How to Recover Data from a Dead USB Flash Drive

Roxanne updated on Jul 17, 2019 to Resource | How-to Articles


A dead USB drive may refer to a USB in different states, like not showing up in Windows, showing missing in Disk Management, or truly dead. Depending on the specific status, you may have a chance to recover data from the dead USB using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and bring your device back to life after trying the fixes provided.

Applies To: USB drives including USB flash drive and external hard drives

My USB Drive Is Dead

"Hello, I have a dead Sandisk 4GB USB flash drive on which I have over two years of valuable files. When I insert the stick into a USB port, Windows finds the stick and says it is ready for use. However, I am not allowed to access the files on the USB drive. Is there any dead USB drive recovery solution that can help to recover data from a failed USB flash drive?"

What do you mean when you say a USB drive is dead? Is the USB drive not recognized in Windows after you trying all workable ways to fix it? Or is the USB flash drive showing online but not accessible, missing, not initialized, unreadable or no media in Disk Management? Actually, as long as your situation isn't "USB drive not showing up in Windows", you still have a chance to recover data from your "dead" USB drive and make it usable again, like the one described above.

To tell if a USB flash drive or USB hard drive is dead, you can go to "This PC" > "Manage" > "Disk Management" and check its status. Generally, you will find the dead USB drive in one of the following situations:

  • The USB drive is not showing up in Windows at all 
  • The USB shows "Online" in Disk Management but you cannot access its files
  • The USB shows "Missing", "Not Initialized", "Unreadable" or "No Media" in Disk Management

The first situation indicates a truly dead USB drive while the last two don't necessarily mean a failed device. Based on the specific situation you are in, the chances to perform successful dead USB drive recovery vary.

Overview of Dead USB Drive Recovery

Before introducing how to recover data from a dead or failed USB flash drive, you need to figure out whether the dead flash drive recovery is possible.

If you are in the first situation, you've probably got a dead USB drive. When your USB flash drive, external hard drive, or SD card is not detected or recognized due to physical damage, it is almost impossible to retrieve the data. A dead USB can only be fixed by specialists or be replaced with a new one. 

However, if you are in one of the last two scenarios, data recovery is possible before you sentence it as dead. In these two situations, your flash drive may NOT be physically broken but fails to work and becomes inaccessible due to other reasons like a raw file system, not formatted error, etc.

How to Recover Data from a "Dead" USB Drive

When your USB shows up as online in Disk Management, you can recover data from your dead USB directly and then fix it. While if your dead USB drive shows up as missing, not initialized, unreadable or no media, you need to fix the device according to the solutions provided below and then perform data recovery.

To recover data from the "dead" USB flash drive or USB hard drive, you need the help of third-party software. The reliable hard drive recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will help you recover data from your inaccessible USB drive. EaseUS data recovery software supports the data recovery from computers or external storage devices after deletion, formatting, or device becoming inaccessible.

To perform dead USB drive recovery:

Step 1. Choose the flash drive to scan.

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and choose your flash drive where you lost important files. Click "Scan" to start.

Scan flash drive

Step 2. Check and preview found flash drive data.

After a quick and advance scan, you can quickly locate a specific type of file by using the Filter feature as well as the Search.

  • Filter: A quick way to your wanted files.
  • Search: e.g. File name/file extension.
Find lost flash drive files

Step 3. Restore flash drive data.

After checking and finding lost flash drive files, select them and click Recover to restore. You shall save the found files to a safe location on your PC rather than to your flash drive.

Restore lost files from flash drive

How to Fix a "Dead" USB Drive

When your USB drive shows "Missing" in Disk Management, it's probably because your USB is damaged or disconnected and disconnected all of a sudden. In this case, reconnect your USB flash drive or USB hard drive and reactivate it (right-click the USB in Disk Management and choose "Reactivated Disk"). If this tip doesn't work, apply EaseUS data recovery software to rescue your data as much as possible.

USB drive shows "Not Initialized"? You can refer to the article about how to fix "disk not initialized" in Windows 10.

"Unreadable" or "No Media" can both caused by hardware issues or I/O device errors. To fix the problematic USB, read the articles about how to fix unreadable USB and "USB drive showing no media". Make sure your USB drive can be recognized by your computer properly and then perform data recovery.

The Bottom Line

If your USB remains the status of "Missing", "Not Initialized", "Unreadable" or "No Media" after your try the fixes, it's highly likely you have a truly dead USB drive that is beyond repair. If it's still under warranty, get it replaced. If not, switch to a new one instead

Was This Page Helpful?


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

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"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

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.