How to Recover Data from a Hard Drive Turned into ESD USB

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hard drive turned into esd

When you create a bootable flash drive for installing Windows using the Media Creation Tool, you’ll notice that it renames the flash drive to “ESD-USB.” You can also use ESD files to create a bootable USB yourself.

ESD (Electronic Software Delivery) is a file that contains all the files required to install Windows on your PC. It’s similar to an ISO file, but relatively smaller in size.

What is ESD USB?

ESD USB is the naming convention for bootable flash drives created using an ESD file. When your USB turns into ESD USB, Windows will remove the file system data, which means you’ll no longer have access to the files that were already present on the flash drive.

However, you can recover files from an external drive even when you can’t access them, as long as they haven’t been overwritten. Now that you know what ESD USB is, let’s talk about how to recover files from ESD USB and bring the external drive back to its previous state in the next sections.

Note: You should stop using the USB right away to avoid potentially overwriting files. Try to fix the USB drive and use it only after you’ve recovered important files.

How to Recover Data from Hard Drive Converted into ESD USB?

You can use an intelligent recovery tool like Disk Drill to recover data from ESD USB. The process is fairly simple, but we’ve illustrated the step-by-step process below if you haven’t used a data recovery tool before.

Step 1. Download and Install Disk Drill

Download Disk Drill and install it on your PC. The free version will let you recover up to 500MB of data.

installing disk drill

Step 2. Create Byte-to-Byte Backup

Instead of scanning a flash drive directly, you should create an image of the flash drive and scan that so you don’t end up damaging the drive or overwriting existing data.

You can create an image from within Disk Drill by selecting Drive Backup from the left sidebar and selecting the Byte-to-Byte Backup option from the top. You’ll need to select the path where you want to save the image in the pop-up box and select OK.

creating image of the drive

Step 3. Attach the Image and Start the Scan

Return to the Data Recovery tab from the left sidebar and select Attack disk image. Select the image file.

You’ll now see the image listed in Disk Drill. Select it and click on the Search for lost data button.

starting scan on disk drill

Step 4. Recover Files

Once the scan is complete, you’ll see a list of files that Disk Drill found on the ESD USB drive. Select the ones you want to recover by checking the box next to their name. Once you’ve selected all files, click on the Recover button.

recovering files

Select the path where you want to save the recovered files. Make sure you select a path different from the source drive (ESD USB drive in this case) to avoid overwriting any data.

How to Revert ESD USB to Normal

Once you’ve recovered the files, you can start repairing the USB drive so you can use it like before. There are three ways to revert ESD USB to normal:

Method 1: Format Using Disk Management

Formatting is the easiest way to revert ESD USB to its normal state.

While you can also format the drive using file explorer, you might not want to format the entire drive, but just the portion of unallocated space. You can do this from the Disk Management console.

  1. Start by searching for Create and format hard disk partitions in the Start Menu and select the Best Match.launching disk management
  2. Right-click on the space formatted as RAW and select Format.formatting raw disk
  3. Select file system, check the box next to Perform a quick format and click OK.selecting file system

Method 2: Format Using Command Line

You can also format ESD USB using the command line. All you need to do is execute a set of commands in the specified order.

  1. Start by pressing Win + R, type cmd and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter. This will launch the Command Prompt with administrative privileges.
  2. Then, execute the following commands:
    list volume

    You’ll now see your volumes listed in the Command Prompt window.

  3. Find the RAW volume on the ESD USB from the list. You can usually identify it by looking at the size and File System.selecting volumeNote the Volume #.
  4. Then, execute the following commands in this order:
    select volume 1

    (change 1 with the relevant disk number)


    selecting the volume

    create primary partition
    format fs=ntfs

Once you’ve executed all commands, you’ll see the new partition in the File Explorer.

Method 3: Create a New Partition

If the space appears unallocated instead of formatted as RAW, you can create a new partition from the Disk Management Console.

  1. Launch the Disk Management console by searching for Create and format hard disk partitions in the Start Menu and selecting the Best Match.
  2. Right-click on the unallocated space in Disk Management and select New Simple Volume.creating a new simple volume
  3. Follow the instructions in the partition creation wizard. In the final step, you’ll need to select the file system and check the box next to the Perform a quick format option. If you select Do not format this volume, the volume will be converted into a RAW partition.creating a new partition
  4. Complete the wizard and that should resolve the issue.


Fixing ESD USB is fairly easy and quick, but you must start by recovering important files that you’ve lost so you don’t end up overwriting them. Disk Drill can help you quickly get your files back, and even help you protect your files better in the future with robust features like Data Protection.

Arjun is an Tech ninja, codes HTML and CSS, and has received an honorary mention as the family’s go-to tech help during get-togethers. He has been writing guides for about six years and he’s currently a contributor on major Tech websites like MakeUseOf, HelpDeskGeek and 7 Data Recovery.
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Senior Data Recovery Engineer. Master's degree in Physics, Information Technology for Science Experiments.