Frequent error messages, slow performance, and missing data are all signs of a logically damaged USB drive. To repair your drive, you’ll need to employ the help of USB repair tools. And yes, there’s an abundance of such tools on the internet. So, to make your job easier, we’ve compiled a list of the 16 best tools you can use.
What is a USB Repair Tool and How to Select It
Broadly, USB drives are susceptible to two types of damage–physical damage, and logical damage. USB repair tools will only be able to assist you if your flash drive is logically damaged. When dealing with physical damage (such as bent connectors, a damaged NAND flash chip, water damage, and overheating), contact a professional USB repair service.
Common Logical Problems With USB Drives
USB drives are vulnerable to numerous logical issues. Each one has varying symptoms, but a common thread is data loss and the inability to write data to your drive. The USB repair program you use will depend on the issue you’re facing.
Use the following table as a guide:
|🗂️ Corrupted file system||You’re unable to read or write data to the USB drive, even though it’s detected by your PC. This can happen because of improper ejections, sudden power cuts, and PC crashes.||First, recover your data using data recovery software. Then, use CHKDSK to scan your USB drive.|
|🦠 Malware||Computer viruses can corrupt the USB’s files and the file system. Typically occurs when you connect the USB drive to an infected computer.||Use Windows Defender or a third-party antivirus program to scan your PC. After the scan, use data recovery software to get back any deleted files. After data recovery, you can reformat the drive to fix the file system and bad sectors.|
|📦 RAW file system||If your USB drive’s file system is missing entirely, or severely damaged, it will show up as RAW in Windows Disk Management.||Get back your data using data recovery software and then format the drive.|
|💿 Bad sectors||Over time, your USB drive will develop bad sectors. These are areas in its storage that cannot be accessed or used. Bad sectors are a part of prolonged usage of the drive, but can also be caused by improper use of the flash disk.||Recover your data using a data recovery program and then fix the drive using CHKDSK. If CHKDSK is unable to fix your drive, use one of the paid USB repair tools to detect and fix bad sectors on your flash drive.|
How to Recover Files From Your USB Flash Drive
In most instances of logical damage, you won’t be able to access the files stored on your pen drive.
Before repair, it’s a good idea to first recover all your data from the corrupted USB drive. The repair process can delete your files, and sometimes the only way to repair your drive is to format it.
Luckily, as long as your drive is detected by your PC, you should be able to recover most, if not all, of your data from it. How? Well, using third-party data recovery software.
Here’s how to create a disk image of your USB drive and scan it to get back all your data:
Create a Disk Image of your USB Drive Using Disk Drill
- Download Disk Drill and install it.
- Connect the USB drive to your PC.
- Open Disk Drill and click on the Drive Backup option, under Extra Tools.
- Select the USB drive and click on the Byte-to-byte Backup button.
- Select where you want to save the USB drive’s disk image and click OK.
- Disk Drill will create the disk image.
Scan the Disk Image of your USB Drive Using Disk Drill
- Open Disk Drill, and ensure you’re on the Storage Devices tab, under Data Recovery.
- Click on the Attach disk image option and browse for your pen drive’s disk image. Double-click on it. It’ll be mounted to Disk Drill.
- Select your flash disk’s disk image and click on Search for lost data.
- Click Review found items or directly click on the file type you want to recover (Pictures, Video, Audio, Documents, Archives, and Other).
- Use the checkboxes to select the desired files and click Recover. Disk Drill displays a preview of the currently selected file. All existing files on your USB drive will be available under the Existing menu on this screen. To view and recover deleted files, expand the Deleted or lost, or Reconstructed sections.
- Choose a recovery destination and click Next.
- Disk Drill will recover the files.
Best USB Repair Tools
In our list, we’ve distributed the flash drive repair tools across three different categories–free in-built tools, paid tools, and USB drive brand-specific repair tools.
Free In-Built Flash Drive Repair Utilities on Windows and macOS
In case of minor logical damage to your USB drives, the in-built disk repair utilities in Windows and Mac are enough to repair it. They also offer the added advantage of reliability, while being free and requiring no additional downloads.
1. CHKDSK (Windows)
CHKDSK (short for “check disk”) is a command line utility that has been around since 1980. As its name implies, it checks for and repairs any bad sectors on your storage drives. You can run CHKDSK using the Command Prompt, Windows Terminal, Windows PowerShell, or DOS Prompt.
2. Diskpart (Windows)
Diskpart is another command-line tool that comes pre-packaged with Windows. Unlike CHKDSK, it doesn’t exactly repair the file system of your USB. Instead, you can use it to clean and format your USB drive to its factory state. Diskpart offers loads of additional functionality, like the ability to convert the partition table, create/modify/delete partitions, and modify the attributes of a disk.
Here is how you can use diskpart to format a USB drive.
3. GUI Disk Error Checking Tool (Windows)
The Disk Error Checking Tool in Windows is essentially a GUI version of chkdsk. It’s more user-friendly than chkdsk as it allows you to skip the whole process of typing in commands in the Command Prompt. However, it doesn’t offer the same amount of flexibility and parameters as the chkdsk command line utility.
