How to Fix: Files Copied to USB Drive Disappear?

Files copied to USB drive disappeared? Use three methods recommended in this article to recover deleted/disappeared files from USB drives.


By Penny / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Why do copied files disappear from USB?


I moved some photos, movies, and Word documents to a pen drive. And they were in separate folders. A few days later, when I opened the pen drive, they were only the folders but they were empty. All the photos, movies, and the content of the Word file were gone. Please tell me the way to recover my copied data. Thanks.

-A user from Microsoft

Known as flash drives, USB sticks, pen drives, and thumb drives, USB flash drives have been widely used among users because of their tiny size and large volumes. As a portable device, it renders a better user experience in saving and transferring data.


But have your files/folders disappeared from flash drives? If you’re headaches about recovering disappeared files like the above user, maybe you can find right the approach below.  

Three methods to recover files disappeared from flash drives

There're some common reasons for missing files on USB drives.

Hidden files on your USB drives.
Accidental/intentional deletion.
Bad sectors or damaged file systems.  
Virus infection.

Your files copied to USB drive disappeared! For a better data recovery rate, you’d better figure out whether the disappeared files are hidden or deleted via the first method. 

Please note that if your disappeared files are in a deletion state, you’re supposed not to add new data to your pen drives to overwrite the flash memory. After overwriting, your disappeared files will become irrecoverable.

Solution 1. Use command prompt to recover hidden files from USB

How to fix the issue of files copied to USB drive disappeared? First, let’s check whether these files are hidden or not, which could avoid unnecessary further steps.

In computing, the attrib command is the targeted way to change the file attributes (read-only, hidden, system, and archive) of files/folders. So how to recover hidden files from USB using CMD? Let’s show how it works.

Step 1. Connect the USB to your PC. Then type “cmd” in the search bar, and select the “Run as administrator” option to open the command prompt window.


Step 2. Copy “attrib –h –r –s /s /d G:\*.*” in the window and hit “Enter” to start the process. Please replace the letter G with the real drive letter of your USB.


Step 3. After the process, you can open your USB drive. Then you’ll find there’s a new folder that includes your needed files in it. If you need, you can change their format and save them in another place.  

However, if the attrib command fails to work, which implies your disappeared files are likely in a deletion state. Then you can refer to another two methods.

Solution 2. Recover deleted files from USB drives via Windows File Recovery

If your USB flash drive files disappeared, Windows File Recovery seems like the ideal software for you to recover lost files from internal and external hard drives, USB drives, and SD cards.

But in practice, this data recovery tool relies on the command lines to interact with users. In other words, you need to recover the deleted files using CMD.   

Windows File Recovery is only compatible with Windows 10 and above.
 You can use it to recover the lost Word documents, Excel, PPT, PDF, ZIP, JPG, JPEG, etc.  
Replace your selected mode and switches in the basic command format line winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches].
 Ensure the source drive (where to store your desired files before data loss) is different from the destination drive (where to store the recovered files).  
Four (Extensive, Regular, Segment, and Signature) modes support four (NTFS, FAT, exFAT, and ReFS) file systems.

Step 1. Check the file system of your source drive (flash drive): Connect USB to your PC, and click “This PC” > right-click on the USB > “Properties.”


Step 2. Select a recommended mode after checking the file system of your USB drive and data loss scenarios.

File system




Deleted recently



Deleted for a while



Formatted disk



corrupted disk


FAT and exFAT



Step 3. Select some common switches you want from the following form.



Supported          modes


Recover specific extension groups, comma-separated



Saves a log file of the recovery operation in a different location than the default location on the recovery drive (for example, D:\logfile).



Overrides user prompts, which is useful in a script file.



Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin.

NTFS Segment


Recovers system files.

NTFS Segment​​​​​


Recovers files without primary data streams.

NTFS Segment


To keep your results manageable and focus on user files, some file types are filtered by default, but this switch removes that filter. 

NTFS Segment


Specifies which file types are filtered.

NTFS Segment

Step 4. Download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store by clicking the “Get” button, then install and “Open” it on your PC.


Step 5. Let’s perform how to recover the recently deleted PDF file from the pen drive (assume the drive letter is “F”) to the destination D drive.

the basic command format: winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]

the adjusted command line: winfr F: D: /regular /n*.pdf


Please type the adjusted command line in the window, and press “y” to go on. If you want to stop the thumb drive data recovery process, please press the “Ctrl + C” keys.

Solution 3. Recover deleted files from flash drives via the best data recovery software

As you can see, Windows File Recovery is not handy for non-tech users to use. So not consider another data recovery tool like MyRecover?

Compared with Windows File Recovery, this user-friendly software has provided a GUI (graphical user interface) to you. Then you don’t have to recover files using CMD.


Top 1 USB Data Recovery Software
  • Deal with data loss caused by deletion, disk formatting, virus attacks, or system crashes.
  • Support different brands of USB sticks such as SanDisk, Samsung, Kingston, and Transcend. 
  • Recover 200+ file formats: images (JPG, PNG, DNG, TIFF, etc.), videos (MP4, MOV, AVI, etc.), MS Office and WPS files, folders, compressed files, websites, etc.
  • Combined scanning method: Automatically run Quick Scan and Deep Scan to search all the recoverable files.
  • Easy-to-find: During scanning, you can filter and preview your needed files according to filename, file format, saved path, storage size, deleted date, etc.

The following steps depict how to recover deleted files from USB drives!

Step 2. Install and run MyRecover on your Windows > hover the mouse over your connected USB stick > click Scan.


Step 2. After clicking Start Scan, MyRecover automatically runs Quick Scan and Deep Scan to detect all the retrievable files on your chosen drive.

During scanning, you can filter and preview your desired files quickly according to Filename, Document Type, Path, Size, Date, etc.

  • Name: Enter the relevant filename of your needed files to quickly locate them.
  • Date modified: Set the date (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days, etc.)
  • Size: Set the file size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~512MB, etc.)


Step 3. Under the Deleted Files/Recycle Bin/Other Missing Files folder, select the files you intend to retrieve > click Recover x files.


Wrapping up

How to fix the issue of files copied to USB drive disappeared? This post shares three efficient ways with you. Please consider considering the pertinent three steps before starting the thumb drive data recovery.

If you need to recover deleted files from USB drives, there’s no better way than utilizing a data recovery tool with a GUI. At this point, MyRecover is your top choice.

More importantly, you need to make backups regularly using Windows features or free backup software like AOMEI Backupper because backups are the best hedge against data loss.

Penny · Editor
Penny works as an editor at AOMEI Technology, while she's a tester and editor for AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. She enjoys helping users with data recovery issues on Windows and iPhones using simple and practical solutions. Outside of work, she has a strong affection for pets, particularly giant pandas.