How to Recover Files from Formatted USB Drive on Mac/Windows

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

USB drive is a portable device that we often use to store and carry important files. However, losing important files stored in the USB drive can be a nightmare. Whether you accidentally formatted a flash drive or it malfunctioned and wiped everything out, the feeling of loss can feel insurmountable! If you are really going through this disaster, please calm down. You can still recover files from formatted USB drive in Windows 11/10 and Mac. Here, I will guide you through the process and share some tips to prevent this from happening in the future.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. What Forces You to Perform the Formatted USB Drive Recovery?
Part 2. Can I Recover Files after Formatting USB Drive?
Part 3. How to Restore Data from a Formatted Flash Drive for Free
Part 5. Last Resort to Retrieve Files from Flash Drive after Formatted
Part 6. How to Fix Access Denied/Asked Format USB Drive without Formatting
Part 7. How to Prevent Your USB Drive from Being Formatted
Part 8. Frequently Asked Questions

What Forces You to Perform the Formatted USB Drive Recovery?

Intentionally or accidentally formatting your USB drive without a backup means losing all the items. It may be caused by the following:

Losing important data on a USB drive due to formatting can be a harrowing experience. But don't despair; use the suitable method and a little patience, and all your priceless memories will be stowed away safely in the USB drive again!

Can I Recover Files after Formatting USB Drive?

Usually, when the USB drive is formatted, all saved data will be cleared at one time in two ways. They are:

Low-level formatting differs from regular formatting and is typically done using the RM command or special, purpose-built tools. Usually, you have no reason to use this mode. So, you will easily restore a formatted USB drive on Mac or Windows PC.

How to Restore Data from a Formatted Flash Drive for Free

Have you ever experienced the pain of accidentally formatting your USB drive? This can be a horrible experience, leaving you helpless and hopeless for fear that you will lose all important files forever. The good news is that there are some ways to recover files from formatted USB drive free.

Use Command Prompt [For Windows]

By running specific commands against the drive, users can quickly and easily find any files that may still be left inside after formatting. However, you may find it difficult to follow commands if you are not technical. For this, you need to follow the following steps:

  1. In the search bar of Windows, type "cmd."
  2. Choose the "Command Prompt" App and click "Run as administrator."
  3. Typing the command as: "attrib -h -r -s /s /d F:*.*", the F is the drive letter.
  4. Now press "Enter" to complete the formatted USB data recovery process.

Use Command Line [For macOS]

Although macOS also has a command line tool (Terminal), no command is available to recover files from formatted USB drive on Mac. So, you need to download an open-source and powerful tool - TestDisk.

  1. First, download it from the official website and unzip the installation package.
  2. Find the "Testdisk" executable in the folder and open it.
  3. Select No log > your formatted drive > select drive type > Analyze.
  4. After the scan is complete, you will see a list of recoverable files.
  5. Hit the "C" key to select the erased items and follow the wizard to choose a save folder. Click "Y " to confirm.
  6. Finally, open the location where the files are saved to check them.

Above are the methods to recover data from formatted flash drive for free without backup. If you're unlucky, don't be discouraged. You can also use professional software to help you.

How Recover files from Formatted USB Drive with Software

With the correct tool, you can easily complete this task with just a few clicks. Here, you can use iBeesoft Data Recovery, which uses intelligent AI deep recovery technology to help you recover everything from text documents and spreadsheets to lost photos and videos you thought were gone forever. In addition, the best undelete or unformat flash drive tool can automatically repair damaged data before recovery and provides Windows and Mac versions. The best USB recovery software is the ideal solution when you need urgent data rescue.

Download for Windows Download for macOS

Recover Formatted USB Drive in Windows 10/11

  1. Launch iBeesoft Data Recovery and connect the formatted USB drive to your PC.
  2. Select your flash drive in the list of storage devices and click the "Scan" button to search for erased data.
  3. After scanning, you can select the items found on the result page and click the "Preview" button on the right to inspect the details.
  4. Select all the files you want to return and click on the "Recover" button in the bottom right corner.
  5. Choose a destination to store recovered files. After finishing saving, you will see all lost data there.

Recover Data from Formatted USB Flash Drive on Mac

  1. Install and open iBeesoft Mac data recovery software.
  2. Deselect the file types you don't want to retrieve and hit the "Start" button.
  3. Choose your formatted USB drive and click the "Scan" button
  4. Select the target files in the list of recoverable items and click the "Recover" button to save them.

