Fix I/O Device Error on External Hard Drive/USB Drive in Windows

The I/O device error prevents you from accessing the files on your hard drive, USB flash drives, SD cards or other storage devices. Given the urgency to solve such a problem, we will show you what the causes of I/O device error are, how to fix the error, and how to recover your precious files from the affected device using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

Table of Contents

"The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error"

I/O Device Error, short for Input/Output Device Error, usually happens on external hard drives, SD cards, USB flash drives, CDs, or DVDs when you try to perform write and read operations on the device in Windows 10/8/7. 

Normally, when you try to access its files, you'll get an I/O Device error saying "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error."

The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error

Quick Guide - 5 Methods to Fix I/O Device Error on Your Own

To solve your problem, you can take the following methods and corresponding guidelines to fix the I/O device error on your storage devices immediately.

5 Methods Risky Level Difficulty Level
1. Check & Change Device Connection Low Easy
2. Update/Re-install Device Driver Low Easy
3. Change Device Transfer Mode Medium Easy
4. Send for Manual Repair Medium (Possible privacy disclosure) Easy
5. Command Prompt High (Possible data loss) Medium

Overview of I/O Device Error

In most cases, users encounter the I/O device error when they attempt to open a hard drive or external storage device. How to define if you are with the error, and what to do when this error happens? Let's see.

Symptoms - I/O Device Error Messages Causes
  • "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error" displays. 
  • "Only part of a ReadProcessMemory or WriteProcessMemory request was completed."
  • I/O Error codes: error 6, error 21, error 103, error 105, error 131.
  • Connection issue between your storage devices and PC
  • Outdated device driver
  • Windows is trying to use a transfer mode that the hardware device cannot use
  • Your device is damaged or corrupted, shows as Disk Unknown or Not Initialized

So What to Do with I/O Device Error On Devices? Here are some tips:

  1. 1. Stop using the device immediately.
  2. 2. Don't unplug and replug the device too frequently.
  3. 3. Don't try to format, erase, or repartition the device.
  4. 4. Follow the methods provided below one by one to fix this error on your own.

Based on the underlying issue, you have the following solutions available to fix the I/O device error on an external/internal hard drive.

Method 1. Check and Change Device Connection

Pros: Easy, fast, no data loss. Cons: /

Here are the tips that you can check if the I/O error is caused by a loose connection or faulty cable/USB port:

  • Check if the connection cables are loose, tight it.
  • If the connection cables are broken, change new ones and reconnect the device. 
  • Connect the external hard drive or USB to another port (especially a rear one).
  • If there is another computer available, try to connect the same device to another computer.

If the I/O device error persists, don't worry. More methods are available for you to apply.

Method 2. Update or Reinstall the Device Driver

Pros: Easy, fast, no data loss. Cons: Falty operation may cause serious problems. Be careful!

The outdated device driver is a potential cause that may lead to various issues on your device. For example, "there is no media in the specified device", USB not showing up in Windows, and "the request could not be performed because of an I/O device error".

Step 1. Connect the device with "I/O device error" to PC, right-click "This PC" and select "Manage".

Step 2. Click "Device Manager", expand "Disk drives".

Step 3. Right-click the problematic device and select "Update driver"

Step 4. Click "Search automatically search for driver software online".

Fix I/O device error - update device driver

Wait for the driver to be updated, then reboot your computer. Afterward, you can open your device to check whether the I/O error still exists.

Method 3. Fix I/O Device Error -Change Transfer Mode in IDE Channel Properties

Pros: No data loss. Cons: Falty operation may cause serious problems. Be careful!

As mentioned, if Windows is trying to use a transfer mode that your device doesn't support, you will encounter the error message "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error." To remove the I/O error, you just need to switch the transfer mode with the next steps:

Step 1. Press "Windows+X" to open the menu, then select "Device Manager".

Step 2. Expand "IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers". A subset will open, listing the different IDE ATA/ATAPI channels for the computer.

Step 3. Right-click the channel where the appropriate drive is connected, and then click "Properties".

Note: Don't change the Primary IDE Channel, Device 0. Change the transfer mode of Device 0 may cause computer operating errors.

Step 4. On the "Advanced Settings" tab, uncheck "Enable MDA" in the "Transfer Mode" box for the device that represents the appropriate drive.

Step 5. Then, click "OK" and exit all windows.

Fix I/O device error - change transfer mode

Test the drive and check if the message "the request could not be performed because of an I/O device error" has been removed. 

Method 4. Send for Manual Repair and Fix I/O Device Error

Pros: No data loss. Cons: Expensive. Possible privacy disclosure.

If none of the methods above helps to remove the I/O device error, you are recommended to send your device for manual repair. To do so, you have three options to try:

  1. #1. Contact the device manufacture and send the disk for repair.
  2. #2. Send device for manual repair at a local repair center.
  3. #3. Customize manual device repair and data recovery service.

Here you may try EaseUS manual disk repair and data recovery service: 

Do You Need Specialized Data Recovery Services?
Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:
1. Repair corrupted RAID structure, failed disk with I/O Device error (including .vmdk, .vhd, .vhdx, etc.)
2. Recover data and repair photos, videos from inaccessible, problematic hard drive partitions.
3. Unformat hard drive and repair raw drive(Bitlocker encrypted drive)
Your privacy is secure here with EaseUS.

Method 5. Fix I/O Device Error in Command Prompt

Pros: May work to fix I/O device error. Cons: High risk of causing data loss.

This option will run the CHKDSK command to check and repair disk errors on the hard drive, USB drive, or other storage devices to fix the I/O device error.

But this option may cause serious data loss. If you tend to try this way out, move to the next part and follow data recovery guide to scan and restore your precious files in advance. 

Step 1. Press Windows + S keys, type: cmd, right-click "Command Prompt" and choose "Run as administrator".

Step 2. Click "Yes" when you are presented to launch the Command Prompt as Administrator.

Step 3. Type: chkdsk E: /f /r /x (replace E with the drive letter for your device which contains I/O device error).

Fix I/O device error with chkdsk command

Note: some of you may receive the error message "cannot open the volume for direct access" using CMD, don't worry, and just follow the link to get an immediate fix.

Recover Data from I/O Device Error 

If you have important data lost on the external hard drive, USB flash drive, or SD card after fix the I/O device error, you can recover your files with hard drive recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

EaseUS data recovery software supports deleted data recovery, formatted file recovery, RAW file recovery, and more. To recover data from your device that suffered from the I/O device error:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS hard drive recovery software.

Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your PC and select the drive on your hard disk where you lost or deleted files. Click "Scan" and let this program scan all lost data and files on the selected hard drive.

select a location and scan hard drive

Step 2. Check and preview all lost hard drive data.

Find lost hard drive data from "Deleted Files", "Lost Files" or use "Filter" to quickly navigate the lost data. Check and double-click to preview these found files.

Find and preview all lost hard drive data

Step 3. Restore lost hard drive data to a safe location.

Select wanted files that you lost on the drive and click "Recover" to save them. Choose a safe location on your PC or other external storage devices to save these restored hard drive data.

Restore lost hard drive data.

The Bottom Line

Although we recommend you recover data from your problematic device when there is data loss after the fix, you can try EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to recover your files as many as possible if all the solutions fail to fix "the request could not be performed because of an I/O device error".

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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Written by Roxanne

Roxanne is one of the main contributors to EaseUS and has created multiple posts on digital devices like PCs, Mobile phones, tablets, Mac, etc. She loves to share ideas with people of the same interest.

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