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How to Recover Data from USB Flash Drive Not Recognized

Home > HowTos > File Recovery Tips Updated by Mancy on June 17, 2024 | Approved by Jennifer Allen

Have you plugged in a USB flash drive only to discover that it's nowhere to be found on your computer? No familiar ding, no drive letter appearing, but "USB device not recognized" or other error messages, or even no response. This is a common issue that can be seriously frustrating, but don't panic.

In this blog post, we'll help you understand the problem and provide multiple methods to recover a USB drive that is not recognized. By the end, you'll know how to handle an unrecognized USB drive and protect your files for the future.

Why Your Flash Drive Isn't Recognized

The first step in solving any problem is understanding its root causes. It could be due to several reasons, like:

  • ⚠️ Driver Issues or Drive Letter Conflict:
  • If your computer isn't recognizing your USB drive, it might be due to outdated, corrupted, or missing drivers. Conflicts with drive letters can also cause this issue.
  • 🚫 File System Errors:
  • Improper ejections, sudden power loss, or software bugs can corrupt your file system, causing your computer to not recognize the flash drive.
  • 🧩 Physical Damage:
  • Firmware damage, water exposure, or general wear and tear can prevent your USB drive from connecting properly to your computer.

Understanding the root cause helps you take the right action to regain access to your files.

Preliminary Checks for USB Drive Recovery

Before diving into recovery methods, start with some simple checks. First, safely remove and reinsert the USB drive. This often resolves minor issues caused by loose connections or temporary glitches.

Next, inspect the physical connections. Ensure the USB port and flash drive are clean and free of debris. Try different USB ports or even another computer to see if the drive is recognized elsewhere. These basic steps can save you time and effort by ruling out simple problems.

How to Recover Data from USB Flash Drive Not Recognized

Now that we've covered the basics, let's move on to the meat of the matter - how to recover USB flash drive not recognized. There are several methods to do this, ranging from using specialized software to seeking professional help. We'll cover these methods in detail to ensure you have multiple options to choose from.

Method 1: Data Recovery Software

This is the simplest solution to deal with USB logic errors that cannot be recognized. In this section, we provide you with 2 effective tools.

I. Use iBeesoft Data Recovery

Best USB Flash Drive Recovery Software

(Trust Score 4.7 by 1695 Users)
  • Comprehensive solution for USB pen drive data recovery that can extract items even if your device is unrecognized, access is denied, or other serious issues arise.
  • It provides an efficient and user-friendly tool for restoring a wide range of data types, including photos, videos, documents, audio files, emails, and more.
  • In addition, it provides independent Mac and Windows versions for your convenience.
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Step-by-step to recover data from USB drive not recognized:

  1. Download and install iBeesoft Data Recovery from their official website.
  2. Launch it and click "go to settings" to select the type of files you want to recover (e.g., documents, photos, videos).

  3. Connect your unrecognized USB drive to the computer.
  4. Select this drive from the list of available devices and click "Scan."

  5. Once the scan is complete, review the list of found data and select the ones you need.
  6. Click "Recover" and save the files to a different location on your computer.

II. Use TestDisk

TestDisk is another excellent option, especially if you prefer open-source solutions. It's a bit more technical but equally effective.

Here's how to recover a USB drive that is not recognized:

  1. Download TestDisk.
  2. Unzip the archive file you obtained and double-click the executable file to launch it.
  3. Select "Create" to create a new log file.

  4. Choose the USB which is not detecting and select the partition table type.

  5. Select "Analyze" to scan for lost data.

  6. Follow the instructions to complete the process.

Method 2: Troubleshooting Techniques

Sometimes, the issue might not be with the file system errors but with the recognition of the drive itself. In such cases, troubleshooting techniques can come in handy.

I. Updating or Reinstalling USB Drivers

Outdated or corrupted drivers can prevent your USB drive from being recognized. Updating or reinstalling these drivers can often resolve the issue.

  1. Right-click on "This PC" and select "Manage."

  2. Navigate to "Device Manager."
  3. Double click the "Universal Serial Bus Controllers."
  4. Right-click on your USB device and select "Update driver" or "Uninstall device."

If you choose "Uninstall device," restart your computer. Windows will automatically reinstall the drivers.

II. Change the Drive Letter

Drive letter conflict can also prevent your USB drive from being recognized. To change it, follow the steps below.

  1. Right-click on "This PC" and select "Manage."
  2. Navigate to "Disk Management."
  3. Find your USB drive that is not recognized, right-click on it, and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths."

  4. Click "Change" and assign a new drive letter from the dropdown menu.
  5. Click "OK" to see if your drive is recognized.

III. Use the System's Built-in Checker (Windows and Mac)

Both Windows and Mac have built-in tools to check and repair your flash drive isn't recognized.

Windows 11/10/8/7:

  1. Right-click the unrecognized USB drive and choose "Properties" in the list.
  2. Go to the "Tools" and click "Check" under "Error checking."

  3. Follow the prompts to scan and repair your drive.

Mac:

  1. Open "Disk Utility."
  2. Select your USB drive from the list on the left.
  3. Click "First Aid" and then "Run."

IV. Use CHKDSK

This command can fix logical errors that might cause your USB drive to be unrecognized.

  1. Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  2. Type "chkdsk X: /f" (replace "X" with your USB drive letter) and press Enter.

  3. Wait for the process to complete and check if your USB is recognized.

You can also click here to learn more about USB Not Showing Up in Windows 11, 10, and more.

Method 3: Seeking Professional Help

If none of the above methods work, please consider professional recovery services. These services have specialized tools and expertise for recovering files from severely damaged or corrupted USB flash drives.

Look for a service with good reviews and a proven track record. While this option might be more expensive, it's often worth it if you have irreplaceable data on your USB drive.

Tips for Prevention and Future Considerations

It is always better to prevent your device from failing than to recover a USB drive not recognized. Here are some helpful tips:

Conclusion

Recovering a USB drive that is not recognized can be daunting, but armed with this guide, you're better prepared to tackle the issue. In addition, We've covered the common reasons why USB drives may not be recognized, pre-recovery steps, multiple recovery methods, and tips for preventing such accidents from happening again.

Remember, the key to successful unrecognized USB data recovery lies in acting quickly and methodically. Don't panic; follow the methods outlined in our guide, and you'll increase your chances of retrieving valuable data.

FAQs

  • First, try the following basic troubleshooting steps:

    1. Plug your flash drive into a different USB port.
    2. Restart your computer.
    3. Try the USB drive which is not detecting on another device.
    1. Right-click on 'This PC' or "My Computer."
    2. Click 'Manage.'
    3. Select 'Disk Management' from the sidebar.
    4. Check if your USB drive appears in the list. It might show as unallocated or with no drive letter.
    1. Check Disk Management: Right-click on 'This PC' > 'Manage' > 'Disk Management' to see if the USB drive appears.
    2. Update Drivers: Go to Device Manager and update the USB drivers.
    3. Change Drive Letter: If the drive appears in Disk Management, try assigning it a different letter.

    If all these methods fail, first use iBeesoft Data Recovery to recover an unrecognized USB drive and then format it to solve this problem.

  • Yes, several data recovery software for Mac or Windows can help:

    1. iBeesoft Data Recovery
    2. TestDisk
    3. Disk Drill

    These tools can scan your USB flash drive for recoverable files even if it's not recognized.

  • If your drive is physically damaged or you cannot use software to help you recover data from a flash drive that is not recognized, in this case, you can seek professional help, especially if the data is critical.