu, choose Browse my computer for driver software, then Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.

    Here you’ll see a list of compatible drivers. Choose one of these (starting at the top is fine). If it fails, repeat the process by going down the list to locate another driver that works.

    Install Universal ABD Driver Instead

    If you can’t get the right driver installed using the above method, you will need to perform a manual installation. Thankfully, Windows Device Manager lets you hand-pick a driver from your computer instead of browsing from a list.

    Instead of selecting Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer in the previous step, hit the Browse button and manually find the directory where you installed Universal ADB Driver.

    The location in File Explorer should be something like this:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\ClockworkMod\Universal Adb Drivers\

    You may need to search for the folder if you don’t see it there. Once you select the right location, hit Next and Windows will install the drivers. From now on, whenever you connect your Android device with ADB enabled, Universal ADB Drivers will load in place of the ones that failed to work.

    Finally, restart your computer and attempt to connect over ADB again. You should be successful at this point.

    Still Not Able to Connect to ADB?

    If you still can’t connect to ADB, your device might have a deeper problem, either at the firmware or hardware level. Major hardware issues include the following:

  • A damaged USB port on your computer or smartphone
  • Defective firmware on your smartphone, usually caused by a custom ROM
  • A damaged or defective charging cable
  • For example, I once owned a tablet that intermittently disconnected from the computer. Even after replacing the Micro-USB port, the tablet continued to malfunction. The cause of disconnection turned out to be a buggy custom ROM. While custom ROMs are great for reviving old hardware, they introduce another layer of complexity that often causes issues.

    There are many potential causes for a device that refuses to connect through ADB. Try various cables and ports on your computer to troubleshoot the problem. Our guide to fixing an Android phone that won’t charge has some tips that can also help with poor connections.

    EasyTether Problems: Unable to Connect by ADB

    Some people who use both a Mac and Android try to share their internet connection over a USB interface using the EasyTether app. However, we don’t recommend this. The app costs money, and free methods exist that are both superior and easier to use. See our guide on how to USB tether with Android for better ways.

    For example, in newer versions of Android, Google offers native Bluetooth and USB tethering. If your phone has a dual-antenna design, you can even create a hotspot using a Wi-Fi connection.

    If EasyTether (or any USB tethering app) fails, the best fix is to try to find the correct driver as outlined above. That means finding the incorrect ADB driver that Windows installed and swapping it out for something that works.

    Since this may require additional troubleshooting steps, we only recommend these apps for older Android devices.

    Universally Good ADB Drivers

    Now you know what to do when ADB is not working. This method of purging bad Android USB drivers and installing a universal ADB driver package works for every Android device we’ve tried it on.

    It’s a bit ridiculous that Google never released a universal ADB driver for Android devices, despite the issues that many users continue to experience. Fortunately, getting ADB working with Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11 is easy: just remove the wrong drivers and install the right drivers.

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