Have you ever inserted a USB stick into your PC or laptop, only to find it unreadable by your system? At that point, you might be wondering how to recover information from a broken flash drive? Before we answer that question, you should know there are a lot of reasons why this can happen, but there’s generally one term applied to that unfortunate state your card has fallen prey to — RAW.
When a flash device is found as RAW, it means, for whatever reason, the file system is damaged. Fortunately, you have a few options that can lead you to recover that data from a damaged USB drive. Let’s find out how we can take a RAW card/stick and recover any data found inside.
How a USB Stick Gets Damaged
There are a number of ways a USB stick can become damaged. One of the most common paths to an unreadable card is when it’s been removed from a computer or laptop, without first safely ejecting the device. Do this once or twice, and you might be lucky. Continue removing a card/stick without properly ejecting it from the operating system and the chances of the file system being unreadable increase exponentially.
Other reasons why cards and sticks become damaged include:
- 🦟 Virus or malware.
- 💾 Misoperation of the storage medium.
- 💿 Formatting failure.
- 🔌 Hardware malfunction.
- ⚡ A power surge or outage.
- 🚰 Water damage.
- 💀 Physical damage (bent or broken).
Clearly, there are a number of ways those cards and sticks can get damage. But how do you recover the data? Let’s find out. First, let’s look at methods for fixing a RAW USB device.
Different Solutions for Fixing RAW USB Drive
There are a number of ways to fix a RAW USB device. Some of those methods include the following:
|Fix Raw USB Drive||Format the SD/USB device|
|Fix Unreadable USB||Change the Drive letter of the USB device|
|Fix USB device not showing||Create a new volume on the USB device|
|Fix Broken USB port||Clean the port|
|Fix USB drive not detected||Install drivers|
|Fix bent USB||Try to reshape it|
|Fix infected USB||Run malware scan|
|Repair corrupted USB||Repair corruption|
|When all else fails||Use a data recovery service|
|Recover files from a RAW drive||Use a data recovery software|
|Fix read-only USB||Clear the read-only attribute|
|Fix disabled USB ports||Update the power settings|
In order to fix a Raw USB drive, you must format it. In Windows, follow these steps:
- Insert the USB device into the PC or laptop.
- Open the file manager.
- Right-click the entry for the RAW drive.
- Click Format.
- Select either FAT32 or NTFS from the File system drop-down.
- Give the device a name (label).
- Click Start.
Your USB drive might be unreadable, because of the assigned letter drive. To remedy this, insert the SD/USB device and change the drive letter by following these steps:
- Press the Windows key + X key combination.
- Click Disk Management.
- Right-click on the USB stick entry.
- Click “Change Drive Letter and Paths.”
- Click “Add”.
- Click the drop-down associated with Assign the following Drive letter.
- Select the desired drive letter.
- Click Ok to save the changes.
If your USB device isn’t showing up, you can fix this by inserting the USB device and creating a new volume on the device. Do by following these steps:
- Press the Windows key + X key combination.
- Click Disk Management.
- Click the entry for the RAW device.
- Right-click the Unallocated portion of the device in the bottom pane.
- Click New Simple Volume.
- Follow the user-friendly wizard.
If your USB port is not working you could try blowing canned air into the port to see if that solves the problem. If not, the port might have to be replaced (which means a trip to your local PC repair shop).
If your USB device requires the installation of special drivers, so it can be used by your operating system, you might need to re-install those drivers. For this you’ll need to download the drivers from the device manufacturer and install them as you would any application.
If your USB port is bent or broken and you cannot manually repair it, you’ll probably have to buy a new PC (if it’s the PC port) or USB device (if it’s the USB device that’s bent or broken).
If your USB stick is bent, you can try to carefully bend it back into shape. Use caution with this method. If you apply too much force, you could snap the circuit board inside, rendering your data unrecoverable.
How to Fix a USB Drive Infected With Malware
When a USB flash drive becomes infected with malware, it becomes unreliable and unreadable. What’s even worse is that a malware-infected USB flash drive can spread the infection to other devices, creating a devastating chain of data loss.
To check if your USB drive is really infected, you can use Windows Security:
- Open the Start menu and search for “Windows Security.”
- Select the Windows Security app.
- Go to Virus & threat protection.
- Choose Scan options.
- Select the Custom scan option.
- Click Scan now.
- Select your USB flash drive and click Select Folder.
- Wait for the scan to finish.
- Remove any threats found by the Windows Security app.
