Everybody has at least one USB flash drive, and we usually take them for granted. They’re our mobile data pack and host the files we need everywhere. Unfortunately, however, they also occasionally fail.

Thankfully, there are ways to get back missing files, fix corrupted file systems, and keep using most USB flash drives after a mishap. Multiple USB flash drive repair utilities can help you address many such problems.

Why replace a working device when you could “fix it” with straightforward USB flash drive repair software? Let’s see how!

When you can’t access your USB flash drive’s contents, the first thing to do is to ensure you eventually will. You should avoid using the device, for it could lead to further corruption. Instead, only “use it” with the proper USB flash drive repair tools depending on the problem, as we’ll see in this article.

How to Tell If Your USB Drive Needs Repairing

Does your computer refuse to detect your USB flash drive no matter what you try? Unfortunately, in such cases, there’s not much to do but recycle and replace the device.

If, however, your device is detected, you’ll probably be able to get your data back from it. Maybe you’ll even fully fix your USB flash drive and keep using it as if nothing happened.

What Are USB Repair Tools?

Multiple solutions fall under the somewhat vague term “USB repair tools”. The term covers:

  • Tools that come with the Operating System.
  • Third-party USB flash drive repair software specializing in data recovery.
  • “Live” Linux distributions.
  • Standalone backup solutions.
  • Third-party utilities that streamline or extend the functionality of built-in OS tools.

8 Best Tools to Repair Your USB Drive

The USB stick repair solutions we will see here are the best for dealing with multiple problems. If you know what you’re dealing with, feel free to pick the best USB flash drive repair tool for the issue at hand.

However, we’ve arranged and listed them in a logical progression that prioritizes the integrity of your data, minimizes the possibility of data loss, and maximizes recovery potential.

1. Clonezilla

To ensure the safety of the data in your USB flash drive, you should first take a complete backup of its contents, even if it’s unusable in its current state. That’s because if the problem’s source is your USB flash drive’s hardware (for example, its memory chips), more use translates to more wear and intensifies the problem. Having a backup will ensure that even if the situation gets any worse, you will still have options to recover your precious data.

There are many backup solutions you could go for, but Clonezilla is always at the very top or close. Download it from its official site, and use it to create a bootable CD, DVD, or USB flash drive.

  1. Boot from Clonezilla’s live media and choose the first option, Clonezilla live. CloneZilla's initial boot menu
  2. Pick the language and keyboard layout that you prefer. Then, choose Start Clonezilla. CloneZilla's interface language selection
  3. Select “device-image” to create and store a backup of your USB flash drive into an image file. CloneZilla's working mode selection
  4. Choose the device where you want to store the backup file. Selecting the target device in CloneZilla
  5. Skip any filesystem checks by choosing no-fsck. CloneZilla filesystem checking option
  6. Select the directory where you want to store the image file. CloneZilla's backup directory selection
  7. When asked, go for Beginner mode to hide Clonezilla’s “more advanced” options. CloneZilla offers both easy and advanced modes of operation
  8. Choose savedisk to clone everything in your USB flash drive into a backup image file. If you wish, you can tweak the produced file’s name. Choose in Copy Mode if you'll work with individual partitions or whole disks
  9. Choose your USB flash drive as the source. CloneZilla source device selection
  10. Leave any compression options as they are. CloneZilla compression algorithm selection
  11. Skip the filesystem checks for the source device as well. CloneZilla source filesystem checking for errors
  12. When asked, select Yes, check the saved image to ensure you’ll have a recoverable backup when the process completes. CloneZilla option to check the results after completion
  13. We suggest “Not to encrypt the image” when met with the option. Finally, choose what you want to happen after the process completes. CloneZilla's choice for next step after completion
  14. Type Y and press Enter to start the backup process. Then, give it some time to complete. CloneZilla backup in progress

After the process completes – and a reboot – you’ll find your backup in the device and folder you chose.

Did you decide to make a bootable USB flash drive for Clonezilla? Double-check you don’t absent-mindedly “burn” the downloaded image on the USB flash drive you want to backup!

2. Live Linux ISO

Sometimes operating system or automatic driver updates may introduce incompatibilities with particular hardware. To ensure you’re not dealing with such a problem, you can use a Linux distribution as a USB flash drive repair tool instead of an alternative operating system.

Let’s see how you can do it using the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. Start by downloading it from its official site and creating bootable media with it. Then, boot your PC from your new bootable media – you might have to check your motherboard’s manual to find how to do that.

  1. When Ubuntu’s installation wizard welcome screen appears, ignore “Install Ubuntu” and click on “Try Ubuntu”. Ubuntu installation media's "Try Ubuntu" option allows you to test-drive the distribution.
  2. After a short while, you’ll find yourself on Ubuntu’s default desktop. Click on Files from the icon dock on the left side of the screen. Use Ubuntu's Files app to access your storage devices and check your files.
  3. If your USB flash drive is accessible under Ubuntu, you’ll see it listed on the left, under a list of popular locations. Click on it to “Mount and open” it. If your Flash Drive appears on the bottom left, click on it to access it.
  4. If you can access your files, copy them to an HDD or other type of storage media. Make sure you’ve copied everything you need. Use Files to copy your files from your Flash Drive to another storage device.

After finally accessing your USB flash drive, are some files missing or corrupted? That’s where software specializing in data recovery can help, as we’ll see right next.

If you go for a different Linux distribution, check beforehand that its installation media offers a live desktop environment – many don’t.

3. Disk Drill

Disk Drill is a powerful but straightforward file recovery application worth adding to your USB stick repair utilities collection. We’ll zip through it and use it solely for recovering files from a non-accessible USB stick. Still, you can find out more about Disk Drill in our comprehensive review of this fantastic app.

