2021 USB Data Recovery | How to Recover Files from USB [ 5 Ways]

If you’ve lost files on your USB drive due to accidental deletion, formatting, malware or any other reason, then don’t panic. Here’s 5 recovery methods you can use to get them back. For the easiest, download EaseUS Data Recovery software, which will help you restore the files and get you up and running in no time at all.

Table of Contents

Applies to: USB data recovery on USB flash drive, USB pen drive, external USB drives with USB 4.0/3.0/2.0 ports.

Is there any way to recover files from USB drives? This page covers everything that you need to know about USB data recovery. Follow our guide to learn how to recover USB data safely.

USB data recovery


USB Data Recovery Preparation - What to Do When You've Lost USB Files

USB drives are widely used to transfer and save files as they're portable, while also fast at reading and writing data. However, if you experience data loss on your USB drive, due to improper operations or unexpected errors, what should you do?

#1. Immediately stop using the USB drive on which the files were lost

  1. 1. Don't use the USB drive that held the lost files, as they are likely to still be stored there even though you can't see them. But, there is a good chance they could be overwritten if you continue using the drive.
  2. 2. Instead, use one of the 5 USB data recovery solutions outlined below. 

#2. Five ways to get back lost files on a USB drive

  1. #Method 1. Use USB Data Recovery Software - 97% Success Rate
  2. #Method 2. Use CMD Attrib Command - 80% Success Rate
  3. #Method 3. USB CMD Alternative Tool - 80% Success Rate
  4. #Method 4. Use USB File Backup - 50% Success Rate
  5. #Method 5. Use Previous Version - 20% or Less Success Rate

For beginners, we recommend using the USB File Recovery Software option explained in Method 1, as this is the easiest and most straightforward way to recover your files.

Method 1. How to find lost files on a USB drive using USB Data Recovery Software.

Applies to: All levels of Windows and USB drive users.

The simplest and most reliable way to get your files back is to use dedicated data recovery software. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is an excellent option due to its powerful tools and easy-to-understand interface.

See What EaseUS USB Data Recovery Software Can Do for You

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

  • 3 Steps to recover all files and folders from your USB device.
  • Recover lost or deleted files, documents, photos, audio, music, emails effectively
  • Recover deleted files from all brands of USB drives, like SanDisk, Seagate, Kingston, Toshiba, Samsung, etc.
  • Recover USB data from sudden deletion, formatting, hard drive corruption, virus attack, system crash, etc.

Download this 100% secure software suite and follow the tutorial below to start using the USB file recovery features. It only takes a few simple clicks.

Detailed Guide: 3 Steps to Recover Data from USB

Step 1. Run USB Data Recovery Software

Connect the USB flash drive to your computer and launch EaseUS USB data recovery software on your PC. Select the USB drive which is labeled as a removable disk, and click "Scan" to start looking for your lost files.

Select USB to scan and find lost files

Step 2. Scan and Search Lost Files on a USB Drive

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will thoroughly scan your USB flash drive and find all your lost data on it. When the scan process completes, use the Filter feature to filter by a specific file type. This program allows you to check and preview files found on your USB.

Scan USB drive to find lost files

Step 3. Restore All Lost Files from USB

A double-click will allow you to preview the scan results. Select the target files to restore and click "Recover" to save them to a secure location on your PC or other external storage devices.

Restore lost USB data

Note: After the recovery is complete, remember to save the restored files to another location and format the USB drive to make it safe to use once more.

Video Tutorial: Recover  from USB Flash Drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

You can also follow this video and run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to perform SD card recoveryrecover files from external hard drive, hardware RAID, SD card, memory cards, etc.

Method 2. Perform USB Data Recovery Using Command Prompt

Applies to: Advanced Windows users who know how to use CMD command very well.

Another method you can try is using the Command Prompt. This can recover data from a USB drive but does require a more hands-on approach. One limitation is that it only works on hidden files.

Step 1. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer.

Step 2. Run Command Prompt as an administrator.

Run command prompt as administrator

Step 3. Type attrib -h -r -s /s /d e:\*.* and hit "Enter".

Note: Replace e: with the drive letter of your USB flash drive or USB external hard drive.

Recover USB hidden files with CMD command

After the steps above, the hidden files on your USB will be visible again.

Method 3. Recover Hidden USB Files with CMD Alternative Tool

Apples to: Recover hidden files from USB flash drive or USB pen drives, SD card, etc., with a CMD alternative tool.

Manual execution of the command line is suitable for computer professionals, since incorrect commands can do more harm than good. Therefore, for security and usability, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative - EaseUS CleanGenius. It is a practical tool that enables you to check and fix file system errors, enable/disable write protection and update your system with one-click instead of typing intricate command lines.

Follow the simple steps below to show hidden files with this 1-click-fix software. 

Step 1.  DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenius for Free.

