USB flash drive not working after Windows update
August 6, 2016 3:38 PM   Subscribe

While I was working on a document on a flash drive, Word told me I couldn't save the file to the location I had opened it from, a USB drive.

I saved it locally instead and attempted to eject and re-insert the drive to access the other files.

I hear the little chime that indicates a new USB device has been plugged in, but when I try to find it in File Explorer, it is faded. When I click on it a dialog box pops up asking "Please insert a disk into (G:)"

I have tried rebooting the original computer. No dice.

It doesn't work when I plug it into another computer, either, and I see the same behavior as described above.

Is there any way to recover the data on that drive? This question is from 5 years ago; are there any new tools since then?

(I will be backing up everything to the cloud from now on, GAHHHH)
posted by invokeuse to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add: the problem is most likely with the USB drive, not the computer; other USB devices and drives work perfectly fine.
posted by invokeuse at 4:13 PM on August 6, 2016

Best answer: The bad news is that USB drive failures are usually fast and unrecoverable. But not always:

First, try the drive on another machine. Even better, try it on a different OS if that is an option (Linux, in particular is good about reading drives that are filled with evil.)

You may want to check out something like Puppy Linux or one of the other "Pen Linux" variants. They are all very small (usually somewhere around 150mb) and can be burned to a CD or written to a USB drive with a program like Rufus.

This works very well, particularly if you aren't all that tech-savvy. The idea is that you aren't building or modifying anything in Linux, and you aren't doing any kind of complicated dual booting or anything like that. It's a self contained little universe that you can't really mess up because if anything goes wrong, you just reboot it and it's just like a fresh new install every time.

With this, you can plug in the offending USB drive, first to see if it mounts, and if it does, to open in a file management program (basically a tool to look at the different directories.) If you are very, very lucky, you might be able to see your old data, and if so, you can plug in a different USB drive to move it over.

If you aren't lucky, and the data doesn't show up, you can try to run things like fsck or chkdsk, but the problem with USB flash memory is that it when it is gone, it is almost always gone for good.

If Linux just isn't a world you want to delve into, try and find someone with a machine running OS X. Again; it might be able to ignore problems that Windows won't and let you get the files off before total USB failure.

In any event, I'd assume the drive is a lost cause and only use it for stuff you /really/ don't care about (think sneakernet, where you are just moving a big file from one computer to another, because you don't want to deal with getting them on the same network. Worst case, file doesn't copy and you throw the drive away.)

My fingers are crossed for you.
posted by quin at 5:10 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Unfortunately, the tools above didn't work for me, so I enlisted the services of a data recovery specialist, and it looks like they'll be able to recover a good chunk of what was on the drive.

Moral of the story: backups backups backups.
posted by invokeuse at 1:17 PM on September 7, 2016

« Older How can I frame my willingness to leave a job...   |   Help me make the giant egg rolls they sell at food... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.