Table of contents

How to Recover Deleted Files from Thumb Drive

Home > HowTos > File Recovery Tips Updated by Nancy on July 10, 2024 | Approved by Anthony Spadafora

In the age of digital ephemera, where every valuable piece of data in thumb drives is but a fingertip away from potential loss, understanding the art of file recovery is akin to digital fortification. Accidental deletions or corruption can strike any moment, leaving us desperately seeking to restore order to our digital lives. But fear not! Using the right tools and knowledge to recover deleted files from thumb drive is not only possible but quite probable.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the various methods to reclaim your deleted items, explaining the do's and don'ts of USB thumb drive data recovery. You'll learn the step-by-step process of using both built-in features and third-party software to retrieve lost files on thumb drive. After reading this, you'll feel invigorated and confident enough to tackle the daunting data loss challenge.

Understanding the Thumb Drive and How Data Deletion Works

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it's crucial to understand what a thumb drive is and how data deletion on such a device actually works.

1. The Anatomy of a Thumb Drive

Also known as a flash drive or USB stick, a thumb drive is a portable storage device that employs flash memory to store data. This means it has no moving parts, making it durable and shock-resistant – a fact that becomes especially comforting when you realize you've accidentally deleted a critical file.

2. How Deletion Happens

When you delete a file from your thumb drive, it isn't thoroughly wiped from the device's memory. Instead, the file system marks the space occupied by that file as available for new data. Until this space is overwritten, the remove item remains intact. This is good news for us. This means that we stand a good chance of getting a deleted file back from a thumb drive as long as we don't delay our recovery efforts or overwrite the space.

Immediate Steps to Take After Accidental Deletion

Breathing room between the accidental deletion and the thumb drive file recovery attempt is the key to a successful restoration. Here are the steps you should act upon immediately.

Remember, the key to successful thumb drive data recovery is acting quickly and avoiding anything that might overwrite your deleted files.

How to Recover Deleted Files in Thumb Drive

If you've accidentally deleted files from a thumb drive, there are several methods you can take to attempt rescue:

Method 1: From Your Backup

Windows and macOS provide backup tools to prevent accidental loss of important data. If you have backed up your thumb drive before, finding the missing files will be easy. Here's how:

For Windows:

  1. Connect your thumb drive to a computer.
  2. Locate it in My Computer/This PC.
  3. Right-click on the drive and select 'Restore previous versions.'
  4. Select which version of the deleted file is included and click 'Restore.'

For macOS:

  1. Connect your backup disk to a Mac.
  2. Open the folder that once contained your deleted files in the thumb drive.
  3. Once Time Machine is open, you'll see a timeline or a series of 'snapshots' of your entire system on the right side of the screen.
  4. Use the timeline or up and down arrows to navigate through these snapshots and find the version of the file you want to recover.
  5. Once you've found the file, select it and press the "Restore" button.

Method 2: Using Command Prompt (only Windows)

The CMD method is a manual way to recover data from thumb drive free. Here's how to do it:

  1. Plug the thumb drive into your PC's USB port.
  2. Press the 'Windows + R' keys simultaneously to run the Run dialog.
  3. Type 'CMD' and press Enter.

  4. Type 'attrib -h -r -s /s /d #:\*.*'in the command prompt. (replace '#' with the letter of your thumb drive) and press Enter.

This process should resave deleted files to the thumb drive. However, this method may not work if the files have been overwritten or the drive has been formatted.

Method 3: Check the '.Trashes' Folder (only Mac)

It is a hidden folder on your thumb drive where deleted files are temporarily stored. So, you can access the '.Trashes' folder to recover deleted files from thumb drive on Mac. Here are the detailed steps:

  1. Connect the thumb drive to your Mac and open it.
  2. Press 'Command + Shift + . (period)' on your keyboard.
  3. Right-click on the '.Trashes' folder and select "Get Info."

  4. In the 'Sharing & Permissions' section, click the 'lock' icon to make changes.
  5. Enter your admin password when prompted.
  6. Set the privilege of 'everyone' to 'Read & Write.'
  7. Open this folder and view its contents.
  8. Copy the files you accidentally deleted and paste them to a safe location.

