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Extract data off flash drive not appearing in Windows?


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#1 krs000a

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Posted 31 May 2018 - 01:49 AM

Hello,

 

I have a USB flash drive which suddenly is not appearing in Windows. By not appearing, I mean that I plug it in, and the drive letter does not show up in Windows Explorer.

This is what I have tried so far (to no avail):

- Tried all the different USB ports on my Windows 7 computer (the ports do work, as other flash drives work when I plug them in)

- Tried the flash drive on a different computer with Windows 10

- Ran Disk Management - the drive is not showing there either

- Attempted to update the USB drivers, although Windows said the drivers were up to date already

- I read somewhere I should plug in a working flash drive in one USB port, then (while the working drive is still connected) connect the problem drive in a different port - tried this, didn't work

 

I don't care about the flash drive itself, it can be trashed for all I care, but there are some files (text files and a few pictures) on it that I would like to save if it's possible. I have previously managed to salvage some data off corrupt external hdd's using various data rescue type software, but in all those cases the drives appeared but Windows claimed they were corrupted / empty / not formatted.

In this case, it's rather like the drive is completely dead as it's not appearing or generating any error messages or dialog boxes or anything.

 

Do you have any suggestion on what I could do to possibly retrieve some of the data off this drive (apart from paying an expensive data rescue company)? Just some stuff I could try, that I already haven't tried, just as a last attempt before giving up on it?

 

Any suggestions or ideas are welcomed. Thank you for reading.


Edited by krs000a, 31 May 2018 - 01:54 AM.


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#2 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 31 May 2018 - 06:11 PM

If Windows refuses to see this drive then it might be worth your while trying a self-booting version of Linux. This will run entirely in RAM and, since Linux tends to ignore Windows permissions, it may let you see the contents of this drive. You can get Linux Mint from here -

 

https://linuxmint.com/

 

Choose the appropriate version, 32 or 64 bit, for your hardware and download the ISO. This will need burning to either a DVD - using either Image Burn or Windows Explorer 'Burn files to disc feature - or, if you prefer a USB stick using Rufus to burn the files to the USB stick.

 

Make sure that whichever you choose is set as 1st in Boot Priority then let the computer boot from it. Just let it boot to the desktop, do NOT click 'Install'.Once you have got to the desktop insert the doubtful USB drive and see if Linux recognises it. If it does you should be able to use the built in file management application to recover files off it. If it doesn't recognise it, then you are almost certainly out of luck.

 

Chris Cosgrove


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#3 krs000a

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 05:01 AM

If Windows refuses to see this drive then it might be worth your while trying a self-booting version of Linux. This will run entirely in RAM and, since Linux tends to ignore Windows permissions, it may let you see the contents of this drive. You can get Linux Mint from here -

 

https://linuxmint.com/

 

Choose the appropriate version, 32 or 64 bit, for your hardware and download the ISO. This will need burning to either a DVD - using either Image Burn or Windows Explorer 'Burn files to disc feature - or, if you prefer a USB stick using Rufus to burn the files to the USB stick.

 

Make sure that whichever you choose is set as 1st in Boot Priority then let the computer boot from it. Just let it boot to the desktop, do NOT click 'Install'.Once you have got to the desktop insert the doubtful USB drive and see if Linux recognises it. If it does you should be able to use the built in file management application to recover files off it. If it doesn't recognise it, then you are almost certainly out of luck.

 

Chris Cosgrove

 

Hello,

Thank you for replying. I downloaded and ran Linux Mint 64-bit Cinnamon (I suppose the odds of getting the flash drive to work wouldn't vary depending on which one of the four Linux Mint editions that were available for download?).

When it first booted off the DVD, the flash drive was already inserted, and I noticed a bunch of error messages during the boot sequence, I can't recall exactly what they said, but I got the impression they were about the flash drive.

Once Linux booted, the flash drive appeared as UFD USB Flash Drive, but when trying to access it, I got a dialog box saying:

Unable to mount location

Can't mount file

 

When checking the drives Properties, the information under the Basic tab said:

Name: UFD USB Flash Drive

Type: Unknown (application/octet-stream)

Size: unknown

Location: computer:///

Volume: unknown

Accessed: unknown

Modified: unknown

 

Under the Permission tab, it said:

The permission of "UFD USB Flash Drive" could not be determined.

 

I really don't know much about Linux, but I just randomly right-clicked the flash drive and choose "Open With Other Application..." and randomly selected "Files". Then it told me:

Could not display "computer:///UFD%20USB%20Flash%20Drive.drive".

The location is not a folder.

 

I did notice that upon starting Linux Mint, I had several boot options. First time, I just chose Start Linux Mint, but after I tried all the things I listed above, I restarted the computer and went with the boot option Start in Compatibility mode instead, but Linux Mint refused to start then, it just kept loading into infinity saying:

Loading /casper/vmlinuz... ok

Loading /casper/initrd.lz...

 

It said that for over 30 minutes until I finally gave up.

 

Is there anything else I can try?

For some reason I think there is a chance the data on the flash memory is intact, and it's just the hardware surrounding it that is malfunctioned. Sort of like a harddrive when the mechanism fails, but the data itself is on there, not just accessible. It seems to me that if the data would be corrupt, the flash drive would appear in Windows as unformatted / corrupt / not accessible, but it would appear. I don't know, I'm just wondering if there would be any way to extract some of the data off of there.

If you have any further suggestions, please don't hesitate to let me know.



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 07:41 AM

In Disk Management it may be easy to miss if the drive is RAW or Not Initialized. Boot Windows and attach the drive. Open a command prompt and type the following commands

 

diskpart             opens the diskpart command window

list disk

 

Is the USB drive listed?



#5 krs000a

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 07:01 AM

In Disk Management it may be easy to miss if the drive is RAW or Not Initialized. Boot Windows and attach the drive. Open a command prompt and type the following commands

 

diskpart             opens the diskpart command window

list disk

 

Is the USB drive listed?

 

Sorry for the late reply. I tried your suggestion, and the drive is not listed when using the list disk command. Only the C: drive is listed.



#6 DataMedic

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 10:24 AM

When flash drives fail, it tends to be very suddenly.  They're cheap Chinese chips (mostly NAND chips rejected by SSD/Phone/Tablet makers) which are repurposed for thumb drives. 

 

It might be worth checking the USB header to be sure no solder joints were damaged from plugging/unplugging, but beyond that professional recovery will be the only likely option.  Unless the data is worth more than a couple hundred $$$, it's probably best to just toss it.






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