Flash Drive Data Recovery – How to Recover Data from Flash Drive

Valyn HuaUpdated by Valyn Hua / Dec 29, 2020 09:20

Hello, I have a 4GB USB flash drive, when I inserted it into a USB port, there is an error message: The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable. I have some important files on the flash drive. How to recover the important data from flash drive?

As a popular portable device, USB flash drive is an important data storage device, from family photos to sensitive documents. No one expects to lose data from flash drives, but accidents occur without warning. The article will share you how to recover data from flash drive, which is corrupted or undetected.

flash drive data recovery

Guide List

1. How to Recognize a Broken Flash Drive on Computer

Does it mean you lose all the files if the flash drive cannot be detected? There are chances to recover data from broken flash drive if another USB port can not fix the issue. Whether the data is lost for physical corruption or logical corruption, you can repair the file structure to make sure the computer can recognize the broken flash drive.

If you are using Windows 10:

Step 1Insert the flash drive. Go to My Computer > Removable Disk, then right-click to choose Properties.

Step 2Choose Tools > Rebuilt, then let it scan and restore files.

Step 3Right-click the drive and choose Eject.

If you are using earlier versions:

Step 1Insert the flash drive into the USB port of your computer. Go to My Computer and select the Removable Disk option, which you can open the Properties.

Step 2Choose the Tools and click the Check button. Check the Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sector. As for Windows 10 users, you need to click the Rebuild option under Tools. Then the default flash data recovery of your computer will recognize or retrieve the files accordingly.

check drive

Step 3Click the Start button to scanning the undetectable flash drive, which should be an essential step to recover files from flash drive without formatting. Click the Close option after the scan process is completed. In the method, you can identify the exact reason leading to the problem while reading the USB drive.

system error flash drive

In some cases, computer just cannot detect a broken flash drive. After you plug it into your computer, nothing happens. You cannot find it in My Computer or Windows Explorer.

Some of the most common causes of data loss on flash drive include:

  1. USB driver issue. If the USB drivers are outdated or loaded incorrectly, the files on your flash drive will not be recognized.
  2. Program crashes. Some people save documents to flash drives directly. If the program is freezing when saving your files, the data is corrupted and broken.
  3. Sudden power loss. Many people ignore the proper way when removing a flash drive from a computer. In fact, unplugging the USB from computer will cause hardware and software damage
  4. NAND memory wears down from repeated use.
  5. Hardware is broken. The USB port on your computer, the USB cable that connects the flash drive and your computer, and the flash drive itself may be damaged.
sd card partition recovery

Actually, when a flash drive is broken or corrupted, people more worry about their data than the cost of hardware. Fortunately, there are some methods to recover data from USB flash drive, even though it is broken or corrupted.

2. How to Recover Data from Broken USB/ Flash Drive with FoneLab Data Retriever

If you still cannot find the desired files from the broken flash drive, FoneLab Data Retriever is the professional flash drive data recovery to recover deleted or lost data with deep scan. It is able to retrieve photos, videos, documents and other files. When you have some important files in the corrupted flash drive, you should download the program to get the files back.

  1. Recover data from different types of USB flash drive with one click.
  2. Support photos, videos, documents, emails, etc.
  3. Offer both Quick Scan and Deep Scan models.
  4. Preview lost data organizing by formats and types.
  5. Retrieve corrupted files from USB in the original conditions.
FoneLab Data Retriever
FoneLab Data Retriever

FoneLab Data Retriever - recover the lost/deleted data from computer, hard drive, flash drive, memory card, digital camera and more.

  • Recover photos, videos, contacts, WhatsApp, and more data with ease.
  • Preview data before recovery.

How to recover data from corrupted USB flash drive

Make sure the USB flash drive is recognized with your computer first. After that you can scan the flash drive with the portable drive data recovery to get the lost files as the following steps.

Step 1Download and Install flash drive data recovery

Download the flash drive recovery, run the installer file and follow the onscreen instructions to install it on your computer. Insert the USB flash drive into the computer and launch the application. Check the boxes next to the data types you want to recover, like Documents. Then move to the Removable Drives section and select the broken USB flash drive.

data retriever main menu

Step 2Preview lost data before recovery

Once hit the Scan button, Data Retriever will search lost files on your flash drive. A few seconds later, the result window will pop up. To preview the lost documents, click Quick Scan > Documents on the left sidebar. Then search for desired document on the right panel.

Tip: If you cannot find the desired file, go to the Deep Scan mode, which is able to retrieve data from flash drive that you cannot get with the default solution.

data retriever choose data

Step 3Get back data from corrupted flash drive

Next, tick the checkbox next to each file that you’d like to recover. Then hit the Recover button. It only takes a few minutes to recover all the files from flash drive. The program supports scanning of large capacity USB drives and traces inaccessible or formatted files.

data retriever recover data

Whether you want to retrieve files for flash drive with broken stems and connectors, undetectable files or other issues, FoneLab Data Retriever is able to recover broken USB drive files with ease. But if the files are severely damaged or corrupted, the program might not work, especially for the physical issues.

3. Other Methods to Recover Flash Drive Data

No matter the flash drive issues were boiled down to logical errors or physical errors, you can try some tricks to fix them.

Method 1. Reinstall the Drivers

Reinstall the drive might be the way to help your flash drive work again.

Step 1Go to My Computer/This PC, then click Manage.

Step 2Select Device Manager on the left, then choose Disk drives on the right.

Step 3Locate the drive you want and click Uninstall > OK.

computer manager

Method 2. Using CMD

Step 1Plug flash drive to computer, click Windows search bar, type cmd in the box and then choose Command Prompt in the pop-up results.

Step 2Type in attrib -h -r -s /s /d drive letter:\*.*, you can change the letter E to any drive you want to recover files.

Step 3Press Enter button to begin the process.


Method 3. Change the Drive Letter

Step 1Plug flash drive to computer, click Windows search bar, type cmd in the box and then choose Command Prompt in the pop-up results.

Step 2Locate the drive and click Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Step 3Click Change and change another letter for it.

4. How to Keep the Fata of USB/Flash Drive Safe

In order to prevent a USB or flash drive corrupting, breaking or dead, you can follow the tips below to keep your data safe. It is better to keep the data of flash drive safe instead to use flash data recovery.

  1. Set the Properties properly. Right-click on your flash drive, select Properties and go to the Security tab. Then you can set the write and read permissions based on your needs.
  2. Check virus regularly. After inserting the flash drive into your computer, run your antivirus software and scan it. And you should not use your flash drives on unsafe devices.
  3. Keep the flash drive connected while transferring data. If you remove the flash drive when writing or transferring data, the files will corrupt and the drive will be destroyed.
  4. Disconnect the USB properly. Removing a flash drive directly will damage the file system and lead to data corruption. Just disconnect the USB or flash drive from your computer before you disconnect the USB.
  5. Back up the data on your flash drive to cloud services or other media. USB flash drives are a convenient way to transfer data; however, they are not reliable storage medium.
set write permission


Based on the introductions above, you should understand what you could do when a flash drive is broken, dead or corrupted. Firstly, you’d better stop using your flash drive once you find it damaged. More importantly, FoneLab Data Retriever is the professional flash data recovery that has the capacity to recover data from flash drive in various situations. Moreover, we also shared the tips to keep your data and flash drive safe.

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