How to Fix a Corrupted Flash Drive without Formatting (Windows Guide)

How to Fix a Corrupted Flash Drive without Formatting (Windows Guide)

How to Fix a Corrupted Flash Drive

Flash drives are good support systems for our data. Whether you are just storing some data as a backup or transferring data from one computer to another, flash drives will always come in handy.

But sometimes they also misbehave. Of course, it depends on certain circumstances. For instance, your computer may be telling you that you need to format the drive because the files are not recognized. This could most likely happen when your drive is corrupted and it can completely spoil your day especially if you had picked data from someone else’s computer and you can’t find them to ask for it again.

We will show you how to fix a corrupted flash drive without risking the loss of your data. But just before that, see below some of the possible scenarios you could find yourself in.

  • You need to format the drive before it can be used
  • The drive has been attacked by a virus and the files are corrupted
  • The flash drive is not recognized or it has malfunctioned
  • The drive is showing “disk needs to be formatted” because it contains bad sectors.
  • Flash drive shows 0 bytes or shows the “folder is empty” error
  • The computer shows “please insert disk into removable disk” when you try connecting the drive
  • The drive is blank or it has an unsupported file system

Can You Fix the Flash Drive Without Formatting?

The answer is definitely yes! Do not fall into the trap of formatting the drive whenever you are asked. This is because you will definitely end up losing all your files. Of course, you can recover deleted files from USB drive through some of the various options we will show you, but you do not really need to get there. When you are faced with this scenario, pause and watch out for the following:

  • Stop using the flash drive
  • Do not reformat the flash drive
  • Do not add new files to the flash drive
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Before you can fix the drive, you will need to recover deleted files first. In the next section, we will show you how to recover data from the flash drive.

Recovery Option 1: Recover Data with CMD

Step 1: Open CMD by pressing “Win + R” to launch the Run window.

Step 2: Input “cmd.exe” and click “Ok.”

Step 3: Check for bad sectors in your drive by typing “chkdsk H:/f” in the command then hitting Enter. Remember to replace “H” with the specific drive letter representing your flash drive.

Step 4: Now type “Y” if the drive is in use, then hit Enter. If you don’t see any prompt, proceed to step 5.

Step 5: Get the deleted files back by running the command “attrib – h -r -s/s/dH:*-*” then press Enter to recover data from the flash drive.

Once this operation ends, your files will be available on the flash drive saved in .chk format by default.

Recovery Option 2: Recover Files from Backup

Recovering your files from backup could be one of the best solutions to try if at all such backups for your data exist.

A good backup system for PCs is the File History. You can begin this by typing “file history” in the search box then choosing “Restore your files with File History” option. From the File History window, select the latest files that you are interested in then tap on the green button to restore them.

We recommend that you restore the files to a different location. You can do this by going to settings then tapping the Restore option to choose a new location for your recovered files.

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Recovery Option 3: Recover Files with Disk Drill

Data recovery software is a good way to recover lost files on flash drives among other storage devices. Disk Drill however outperforms most of them by being the most successful in data recovery with the highest recovery rate.

Data recovery with software is very seamless. Begin by downloading the data recovery software and installing it on your PC. Then insert the flash drive to the PC. Once the drive is connected, launch Disk Drill and choose the flash drive from the list of available volumes.

Tap the “Search” icon to begin the scanning process. This will take some time, of course, depending on the number of files to be recovered.

You will be able to preview the files as they are discovered by the software. Once you have a full list, select the files to be recovered by highlighting them. Then, tap “Recover” and choose a new location for the files.

How to Fix the Flash Drive

Now that you have recovered all your files, it is time to fix the drive so that you will be able to use it again.

Solution 1: Assign a different Drive Letter

Maybe, your flash drive is only unnamed or uses an inappropriate drive letter making it unrecognizable. Or still, the computer may be facing some trouble assigning a drive letter to your drive due to one reason or another.

To assign an appropriate drive letter to the flash drive, follow the steps below:

Step 1: press “Win + R” to open the Run Window then type “diskmgmt.msc.”

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Step 2: Right-click the drive and choose “Change drive letter and paths.”

Step 3: Hit the “Add” button and choose an appropriate letter from the drop-down menu followed by “Ok.”

Step 4: Check if the drive is assigned and that you can open it now to access your data.

Solution 2: Fix the Drive with Device Manager

Step 1: Navigate to the Control panel and then Device Manager. You can also get here by typing Device Manager in the search box and then choosing it from the list.

Step 2: Enable the flash drive and expand the “Disk Drive” list before right-clicking the USB drive to choose “Enable.” Allow it some time to complete.


Featured image provided by Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thanks!


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