4. First Aid (macOS)
The First Aid feature within macOS’ Disk Utility is similar to CHKDSK in Windows. It detects and repairs any file system errors on your drives. You don’t have to run any commands because the feature is GUI-based. In fact, it’s easier to use than the Windows GUI Disk Error Checking Tool. It’s an excellent repair option if you notice vanishing files from your USB drive, slower performance, and random error messages.
5. Windows Defender (Windows)
Computer viruses commonly cause corruption and other logical issues on your USB drive. Usually, this happens when you connect the USB drive to an infected computer. If you suspect that malware is causing logical issues and corruption on your USB, scanning it with Windows Defender (packaged with Windows Vista and above) is a good idea. Scanning your entire PC using the Full Scan is also recommended.
Paid USB Repair Tools
If none of the free tools were able to repair your USB stick, you’ll have to resort to paid options. Paid tools offer broader functionality, better usability, and typically produce better results. They can also help you when the issue is more complicated than minor file system corruption.
6. AOMEI Partition Assistant (Windows)
Few tools can hold a candle to AOMEI Partition Assistant’s partitioning and disk management capabilities. It offers an easier and more functional way to format, partition, and repair your USB drive than Windows Disk Management. You can also recover lost partitions from your USB drive using the premium version of the program.
Pricing: Free Standard version with paid plans starting from $39.95.
7. ALSOFT DiskWarrior (Mac)
DiskWarrior is one of the oldest Mac-only disk repair programs, and an excellent choice–if your goal is to rebuild your USB drive’s directories and file system. However, this severely narrows down its use case. If you want to recover deleted files from your USB drive, DiskWarrior won’t be able to help you. It only supports disks formatted with the HFS+ file system.
Pricing: $119.5 for a single copy. Includes a DiskWarrior Flash Drive.
8. DiskGenius (Windows)
If bad sectors are what caused your USB drive to be corrupted, DiskGenius presents itself as a good choice to verify and repair those bad sectors. The verification process is read-only, so you don’t have to worry about data loss. However, the repair process can delete your files, so it’s recommended you create a disk image of your USB drive before using DiskGenius.
9. Outbyte Driver Updater (Windows)
Outdated drivers are a common reason why your USB drive could be malfunctioning. And Windows cannot be relied on to update all the necessary drivers as soon as new updates are rolled out. Outbyte Driver Updater fixes this by scanning your PC and detecting corrupt or outdated drivers. You can then proceed to download and install the drivers from within the Outbyte Driver Updater UI.
Pricing: 7 day free trial. $29.95 for a three-month subscription.
10. Norton Antivirus Software (Windows and macOS)
While the in-built antivirus solution on your PC or Mac is capable enough, it’s still not better than Norton’s Antivirus Suite. Using Norton, you can set up automatic USB scans that’ll scan your USB drive for malware each time you connect it to your PC. Furthermore, Norton Antivirus’ virus definitions are updated regularly, allowing it to detect and remove the latest threats that your computer’s in-built antivirus may not be able to do.
Pricing: 7 day free trial. Plans start at $59.99 per year. There are extensive discounts available.
Manufacturer-Specific USB Repair Tools
Popular USB brands have their own USB repair tools that are typically free to use if you want to repair a pen drive manufactured by them. These tools are reliable, and are a good choice if you want something with more functionality than CHKDSK or Disk Utility, but don’t want to pay a premium for universal third-party USB repair programs.
If you own a Transcend JetFlash USB drive that’s not working like it should, Transcend’s JetFlash Online Recovery tool can restore the USB drive to its default settings. The process will wipe off all existing files on the drive, so be sure to first recover your data from the Transcend USB drive before using the tool.
If you own a Kingston USB drive, the manufacturer’s own format utility can restore the drive to its factory settings. It removes all viruses, file system issues, and the files themselves while it does this.
The Apacer USB Repair Tool works with Apacer’s own and other USB drives. You can use the tool to either format, or “restore” your USB drive to its factory settings. Both options will delete all your data. The tool will resolve any logical issues it encounters during the process.
14. Seagate SeaTools
Seagate’s SeaTools utility is a program that’s usually installed to check and fix the hard drives on your PC. However, it’s compatible with USB drives, and you can use it to run a health check on your drive, and then resolve any issues you encounter. SeaTools can diagnose and fix bad blocks on your USB drive.
If your USB is write-protected, unable to format, or not recognized by your PC, Silicon Power USB Flash Drive Recovery Software can help you in repairing the USB drive. It supports all pen drives, but was specifically designed for Silicon Power USB drives.
16. PNY UFIX III
If you own a PNY or HP USB drive, PNY UFIX can format and repair the USB drive in case it’s write-protected or not accessible in Windows. The interface is dated and you can opt to Recover or Exit the program. Again, you do need to back up all your data before using the tool.