USB flash drive, also known as a pen drive, memory stick, is a portable storage device that we usually use to back up photos, video, files or transfer files between two computers. We trust USB drive with our important files, photos, videos; however, sometimes files on USB drive get deleted or lost for various reasons.
How can I recover files from USB drive? This post will give you two USB data recovery methods to recover deleted files from a USB 3.0/2.0 flash drive with or without software. The data recovery methods work for all USB flash drives, such as SanDisk, Kingston, Patriot, PNY, Samsung, Transcend, Toshiba, Sony, Lexar, etc.
Unlike files on your Windows or Mac computer, the deleted files from USB drive do not go to Recycle Bin or Trash. Instead, they will be directly deleted and therefore, it is hard to recover deleted files from USB. However, this doesn't mean that USB data recovery is impossible. Quite the opposite, deleted data can be found and recovered from USB flash drive with the right method and tool.
In fact, when you add a new file on a flash drive, information about the file(such as in which sectors the file is stored), is recorded in a table (e.g. File Allocation Table in FAT file system). When a file is deleted from the USB flash drive, only its record is erased from the USB drive while the content of the file still remains in the original sectors. By erasing the record of the file, the USB drive marks the sectors occupied by the deleted files as available free space, which any new file can write into.
If we can locate where the deleted files are in the USB drive and recover the files before new files write over them, the deleted files can be retrieved. And that's what a USB data recovery tool (opens new window) is for - following a smart algorithm, the tool can scan a USB drive for deleted files and recover the files to their original formats so that you can read or use them again.
Now that you have known where the files go after they are deleted from USB drive, to get back the lost data, you should:
- Stop using the USB flash drive, including not to add, create or move files on the USB drive, not to start programs on the drive, and not to format the drive, in case that the deleted files are written over by new files.
- Perform USB file recovery as soon as possible. The sooner you act, the more likely the files can be recovered.
The best way to recover files from a flash drive is by using a USB data recovery software because it supports flash drive file recovery in different situations. Here we will introduce FonePaw Data Recovery (opens new window), a tool that can recover files from USB drives of different file systems: FAT32, exFAT, NTFS on Windows, and APFS, HFS+ on macOS. and. Both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 flash drives are supported. It can be applied to USB flash drive recovery in the following situations:
- Recover accidentally deleted files from flash drive;
- The USB flash drive is virus affected and all data are lost;
- The USB drive is corrupted because it is unmounted improperly;
- The file system is RAW. You have formatted the USB drive and all files are deleted;
- The drive cannot be recognized by computer so that you cannot access files on the thumb drive;
- Lose files when transferring the files from USB flash drive to other devices.
The FonePaw USB recovery tool supports data recovery for all kinds of data, including photos(PNG, JPG, etc.), videos, music, documents(DOC, PDF, EXCEL, RAR, etc.).
In addition to thumb drive recovery, FonePaw Data Recovery can also restore files from USB external hard drive, SD card, computer hard disk, camera and more.
Step-to-step guide on USB drive recovery
Tip: If you have deleted files from USB flash drive and want to recover it, or you want to recover files from a formatted thumb drive, do not move new files to the drive. Otherwise, the deleted files on the USB drive will be overwritten.
Step 1 Download and install FonePaw Data Recovery on a Windows PC. The free trial version is available.
Step 2 Plug your USB drive into computer even if it cannot be detected by computer. Then start the flash drive recovery program, you will find the connected USB flash drive under Removable Drive (If you don't see it, click the refresh button.) Select it and check all kinds of files you want to recover from the USB drive. For example, you have photos deleted from the flash drive, check the box of Images.
Step 3 Then click Scan. The USB recovery tool will begin to analyze the USB flash drive and try to recover data. Applying a precise algorithm for USB data recovery, the program will first perform Quick Scan on your USB drive and find out files that are recently deleted or lost. When the Quick Scan stops, view the flash drive files by types or folders.
Step 4 If you cannot find the deleted files that you need, click Deep Scan to dig deeper for more files from the USB flash drive. (Deep Scan could take a really long time with a USB drive of large storage capacity. When the program finds out the files that you need, you can pause Deep Scan any time.)
Step 5 Select the files > click Recover > select a folder. The files will be back to the folder you have selected.
After mistakenly delete a file from flash drive, many users might wish there is a button to undelete files on USB drive so that they can recover the files without any software. Although there is no such a magic button, there is a way to recover files from USB flash drive without software. However, you should know that it is hard to recover data from flash drive without software and there is no guarantee that the following method will 100% work. If the files are really important to you, you should recover the files with a professional USB data recovery software (opens new window).
Step 1 Connect your flash drive to computer. Make sure it can be recognized by the PC.
Step 2 Open Command Prompt on your Windows PC. You can press Windows Key + R, then type cmd to open it.
Step 3 Type ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D G:. G is the USB drive letter. Replace G with the drive letter of your USB drive.
Step 4 Hit Enter.
Then open the flash drive and see if the files are back. If not, you should get back the deleted files with a flash drive data recovery program.