How to Fix Corrupted and Unreadable USB Flash Drives and Recover Data

The benefits of using a USB flash drive include its external portability and the no need for an Internet connection. USB drives are also an affordable alternative to online storage. However, USB drives are more prone to various problems, corruption, and unreadability. So how to fix this, let’s have a look.

Manifestation of corrupted and unreadable USB drives

A problem with your USB drive can make your files lost or inaccessible. Usually, a faulty USB drive manifests itself as follows:

  • The notice “Disk not formatted” appears in Windows.
  • USB hard drive appears as RAW
  • The hard disk will appear to be inaccessible in Windows.
  • Windows will show a RAW file system that is invalid.
  • The flash drive partition will start to display free space.
  • Windows may indicate that the hard drive cannot be accessed or that some files or folders are damaged or unreadable.
  • Windows may occasionally fail to recognize USB even when it is attached.

How much does it cost to repair a damaged USB

The cost of repairing a corrupted or unreadable USB flash drive is generally not very expensive. It depends on the complexity of the problem. The worst thing you can do is to get a new USB drive, but the USB itself is not expensive, it’s the files inside that are valuable. And we must realize one thing, not 100% of USB drives can be repaired. So before we repair the USB, so, let’s see the reasons for its corruption. There are two common problems with USB drives: one is logical corruption, and the other is physical corruption. There are many subdivided reasons for these two big reasons:

physical corruption:

The USB’s connector is damaged or any other physical damage.

The computer’s ports are broken.

logical corruption:

The system hard drive and the USB drive letter conflict with each other.

The sudden removal of the USB drive causes USB corruption.

USB drives are infected by malware and viruses.

The file system has been harmed, rendering USB unreadable.

Unreadable USB can be caused by damaged partitions.

Internal file faults prevent Windows from being able to recognize or read USB.

Unexpected power interruptions.

Bad sectors in USB prohibit it from being detected or read.

USB driver failure.

How to fix corrupted and unreadable USB drives

It’s important to note that the method of repairing a USB flash drive does not guarantee data recovery, and it may either make it possible for you to access your contents or result in their loss.

Check the physical damage

If you suspect physical damage to the USB, check for cracks or other suspicious marks. If the damage is severe, you will need to replace the USB with a new one. You can try to straighten the bent USB memory carefully. Please be careful in your attempts as it is very likely that the USB will break.

Try it with another Computer

This is a rare situation, but it can happen. The USB flash drive is not recognized by the computer due to a problem with the computer’s port, so you just need to change to a computer with a working port to read the USB flash drive.

USB ports

Reinstall the drivers 

Sometimes the USB driver will become corrupt, making it impossible for the computer to recognize your storage device. Reinstalling the driver is as simple as following these steps: 

Right-click the Start icon > Select “Device Manager” from the menu.

device manager

From the list, double-click Disk devices > Right-click the USB drive’s name.

Choose “Uninstall.” > Select OK.

uninstall device

Unplug the USB and start your computer again.

Then connect the USB to the computer again, and the computer updates the driver.

Change the drive letter

When the USB letter conflicts with the system letter, the USB drive will be undetected. So, we can change the USB letter so that we can access the USB.

Right-click the Start icon > Select “Device Manager” from the menu.

device manager

Right-click the USB’s drive letter > click Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Click Assigned Drive Letter > Change It

Select the new drive letter from the drop-down list.

Try using Windows Explorer to access the USB when these steps are complete.

Use the disk checking tool in Windows File Explorer

This is a built-in tool that can check the bad sectors.

Connect the USB drive to the computer > launch Windows File Explorer.

Select this PC > the USB drive letter  > Select Properties.

disk checking tool

If you don’t have any problems with your USB, there will be a pop-up window to prompt you.

scan and repair drive

Use “chkdsk” to repair 

Step 1: Connect the USB to the computer.

Step 2: Go to the Start menu > type cmd in the search box.

Step 3: Right-click on Command Prompt > Select Run as Administrator.  

Step 4: In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk /X /f *: (replace * with the drive letter of the USB) > Click Enter (The chkdsk operation will begin repairing the damaged USB drive.)


Format the USB drive with Disk Management

Warning, this method will erase your files. After connecting the USB flash drive to the computer, you will find that the USB flash drive does not show any files, and the system will pop up an error message. It is indicating that the format of the files in the USB flash drive is in raw format. This is because of some of the reasons we mentioned above, such as a virus in the USB flash drive, suddenly pulling out the USB flash drive, USB flash drive partitioning problems, etc. So the solution is to format the USB drive.

Right-click the Start icon > Disk Management.

disk management

Find the USB drive letter, right-click the drive letter > and select Format.

DISK management

Select the file system type > click OK.

Click OK to start formatting.

Create a New Partition with Disk Management

If formatting the USB drive does not solve your problem. Then we can create a new partition for the unreadable USB disk. This might be able to bring the USB disk back to normal.

Step 1: Just like the way how to format the USB, click the Start icon > click Disk management

Step 2: Find your corrupted USB drive > right-click and select “Delete Volume”.

Step 3: Confirm the deletion. Once the USB flash drive becomes unallocated space, right-click on the unallocated space > select “New Simple Volume”. 

New Simple Volume

Step 4: Rename the drive > and set the file system on the USB drive to FAT32/NTFS > Follow the instructions to create a new partition.

How to recover files in a corrupted and unreadable USB drive

Data loss is common after repairing corrupted or unreadable USB flash drive issues. Then how to recover the data inside becomes extremely important. The good news is there are many excellent recovery software out on the market. They can help you recover your files in the damaged USB flash drive by one-click. For example, ONERECOVEY. It runs on Windows and recovers data from various storage devices, like your corrupted USB flash drive. In addition, it helps you recover various file types, which include photos, videos, documents, etc. in just a few minutes.

the homepage of ONERECOVERY

Just in three steps, you can recover files freely:

the 3-step to recover file from a usb flash drive with ONERECOVERY

How to Prevent Future Damage to Your USB Flash Drive

Developing good usage habits that can minimize the possibility of losing data. USB drive is not very durable, so we have to use it carefully. It can be easily damaged if not handled properly. Here are some suggestions to enable you to better protect your USB drive:

  • Don’t put the USB drive alone in your bag so that it doesn’t bump into other things.
  • Avoid extreme heat or humidity, as both can lead to USB drive failure or data corruption.
  • When not using your USB drive, remove the drive from the computer and close the cover to protect the connector.
  • Unplug and plug the USB drive correctly and do not pull out the USB drive abruptly.
  • Enable your computer’s defender features to ensure that your computer is not attacked by viruses.


Above are the solutions that we have provided you for the corrupted or unreadable USB drive. The most important thing is how to recover the files inside, using a third-party recovery software such as ONERECOVERY can make you half the effort with twice the result!


Which is the best recovery software when the USB is corrupted?

Actually, most of the software offers free trials. But some of these software are not safe. I recommend ONERECOVERY to you. It is absolutely safe to use, has a high recovery success rate, simple and effective. You can also use it to recover files from other devices.

Can these methods be used for damaged CF cards?

The above methods definitely work when your CF card is damaged or unreadable.

Can all the file types be supported by the recovery software?

Most USB recovery software normally allows you to recover a wide variety of file types, including documents, photos, videos, audio files, archives, and more.

Further readings

How to Recover Files from a Formatted USB Flash Drive?

How To Recover Files From a Corrupted CF Card?

How To Recover Data From a Dead External Hard Drive?

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