Recover Deleted, Lost Files From USB Drive, SD Memory Cards, Hard Drives
There are a couple of ways to recover / restore files that are accidentally deleted or lost on your USB Flash Drives, SD Memory Cards, Hard Disk Drives and other storage devices. You can even restore your entire system in the event of a failed operating system (OS) update, a virus attack or when disk memory errors occur.
The most common are using a third party data recovery software (e.g, EaseUS) or one provided by the manufacturer. Let’s look at these two options:
When you buy a USB Memory Stick it may come with some recovery tools (e.g., SanDisk “RescuePRO Deluxe”), and these can help you out as long as you remember to first download / install the software. Unfortunately, many Flash Drive manufacturers don’t include tools.
Related Article: Best High Capacity, Inexpensive USB Flash Drives 2018 for more information about which drives have included software, and buyers guide for Memory Sticks.
Similarly, SanDisk offers the “RescuePRO” software for their line of SD Memory Cards, while Transcend has the “RecoveRx”. It’s great to have a fall-back option in case something goes wrong with the Memory Card that has all your vacation photos, another once-in-a-lifetime event, or when you just captured a great day of pictures.
Related Article: Best SD Memory Card For DSLR Cameras and Photography 2018 for buyers guide and details on memory card tools.
It’s the same scenario with your other storage devices: External Hard Disk Drives, External Solid State Drives, Internal Drives, etc. Some manufacturers have them, and some don’t.
Also, keep in mind that with the free version of the tools provided with the device purchase these are only valid for that manufacturer. SanDisk RescuePro only helps you for your SanDisk USB Drive, SD Memory Cards and other media. If you are like most consumers, you have multiple cards, drives and storage from a number of different vendors.
You can usually opt to purchase their full version of these tools, which does allow you to use them on some other devices. This is a hybrid vendor-third party solution.
Windows System Tools
The latest Windows operating system provides a couple of tools to assist with recovering files which may have been corrupted due to virus, mal-ware or errors in the transfer process. If after copying / moving files from your laptop, smart-phone or other device to external memory (e.g., SD Memory Card, USB FlashDrive, External HDD, etc.), you find that the files on the external device are corrupted:
First step, try another external memory storage device. If possible, also use a different port on the source device to connect to the external memory.
This will let you know that either your original memory device has an issue, the port has an issue or a combination of both. Once you have successfully transferred your files, you can trouble shoot the original corrupted memory device and/or the ports.
If this didn’t work, the second option is to use a recovery tool.
For a Windows 10, 8.1, 8, or 7 OS system, you can plug the memory device into your computer and try the following command line options (this information provided by EaseUS in their article on How to Recover Corrupted Files from USB Using CMD):
- Step 1. Press Windows key + R simultaneously.
- Step 2. Type CMD to enter command prompt.
- Step 3. In the console window, type ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D X:*.* (Replace the X with the actual drive letter of the USB drive).
- Step 4. Press Enter and wait for the corrupted file recovery from USB hard drive.
(Tim Fisher at Lifewire explains what this does in: Attrib Command Examples, Switches, Options, and More )
In this case, you use software that is not specific to any one manufacturer / vendor.
The third party software tools should work across all types of devices for all vendors. This has the simplicity that you only need to have one tool installed, and only have to understand how one piece of software user interface works in order to manage all your devices.
There are many solutions out there, and we’ll look at one of the top products: EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard .
What we like about EaseUS is the simple user interface, and being able to use the tools across all types of devices: PC, laptop, hard drive, SSD, USB, memory card, digital camera, etc.
Generally, it’s a quick 3-step process to go from lost / deleted data to fully restored files. With the option for either a “quick scan” mode or a “deep scan” mode, you can work with the software until you get all lost data back again.
The 8 Key Features of the tools include:
- Accidentally Deleted Files Recovery – Quickly recover data from unexpected lost caused by accidentally deletion or affected by virus attack.
- Formatted Recovery – Formatting a disk does not erase the data on the disk, only the data on the address tables. You still have a big chance to retrieve formatted data.
- Recycle Bin Empty Data Recovery – Data deleted from the recycle bin is not always an immediate and permanent deletion. If you change your mind after emptying the “trash”, EaseUS Data recovery software helps you bring the files back.
- Lost Partition Recovery – Even if your whole partition is missing or cannot be recognized by system, your data is still recoverable.
- Virus Attack Recovery – PCs are easily been attacked by some unknown virus or malware. This tool can quickly get them back
- Hard Disk Damage- When a hard drive is corrupted, it become inaccessible. EaseUS data recovery (env the free version) allows users to get data back
- RAW Partition Recovery – When the hard disk or partition suddenly becomes RAW and you cannot access the stored data, the data recovery software can still bring the data back to a usable format.
- OS Crash Recovery – Your data will be inaccessible in an unbootable Windows system. EaseUS provides WinPE to create bootable media to recover lost data and get your OS working properly again.
This last item is particularly important if you did not create a Windows USB Recovery drive before a system crash. One colleague had an automated Windows OS update fail to properly install, making the computer unable to restart / boot-up. The ability to recover from an OS Crash is something everyone should plan for.
The scan modes can find and recover more than 1000 File Types, including:
- Document – DOC/DOCX, XLS/XLSX, PPT/PPTX, PDF, CWK, HTML/HTM, INDD, EPS, etc.
- Graphics – JPG/JPEG, TIFF/TIF, PNG, BMP, GIF, PSD, CRW, CR2, NEF, ORF, SR2, MRW, DCR , WMF, RAW, SWF, SVG , RAF, DNG, etc.
- Video – AVI, MOV, MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, MKV, ASF, FLV, SWF, MPG, RM/RMVB, MPEG, etc.
- Audio – AIF/AIFF, M4A, MP3, WAV, WMA, APE, MID/MIDI, RealAudio, VQF,FLV, MKV, MPG, M4V, RM/RMVB, OGG, AAC, WMV, etc.
- Email – PST, DBX, EMLX, (from Outlook, Outlook Express), etc.
- Other Files – Such as Archives (ZIP, RAR, SIT, ISO etc.), exe, html, SITX, etc.
There are three versions available:
- Free – Recover up to 2GB of files – perfect for testing out the tools, or doing a small file recovery
- Pro ($69.95) – Unlimited Data Recovery, Lifetime technical support
- Pro + WinPE ($99.90) – Also includes bootable media for emergency. You can recover data even when your system fails to start or crashes.
A final item that makes the EaseUS a great tool is their helpful Guides. These give users instructions on how to recover their files, and get their systems working again. Three of the Guides that most people would be interested in are for:
- SD Memory Card – how to recover lost / deleted files
- USB Flash Drive – how to recover lost / deleted files
- Hard Drive – how to recover deleted files
The next time you have a problem with lost / accidentally deleted files, or a corrupted disk, these tools can hopefully recover your files and save the day. Ideally, you’ll already have the tools before an event.