USB Unreadable: Recover Files from Corrupted/Unreadable USB Flash Drive

Tracy King updated on Oct 12, 2020 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles

The unreadable USB flash drive or pen drive is usually with a corruption issue. When a flash drive becomes unreadable, you need to determine first whether it results from a logical corruption or physical corruption. This page has answers to how to fix unreadable USB drive and how to recover data from an unreadable flash drive. The data recovery program you're going to use is EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

USB flash drive corruption would result in inaccessibility and unreadability issues. When your USB flash drive becomes unreadable, first of all, you need to determine whether it's a physical issue or a logical issue.

How to retrieve vital files present on the removable storage, regarding it's not open at all? Third-party data recovery software is applicable when there is only a logical corruption on the flash drive. Physical issues are much more complex, and data recovery software rarely works on this condition. You need to ask for a manual data recovery service for help.

How to Identify the USB Corruption Problem

You can try to determine how serious your storage device has been corrupted by observing symptoms and using disk check tools to run for errors.

Symptoms suggest for a logical corruption

Usually, it's about Master Boot Record (MBR) or Partition Boot Record (PBR) or directory structure corruption that comes with error messages. In this case:

Symptoms suggest for a physical corruption

While some common physical corruption issues are from broken stems and connectors, dead drives, broken circuit or NAND gate, etc. In this case:

  • The flash drive's light starts blinking, makes noise or unpleasant whirling sounds...

How to Recover Files from Logically Corrupted USB Flash Drive

Before you start to repair the corrupted, unreadable or unresponsive USB flash drive, it's highly recommended that you back up all your present data on the USB drive first. However, most people did not create a regular backup until it's not accessible at the moment.

Since you're not allowed to open an unreadable flash drive, the only way to fetch data is to find some professional USB file recovery software to help. EaseUS file recovery software supports data recovery in most commonplace scenarios, for example, the storage drive has been corrupted, become RAW, formatted, or even the whole disk partition has been removed. Download it for free, install and run it like a breeze, follow the guide below to retrieve files from a removable drive when Windows cannot read it.

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 Unreadable USB Flash Drive [3 Methods]

After obtaining data out of your corrupted USB drive, you can now repair it with a few methods below. Note that the given methods are for self-check and self-repair, if no errors were found at all, you need to fix a broken USB stick on the other page.

Method 1. Repair Logical Errors

Windows has an in-built repair tool, and it's able to scan common error issues on a disk drive and hopefully repair the found errors.

Step 1. Connect the flash drive to your computer system. Open My Computer/This PC.

Step 2. Right-click the Removable Disk that represents your flash drive, and then choose Properties.

Step 3. Under the Tools tab, click Check. It will then start the scan process.

Step 4. When finished, if any error was found, you can proceed with the wizard to fix it. 

repair unreadable usb flash drive in windows disk check utility

Step 5. Safely eject the flash drive. Re-connect it again. See if it's now readable.

Method 2. Format The Corrupted USB Device in Disk Management

Another way to make a corrupted or unreadable USB drive work again is to format it:

Step 1. Press Windows + R keys to bring up the Run box. Type: diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter.

Step 2. In Disk Management, locate the unreadable flash drive, check its disk information. If it's shown as Raw file system, right-click on it and choose Format...

Step 3. Choose a file system like NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT and the Perform a quick format checkbox

Do not skip the quick format option. Performing a quick format will erase data but it's recoverable by using the EaseUS software as mentioned.

format usb drive to fix unreadable issue in disk management

Method 3. Delete and Create a New Partition on the Corrupted USB Device

No luck with the former methods? Take it easy, proceed with the third method, the Disk Management tool will help you delete and create a new partition on the corrupted USB drive, and finally restore it to a normal state.

Step 1. In Disk Management (open it as method 2 instructed), locate the corrupted USB drive and right-click on it, select Delete Volume...

Step 2. Confirm to delete the volume on the USB drive by following onscreen guide.

Step 3. After the USB drive has become the unallocated space, right-click the unallocated space and select New Simple Volume...

create a new drive to fix unreadable issue in file explorer

Step 4. Then Rename the drive, set the file system to NTFS or FAT32 on the USB drive and follow onscreen guidelines to create a new partition on the USB drive. After this, you will be able to use the USB drive normally again.

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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

"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, so 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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