How to Recover Data from a Dead USB Flash Drive

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.

Table of Contents

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.

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 flash drive data

After the scanning is finished, 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 (Click "Filter" > Choose "Type/Time/Size" > Click Tree View on the left side).
  • 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

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Updated by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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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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