How to Recover Lost Files from a USB Flash Drive (5 Ways)

How to recover USB lost data that has been deleted accidentally or for other reasons? This page shows you 4 proven ways to recover USB files. Try them to retrieve your data easily.


By Kelsey / Updated on May 27, 2024

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How do I recover lost files on my USB?


I deleted some photos and videos from my USB Flash drive by mistake and want to recover them. Is there a reasonable chance of recovery or not? How can I recover USB lost data? Thanks for any help!

Have you ever accidentally deleted some important data stored on your USB? Or, do you find that USB files get lost for no reason in the use process? What are the causes of USB data loss and how to recover files from USB for free are the issues we will discuss in this article.

Recover Usb Lost Data

Why does USB data get lost?

Apart from files being accidentally deleted, there are several common reasons that can easily lead to the loss of USB data:

  • Your USB is unplugged in an improper way. Unplugging the USB during data transfer can easily lead to partition damage, device formatting, etc.
  • The USB was formatted accidentally. If the USB is formatted carelessly, all the data saved will be erased.
  • Hardware failure. Your USB is malfunctioning or there is a problem with the USB port.
  • The USB is infected with a virus or malware, resulting in all files being removed.
If you find that USB data has been deleted by mistake, you can use the "Crtl + Z" shortcut to undo the previous operation, which is only applicable to the data deletion interval is short.
If this option does not work, do not store any new data on the USB in case your original data is overwritten and cannot be restored, and safely disconnect USB from computer until you proceed to start the data recovery process.

Tips for USB lost data recovery

When faced with USB data loss, irrespective of the cause, several critical steps should be taken to maximize the chances of successful file recovery:

  • Stop Usage: The moment you realize your data is lost, immediately discontinue using the flash drive. Continued use can overwrite the deleted files, making recovery more challenging.

  • Disconnect and Protect: Unplug the flash drive from your computer and store it in a secure place until you're ready to begin the USB data recovery process. Physical protection is crucial to prevent accidental damage or further data corruption.

  • Avoid Copy Attempts: Do not copy any data from the flash drive to another location. Such attempts can exacerbate the situation, overwriting crucial data sectors and diminishing the prospects of successful recovery.

By following these precautions, you enhance the possibility of successfully recovering your deleted files from a flash drive.

Section 1. Recover USB lost data without software

How to recover deleted files from flash drive without software? Here we list three methods to recover USB lost files without software, namely: using Command Prompt, recovering from previous versions, and recovering from a backup file. The following are the detailed guides to the three methods.

Way 1. Recover lost data from USB with attrib command

Recovering files from USB using CMD attrib command is one of the most common methods. This command line can help users to modify the file attributes of Windows files. For files and folders that are completely hidden, we can unhide them using the attrib command in a command prompt window to unhide them.

If the attrib command does not work, it is possible that your files have been permanently deleted rather than hidden. How to retrieve lost data from USB drive using attrib command? Below is a step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Connect your USB to PC, and hold the “Windows + X” keys together to choose the Windows PowerShell (Admin) option. Then, select Yes on the User Account Control screen.

Step 2. Input “attrib -h -r -s /s /d G:\*.*” and press “Enter” on the Command Prompt window. You can replace the drive letter G: with the letter of your USB disk.

Attrib Cmd

Step 3. You can head to the original location to check if files are restored correctly then.

Way 2. Retrieve USB lost files from Previous Versions

Previous Versions is a Windows built-in feature that allows you to recover deleted files via File Explorer without using third-party software.

But Previous Versions are copies of files and folders that the Microsoft Windows system automatically saves as part of a shadow copy, which means you should have configured restore points or backup USB files using File History before data got lost.

Step 1. Plug in the USB flash drive to the computer and double-click on it to open it.

Step 2. Right-click the folder where you lost your data, select Restore previous versions, and choose the right backup version to tap on Restore.

