Have you ever unplugged a USB drive while some files were still transferring only to discover that you’ve lost not just the files that were still in transfer but also files that were already on the USB drive? You certainly wouldn’t be the first person in the world, which is why we’ve decided to put together 4 ways how to recover deleted files from USB drives on Windows computers.
Reasons for USB Data Loss
In addition to unplugging a USB drive while it’s still in use, there are several other reasons why data sometimes disappears without warning from USB drives, including:
- ❓ Accidental file deletion
- 🐜 Malware infection
- ♻ Data fragmentation
- ⛔ Unsuitable conditions (too much moisture, heat, etc.)
- 💥 Hardware failure
- ❌ Software bug
- 😧 Problems with the supply of power to USB ports
But regardless of the reason for USB data loss, there are certain things you need to do to ensure that you can successfully recover deleted files from flash drives:
Now that you know the most common reasons for USB drive data loss and understand how you can ensure a successful recovery, it’s time to explain the 4 ways to recover files from flash drives we want you to know.
How to Recover Deleted Files from a USB Drive
1. Recover Deleted Files from USB Drive Using CMD
We’ve decided to start with this method not because it’s the easiest or the most effective, but because you don’t need to download any third-party tools to use it or have some data protection feature activated. CMD, better known as Command Prompt, is an integral part of all Windows installations, and it supports all the commands you need to follow the instructions below to completion.
- Connect the USB flash drive to your computer.
- Open the Start menu, type "cmd", and hit Enter on your keyboard.
- Type "chkdsk X: /f" in the Command Prompt window and hit Enter. Just make sure to replace “X” with the letter assigned to your USB flash drive.
- Finally, type "ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D X:*.*" and hit the Enter key (Again, replace “X” with the drive letter of the USB drive).
- Wait for the process to be completed.
Provided the method was successful, you should see all deleted files on a newly created folder on your USB drive.
2. Use the Restore Previous Versions Feature
Present in all recent versions of the Windows operating system (including Windows 7, 8, and 10), the Restore previous versions feature makes it possible to recover deleted files without any third-party tools, but it works only if you had enabled it before you deleted your files.
To recover deleted data from a USB flash drive:
- Connect the USB flash drive to your computer.
- Open the Start menu, type "This pc", and hit Enter on your keyboard.
- Right-click on your USB flash drive and select "Properties".
- Go to the "Previous Versions" tab and look at the list of available recovery options.
- Select a previous version and click "Restore".
If you see no previous versions, it means that you can’t use this method to recover deleted files from your flash drive. In that case, we recommend you move on to the third method, which is guaranteed to work no matter what.
3. Use Disk Drill to Restore Deleted Files from a USB Drive
We’ve left the best method on how to recover deleted files from USB drives for last. Disk Drill Data Recovery Software is a complete, professional-grade data recovery solution that’s so easy to pick up and use that even beginners who fear computers like vampires fear crosses can use it to recover their files in no time.
To recover deleted files from a USB flash drive:
Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill for Windows or Mac OS X.
Step 2. Connect your USB drive and launch Disk Drill.
Step 3. Click the "Search for lost data" button next to it.
Step 4. Preview the files you need to restore.
Step 5. Select which files you want Disk Drill to recover and click the "Recover" button.
Disk Drill scans your USB drive — or any other storage device for that matter — using state-of-the-art file recognition algorithms that can recognize even damaged files and resurrect them back to life. Disk Drill is free to try, and you can use it to recover up to 500MB of data without paying.
As you can see, recovering files with Disk Drill is extremely simple. But despite its simplicity, you would be hard-pressed to find a more reliable data recovery solution than Disk Drill.
4. Use Windows File Recovery to Get Back Your Deleted Files
In response to the substantial demand for third-party data recovery software like Disk Drill, Microsoft released its own data recovery application, called Windows File Recovery.
Windows File Recovery is available for Windows 10 version 2004 and higher, and you can use it to get back your deleted files from any USB drive. The only problem is that the tool doesn’t have a graphical user interface, so it’s not nearly as easy to use as Disk Drill.
To recover deleted data from a USB flash drive using Windows File Recovery:
- Download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store.
- Connect your USB flash drive to your computer and memorize the drive letter assigned to it.
- Open Windows Terminal or CMD as administrator.
- Enter the following command: Winfr E: C: /extensive (replace E: with the drive letter assigned to your USB flash drive and C: with the drive letter assigned to the storage device where you want to store recovered files.)
- Wait for Windows File Recovery to finish.
Just because you’ve lost important files doesn’t mean that there’s no way how to get them back. In this article, we’ve described three methods how to recover deleted files from flash drives, including a professional-grade data recovery solution called Disk Drill, and it’s up to you now to follow our instructions and save the day.