How to Find Lost Files on USB [4 Ways]

On this page, you will learn how to find lost files on USB drive. Here are 4 effective methods and bonus tips to prevent further data loss.

Kelsey

By Kelsey / Updated on December 21, 2023

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USB flash drives, pen drives, and thumb drives are very common data storage devices. They are plug-and-play, lightweight, and easy to carry. So many users would like to store pictures, videos, documents, etc important data on it.

However, sometimes a very occasional error may cause data loss from the USB. You probably have a lot of questions when facing this trouble, such as, can you recover lost files on USB drive? Where do the files deleted from the USB go? How to recover deleted files from USB drive? This step-by-step guide will reveal the mystery for you and introduce you to 4 effective methods.

Find Lost Files on USB

The reasons why USB data loss

There are many reasons for USB drive data loss, the most common of which is deleted by accident. In addition, there are some other reasons as well:

✦ Data is infected by virus or malware
✦ Formatting the disk
✦ Hardware failure
✦ Power failure
✦ Unplugging the USB drive while data is still being transferred

For files deleted from local disks, you can usually find them in the Recycle Bin and restore files from Recycle Bin to take them back. However, the files deleted from external storage devices like USB drives will bypass the Recycle Bin folder and be deleted. But the files deleted from USB are not permanently deleted, only the space used is marked as empty. They will not be completely disappear until new files are stored to overwrite them.

It is worth mentioning the files disappearing from USB may be simply hidden instead of deleted. Thus, before recovering deleted files from USB drive, you need to check if your files are hidden first.

How to check if your files are hidden with CMD

If your files are simply hidden, try the "attrib" command to recover hidden files from USB using Command Prompt. But if you suspect your flash drive is damaged, you need to scan the USB drive for logical or physical error and fix any found error before using the attrib command.

Step 1. Connect the USB drive with your PC.

Please make sure there is no connection issue.

Step 2. Then, open Command Prompt dialog box.

Press "Windows + R" to open "Run" and type "CMD" and hit "Enter".

Step 3.  Scan the target USB drive and fix any logical error.

Type the command chkdsk “drive letter”: /fand press Enter. The “/f” command option will fix any logical error found on this USB drive.

Step 4.  Run attrib prompt and wait for the process to finish.

Type the command attrib -h -r -s /s /d "drive letter":*.* and hit "Enter".

attrib-cmd

How to find and recover lost files on USB flash drive easily

If you find that the files on USB are indeed lost, you can try other 3 methods to recover lost data from USB, including third-party data recovery software, Previous Version, and Backup and Restore. To prevent the data from being overwritten and making data recovery more difficult, please follow the suggestions below:

✍ Stop using this USB drive immediately or perform any operation on it, such as format disk, add new data to it, or repair bad sectors. Otherwise, your data may be overwritten or damaged.
✍ Safely eject this USB drive and save it to a safe place until you can perform USB data recovery.
✍ Start data recovery as soon as possible. The longer you delete a file, the more difficult data recovery will be.

▶ Way 1. Recover lost files from USB with data recovery expert

Try top-ranked data recovery software - MyRecover to get your USB files back. Thanks to its quick scan and deep scan methods, you can easily recover files in different data loss scenarios, such as accidental deletion, formatting, virus invasion, partition loss, etc. And it supports previewing files before recovering.

As for file types, it supports recovering photos, videos, documents (eg: Word, Excel, PPT), compressed files, mails, and more than 200+ types. And the recovered files will retain their original format & quality.

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Run Windows data recovery software - MyRecover. On the main page, select the problematic USB drive, and click Start Scan.

Select Partition To Scan

Step 2. It will start to scan deleted and other missing files automatically on this disk. You can search for the file name in the search box for or directly use Filter to find the specific type of files to recover.​

Scan Lost Data

Step 3. Expand the Other Missing Files tab and select all the deleted or lost files on USB drive. Then, click Recover x files and select a new location to get them back.

Select Deleted Excel Files Click Recover

★Tips:
Don’t save the recovered files to original location as it may cause data corruption or permanent data loss.
In free edition, it supports recovering deleted or lost files on USB drive for free, up to 30MB each time. To recover unlimited files, try advanced editions
In addition to USB drive, you can also use this tool to recover lost data from hard disk (HDDs & SSDs), SD card, et.

▶ Way 2. Recover deleted files from previous version

If your files are not returned to the original location in Way 1, they were most likely removed. For deleted files, one of the most recommended methods is using the backup image, previous versions are copies of your files from restore points or file history backup software. Check if there are available previous versions and recover from them.

Step 1. Open File Explorer, go to This PC, and find out the problematic flash drive.

Step 2. Right-click on the drive and select Properties.

Step 3. Go to the Previous Versions tab and select a previous version. Finally, click Restore to recover deleted files from the previous version.

previous-version-restore

▶ Way 3. Recover deleted USB files with Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Backup and Restore (Windows 7) is another backup software for Windows 10 and 11. If you have backed up your USB files with it, you can use it to recover deleted files from flash drive effortlessly.

Step 1. Go to Control Panel and click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 2. Tap on Restore my files.​

Restore My Files

Step 3. Hit Browse for files or Browse for folders to select a backup version. Then, choose a location to save the recovered files and click Start Restore to retrieve lost files on USB stick.

Restore Files

Bonus tips - How to protect files on USB

If you don't want to lose USB files, you need to take some precautions beforehand. Here are some useful suggestions you can follow:

File Backup

FAQs about data loss on USB

✍ How to recover lost data from a USB drive?

To recover deleted files easily from a USB drive, you can download, and install MyRecover. Next, scan the USB drive and wait for scanning result. Then, select target deleted files and recover files.

✍ What should I do if the USB drive is not recognized by my computer?

If your flash drive is not recognized, you need to plug it into a different USB port or computer and check if there are any problem with this device. If the issue persists, there might be a problem with the USB drive itself. In such cases, you may need to consult a professional device service center.

✍ How do I fix a corrupted USB flash drive?

The simple method is to run disk check and repair the found errors. If it’s not working, try to format USB drive completely. If there are any data on it, you’d better recover files from corrupted USB drive first.

✍ How can I prevent data loss on my USB drive in the future?

Regularly back up your important files to another storage device or cloud service. Safely eject the USB drive from your computer before physically removing it, and avoid disconnecting it during file transfer operations.

Conclusion

Here are complete guides about how to find & recover lost files on USB flash drive. It can delete files or other missing files. Regardless of file loss types, data recovery software like MyRecover is one of the most effective methods. Of course, if you have backup images, data recovery will become an easy task.

We hope they can help you get back lost files in time to avoid data losses. In addition, it’s also important to take some precautions to protect your USB drive data, for example, create an exact copy of your files on flash drive. It is a quick method for data recovery.

  • Plug and unplug your USB properly - Do not unplug the USB during data transfer; follow the correct steps (right-click your USB flash drive and select Eject) to disconnect the USB from the computer.
  • Scan the USB and computer regularly - Use antivirus software such as Windows Defender to scan the computer and USB for viruses. If found, delete them immediately.
  • Regularly back up USB files - Use backup tools like AOMEI Backupper Standard to back up USB data to your computer,cloud storage services, or shared drives to safely protect your files. 
 
Kelsey
Kelsey · Editor
Kelsey is an English editor of AOMEI Technology. She is passionate about helping people find effective ways to deal with all problems in computer. She has great insights into data backup and recovery, disk partition and clone, and other data protection measures. She likes learn computer skills to improve herself and enjoy quality time with family and friends.