Restore Previous Versions

Way 3. Restore files from USB via Windows backup

If you have performed backups of your USB files using Backup and Restore before, a Windows data backup and restore tool, perhaps you can restore lost data by restoring the backup files.

Step 1. Head to Control Panel and click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7) under the System and Security section.

Windows Backup And Restore

Step 2. Press Restore my files on the pop-up screen.

Windows Backup Restore My Files

Step 3. Click Browse for folders or Browse for files to find targeted files.

Browse For Files Or Folders

Section 2. Recover USB lost data with data recovery software

Though the above solutions can help to recover lost data from USB for free, given the need to ensure that data has not been completely deleted or created a backup of data earlier, we believe that using a USB data recovery software is the most effective way to get back all lost data.

Way 1. Recover USB lost data via MyRecover

MyRecover, an industry-leading data recovery tool, can perform complete and fast recovery of lost and accidentally deleted files from most brands of USB flash drives like SanDisk, Toshiba, Kingston, etc.

Powerful USB Data Recovery Software
  • Provide 2 advanced scanning methods Quick Scan and Deep Scan.
  • More than 200 types of files can be recovered: Word documents, Excel, PPT, JPG, GIF, 3FR, MP3, MP4, MOV, VWM, ANI, ZIP, etc.
  • Available in all Windows operating systems like Windows 11/10/8/7 and Windows Server.
  • Able to filter, search, and preview deleted files during the recovery process.
  • Provide a clear graphical user interface and simple operating steps.

It also allows you to recover files permanently deleted via “Shift + Del” or command prompt, and rescue data from a formatted disk or after a virus attack. With a user-friendly interface, this tool allows users to recover files within 3 steps. Follow the steps below to recover USB lost data with a few clicks.

Step 1. Download and install MyRecover on your computer. And, connect your USB to the computer.

Step 2. Run this tool, and hover the mouse over the drive and click Scan to scan.

Select External Hard Drive Start Scan

Step 3. This software will use Quick Scan and Deep Scan methods to examine all lost files on the USB drive. You can sort the scanned data by file format or search directly in the "Search for files or folders" box. 

Besides, you can use different filters to narrow the range of search results:

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

Scanning External Hard Drive

Step 4. Select files that need to be retrieved in the list and click Recover x files to recover them to a new location.

Select Files To Recover From External Hard Drive

  • Please select a new location to save your selected files to avoid data overwriting.
  • MyRecover can recover USB lost data for free, up to 500MB. If you need more file recovery, you can considerupgrading to an advanced edition.

Way 2. Recover USB lost data with Windows File Recovery

There is another software provided by Microsoft that can help you recover USB lost files. However, there is no user graphical interface so it is not easy for you if you are not familiar with IT knowledge. Let's see how to use Windows FIle Recovery here.

1. Get Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft Store Get

2. Connect your USB flash drive to your computer properly.

3. Go to the Start menu and locate Windows File Recovery. Then, select Run as administrator and Yes to allow User Account Control.

Windows File Recovery Run as Administrator

4. Input the following command: Winfr E: C: /extensive (replace E: with the drive letter assigned to your USB flash drive and C: with the drive letter assigned to the storage device where you want to store recovered files.)

Enter Winfr Source Drive


Recovering USB lost data is a piece of cake as long as you use the right method. Whether you have backed up USB files or not before, you can find an appropriate data recovery method here. If you want to complete the data recovery process as easily and fast as possible, MyRecover is a good helper.


How much does it cost to recover data from a USB?
If you want to recover data from a USB quickly, you can choose a professional data recovery tool like MyRecover, and it provides a free trial for users.
Can a corrupted USB be recovered?
Yes. It is possible for you to recover files from a corrupted USB flash drive. Please stop using this USB drive at once to cause more errors.
Where do deleted data from a USB drive go?
Deleted data from USB drive will not go to any location including Recycle Bin. So we advise you to use a professional data recovery method to get it back quickly.
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.