I spent a few days trying to figure this out, and apparently all modern versions of Windows suffer from it, yet it’s barely/poorly documented anywhere:
If your usb devices are no longer recognized by Windows, no matter how many times you try to install or update the drivers, go look in c:\windows\inf\ (make sure you can see hidden and system files) and see if you cannot find:
All you have to do is restore/replace them and bingo, everything will work again, I didn’t even have to reboot.
Try looking in C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository
Windows2k (2000), Windows XP, Vista and even Windows 7 suffer from this problem.
Basically my external mass storage (bulk storage) devices suddenly were not being seen when I plugged them in. Reinstalling the drivers was useless and just ended up saying that windows could not find the drivers needed.
Some program uninstalls those two when you uninstall it – I am not sure what, why or how but it’s yet another Windows mystery to solve.