Method 4: Utilizing File Recovery Program

Specialized thumb drive data recovery software can help when the above methods fall short. It scans storage media for traces of lost or deleted files and reorganizes them. Here, you can try iBeesoft Data Recovery, which has powerful performance and is a must-have solution. Here are its features:

Best Thumb Drive Data Recovery Software

(Trust Score 4.7 by 1695 Users)
  • It doesn't matter how the data was lost — whether due to accidental deletion, formatting, or system crashes, it can get it back for you.
  • Quick Scan is great for swiftly recovering recently deleted files, while Deep Scan is ideal for more thorough searches, digging deeper to recover lost data from formatted or corrupted drives.
  • It can also repair damaged files, which is another key point that can ensure your successful USB thumb drive data recovery.
Download for Windows Download for macOS

So when your important data disappears, please try it immediately. Here is the step-by-step guide on how to recover deleted files from thumb drive in Windows 11/10 or macOS:

  1. Install the iBeesoft software on your computer (not the thumb drive).
  2. Connect the thumb drive to your computer.
  3. Select the thumb drive as the location to be scanned.

  4. After completing the scan, preview the found files.

  5. Select the ones you deleted and click 'Recover' to save them.

Method 5: Try Data Recovery Service

If you've tried using Windows or Mac data recovery software and haven't succeeded, it may be time to contact a professional service. They are professional organizations that specialize in retrieving data from damaged, failed, corrupted, or inaccessible storage devices. However, this method of undelete thumb drive is expensive and time-consuming. If the lost files are important enough, you can find them by searching.

Once your deleted files in the thumb drive are recovered, take the following measures to minimize the chance of future data loss.

Prevention Is Better Than USB Thumb Drive Data Recovery

The best way to recover from file loss is to avoid it in the first place. Here are some preventative measures to consider:


Facing data loss can be a stressful experience, but by arming yourself with the right knowledge, you can mitigate the damage and restore what's lost. Here's a guide to the most frequently asked questions about deleted file recovery from a thumb drive.

  • Most file types can be recovered as long as they haven't been completely overwritten. The thumb drive data recovery software can restore documents, images, videos, music, emails, and other common file types. However, encrypting files can be more challenging, depending on the encryption method.

  • The sooner, the better. The longer you wait, the higher the risk of a new file overwriting the space where your deleted files were stored. The best practice is to stop using the thumb drive to store new data until you've attempted recovery.

  • There is a range of thumb drive file recovery software, such as iBeesoft Data Recovery, Disk Drill, and Recuva. These programs offer different features, interfaces, and pricing, so it's important to research and find one that suits your needs and budget.

  • Yes, you can also restore folders that were accidentally deleted. When you recover a folder, the software will attempt to preserve the directory structure and file hierarchy as it was before deletion.

  • There's always a risk, but it's relatively small if you follow the correct recovery procedures. The key to successful recovery is taking prompt action and not using the drive for new data. Doing so minimizes the chance of overwriting the deleted files and maximizes the opportunity for complete retrieval.

  • If it doesn't recognize your thumb drive, try plugging it into another USB port or computer. Sometimes, a problem with the port or system can prevent detection. If it still doesn't appear, it may point to a more serious issue with the thumb drive, and professional recovery services might be the next step.

  • When used correctly, it will not harm your thumb drive. It performs read-only operations, meaning it only reads from the drive to avoid any potential for data corruption.


In the face of accidental file deletion on your thumb drive, despair is not an option. Armed with the practical method provided in this guide, you can approach the situation with pragmatism and a clear path toward USB thumb drive data recovery. Remember to act fast but not rashly – swift action is your ally, but hasty behavior can lead to further data loss. With patience and precision, you can often turn what seems like a digital disaster into a minor inconvenience.

Knowing how to recover deleted files from thumb drive is a skill worth learning. It not only safeguards your personal data but empowers you with control over your digital life. Rest easy knowing that even in the shadow of data loss, the means to recover are within your grasp. Your data's recovery might not always be a certainty, but now, armed with the knowledge from this guide, you are better prepared than most to face the challenge head-on.