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  • How to View files on USB that says it needs reformatting

    Posted on LHiggins Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support PC hardware Questions: How to troubleshoot hardware problems How to View files on USB that says it needs reformatting

    This topic contains 11 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  anonymous 1 week, 1 day ago.

    • Author
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    • #1863038 Reply

      LHiggins
      AskWoody Plus

      I have a San Disk Cruzer Blade 16GB thumb drive that I am trying to view the contents of. I am running Windows 7 Home Premium on an older Lenovo Thinkpad. When I insert this USB, I get a message that it can’t be accessed until it is reformatted.

      Is there a way to see what is on the drive before I go ahead and reformat it? I did try chkdsk D: /f but that just told me that the files were RAW and couldn’t be accessed.

      I am pretty sure there are some files on this drive that I might want to access – but I can’t figure out a way around that formatting issue. I have used it in the past and never did any changes to the formatting, and it always has worked.

      It is the same behavior with both computers I use, and using all of my USB ports as well. Plus in the USB drive properties dialog, I can’t check the disk or make a back-up copy using the properties tools.

      Is there any alternative to reformatting? And if I do reformat – what will happen?  Will I then be able to use the whole drive again? I guess I may need to sacrifice whatever is on that disk in order to get access to it again.

      Thanks for any help anyone can offer!

    • #1863052 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      Is there any alternative to reformatting? And if I do reformat – what will happen? Will I then be able to use the whole drive again? I guess I may need to sacrifice whatever is on that disk in order to get access to it again.

      USB devices usually turn RAW when detached while in use (not using ‘Safely Remove Hardware’)
      There are tools that can attempt to rescue data from a RAW device, like : Easeus Data Recovery : https://www.easeus.com/datarecoverywizard/recover-raw-drive.htm

      Formatting the USB device will let you use it as usual.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1863180 Reply

        LHiggins
        AskWoody Plus

        Hi Alex,

        Thanks for the info. I did download Easeus and tried it. It identified my USB as “Lost Partition Files” with an orange band (not blue). The program ran but found no files and didn’t recover anything. It ran in 1 minute scans several times – always getting to zero seconds and then starting again.

        I tried it a second time with the same results. I guess whatever is on the drive is lost and I will need to go ahead and reformat it to be able to use it.

        But – I wonder if it is because I am using the trial version, and it is a 16GB drive, which may be pretty full. I think it said somewhere that the trial version can only recover 2gb of data? But it didn’t even do that, unfortunately.

        Thanks again for the suggestion!

        • #1863193 Reply

          mn–
          AskWoody Lounger

          This is one of those times when the best way is to take a full raw copy of the contents into a disk image file, and then work on that file… or copies of it…

          If the raw read has errors, you’ll know the device is broken in the hardware side.

          Oh and if the contents are actually *important*, the less you do to it yourself the more likely a professional data recovery service is to be able to recover something. Those services aren’t cheap, though.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1863200 Reply

      satrow
      AskWoody MVP

      If it were mine, I’d use TestDisk to recover the partition first, as most software will just parrot the Windows raw error message.

      Checkout the site for further help, also the main help .pdf and forum.

      HowTo from a 3rd party site, might be accurate still.

      From my experience, re-initialising/formatting a ‘raw’ drive/partition doesn’t necessarily mean all files are lost forever, depending (mainly?) on the cause, it might still be possible to do a full recovery.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1864161 Reply

        LHiggins
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks everyone for these links and information. I will look into these ideas, but the drive probably doesn’t have anything “critical” on it. I was just hoping for a way to see what was there and decide whether it was even worth trying to recover or if this was just a collection of duplicate files that I don’t really need.

        I had thought of the Linux idea, too and when I reboot into Linux I will give that a try, as well.

        ETA – somehow this posted out of order and I did want to acknowledge that it was Berton’s Linux suggestion below that I am referring to.

        Thanks so much!!

        LH

        • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by
           LHiggins.
    • #1863301 Reply

      Berton
      AskWoody_MVP

      Before giving up on a drive I check it in my Linux Mint computer, can work with more formats than Windows.

      Before you wonder "Am I doing things right," ask "Am I doing the right things?"

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1864648 Reply

        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        Speaking of Linux, I was going to suggest booting your computer to Linux Live and trying to read the flash drive from Linux.

        To boot to Linux Live, go to any of the Linux distro sites, download the latest Linux install file, and create a bootable DVD from the Linux install file. Then boot your computer to the DVD. You will boot into Linux Live, which is nothing more than Linux on a disk – in other words, you aren’t installing Linux on your computer, you’re simply running it from the DVD.

        Try to read the flash drive while running Linux Live. If successful, copy the files to your hard drive.

        When you’re all done with Linux Live, simply remove the DVD and reboot the computer.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1874327 Reply

          LHiggins
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks – I did try it on Linux. My laptop will boot from a full install on USB (a different one) – and it was the same thing in Linux – the drive was unreadable. But that was a great idea since it might have been an easy fix.

          • This reply was modified 1 week, 1 day ago by
             LHiggins.
    • #1871428 Reply

      rc primak
      AskWoody_MVP

      I have a friend from my old home town who used to recover Flash Drives and SD Cards by simply doing a Windows Quick Format on the drive. Most of the time this did not erase anything, but restored the file system (FAT or FAT32) making the drive readable again. If that failed, he recommended not reusing the drive, even if other methods could recover some of all of the data.

      -- rc primak

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1874338 Reply

      LHiggins
      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks for all of the ideas and suggestions. Nothing worked – so after some more searching around I found a suggested way to use the command prompt in Windows to do it.

      I wasn’t really sure if that would work, but it seems to have reformatted the USB and at least I can now use it. I could never see what was on it – probably not anything really important since I haven’t missed anything…yet!

      Thanks for all of the help and suggestions!

      • #1874421 Reply

        anonymous

        The steps in the article are also valid for newer versions of Windows.

        1 user thanked author for this post.

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