How to recover deleted files from USB flash drives

Daniel Segun By: Daniel Segun
3 minute read

USB flash drives are great backup tool used to store and transfer their data. Sometimes, files on your USB drive may be corrupted or you accidentally deleted your files.

Today we are going to show you how to recover deleted files from USB drive.

Reasons for USB data loss

There are several reasons for USB data loss, but few reasons include:

  1. Another program deleted the file
  2. Mistakenly or intentionally deleted file from the USB drive
  3. Unplugged USB drive during transfer process
  4. File corruption due to virus attacks
  5. Fragmented partition structure on the USB flash drive

Meanwhile, deleted files on the USB drive cannot be restored in the Recycle Bin unlike files deleted from the local disk/disk drive.

However, we have compiled applicable methods which you can use to recover deleted files from USB drive.

Here’s how you can recover files from USB flash drives

1. Use Command Prompt

The simplest way to recover deleted files from USB drive is to use Command Prompt. Command Prompt is a Windows application available in all Windows Operating System. Follow these steps to recover deleted files on your USB drive:

  1. Plug in your USB drive (where the files were deleted from), and then press Windows and “R” keys to launch the Run Program.
  2. Type “cmd” and hit “Enter” key to open Command Prompt window.recover deleted files from usb
  3. In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk H: /f and hit “Enter” key (Replace H with the drive letter of the USB drive).recover deleted files usb
  4. Now, type Y and hit the “Enter” key to proceed.
  5. Type H (replace H with the USB drive letter) and hit the “Enter” key again.
  6. Finally, type H:>attrib -h -r -s /s /d *.* and hit the Enter key (Replace H with the drive letter of the USB drive).
  7. Wait for the process to be completed.

After this procedure, you will find all deleted files on a newly created folder on your USB drive. But you can change the file extension back to a normal format so as to make those found files functional again.

However, ensure you replace “E” with the drive letter of the USB drive in steps 3 and 6 above. You can also try out this fix on your SD, HD, or other external storage device.


2. Use a Data Recovery Tool

You can use data recovery tools as well to recover deleted files from your USB drive. Recovery tools are computer programs which are used to recover permanently deleted files on your Windows PC.

There are several recovery tools in the computer world, some of which are free and others are largely premium. However, these tools scan your USB drive using an efficient algorithm and recover deleted files and folders on your USB drive.

We strongly recommend you SysTools Pen Drive Recovery in order to perform this action. This tool will recover corrupted and deleted videos, images, documents and music files. But this is not the only feature it has. You will be able to recover files from exFAT, FAT, and NTFS, recover your data with its initial attributes, recover data not only from your USB drive but also from memory cards and pen drives.systools pen drive recover deleted usb files windows

Another great advantage is its compatibility. SysTools states that this tool runs on any Windows version, which makes it a universal life-savior.  There are many other tools on the market that should do the job, but SysTools Pen Drive Recovery is fully dedicated to external devices, so we suggest you download it and get back all your deleted data.


In conclusion, any of the file recovery tools mentioned above can help you to recover deleted files as well. Also, we recommend that you back up your files on cloud storage services so as to increase your options for file retrieval.

Hope we have been able to help you recover deleted files from your USB drive? If you have any questions, you can comment below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been since revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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