How to recover a corrupted flash drive without formatting the data


You can use Windows tools to recover a corrupted flash drive or free recovery programs to recover lost files simply and without having to format the drive. Here’s how to do it.

You can try to recover a damaged flash drive in five ways: four of them involve Windows tools and the last one requires file recovery programs developed by third parties.

1. Use Error Checking

This is the basic Windows tool used to check and fix minor errors on storage drives. You can easily access it and use it to recover the flash drive if the device is not too damaged.

  1. Open Windows Explorer, right-click on the flash drive and then on “Properties”;
  2. Click on the “Tools” tab, “Error checking” and “Verify”;
  3. Click on “Check and repair the drive”;
  4. Windows will scan the flash drive and if it finds errors, it will correct them.

2. Use ChkDsk

ChkDsk is another Windows diagnostic tool, accessible through Command Prompt, the famous Windows CMD, which is used to execute commands in MS-DOS. ChkDsk offers parameters for deeper fixes than error checking.

  1. Type “cmd” in the Windows 10 or Windows 11 search bar and click “Command Prompt”; You can also access it by pressing the key combination “Windows + R”, typing “cmd” and pressing “Enter” in older versions of Windows.
  2. Type “chkdsk /r/f flashdriveletter: ” (without the quotes) and press “Enter”. For example, if the pendrive is D, type “chkdsk /r /fd:” ( without the quotes);
  3. ChkDsk will fix pen drive errors (/f parameter), locate bad sectors and try to fix them (/r parameter).

3. Enable your flash drive

In some cases, it is possible that Windows has disabled the recognition of your flash drive. So, here’s how to enable the drive again.

  1. Open Windows search and type “Device Manager” ;
  2. Search for “Disk drives”, select the flash drive, right-click and select the “Re-enable” option, if it is disabled.

There is also a possibility that your flash drive is outdated. In this case, repeat the previous step by step, but in the last step select the “update device” option, on the next screen, select “Search automatically for drivers ”.

4. Change your flash drive letter

Every device is recognized by a letter on the computer. In some cases, it is possible to correct problems by simply changing the letter by which the flash drive is recognized. To do this, do the following:

  1. Open Windows search and type “Create and format hard drive partitions” or “Disk Management”;
  2. In the “Disk Management” menu, select the flash drive, right-click, use the “Change drive letter and path” option. Set another letter for your flash drive.

5. Use file recoverers

If the flash drive cannot be recovered but is still recognized by Windows, you can try to save your files with programs designed for this purpose. Recuva, being free, is one of the best options.

See how to use it.

  1. Go to the Recuva website, download the program and install it. The process is quick;
  2. Plug your flash drive into your PC, open Recuva and in the “Device location” field, go to “In a specific location” and select your flash drive. It can be classified as letter D, E or some other. After selecting the device, select “Start” and continue with the file search process;
  3. The search process may take a while, due to the size and quantity of files found. After the process is completed, it will be possible to recover the found files. Just click on the “Recover” field.

Another free alternative is USB Disk Storage Format Tool, which offers similar functions to Recuva. As a third option to recover files, we have EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. Although the free version only allows you to recover 2 GB worth of files, it can be enough to resolve emergencies.

Disappearing files can be caused by viruses

Problems with files on a flash drive are not always related to drive corruption. In some cases, a virus may be causing the problems.


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