PROBLEM: Attempting to read a USB mass storage device (SDHC card, flash drive, memory stick, camera card, Nook tablet, etc) on a Dell Vostro 1500 laptop computer running Windows XP with service pack 3, results in the contents of the drive not being readable. Although the drive is assigned a drive letter and shows up in Windows Explorer, attempting to open the drive results in the following message: "The disk is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?"
Device manager will report the device as healthy but with an unknown file system.
I will not speculate about why this fix works, all I know is that hours of searching the internet yielded no clear explanation for how to fix this problem:
CAUTION: The fix described below is what finally, after many, many dead ends, worked for me. I make no guarantees that it will solve the problem you are experiencing nor am I responsible for any additional problems it may cause. Try at your own risk.
Having said that...
1. In Windows explorer, navigate to C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers
2. Find the file fastfat.sys
3. Rename it to fastfat.sys.bak
4. Restart you computer
Try out a device in a USB port. Can you read it? If so great. If not, then this fix wasn't for you. Sorry, I know it's frustrating. If the fix did not work, you may change the name of the renamed file back to its original.
[With apologies to my regular readers, this post describes a technical fix missing from the Internet and is void of my usual commentary or news. It was written in an attempt to be easily found in search engines.]