If the wiped files are not entirely found, you can click Deep Scan to analyze your formatted USB drive for any remaining data thoroughly.

Other 5 Tools for Recover Formatted USB

With a super high recovery rate and simple interface, iBeesoft data recovery software is your best choice to recover files from a USB drive after formatting in Windows 10/11 and macOS. However, it is not the only option. There are many data recovery software available in the market. Here, we will list five famous ones for your reference.

  1. Microsoft File Recovery [Only Windows]
  2. It offers quick, efficient solutions for recovering lost files. It provides three recovery modes and can detect even the most deeply hidden data. Regardless of the reason for data loss, it helps you retrieve disappeared files from USB drives, disks, memory cards, or other storage devices.

    Fast scanning
    Knowledge of the command line is required to use
    No preview option is available
  3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard [Windows and Mac]
  4. This is an excellent option for those who need to recover files from formatted USB drive. The software can help you get back what was initially thought to be lost forever, whether it's photos, videos, documents, or any other file. It comes ready out-of-the-box for all levels of users; its sophisticated algorithms make restoration fast and easy for everyone.

    Easy to use
    It can save the scan results.
    Deep scan mode takes time.
  5. Stellar Data Recovery [Windows and Mac]
  6. It is an invaluable asset to anyone looking for USB drive formatted recovery. Whether it be valuable business documents or essential family photos, Stellar provides cutting-edge solutions to complex data loss issues. Time and again, its advanced tools have been a saving grace in the face of daunting recovery tasks.

    A powerful file-filtering option
    Support for dual monitors
    Poor video recovery
    The boot disk is not supported.
  7. PhotoRec [Windows, Mac, and Linux]
  8. PhotoRec is a versatile and powerful tool designed to help users recover lost or deleted data from various storage devices. It works with any file system, including FAR NTFS, exFAT, APFS, HFS+, EXT, and more.

    Open-source software
    Portable version available
    No GUI interface
    It cannot preview files before recovery.
  9. R-Studio [Windows, Mac, and Linux]
  10. It is one of the leading data recovery software solutions available today. It provides users with powerful scanning capabilities and a robust file recovery engine to recover deleted files in Windows 11, 10, and Mac, even if they were removed from an empty Recycle Bin. Additionally, it allows users to inspect disks deeply and extract data lost due to corrupted partitions, accidentally formatted drives, and virus attacks.

    Provides other useful options
    Supports multiple file types
    Difficult for novices to use
    Slow scan

Recovering files from a formatted USB flash drive without backup can be incredibly trying. However, you can use the software mentioned above to make the process easier. With these unique tools on your side, there's no need to worry about permanently losing those invaluable files on the USB drive!

Last Resort to Retrieve Files from Flash Drive after Formatted

You can only try data recovery services if all the above methods fail. Such services are available by specialized third-party technicians who bring the right tools and expertise to repair any damaged or lost data successfully. However, they are expensive and time-consuming.

  1. Type in data recovery providers through Google to find one near you.
  2. Briefly introduce your data loss situation by phone and wait for the assessment report and solution.
  3. Choose a solution and send your formatted drive to a service center.
  4. After waiting 3-5 days, you will receive the USB drive again, and all erased items will be saved on it again.

How to Fix Access Denied/Asked Format USB Drive without Formatting

The USB drive denies access, capacity is 0, file system shows as RAW, or requires formatting before it can be used can be frustrating, especially if the drive contains important information that you want to access. Don't worry, using CMD can fix this problem without formatting. The steps are:

  1. Run Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. Type "chkdsk F:/r"; the F is your USB drive letter.
  3. After completing the progress, you can open the drive and view your data.

How to Prevent Your USB Drive from Being Formatted

Accidentally or being forced to format your USB drive can be a pain; all the data stored on it can suddenly disappear instantly. Thankfully, you can take precautions to avoid accidental loss and damage of files due to formatting. For this, you can follow some valuable tips:

Following these steps will help keep your USB drive safe from accidental formatting.

Frequently Asked Questions

There can be many questions when recovering data from a formatted USB drive. Is the data still available? Can data all be recovered after erasing the flash drive? Is there anything special that needs to be taken care of to ensure a successful formatted USB recovery?... Here, we will list frequently asked questions about it to help you better.


Formatting an important USB drive without a backup can make you despair as all your files are suddenly inaccessible. Fortunately, this article provides effective methods to help you recover files from formatted drive on Mac or Windows PC. However, they are only remedies. The most important thing is that you should back up your data regularly and develop good usage habits to avoid such disasters from happening again.