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USB Unreadable: Recover Files from Unreadable USB Flash Drive

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.

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Table of Contents

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 opening at all? Third-party EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard 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 in 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 seriously your storage device has been corrupted by observing symptoms and using disk check tools to run for errors.

Symptoms suggest a logical corruption

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

  • Windows reports the disk is not formatted continuously.
  • Your drive shows up as RAW, with an invalid RAW file system.
  • Your flash drive partition has been lost, showing as unallocated space.
  • Windows reports the drive is not accessible, the file or directory is corrupted or unreadable.

Symptoms suggest a physical corruption

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

  • The flash drive's light starts blinking and 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 Data Recovery Wizard 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, and follow the guide below to retrieve files from a USB drive when Windows cannot read it.

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Step 1. Run USB Data Recovery Software

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

Select USB/pen drive 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/pen drive and find all your lost data on it. When the scan process completes, use the Filter feature to find wanted files.

Scan USB flash drive/pen drive to find lost files

Step 3. Restore All Lost Files from USB

A double-click will allow you to preview the files. 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/pen drive data

Video Tutorial: Restoring Files from a Corrupted USB 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 you can't do it yourself, you can ask a professional disk repair and recovery service for help.

EaseUS Disk Repair and Recovery Services

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Consult with EaseUS data recovery experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after a FREE diagnosis.

  • Fix HDD, SSD, external hard drive, USB flash drive errors, and restore data from all RAID levels
  • Recover lost partitions that cannot be restored by data recovery software
  • Fix disks that cannot be read or accessed because of bad sectors
  • Fix disks that become GPT protected partitions
  • Wipe data, unformat hard drive, install/uninstall software or driver, etc.

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 the 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.

USB Corrupted and Unreadable FAQs

Why is your USB suddenly unreadable and corrupted? Get additional help here.

1. What causes a USB to be corrupted?

  • USB Flash Drives can be corrupted because of the causes below:
  • Unsafe ejection
  • Physical damage
  • Virus attacks

2. Can a corrupt USB Be Fixed?

Yes, you can repair a USB drive with simple solutions:

  • Repair USB errors with a manual repair service
  • Run CHKDSK to repair corrupt USB flash drives
  • Use a third-party fixing tool to fix USB errors
  • Reinstall USB drivers

3. How do I recover a corrupted USB?

You can recover corrupted files from USB with these steps:

  • Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  • Choose your USB drive where you lost important files
  • Click Scan to start
  • Locate a specific type of file by using the Filter feature
  • Find lost USB drive files, and click Recover to restore them

4. How do I uncorrupt my USB?

  • Connect the USB to your PC
  • Go to My Computer/This PC and then the USB Drive
  • Right-click the USB drive and select Properties
  • Click on the Tools tab
  • Click the Check button
  • Let the scan process complete, then close the window

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is one of the senior editors and data recovery specialists of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery tutorials on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is mainly good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization of RAID 0, 5, and 10.

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Written by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 10 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions to resolve Windows & Mac data recovery, data backup, partition management, data transfer, Windows update issues, etc.

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