How to Recover Deleted Files From a Flash Drive [Solved]

Robert Agar
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Recover Deleted Files from a Flash Drive

Is It Possible to Recover Permanently Deleted Files From a USB?

Yes, it is. There are several methods that you can use to try and recover deleted files from USB or thumb drives. You can still get to deleted data because when files or pictures are removed by the OS you only lose logical access to them. Lost files are still intact on your drive and can be recovered until they are overwritten by new data. Stopping use of the drive after files are lost gives you the best chance to unerase them.

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Try to Recover Lost Data From Your Flash Drive via Disk Drill

You don’t need to be a computer expert to successfully recover deleted USB files with Disk Drill. It provides an intuitive and user-friendly interface that simplifies the process so that users with limited computer skills can recover files by themselves. To recover deleted files from a USB drive:

Download and Install Disk Drill

Download and install Disk Drill for Mac on your computer. You will be asked to provide an administrator’s credentials during the installation and may need to modify some System Preferences for the software to work properly. Pop-up windows will guide you through the installation process.
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Connect the Flash Drive and Launch Disk Drill

Connect the flash drive to your computer and ensure that it is recognized by the operating system. If it is not, you may need to address the issues before proceeding. Once the flash drive is recognized, launch Disk Drill and select it in the list of available disks.
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Scan for Deleted Data

Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning for deleted data. You can select the type of scan that will run or let Disk Drill run all of its algorithms in the preferred order. You will get the best recovery results by allowing the software to fully scan the flash drive.
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Preview Recoverable Files

During the scanning process, the names of recovered files will be listed in the appropriate folder based on the file type. You can then preview the files in the Pictures, Video, Audio, Documents, or Archives folders to verify that they are the items you want to recover. Select the files you want to restore.
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Perform the Recovery

Click the Recover button after making your selections and allow Disk Drill to complete the recovery. You will be prompted for a safe storage location where the recovered data can be saved. Don’t use the affected flash drive as this may result in corrupting or overwriting the data you wish to recover.
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What are the Benefits of Using Disk Drill for Flash Drive Recovery?

Disk Drill employs powerful algorithms that scan your drive on a sector-by-sector basis to perform the most complete data recovery possible. It can recover deleted files from USB drives as well as any other type of disk-based storage device. This includes things like your computer’s hard drive, external hard drives, digital cameras, and SD or memory cards. You can use Disk Drill to recover photos that you thought were permanently deleted from your flash drive even on macOS.

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Free Data Protection Tools

Another factor that sets Disk Drill apart from other data recovery tools is the inclusion of free data protection tools. One of these is Recovery Vault which allows you to designate specific files of folders for additional protection against deletion. Recovery Vault works like a supplemental Recycle Bin and retains a copy of protected files when they are deleted. Even after the Recycle Bin has been emptied, these protected files can be quickly recovered without the need to perform a complete data recovery.

recover deleted files from usb by disk drill

Backup of a Failing Drive

A great feature is the ability to take a byte-level backup of a failing drive to be used for data recovery. This eliminates the stress on the storage devices that would occur during recovery and potentially cause irreparable damage to the drive.

recover deleted files from flash drive with disk drill

You can take advantage of the free trial version of Disk Drill which allows you to restore up to 500 MB of data without the need to upgrade the software. The free version also lets you use the data protection features of the application. It’s a great way to recover deleted files from a flash drive and see the power and utility of this valuable software tool.

How to Recover Deleted Files From Flash Drive Without Software

Chances of performing a successful recovery of files from a flash drive without software depend on how the device is being used and if you have taken the time to back it up. Most users employ flash drives as supplemental storage and do not leave them attached to their computers. This means that internal Windows tools such as System Restore and recovering from Previous Versions are not likely to be able to successfully recover deleted data from a flash drive.

Method 1. Try to Recover From a Backup

Recovering from a backup is your best bet to recover without software. Unfortunately, many users do not take the time to back up their flash drives since they use them for portable storage. They may download the data to more permanent storage and the files may be backed up from that device. Another factor that minimizes success with this method is if the files were deleted before a backup could have been taken. Perhaps you were trying to save the files and deleted them instead. Data recovery software will give you the best chance of recovering the files in that type of situation.

Method 2. Perform Recovery via CMD

You may be able to undelete lost data by using the attrib command.

Here are the steps to try this method:

  1. Press the Windows and R keys to launch the Run Program. 
  2. Type cmd and press the Enter key to open the Command Prompt.
  3. In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk H: /f and hit the Enter key (Replace H with the drive letter of the USB drive).
  4. Use this command on your USB drive: ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D “drive letter”:*.*
  5. Hit Enter.how to recover deleted files from flash drive without software via command line

If successful, you will find files in a new folder on the USB drive. You may need to change the file extensions to make them usable with your applications. 

Method 3. Engage a Data Recovery Center

In cases where the flash drive has experienced physical damage or cannot be accessed by your operating system, a data recovery center may be able to restore the lost information. These data recovery professionals use advanced hardware and software techniques to clone the damaged device so its data can be recovered. A reputable service like CleverFiles Data Recovery Center will only charge you if they can successfully recover your data.

Here are the general steps that should be followed to make use of a data recovery service.

  1. Contact the recovery center for an initial consultation.
  2. Ship the affected device to the center for a free evaluation.
  3. Obtain a firm estimate of the recovery price.
  4. Give your approval for the recovery to proceed.
  5. When recovery is complete, your data will be returned via new media after you settle your bill.

Accidentally Deleted Important Files on Your Flash Drive?

Deleting a file or folder inadvertently is a common occurrence for many computer users. It can cause undue stress as the user scrambles for a way to recover the lost data. In the case of a flash drive that may hold the only copies of important photos or audio files, the loss of data can be devastating.

Some precautions can be taken to minimize the chances of data loss affecting your flash drives. They are:

  • Take backups of your data – This is a practice that should be followed with all of your storage devices. Having a single electronic copy of anything important is asking for trouble. If you want to protect your data, back it up!
  • Flash drives are delicate – A flash drive can easily be broken or physically damaged, making it impossible to recover the data. Taking care of your data means taking care of your devices.
  • Steer clear of malware – Malware can be responsible for the unexplained loss of files. Keeping your system protected by an anti-virus tool will help minimize the possibility that you will be impacted by a rogue program.

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Conclusion

Losing data is never a pleasant experience. Taking the proper steps to protect your data can minimize your exposure to data loss scenarios, but there is no foolproof method of ensuring the safety of your valuable files. You may be called upon to recover data from a flash drive due to circumstances beyond your control. Data recovery software, like Disk Drill for Windows, offers the greatest chance of performing a successful recovery. Stop using the flash drive as soon as you realize data has been lost to prevent information from being overwritten, and let Disk Drill recover your files.

Robert Agar
Freelance Writer at Self-employed specializing in technology-related subjects. Extensive experience in IT with a focus on backup and recovery, disaster recovery, cloud computing, databases, and data management.
Approved by
Senior Data Recovery Engineer. Master's degree in Physics, Information Technology for Science Experiments