This may be a DEVICE FAULT with the USB device.
Open the Device Manager -
START > SETTINGS > CONTROL PANEL > SYSTEM > DEVICE MANAGER
A fault (if there is one) will be indicated by the presence of a question mark (?) or an exclamation mark (!) alongside the entry for each faulty device.
The reason there is a question mark or exclamation mark displayed is that Windows needs to update the driver, because you are currently using the WRONG driver file. You need to cure the problem by proceeding as follows:-
In Device Manager -
1. Click on the "+" sign next to 'Universal Serial Bus Controllers'.
2. Click on each entry under that heading (to highlight it), then delete the entry by clicking "Remove".
There will be several entries to delete. You will have to click on the "+" sign to re-open the section after deleting each one.
If there are any entries with a yellow exclamation mark (which indicates a fault) or a yellow question mark (which indicates an unrecognised device) against them, remove those entries also.
Then reboot. Windows will automatically re-install the correct drivers in the course of the reboot. If you are asked to point the install wizard to the location of the proper driver file, it is probably in one of these folders -
Alternatively, this type of fault can be caused by a conflict with a driver for a device that's not in use. Such drivers only show up in Safe Mode, which shows all installed drivers (only those for the devices currently attached to the system are shown while in normal mode).
So if the solution above doesn't cure the fault, reboot into SAFE mode (press F5 or F8 on startup). Then open the Device Manager again, and (using the same procedure as explained above) delete all "ghost" entries seen there, i.e. those entries that ONLY show up in Safe Mode.
My tip here is that if you find any USB "ghost" entries, delete ALL of the USB devices listed in Device Manager (even those which are not faulty), while in Safe Mode, to give Windows the best chance of doing a clean reinstall of the device.
Then shutdown the computer, and unplug all USB devices - this increases the chances of success. Then reboot again, into normal mode. Windows will automatically re-install the correct USB controller drivers in the course of the reboot.
Do NOT plug the problem USB device into the computer's USB port until Windows has finished loading, following this restart. Also, remember to switch ON that USB device's power AFTER connecting the USB cable to *both* the USB device and the computer.
If the above procedure fails to cure the problem, it is probably for the following reason -
Incompatible USB version:
Windows ME only has built-in support for USB 1.1. A USB device that is designed to work with *both* USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 will function, but only at USB 1.1 speeds.
But ONLY if it's designed to work with BOTH. Therefore check whether your USB device is designed to work with USB 1.1 (i.e. look on the box), because if the box says it is designed for USB 2.0 only then it won't work with WinME.
Yes, Windows ME *does* have built-in USB drivers. But they are USB 1.1 drivers! You can't run a USB 2.0 device on the built-in drivers.
The device must be *specifically* stated to be for USB 1.1 (whether or not it is also for USB 2.0) in order to work with WinME.
To use a USB 2.0 device in Win ME you have to buy an add-in USB 2.0 PCI expansion card, and it MUST be one that comes with a USB 2.0 driver file for WinME (a USB "mass storage driver").
It is prudent to buy a PCI card that (a) has an NEC chipset, as that chipset has the widest compatibility with older motherboards, and (b) that comes with a driver file for USB 2.0, and (c) says on the box that it is compatible with either Windows 98 or Windows ME.
Try the website of the Card's manufacturer, to download such a driver file to your Desktop. Then install the driver file, using its setup program (they almost always come with setup software included).
If the card manufacturer hasn't provided a driver, you can try the following sites for any available so-called "universal" drivers for USB 2.0 for Windows 98/ME: