Recovering a Lost USB Partition

If you are getting the error message ‘You need to format the drive, before you can use it’ when trying to read back files from your memory stick, there is a solution that doesn’t involve spending money on a specialist data recovery service. The best available is TestDisk, a free open source utility. At best it will recover all your data and at worst it will collect detailed technical information about the failure, so you can get quotes from data recovery experts.

TestDisk is one of the best free USB data recovery tools out there, and it won't do any harm to give it a try; at best, it’ll enable you to get your data back, and at worst, it’ll give you a detailed technical evaluation of exactly what's wrong with your USB flash drive. You can then send the details to a company that specialises in USB data recovery. 

Because TestDisk is a command line prompt, there is no graphical user interface, but don’t let this put you off, it’s one of the most powerful data recovery tools there is. To recover your data, choose ‘create log file’ and select your USB drive. Then, ‘Analyze>Proceed>Search’ to scan for partitions. This will take a little while but once your lost partition is found, select it and choose ‘List’ to get a file listing.

If TestDisk doesn’t recover your data, your next stop is a professional USB data recovery service. USB flash drives are prone to physical damage due to their cheap and delicate components. And if the circuitry has sustained damage, the only option is a JTAG or ‘chip-off’ analysis, where we remove the NAND chip that stores your data and use a specialist data extractor to read the information on the chip.

USB Data Recovery