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I have a flash drive. When I plug it into my (Dell, Windows XP) computer it appears in My Computer as an empty drive - not a disk with no files on, a drive with no disk in! Double-clicking drive J: gives the message "Please insert a disk into drive J" (I get the same if I type in "J:" to the address bar, too...)

Someone suggested going to properties and entering a name but it won't let me type in this box. I've looked in the disk manager and again it appears as an empty drive.

I'm thinking that it might be fried...Can anyone give me any advice on how to either fix it or tell for sure that it's gone?

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Have you tried plugging the flash drive into another PC to see whether the problem is reproduceable? (sorry to state the bleedin' obvious if you have tried this already!) –  Richard Jan 27 '10 at 11:54
I have and it does the same thing on all other PCs. –  Mr_Chimp Jan 27 '10 at 12:06
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3 Answers

Did you take it out of a different PC without using the "Safely remove hardware" option?

If so it could be that the drive is still locked. Put it back in that PC and see if it's still accessible. If so then use "Safely remove" and try again in your PC.

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It's not actually mine, it's a colleagues so this may well have happened. If it was this that caused it then a) I'm not sure which computer this would have happened on and b) I'm pretty sure it wasn't one in our office so getting back to it might not be an option. Is there a way to unlock it from my PC if this is the case? –  Mr_Chimp Jan 27 '10 at 12:07
@Mr_Chimp - I don't think so (though someone else might well contradict me on this). –  ChrisF Jan 27 '10 at 12:23
The "safely remove" option doesn't do any unlocking. It just flushes the drive cache to be sure that no data would be lost. If the caching is turned off (default in Windows XP) it is almost safe to just pull out the drive without "safely" removing it. Through it makes sense for USB hard drives because it firstly issues a command to spin it down; it's better for a drive to be turned off that way, but you won't have any damage if you will forget to remove it one or two times. –  whitequark Jan 27 '10 at 12:29
Yeah, I thought that was the case. –  Mr_Chimp Jan 27 '10 at 12:40
Depends on Windows version probably, there were some "improvements" for USB drives in Vista. I'm sure that's correct for XP. –  whitequark Jan 27 '10 at 13:17
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You could try a product like File Scavenger from Quetek

The version available for download is a trial version that at least tells you whether it can find anything. You can then decide if it's worth purchasing.

There are other products out there for recovering data, just that I have used both of Quetek's products for both flash and hard drives and had good rates of recovery for hard drives, mixed results with flash drives.

They have quick guide on recovery recommendations.

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I would think your drive is not formatted.

Under Windows 7 I would recommend the computer management, with its disk section, where you could look at the drive and its partitions.

Try to add a new partition with any program you like, it should work then.

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