How to recover data from corrupt or unresponsive flash drive

Like the Hard drive, a USB flash drive stores data in its memory from which the operating system gets to fetch the data for use as required by the user. Its major advantage over the local hard disk is the size which makes it handier and frequently used.

Quite a number several things can be responsible for making the USB drive inaccessible among which are improper unmounting of the drive from the port and invalid data in the Master Boot Record (MBR) or Partition Boot Record (PBR) or directory structure on the USB drive.

Other reasons may be grouped into physical and logical corruption. Common physical corruption includes broken stems and connectors, dead drives due to no power supply, broken circuit or NAND gate, not recognised, RAW, need to format, and not accessible etc.  

Logical issues can be related to virus infections or improper unmounting.

To recover files from an unresponsive flash drive, the first thing to be considered is the reason for corruption or inaccessibility. Is it Logical or Physical?


For logical issues, all you need to do is to repair the file structure in order to make the USB  flash drive more accessible.

Follow the steps below to scan for logical issues on windows:

  • Insert the USB drive into the USB port of your system
  • Go to My Computer then Removable Disk Icon.
  • Right-click on the Removable Disk Icon to open its Properties
  • Click on the Tools tab.
  • Click on Check Now button.
  • You will be given two check disk options “Automatically fix file system errors” and “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors”.
  • Check both checkboxes.
  • Click Start. This initiates the scanning process.
  • Click Close after the scan process is completed

To carry out the repair function on Windows 7, take the following steps:

  • Insert the USB drive into the USB port of your system
  • Go to My Computer then click on Removable Disk Icon.
  • Right click the Removable Disk Icon and open its Properties
  • Click on the Tools tab.
  • Click “Rebuild” button
  • Let the scan process get completed. Close the scan window once it’s completed.
  • Right-click the icon of the USB flash drive and “Eject”. Then remove the drive from the USB port.


For physical issues such as a broken connector, circuit board, NAND memory chip of the drive, the hardware needs to be replaced or repaired. I strongly advise that you don’t attempt to do these yourself as it could make things worse.

Indications and solution to some common physical issues are as follows:

Error Message: “Please Insert Disk into Removable Disk”

This occurs because of a low grade of generic NAND memory chips or when the flash drive controller software becomes corrupt. With a frequent read and writes, the state of the drive turns worse. This condition can further be characterized by the drive size showing 0MB capacity and the Disk Manager would show a drive letter with No Media.

In this case, you need to search for manufacturers capable of performing USB data recovery or flash drive data recovery.

USB Flash Drive Undetected:

This can be because of the USB port of the system malfunctioning and not with the USB flash drive. To this end, before performing any test on the USB drive, it is important to make sure the USB port is functioning properly. This can be done by removing the USB device and rebooting the computer. Please note that all the ports on the computer system should be tested.

At times it could be that the copy of the OS running on the system is unable to recognize the USB device due to version limitations.

To fix an undetectable drive, all you need to do is run a drive recognition by taking the following steps:

  • Go to Start> Control Panel> Device Manager
  • Expand the list next to the “Disk Drives” option.
  • You can see a down-facing arrow over your USB drive. Double click it and choose the option to “Enable Device”.
  • Click Next.
  • Click ‘Next’ again.
  • Finally, click Finish.

After this, you would need to assign the drive letter following these steps:

  • Go to Start>Control Panel>System and Security>Administrative Tools then choose “Computer Management.”
  • Right, click the USB drive. Select the option to “Change Drive Letter and Paths.”
  • Click ADD and then click OK.
  • Now, assign any available drive letter to the USB drive by clicking it.
  • Right, click the USB to designate it as “Online.”

Broken Stems and Connectors, & Dead Drives (no power to the USB):

Whenever you get error messages like “USB device not recognised”, this means the silver USB connector is broken or the circuit board is damaged it leads to power supply cut-off to the USB.  In such case, soldering and circuit repair is required. It’s not advisable that you do it yourself as if anything goes wrong, you may permanently lose access to your USB and also, it’ll reduce the chances of getting your data successfully recovered or sometimes impossible. To deal with above physical errors, specialized equipment and expertise are required. So better you hand over it to some professional and let him deal with the chaos.

Fixing USB Drive logical Errors using Command Prompt

To do this, follow the steps below:

  • To start with, insert your USB flash drive.
  • Then search “cmd” in the Windows “Start Menu”.
  • Next press the “Enter” key button to access the Command Prompt.
  • Subsequently, in the popup window, type “chkdsk flash drive letter: /f “, such as “chkdsk E: /f”.
  • After that, press “Enter” button again.
  • Later Windows will start to scan and try to fix the logical errors.
  • Ultimately, if you get a message –” Windows has made corrections to the file system”, your USB flash drive has gotten fixed successfully. If not, you may be required to seek other methods

A USB Drive can become corrupt or unresponsive by any way of Logical or Physical issues. However, both ways can be fixed, and you can also securely use a professional USB data recovery tool like Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery – Professional to recover files after your USB Drive becomes Corrupt or Unresponsive.



Alabi Olusayo

A calm, calculative, and easy-going individual with the ability to perform excellently in any position of intellect. A web designer/ developer, Digital Marketer, Brand Manager, Content developer, and Affiliate Manager. He is more of a listener than a talker with the passion for and to do things of God.

I find myself contented with Godly and goodly blessings with relentless efforts towards fulfilling purpose.  

1 comment

Babatunde Olayemi

Babatunde Olayemi

This really help thanks

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