Fix I/O Device Error on External Hard Drive/USB Drive in Windows 10/8/7

Abby Haines updated on Sep 17, 2019 to Resource | How-to Articles

Summary

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.

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

"I have a 500 GB Western Digital external hard drive. It shows up in disk management and also in Windows Explorer. But when I tried to access its files, I got an I/O Device error saying 'The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.' How can I fix the I/O device erorr and regain control over my device?"

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

About I/O device error

An 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. 

Symptoms

If most of the cases, users encounter the I/O device error when they attempt to open a hard drive or external storage device. It also occurs when users try to initialize a disk showing "Disk 1 Not Initialized" in Disk Management. Generally, it will display "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error" in the prompt. But actually, there are other two messages that indicate an I/O device error. 

  • "Only part of a ReadProcessMemory or WriteProcessMemory request was completed."
  • I/O Error codes: error 6, error 21, error 103, error 105, error 131

When there is an I/O device error on your hard drive or other storage devices, you can't access the files on it and can't perform common operations like disk checking and formating.

Causes

The I/O device error could be caused by both minor connection issues or serious hardware damage on the storage medium. You may receive the error message "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error" due to:

  • Connection issue between your hard drive, USB, SD card and your computer
  • Driver letter conflict between the problematic storage device and the partition on your computer
  • Outdated device driver
  • Windows is trying to use a transfer mode that the hardware device cannot use
  • Your device is damaged or corrupted

With these main reasons in mind, now we can take the corresponding measures to fix the issue.

How to fix I/O device error on an external/internal hard drive, USB drive, SSD

Based on the underlying issue, you have the following solutions available to fix the I/O device error.

Method 1. Check the Hardware Connection

You can try these tips to check whether the I/O error is caused by a loose connection or faulty cable/USB port.

  • If there is another computer available, try to connect the same device to another computer.
  • Try to connect your hard drive or USB to another port (especially a rear one). If it's an SD card, try another card reader instead.
  • Change the USB cable

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

Method 2. Change the Drive Letter

Some of the users have reported the effectiveness of just changing the drive letter of the device that shows an I/O error. You can change the drive letter of a hard drive, USB, or SD card easily in Disk Management.

Step 1. Go to "This PC", right-click it and choose "Manage" > "Disk Management".

Step 2. Right-click your hard drive, USB or SD card and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths".

Step 3. In the new window, click "Change".

Step 4. Assign a new drive letter to your USB and click "OK".

Fix I/O device error - change drive letter

Method 3. Update or Reinstall the Device Driver

An outdated device driver has the potential to cause various issues related to 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 USB flash drive or external hard drive to PC, right-click on "This PC" (in Windows 10) and choose "Manage".

Step 2. Click "Device Manager" then expand “Disk drives”. Find and right-click the problematic USB drive and select "Update driver"

Step 3. Click "Search automatically search for driver software online".

Step 4. 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.

Fix I/O device error - update device driver

Method 4. Fix I/O device error by changing the transfer mode in IDE Channel Properties

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.

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". Typically, this channel is "Secondary IDE Channel".

Step 4. On the "Advanced Settings" tab, select "PIO Only" in the "Transfer Mode" box for the device that represents the appropriate drive. Typically, this is Device 0. Then, click "OK" and exit all windows.

Step 5. Test the drive and check if the message "the request could not be performed because of an I/O device error" has been removed.

Fix I/O device error - change transfer mode

Method 5. Fix I/O device error in Command Prompt

This option will run the chkdsk function to check and repair disk errors on the hard drive, USB drive, or other storage devices to fix I/O device error. But you may receive the error message "cannot open the volume for direct access" using CMD.

Step 1. Press  "Windows" Key and type: cmd to open the menu, right-click "Command Prompt" and choose 'Run as administrator' option.

Step 2. Click "Yes" when you are presented with a window requesting permission to launch the Command Prompt as Administrator.

Step 3. In the new Command Prompt window, type: chkdsk E: /f /r /x (replace E with the drive letter for your device).

If you don't have any technical know-how and want to minimize data risks, using third-party software could be a better choice. The Command line is suitable for computer professionals since wrong commands can cause severe problems. Therefore, we strongly recommend you to try an automatic command line alternative.

EaseUS Tool M is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. It's a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to solve your computer issues.

To fix file system error or disk error:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD EaseUS Tool M for Free and install it.

Step 2: Open the software and select "File Fixing" on the left pane. 

On the right pane, choose the drive and check off the box at the bottom - "Check and fix file system error". Then, click "Fix" to start repairing the error.

Step 3: Wait until the operation completes. Wait until the operation completes. After the operation completes, click the "View" button to check the drive. 

select the drive and check off file system error

Method 6. Send for Manual Repair

If none of the methods above helps to remove the I/O device error, you are recommended to send your device for manual repair because there may be serious damage on your hard drive, USB flash drive or memory card.

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:

Please notice that when the I/O device error occurs to your hard drive, the drive will show up on your PC but becomes inaccessible.

It's not a disaster but a fixable issue and you can even restore data from the hard drive with I/O device error with tips in the below.

Step 1. Run hard drive recovery software.

  • Launch and run EaseUS hard drive recovery software.
  • Select your hard drive which has I/O error.
  • Click Scan to scan and find your lost data.
Select hard drive to find data from I/O device error.

Step 2. Find data on the hard drive.

Wait for the program to scan and find your lost data from the right tabs:

  • Deleted Files: All your deleted files are listed here.
  • Drive (with your device name): It loads all found data on your drive there.
  • Lost Partition Files: Check first if it's for formatted recovery.
  • Extra Files: Finds all files that lost names or paths on your drive. (It suits your situation the most right now.)
Find lost data from hard drive with i/o error.

Step 3. Recover data from the hard drive.

Finally, choose the lost files you want to retrieve, click "Recover", and then specify another hard drive on your PC or external storage device to save your data. Afterward, click "OK" to start recovering your lost items.

Restore lost hard drive data from i/o error.

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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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

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"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

About Data Recovery Wizard

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