We also recommend you format the USB flash drive using the instructions provided earlier in this article. That way, you will definitely get rid of even the most persistent malware.
How to Fix a Corrupted USB Drive
A USB flash drive can become corrupted for many different reasons, including improper removal, software bugs, and power surges/outages.
Often, USB flash drive corruption triggers the “Repair this drive” window, which presents a convenient option to find and repair file system errors. Alternatively, you can tell Windows to repair the flash drive manually, by following these steps:
- Open File Explorer.
- Go to This PC.
- Right-click the corrupted USB flash drive and choose the Properties option.
- Navigate to the Tools tab.
- Click Check.
- Select the Scan and repair drive option.
- Wait for the Error Checking tool to repair your drive.
To avoid similar problems with USB drive corruption in the future, we recommend you always safely remove your drive before physically disconnecting it from your computer.
How to Fix a Read-only USB
When a USB is in read-only mode, you won’t be able to store any new data on it. Any attempt to write data to it will be met with a message stating “The disk is write-protected”.
In cases where your USB has a physical write-protection switch, you can simply move it to the unlocked position. However, if there is no physical switch you can toggle off, you must instead remove the “read-only” attribute currently associated with the USB device. Follow these steps:
- Right-click Start and click Windows PowerShell (Admin). For Windows 11 users, click Terminal (Admin).
- Type diskpart and press Enter.
- Type list disk and press Enter. Make note of your disk number.
- Type select disk *. Replace * with your disk number.
- Type attributes disk clear readonly and press Enter.
Once you do this, your USB will no longer be read-only and you can once again start storing files on it.
How to Fix Disabled USB Ports
To conserve power, Windows comes preconfigured to turn off the power supplied to USB ports that aren’t in use. While this is a good idea most of the time, sometimes it can lead to a problem where the USB port doesn’t work when you connect something to it.
Thankfully, this setting can be turned off and on at your convenience. If your USB isn’t showing up when you connect it, try following these steps:
- Open Control Panel.
- Click Hardware and Sound.
- Click Power Options.
- Click Change plan settings.
- Click Change advanced power settings.
- Expand USB settings, then USB selective suspend setting. Turn the options for On battery and Plugged in to Disabled. Click Apply then OK.
Data recovery specialists are remarkably adept at salvaging data, even from disks and devices that might seem too far gone for recovery. If you don’t have anyone in your city who specializes in data recovery, you can also take the task to an online service. There are quite a few such services, such as the CleverFiles Data Recovery Center, that can help you recover data from a seemingly impossible situation.
If you’re looking to know how to recover files from a broken flash drive, you’ve come to the right place. To recover data from a RAW USB device, you have options. One of the best options for broken flash drive data recovery is to make use of third-party software. One such tool is Disk Drill. Let’s find out how to get files off a broken flash drive with this tool.
Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill USB data recovery tool.
Step 2. Insert the USB device into your PC or laptop.
Step 3. Open Disk Drill and click on the entry for the damaged or unrecognized USB device.
Step 4. Select All recovery methods from the drop-down on the right side of the window and click Search for lost data.
Step 5. Allow Disk Drill to run and finish the scan of the USB device. If you pause or stop the scan before completion, you reduce the chances of a complete data recovery. Depending on how large your drive is, how much data is/was on it, and the speed of your computer, this scan could take some time.
Step 6. When the scan completes, Disk Drill might offer the opportunity to find even more data. If you find Disk Drill didn’t locate the number of files you expected to recover, click Scan entire disk and allow the tool to run a full scan of your USB device.
Step 7. When the scan completes, click Review found items.
Step 8. Expand each entry, under Found files, for all three types: Deep Scan, Found files, and Reconstructed, and Reconstructed. Keep expanding until you find the files you’re looking for. Before you select each item to recover, right-click the item in question and select Preview (or hover over the file listing and click the eye icon). If you find the file preview appears as expected, go ahead and click the associated checkbox for that item. Continue previewing and selecting files until you have all of them checked.
Step 9. Once all files are selected for recovery, click Recover.
Step 10. Select a location to house the recovered files. Do not select a destination that is the same drive as that which you are recovering from.
Step 11. Click OK and Disk Drill will recover the found files to the selected destination..
Congratulations, you’ve successfully recovered files from a broken or unreadable USB device.
If you’ve found that, no matter what you do, you cannot recover the files from that USB device, you’re not completely out of options. If the data on that card or stick is irreplaceable, and you must get it back, you can also take that device to a person or company that specializes in data recovery.