Tips To Recover Deleted Files From A USB Drive

Mary Joseph
Mary Joseph July 20, 2023
Updated 2023/07/23 at 10:33 AM
How to discover files from flash drive

Flash drive technology is widely used to expand storage capacity in computers and mobile devices, and it goes by various names such as thumb drives, memory sticks, pen drives, and USB sticks.

Many people depend on these portable storage devices to store and safeguard their data, including music, photos, videos, and more. However, it is important to note that flash drives are just as prone to data loss as other storage methods.

Have you ever wondered about the consequences of deleting a file? Well, there are two types of deletions. The first type occurs when your files are sent to the Recycle Bin, which is similar to throwing something in a trash can—it’s no longer visible, but not completely erased.

The second type, called permanent deletion, happens when your files bypass the Recycle Bin.

The good news is that even when a file is permanently deleted, it isn’t immediately obliterated. The space it previously occupied is marked as available, but the original data remains intact until it is overwritten by new data. Therefore, technically speaking, there is a period of time during which the file can be recovered before it is overwritten.

However, there is no need to lose hope! In many cases, data recovery remains feasible, particularly when one or more of the following circumstances work in your favour:

Tips To Recover Deleted Files From A USB Drive

Verify The File’s Earlier Versions:

The Windows operating system offers a functionality called “Restore Previous Versions,” which enables you to retrieve files that were deleted or lost from your flash drive. This feature encompasses backups generated by File History and System Restore, allowing you to go back in time and recover your data.

This tool is extremely useful for retrieving files like documents, photos, or any other deleted or lost files. However, it’s important to note that in order for this time-travel technique to be effective, you must have activated the feature prior to losing the files. Additionally, external storage devices are not automatically covered.

To retrieve a previous version of your lost file using the “Restore Previous Versions” feature, follow these steps:

  • Launch File Explorer and locate the external storage device where your lost files were stored.
  • Right-click on the folder within this device and choose the “Properties” option.
  • Go to the tab labelled “Previous Versions” and select the version that you believe contains the desired file. Then, click on “Open in File History” to verify if it is indeed the correct version.
  • Choose the desired files for retrieval and press the “Restore” button in the colour green.

Utilize Data Recovery Software To Recover Deleted Files From Your Flash Drive:

Accidental file deletions are a frequent happening as USB files are often deleted directly, bypassing the Recycle Bin. To address this issue, one can utilize data recovery software to retrieve lost files in such situations.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that the reliability and effectiveness of data recovery software vary, and hence it is advisable to employ a reputable and extensively reviewed software tool to prevent additional data loss or harm.

Recovering deleted or lost files from USB flash drives can be effectively accomplished by utilizing a trustworthy USB data recovery tool. The crucial aspect lies in selecting the appropriate tool, and several factors should be taken into account before making a decision.

Firstly, the software should offer the capability to preview recoverable files, providing assurance and confidence in its reliability.

Compatibility is another crucial consideration. The chosen tool should support your specific Mac model (T2, M1), USB device, operating system, common file formats, and the file system used by your USB.

Moreover, reliable software should be regularly updated and include a comprehensive help manual to ensure ease of use and accessibility.

The recovery tool should be efficient, user-friendly, and capable of retrieving data from various types of data loss scenarios.

Additionally, engaging in a conversation with customer support regarding your specific case and the likelihood of successful recovery is advisable.

For those seeking completely free data recovery options, PhotoRec for Mac is worth exploring for users familiar with command lines, or alternatively, Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery. However, it is important to note that free tools often lack updates, support, and guaranteed effectiveness. If you are unsure where to start, iBoysoft Data Recovery is a recommended option to consider.

Fix Flash Drive Problems Using CMD:

Windows users have the option to utilize the Command Prompt for attempting the recovery of files from a flash drive. This can be done through two built-in commands: chkdsk and ATTRIB.

The chkdsk command is responsible for verifying and repairing the integrity of the file system, whereas the ATTRIB command enables the visibility of hidden files and folders.

To retrieve files using the Command Prompt (CMD), adhere to the following instructions:

  • Access the Command Prompt by pressing the Windows key + R and entering CMD into the search field. Alternatively, you can locate Command Prompt in the Start menu.
  • Hit Enter after typing the command chkdsk “drive letter”: /f.
  • Replace “drive letter” with the specific letter assigned to your flash drive.
  • After the completion of chkdsk, employ the subsequent command to retrieve the files that were lost on the drive: Execute ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D “drive letter”:

After the recovery is finished, a fresh directory will be generated on the USB drive containing the retrieved files. These files might be in CHK format and require renaming and saving before they can be used.

Get In Touch With A Data Recovery Service When A USB Device Is Physically Harmed:

Although you may feel inclined to handle the repair of your physically damaged external storage device on your own, it is crucial to consider that your attempts at repair could potentially worsen the situation instead of improving it.

Certainly, if the damage is only minor, such as a malfunctioning connector, you might be able to revive your drive by employing straightforward solutions like reinserting it or delicately cleaning the connector.

However, what about more extensive physical damage, such as a USB flash drive that has been excessively exposed to Coca-Cola?

If you find yourself in such circumstances, we advise you to consider engaging the expertise of professional data recovery services. Here’s a step-by-step guide to follow:

Conduct online research to locate data recovery services and ensure their credibility.

  • Get in touch with the selected service provider to gather information about their recovery procedures, how long they will take, and the cost involved.
  • Follow the service’s instructions on how to send the damaged USB drive to them.
  • Be patient while the data recovery process is carried out, as the duration will depend on the extent of the damage.
  • Once the data recovery is complete, carefully examine the retrieved data and receive the files in your preferred format if you are satisfied with the outcome.


Each person typically possesses one or two USB flash drives to transfer and store data. Nevertheless, these drives do not guarantee complete data safety. Even though USB devices tend to be more resilient than hard disk drives, they nevertheless have the potential to become corrupted when utilized with various machines.

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