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It is not recommended that you connect your camera directly. It is preferable to use a card reader.
This usually means the camera is in the wrong USB communication mode or you have a driver installed on your computer that is interfering. Go to the Setup->communication menu item and set it to PC connection (I believe). This selects mass storage mode as the communication mode. The 5D should transfer its RAW files just fine in this mode. It is a good idea to use a card reader, but it should not be necessary. I often connect directly to my camera out in the field.
> I realize I could use a card reader,
Could and should. Use a good card reader and avoid these problems.
The card reader is not only MUCH faster, but will save you from the high probability of something (like your elbow, or your cat, or your child) accidentally getting snagged in the cable and pulling your camera to the floor. If you go to some forums you will see that this 'accident' is quite common. A decent card reader is about $25, and worth it just to keep the camera safe.