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I have a USB flash drive, that when plugged into any machine (XP, Vista or Windows 7) the following message is displayed:

You need to format the disk in drive I: before you can use it.

Indeed looking at the drive in Disk Managment the file system is recognized as RAW. This USB key was previously working on several different XP machines and has not been used on a Mac.

I suspect at some point in time the Flash Drive has suffered a shock, which has damaged the flash chip. Has anyone had any experience or sucess recovering data from these drives at minimal cost. Failing that has anyone got some good tips to give to users on care of USB flash drives?

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if this thread goes the way of a "tips" thread, can someone mark it as community wiki. –  Richard Slater Sep 9 '09 at 13:22

7 Answers 7

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'd recommend running test disk over it to see if you can recover the partition table I linked to some instructions for it in this question http://superuser.com/questions/32825/partition-table-corrupted-usb-flash-drive/32877#32877

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Looking good so far, good find. Running it sucessfuly on Windows 7 x64. –  Richard Slater Sep 9 '09 at 13:50
    
Solved the problem for me, thank you very much. –  Richard Slater Sep 9 '09 at 15:11
    
Always good to hear –  Col Sep 9 '09 at 18:44

PhotoRec is great for recovering deleted images and other files. It's also GPL.

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I've had good luck using R-Studio to recover deleted files on hard drives, I'm not sure if it will work on flash drives. It's worth a shot -- you can download a free demo on their website.

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Certainly does work on flash drives, looks like a really well featured product. Price isn't bad, suppose it depend on how much value you put in the data on the drive. –  Richard Slater Sep 9 '09 at 13:44

Try getback data from runtime.org http://www.runtime.org/data-recovery-software.htm

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I've used Recuva before to recover any deleted files. It can usually recover data from months ago. It's pretty amazing. Also, it's free and it's a Piriform product (Heard of CCleaner?).

Here's the link: http://www.recuva.com/

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Recuva crashed for me when i tried it so i'd rather recommend pc inspector file recovery which worked like a charm for me.

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I've had good luck with ZAR. Free for images, inexpensive for its power otherwise.

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