How to open USB flash drive without formatting.

Flash drives are a very popular and convenient means of storing and transferring information between computers. They are very reliable, can be rewritten many times, and are practically unaffected by external factors such as a magnetic field, the sun, and in many cases even moisture. However, the USB storage device may malfunction from time to time. One of the most famous is that when the computer is connected, the computer begins to write that the disk needs formatting , and the flash drive itself does not want to open. When viewing the properties of a drive, its size is displayed as 0 bytes, and the file system is RAW.

There are several ways to open a USB flash drive without formatting./How to open USB flash drive without formatting.

What to do in this case? Okay, if important data is not stored on it, you can just format it and use it for yourself. Well, what if you can’t delete the information? Is there a way out?

Fortunately, in most cases, the flash drive is damaged only at the software level, while the physical data continues to be recorded. Failure can occur for various reasons, most often due to the action of viruses, as well as when the work was completed incorrectly during a write or read session, for example, you pulled out a USB flash drive or the power was turned off.

There are several ways to regain access. We’ll walk you through the working methods and techniques to help you recover files on your portable storage device. All you need to do is follow the instructions carefully.

Checking for errors

The fastest, easiest and least painless way to regain access to files on a USB flash drive. To do this, you do not even need to download additional software, since all operations will be performed using the Windows command line. So, you are connecting the media to the USB connector, and instead of opening your files, you see a plate with the requirement to format the USB flash drive.

  1. Click “No” if you really do not want to lose the recorded data.
  2. Run Command Prompt as Administrator. To do this, click the Start button, enter cmd in the search bar, right-click on the utility in the search results and select “Run as administrator”. On Windows 10, you can select the appropriate item by right-clicking on the Start button.
  3. After the jumping cursor is displayed after the address of the system folder and username, type the command chkdsk x: / f, where instead of x specify the letter under which your flash drive is displayed in the system. Check the file explorer for this information. Press Enter to confirm and run.
  4. Wait a couple of minutes for the utility to do its job. The total time will depend on the size and class of the flash drive, as well as the number of files.

If all goes well, you will soon be able to view the contents of your portable drive. Just in case, copy the data to the hard disk of your computer and, by formatting the USB flash drive, get rid of the rest of the problems.

It is worth noting that it is possible that a message in the form “CHKDSK is not valid for RAW disks” may appear, which indicates that there are more serious problems with your device.

Unfortunately, with such a development of events, the formatting of the flash drive will be required, but if data is stored on it, the safety of which is a priority, then you can try to restore them, which will be discussed a little later.

Check for viruses

A very common and fairly common reason that the system does not display the contents of a flash drive and asks to format it may be its infection with viruses . For example, the so-called autorun virus turns all folders and files into shortcuts, hiding them, and some other viruses, in general, begin to require formatting the media and do not display its contents. Therefore, if checking the disk for errors did not lead to changes, perform a virus scan.

To do this, you need a regular antivirus or a portable antivirus scanner. Any antivirus has the ability to scan the system down to a separate folder. In the settings you need to specify your USB drive that needs to be formatted and wait for the procedure to end. If you are using a free antivirus and it missed the threat, download one of the free portable scanners. By the way, we have already written a detailed review of them on our website in this article. Check out its contents. In addition, regularly monitor the security of your system so that you do not suffer from the problems that arise.

Data recovery

Although in most cases the first two methods work flawlessly, let’s imagine a situation that they did not help. In this case, you can try to carry out data recovery using software specially written for this purpose. There are a huge number of such utilities. Let’s take a look at two of the best programs: TestDisk and R-Studio. They are simple and easy to understand. In the end, do not be too lazy to clean up, because the formatted drive no longer contains bad sectors. How to open a USB flash drive using each of the utilities?


  1. Download the program from the official website of the developers –
  2. Insert the USB flash drive into your computer, reject it when asked to format.
  3. Create a folder on your hard disk where the recovered files will be copied, unpack the downloaded program into it.
  4. Launch the recovery application by double-clicking on the photorec_win.exe file.
  5. Use the arrow to select the required drive, press Enter.
  6. Select the type of partition table for your flash drive, again by navigating through the list using the arrows. Press Enter to confirm.
  7. Next, select the partition to recover. You need Whole Disk. Move the pointer using the arrows and press Enter.
  8. Select the type of file system, ticking Other, which will mean FAT
  9. Select the folder where the recovered files will be copied. By default, the one you created at the very beginning of the procedure is selected.
  10. Click Y to start the process.
  11. At the very end, go to the folder and view all the files that have been recovered.


  1. Download the utility from the official site, install it on your computer.
  2. Open the main menu of the program, find your USB flash drive in the list of directories. It usually appears at the very bottom of the list.
  3. Click the “Scan” button at the top of the screen, confirm the operation in the next window that opens.
  4. Check the files you want to recover and click the “Recover” button.
  5. Wait until the end and go to the folder where the recovered information is stored.

Low-level formatting

Quite a lengthy procedure, which cannot be described in a few words. For this, we have prepared a separate article on low-level formatting . In it, we described the full cycle of actions, and also posted links to all the necessary utilities. You will succeed if you carefully read the material provided.


We hope that we helped you solve the problem in which the contents of the flash drive do not open, and the system says that it needs to be formatted. In the comments, we ask you to tell us if the article material helped you.

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