USB Data Recovery: Lost or Damaged Partition

USB flash drives are so widespread, yet many people don’t know what to do when faced with the prospect of never seeing their data again. Here’s how you can use data recovery software to recover lost data.

A USB flash drive is a portable storage device that stores data on NAND flash chips, and is used to transfer data from computer to computer. Whereas mechanical hard disk drives store data as a series of 0s and 1s on magnetic platters, USB flash drives store data as a series of charges on NAND flash chips; this is known as solid-state storage. Because they contain no moving parts, USB flash drives are more resistant to physical damage caused by knocks, bumps and drops. But problems that can arise are related to the drive or individual files being accessed. One such problem is a lost or damaged partition, which can be caused by malware, which can overwrite the partition with null bytes, or by data corruption.

A common message that presents to users when connecting a USB flash drive is “you need to format the drive before you can use it”. But if your USB flash drive contains data, this isn’t something you want to be doing. So, what is the issue here, and how can you fix it so your data is accessible again? This error is due to a lost USB partition, and a great USB data recovery tool for recovering a lost partition is TestDisk. It’s worth giving it a go because art best, it will enable you to access your data again, and at worst, it will just provide you with some technical information that may be useful to professional USB data recovery specialists. There’s no graphical user interface with TestDisk as it’s a command line prompt, but don’t let this put you off – TestDisk is a powerful free data recovery tool.

On the first run, the program will ask you if you want to start a new log file, and it will then look for any connected drives automatically. Once you see your USB flash drive, select “Analyse” then “Quick Search”. Highlight the damaged or missing partition, press ‘A’, then choose ‘Done’, and this should recover your lost partition. Damaged or deleted partitions may require a deeper scan that can take some time, since it involves TestDisk reading the entire partition block by block.

Alternatively, you can try using EaseUS Partition Master to recover your deleted or damaged partition. Once the data recovery software is launched, click on ‘Partition Recovery’ at the top of the main window, and then select your USB flash drive from the list of drives. Next, click ‘Scan’, which will scan your disk with a Quick Scan first, then a Deep Scan if it can’t find anything. The Deep Scan feature is useful for finding earlier deleted partitions. Once your lost partition has been found, select it and click ‘Proceed’, then ‘Recover Now’ to recover the lost partition.

USB Data Recovery