By Stephanie / Last update September 8, 2022

Where do files go when deleted from USB?

“I had a USB drive with some important documents on it. Some days ago, I accidentally picked this USB drive to download the Windows system. I have deleted the docs to free the storage space. Today I found the important files were gone. Is there any way to recover deleted files on a USB drive in Windows 10?”

--From Tom’s hardware

USB drives are useful storage devices for saving important data and transferring files or folders among different devices. It’s very convenient for users in work and daily life. However, USB drives can cause issues such as data loss.

Have you ever accidentally deleted files on a USB drive or unplugged a USB drive but some documents were still being transferred or written? It’s frustrating to lose or delete vital files on USB drives.  Unfortunately, the files from USB  flash drive will be permanently deleted, which means you can't find files deleted from USB in Recycle Bin

However, USB drive recovery can be performed. There are possible ways to recover your files on USB flash drives in Windows 10/11. This tutorial lists three free methods for restoring deleted files from USB on Windows computers.

Reasons for USB data loss

If you unplug a USB drive directly when it is still in use, it's easy to lose USB files. There are several other reasons why data may disappear from USB drives without warning. Here are some common reasons for USB data loss. 

· Accidental deletion.
· Infection with malware.
· Data fragmentation.
· Unsuitable circumstances (too much moisture, heat, etc.).
· Failure of hardware.
· A software bug.
· Problems with power supply to USB ports.

After you found your USB files were deleted or lost, there are a few steps you should take to ensure that you can successfully recover deleted files from USB flash drives:

Stop using the flash drive as soon as you realize your data has been lost, and then disconnect the flash drive from your computer and keep it somewhere safe until you can begin the USB data recovery process. Don't do any new operations like copying data from the flash drive to another location. 

After knowing the reasons of USB data loss, check the following methods to recover deleted files from USB for free. 

How to recover deleted files from USB for free

How to recover deleted files on USB drive in Windows 10? After you delete files from USB, they could be marked as free in order to be recovered by new data. If the data is only hidden on the USB flash drive, it can be recovered using a built-in Windows program with a command prompt.

If the files are deleted accidentally or the USB drives are formatted/corrupted, you could try the free app-Windows File Recovery released by Microsoft. If you don’t know how to use CMD, you could try professional Windows data recovery software to recover deleted files from USB in Windows 10/11.

Method 1. Recover hidden files in USB using CMD

This method is only suitable for files that are hidden in USB, which seem to be deleted from USB drives. You could try using CMD built-in Windows computer to make those files visible on USB disks.

Step 1. Plug your USB drive into the Windows computer. Press Windows + Q keys to open the search bar and type “Command Prompt” and select “Run as administrator”.

Step 2. Firstly, type CMD: "chkdsk G: /f" and hit Enter. (Replace G with the USB drive letter)


Step 3. Type G and hit Enter. And then input “attrib -h -r -s /s /d *.*” (Replace G with the USB drive letter)


Using Command prompt is a simple way to recover hidden files from USB by the steps outlined above. Following this procedure, you will find all lost files on your USB drive in a newly created folder.

Method 2. Use free data recovery tool-Windows File Recovery

Windows File Recovery is a command-line utility that can be used to recover files that have been lost or deleted from your computer. In 2020, Microsoft released this file recovery tool, which you can use to try to restore data on your HDD, SSD, USB drive, and memory cards. But it is incompatible with cloud storage and network file shares.

Windows File Recovery is a USB recovery freeware to use and is only available for Windows 10 and later. This file recovery tool for Windows computers is a little difficult for people to use. When using Windows File Recovery, you need to input CMD to recover deleted data. Because it lacks a graphical user interface (GUI) with clickable buttons.

To use Windows File Recovery to recover deleted data, you must enter commands. Sometimes, there are kinds of errors when using Windows File Recovery. 

There are three modes in Windows File Recovery: Default, Segment, and Signature. In the Command Prompt window, enter the command in the following format:

winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]


Parameter / switch  


Supported mode(s)


Specify the drive where the files were lost. Must be different from the destination drive.



Specify the storage device and folder on which to save the recovered files. Must be different from the source drive.



Regular mode, the standard recovery option for non-corrupted NTFS drives



Extensive mode, a thorough recovery option suitable for all file systems



Scans for a specific file by using a file name, file path, file type, or wildcards. For example: 

  • File name: /n myfile.docx
  • File path: /n /users//Documents/
  • Wildcard: /n myfile.*
  • /n *.docx
  • /n * *



Segment mode, recovery option for NTFS drives using file record segments



Signature mode, recovery option for all file system types using file headers



For example:

1. If you want to recover “Recovery Test.docx” from G: drive (the USB drive) to E: drive, which was deleted a while ago, the right command should be as the following:

winfr G: E: /segment /n “Recovery Test.docx”

2. If you want to recover the folder “Work” from G: drive (the USB drive) to E: drive, which was lost after formatting, the right command should be as the following:

winfr G: E: /segment /n Work\

Method 3. Use free USB recovery software-MyRecover

The best way to recover deleted files from USB drives is to use USB Recovery Software. You could try MyRecover. It's a reliable and professional USB recovery tool to restore permanently deleted and missing files from internal & external hard drives, USB drives, SD cards, and other storage media on Windows computers. 

With advanced technology, MyRecover can help users retrieve data with a quick scan and deep scan. It can effectively scan the partitions and find all the recoverable data.  It's worth trying!


▶ Support for permanently deleted files recovery, formatted file recovery, and other data recovery methods.
Recover deleted files from SD cards, USB flash drives, HDDs, SSDs, external hard drives, and other storage media.
Recover lost Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, photos, videos, audios, emails, and hundreds of other file types.
▶ Compatible with Windows 7/8/10/11 and Windows Server.

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Step 1. Launch MyRecover on your computer. Select the USB drive and click "Start Scan". 


Step 2. The program runs the scanning process quickly and finds deleted and missing files in the USB partitions. During scanning, you could recover any file you want. 


Step 3. You can search the file name or use the filter to find the deleted files you need. Select the file or the folder that you want to recover and click the recover button.


Bottom line

With about methods, you can easily recover deleted files from USB. When you deleted files from a USB, the first thing you should do is to check whether you have a backup on your computer or another storage device.

Besides, if you accidentally deleted files on computer hard drive, with file history, you can restore previous versions of deleted files or folders. 

Simply go to your backup and restore all of your files. Creating backups on a regular basis is very important and useful. It can help you save time when recovering files from a USB drive when data is lost. It’s recommended to use the professional backup software for Windows--AOMEI Backupper.

If you don’t have any backup, you could try the data recovery software-MyRecover to recover your files.