Step 2. Start EaseUS CleanGenius, choose "Optimization" on the left panel. Next, click "File Showing" on the right panel. 

show hidden files - step 2

Step 3. Select the hard drive and click "Execute".

file fixing - step 2

Step 4. After the operation completes, click the View button to check the hidden files. 

show hidden files - step 3

Method 4. Recover Lost Files from USB with Backup

Applies to: Recover lost or deleted files from USB drive with previously created backup.

If you have a backup of the lost data, you use it to recover the files, usually with a 100% success rate. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Find your USB data backup on your computer or external storage device.

Step 2. Locate and select your lost data from the backup.

Step 3. Copy and save the data back to your USB drive.

If you don't have a backup, then your best option is to return to Method 1 and use the EaseUS Data Recovery software.

Method 5. Recover USB Data from Previous Versions

Applies to: Recover USB data from the previous version on Windows. 

Windows has a useful feature called Previous Versions, which acts as a kind of system backup for files. It doesn't work all the time but is well worth trying.

Here are the steps:

Step 1. Connect the USB drive to your computer.

Step 2. Open This PC and right-click your USB drive, select "Properties". 

Step 3. Go to the Previous Versions tab, select an available previous version and click "Restore".

Note: This feature may not show up on the latest version of Windows 10 for some files. It also requires that File History is enabled before the data loss occurred. If this is the case, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can help you get back your files instead.

Causes of USB Data Loss

If you've successfully restored lost data from your USB flash drive or external hard drive, congratulations. Almost everyone has suffered from data loss at one time or another.

To prevent any future problems, it's a good idea to understand what can cause data loss issues. Here's a list of the most common culprits:

  • Accidental deletion
  • Careless formatting
  • Invalid file system error
  • Virus or malware infection
  • Hardware failure
  • Connection issue

So, if you want to keep your data safe on USB drives, follow the tip in the next section.

Bonus Tips: How to Back Up USB Data

Not only USB, other devices like hard drive, SD card, memory card, and more are also the places where data loss occurs.

It's always better to try and prevent data loss rather than recover from it. So here are some tips on how to avoid disaster on your USB drive, SD card, memory card, external hard drive, or other storage media.

#1. Create a backup of USB data regularly

To backup USB files, you have three options:

1. Turn to free file backup software for help; 2. Manually copy and paste files to another location; 3. Upload and save USB data to a Cloud drive.

We recommend you try the ever-reliable EaseUS Todo Backup software. With this, you can back up all the files on a USB drive to an internal or external storage device in only a few simple clicks:

Important Things:

  • Connect all of the USB or other external devices to your computer, PC, or laptop.
  • Download and launch EaseUS Todo Backup on your computer.

Then, follow the detailed steps below:

Step 1. Open EaseUS Todo Backup and select Disk/Partition to start.

Step 2. Select the USB drive you want to backup, then select another USB drive as the destination for the files.

select disk/partition backup

Basic Settings:

Sector by sector backup - Creates a backup of the complete contents of the drive. This can very useful when recovering from system crashes, but bear in mind that it will take longer to create due to the large amount of data being copied.

Destination - Click the folder icon to modify your backup destination.

Plan name and Description - Giving your backup an accurate plan name and appropriate description will help you easily find the right one if you need to restore data.

Advanced backup settings are useful when you want to create a flexible and automatic backup plan. 

A schedule is to create an automatic backup plan. 

Backup options are to edit the advanced parameters. Image-reserve strategy is to reserve the limited image as per image retention rule. 

Step 3. You can click proceed to start creating the backup.

select the usb as your destination

You may also be interested in: Auto Backup Files to External hard Drive.

#2. Deal with USB drive carefully

It's also a good idea to spend a little time maintaining your USB drives to ensure they remain in prime condition. Here are some simple things to try:

  • Set a valid file system for USB or USB flash drive. (FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT are acceptable.)
  • Run antivirus software to clean up viruses or malware on drives.
  • Connect and eject the USB drive from the PC properly.
  • Pay careful attention when deleting files or formatting drives.

The Bottom Line

In this article, we've covered 5 reliable USB data recovery methods that should help you salvage files that you thought may be lost forever.

If you want the most reliable solution that's fast and simple to use, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is an unmissable choice, as it outperforms its rivals thanks to its excellent performance. With it, you can recover data from various kinds of storage devices in different kinds of data loss situations.

If your data is precious, then protect it in the best way possible by adding EaseUS Data Recovery to your device.

We can reduce the chance of data loss, but we cannot eliminate the possibility of losing data. Thus, both the backup software and data recovery software are necessary to ensure data security.

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Updated by Gemma

Gemma is member of EaseUS team and has been committed to creating valuable content in fields about file recovery, partition management, and data backup etc for many years. She loves to help users solve various types of computer related issues.

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Approved by Martyn Casserly

Martyn Casserly has been involved with tech ever since the arrival of his ZX Spectrum back in the early 80s. He covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews. He is a professional content contributor for many known ITwebsites like Macworld.co.uk and techadvisor.com.

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