Retrieve data from a flaky flash drive?
September 2, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

The drive in F: is not formatted. LIES!

Somehow between yesterday and today my thumb drive got messed up, and Windows is claiming it isn't formatted. Is there software for Windows or Linux that will allow me to browse and recover some of the information from the thumbdrive?
posted by jsturgill to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't tried it, but this appears to have recovered files for some.
posted by nogero at 3:09 PM on September 2, 2011

R-Studio has always worked wonderfully for me, unfortunately is is a bit pricy at 79.99. You could save money by purchasing the NTFS or FAT only versions which are only 49.99.
posted by Harpocrates at 4:06 PM on September 2, 2011

Ditto nogero's suggestion—TestDisk is amazing when it comes to recovering partitions. I've never used it on a flash drive, but I've had success with it on a hard drive.
posted by limeonaire at 4:07 PM on September 2, 2011

Best answer: I'd make a block-for-block copy of it with Gnu ddrescue, then run ZAR against the copy.

Gnu ddrescue will alert you if the drive is taking itself offline when accessed, as this one did before I worked out how to encourage it not to.
posted by flabdablet at 4:10 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know this is often the bogus advice from people who know nothing, but did you try rebooting? When unplugging my USB drive from Win7 made Windows pop up a "Drive needs to be formatted" message. I rebooted windows, plugged it back in, and everything worked fine.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:29 PM on September 2, 2011

Test disk can do a lot. Note, it can't recover file names, so you'll lose those no matter what.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:44 PM on September 2, 2011

In my experience, you can use TestDisk to repair partition tables (don't know if this works on USB keys, as I said earlier) and you don't lose any filenames or other data. It just fixes the record that tells your computer where the partition is.
posted by limeonaire at 5:54 PM on September 2, 2011

Another option not mentioned: Have you actually tried Linux, and does it see the partition? Download the Ubuntu live CD and see if it recognizes the data. Quite often in situations like this, it does, and you can back it up to a disk recognized by Windows.
posted by drpynchon at 7:00 PM on September 2, 2011

Response by poster: TestDisk did not appear to detect the missing/corrupted partition information. ZAR costs money, but the free version was able to extract up to 4 folders, and I did not lose any data I care about (whew!). Thanks all.
posted by jsturgill at 7:58 PM on September 2, 2011

ZAR in trial mode will recover four folders on each run, and it won't stop you running it against any given disk as many times as you like. So if you're patient and cheap, you can eventually get the lot without paying.

Unusually for me, I paid. I quite like ZAR.
posted by flabdablet at 3:01 AM on September 3, 2011

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