Unlike Clonezilla, Disk Drill doesn’t copy everything off your USB flash drive. Instead, it allows you to select specific files that you want to recover from your USB flash drive.
  1. Download Disk Drill from its official site. Then, install it like any other app on your computer, and run it. Disk Drill's official site download link
  2. Select your USB flash drive from Disk Drill’s device list. Ensure “All recovery methods” is selected from the pulldown menu on the right. Click on “Search for lost data” to scan your device for files. Choose device to check from Disk Drill's list.
  3. Give Disk Drill some time to perform its scans. You can click at any time on “Review found items” to check the files Disk Drill has located. However, you will (probably) get an extended list of files if you allow Disk Drill to complete its scan. Click on Review Found Items to check Disk Drill's scan results.
  4. Place a checkmark next to the files you want to recover. If you want more information than their filename, right-click on them and choose Preview. Preview files to ensure you want them back.
  5. With all the files you want to get back selected, click on “Recover”. Then, choose where you want to recover them. Choose where Disk Drill will store the recovered files.
  6. After some time, Disk Drill will inform you it completed the data recovery process. Click on “Show recovered data in Explorer” to check out your files in Windows’ default file manager. Disk Drill will present the results of the recovery process.

We almost always choose Disk Drill for its unmatchable combination of features, ease of use, and solid results. Still, if it’s not your cup of tea, we’ve also covered many alternatives worth checking out.

4. GUI Error Checking

Windows 10 offers multiple paths that lead to the same error-checking tool. The quickest way to reach it is through the operating system’s File Explorer.

  1. Run File Explorer (Windows Key + E). Right-click on your flash drive from the list on the left, and choose Properties. Right-click on Flash Drive and choose Properties.
  2. Move to the Tools tab of the window that appears, and click on the Check button in the “Error checking” section. Click on Check in the Tools tab to scan the Flash Drive for errors.
  3. Click on “Scan and repair drive” to do precisely that. The dialog might look different from our screenshot since the USB drive we used for testing didn’t have actual errors. You can force a scan by choosing Scan and repair drive when asked.
  4. After a while, the Windows error-checking tool will inform you about the outcome of the process, successful or not. Windows Error Checking tool will present a short report of its results.
If the process fails, you can also skip the command line approach that follows. Although the graphical and command-line solutions appear different, they work similarly and don’t lead to different results. Which you use is purely a matter of preference.

5. CHKDSK

Checking your USB flash drive from the command line is equally easy.

  1. Press Windows Key + X to access Windows 10’s quick menu of administrative tools. From there, run Windows PowerShell with administrative privileges. Windows 10's admin tools quick-access menu
  2. Use the command get-psdrive -psprovider filesystem to see a list of all storage devices attached to the computer and locate your USB flash drive. Use command get-psdrive to locate your Flash Drive.
  3. Use chkdsk DRIVELETTER /r /f, where DRIVELETTER is the one of your USB flash drive, to check for and try to repair any errors on it. Use the command CHKDSK to check the drive for errors and repair them.

Even if repairing your USB flash drive fails, not all is lost. You might be able to reformat it to keep using it.

6. File Explorer Format

Even if the actual hardware of your USB flash drive is failing, maybe by reformatting it, you will be able to keep using it for a while. The quickest and easiest way to format your USB flash drive is once again through Windows 10’s File Explorer.

We must stress that you should stop storing essential data on the device in such cases – a total failure is only a matter of time. We suggest you order a replacement before the inevitable happens.
  1. Run File Explorer and right-click on your USB flash drive. Choose Format… The quickest path to a Format is through Windows File Explorer
  2. Windows 10’s format dialog will show up. Choose the filesystem you want to use (FAT32 is the most popular and widely supported option) and enter a volume label. Since you are dealing with a potentially problematic device that you want to check in its entirety, disable Quick Format. Click on Start to begin the Formatting process. Format process option dialog.
  3. You will see a final warning before formatting the device. Click on OK if you are sure you want to proceed. Windows warning about potential data loss before format.

7. Diskpart

If you’d prefer the feeling of control offered by the command-line, you can use Diskpart instead to format your USB stick:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to see Windows 10’s quick menu of administrative tools and, from there, run PowerShell with elevated privileges.
  2. Type diskpart and press Enter to run the app. Running diskpart in elevated PowerShell
  3. Use the command list disk to see the diskpart-compatible storage devices attached to the computer. Note the number of your USB flash drive. Use list disk command to pinpoint Flash Drive number.
  4. Choose your USB flash drive by typing select disk DISK_NUMBER, where DISK_NUMBER that of your USB flash drive you noted in the previous step. Choose Flash Drive with select disk command.
  5. Erase everything on your USB flash drive with the command clean. Fully erase Flash Drive with clean disk command.
  6. Make a new partition by typing create partition primary. Then, format it with format fs=fat32. Format Flash Drive through diskpart.

When the process completes, type exit and press Enter to quit Diskpart. You can then close PowerShell’s window.

8. HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool

HP offers a tool specifically for formatting USB flash drives, which many people prefer.

  1. Unfortunately, HP doesn’t offer an easily accessible link directly to its USB Disk Storage Format Tool. Your best bet is searching for it and downloading it from a trusted software repository, like Techspot. Download HP's Format Tool from a trusted source.
  2. HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool doesn’t need installation. However, what it does require are administrative rights. Thus, you should right-click on the file you downloaded and choose “Run as administrator” to run it. HP's Format Tool demands administrative rights.
  3. Ensure your USB flash drive is selected under “Device”, choose a file system, and enter a label. Disable Quick Format to format the whole storage, locating potential faults in the process. Set up format options in HP's Format Tool.
  4. Click “Yes” when the tool shows a final warning to proceed with the format. Acknowledge HP's Format Tool warning to proceed with the format.

FAQ