3 Simple & Effective Ways to Recover Deleted Files From a Flash Drive

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recover deleted files from flash drive

Flash drive technology is an extremely popular method of adding extra storage to a computer or mobile device. These small, portable storage devices are known by many names including thumb drive, memory stick, pen drive, and USB stick. Millions of users rely on USB flash drives or comparable removable storage devices to save and protect their data. Music, photos, videos, and other items are stored on flash drives from smartphones, cameras, and handheld devices.

A common problem with all forms of digital storage is the possibility of losing data that is important to you. It might happen because you accidentally deleted a file or folder. Maybe you realized you were missing some files after upgrading your device’s operating system or firmware. We are going to show you three ways to recover deleted files from flash drives. It is possible to bring back files you thought were permanently deleted.

Restore Deleted Files on Your Flash Drive Using Disk Drill

Data Recovery software is the first way we will consider to undo the effects of accidental file deletions or inadvertent flash drive formatting.

To have the best chance of recovering lost files and folders, you should stop using the flash drive as soon as you suspect data loss has occurred. This includes not using the drive to download and install Disk Drill.

Follow these steps to recover deleted files from a USB drive with Disk Drill.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Connect the flash drive to the computer. You should be able to attach it directly to your computer through a free USB port.
  3. Launch Disk Drill.recover deleted files from flash drive with disk drill
  4. Select the flash drive from the list of disks presented by the application. 
  5. Click the Search for lost data button to start Disk Drill’s scanning procedure. It interrogates the disk to identify recoverable files.recover deleted files from flash drive
  6. Review the list of files and select the ones you want to recover.

    Choose a new storage location for the files which is not on the USB drive.

    recover deleted files from usb

  7. Click the Recover button to restore the files to their new location.how to recover deleted files from usb

Disk Drill offers a comprehensive data recovery application that can restore deleted files from a flash drive by employing powerful scanning algorithms. They allow the tool to reconstruct files in hundreds of formats and return the files and documents you thought were erased. It can be used to recover data from virtually any storage device.

Recover Deleted Files From Flash Drive Using CMD

Windows users can use the command prompt to attempt file recovery from a flash drive.

To recover files using CMD, follow these steps.

  1. Open a command prompt by pressing Windows + R and typing CMD in the search box.
  2. Type chkdsk “drive letter”: /f and press the Enter key.
  3. Use this command to recover the lost files on the drive: ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D “drive letter”:*.*how to recover deleted files from flash drive without software

When recovery is complete a new folder will be created on the flash drive with the recovered files. They may be in CHK format and will need to be renamed and saved in order to be usable.

Restore a Previous Version of Files on Your Flash Drive

You can attempt to recover deleted files from a thumb drive by restoring a previous version of the files. This can be done in a number of ways.

If you are running Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7 you can use the built-in facility in the OS that allows the restoration of previous versions of a file or folder.

Here is a simple procedure to follow.

  1. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder that contained the files or folders you wish to recover.
  2. Right-click and select Restore previous versions.
  3. Select the version you want and click Open to verify it is the file you want to restore.
  4. Complete the restore by selecting the previous version you want and click Restore.how to recover deleted files from flash drive without software with previous version

Another way to restore a previous version of a file is through backups that have been previously created. The specific steps will vary depending on the method you use to make the backups, but the general procedure is the same.

  1. Fire up your backup tool.
  2. Search for the lost files or folders.
  3. Restore them from the backup storage media or the cloud.how to recover deleted files from flash drive without software via file history

Of course, to take advantage of this method you need to have a backup that contains the deleted items. Even if you take regular backups, newly created or modified files may not have been backed up before being accidentally deleted.

Advantages of Using USB Data Recovery Software

Data recovery software offers you the best chance to recover deleted files from USB drives. You can attempt to perform recovery without software using the methods described above, but they are an inferior solution to using data recovery software.

how to recover deleted files from usb

Recovering from a previous version or a backup forces you to use an outdated file that will not contain any changes made since the last backup. Recovery software goes after the actual data that was deleted and restores it the state it was in before deletion.

FAQ

Q: Where do deleted USB files go?

A:
Files deleted from your USB drive do not take up temporary residence in your Recycle or Trash Bin. They are essentially permanently deleted from a logical perspective. However, until they are overwritten, they can be recovered.

Q: Is it possible to recover important files from a corrupted flash drive?

A:
Yes. Using data recovery software makes it possible to restore files from a corrupted flash drive.

Q: How do I restore lost files on my USB without formatting it?

A:
There is no need to format your USB drive before attempting data recovery. You should avoid using the drive for any reason until the recovery is complete.

Protect Files on Your Flash Drive From Accidental Deletion

You can protect the files on your flash drives in a variety of ways. Some of the best are:

  • Backup the files – This task can be easily accomplished with the cloud backup option available with many mobile devices in which a flash drive is used. You can also use another physical storage device to create an extra copy of your data. Regular backups are key to data protection.
  • Label the flash drives – Clear labeling can help prevent accidental formatting or file deletion.
  • Keep your flash drives safe – Thumb drives can easily be lost or damaged if not cared for properly. This can lead to the loss of valuable and potentially irreplaceable data.

Most Common USB Flash Drive Issues

– USB Device not recognized

Solution: There are a few different ways to approach this issue.

  • Try a different USB port.
  • Completely power down your system and restart it.
  • Remove and reinstall or update the driver.
  • Try the device on a different computer.

– USB Flash Drive Showing “Disk Not Formatted”

Solution: Format the drive or try it on another computer. If you need the data on the drive, after formatting you can attempt to restore it with data recovery software.


– Connected Flash Drive is not detected in Windows

Solution: This problem can be caused by drive corruption, erroneous BIOS settings or compatibility issues. Try a different computer if available. Data recovery software may be able to rescue the data from the drive if it can identify it as a raw disk.

Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery professional, who has been with Pandorarecovery for nine years and has always been an essential part of the team. Jeff also works as a technical writer at Macgasm, being a first hand in testing, trying and writing about big and small tech software.