I put my USB hard drive to another computer at work (Windows 7) and after trying to read it for a while in the end it asked me that I need to format it before I can use it. Of course I said no. It was working fine.

Now when I attach my USB drive to any computer it acts like it is not formatted and asks if I want to format it.

Is there a way to correct this. Or at least save the contents?

  • 6
    Sounds like it's corrupted or damaged – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Aug 8 '11 at 22:27
  • What file system was it actually formatted with? Can you get it to appear normally on any of your machines now? – James T Snell Aug 8 '11 at 22:34
  • I had a USB drive I used excusively with Windows XP. It had the same issue. Some USB drives are simply cheap and nasty. As for saving the contents, I can't help you there. – Hand-E-Food Aug 8 '11 at 22:43
  • 1
    Do you wait for the "safe to remove" the USB device message before unplugging the USB drive? – sawdust Aug 8 '11 at 23:03

This happens to a lot of my portable hard drives too. I regularly have to switch between Linux, mac and various flavors of Windows and can't always keep one hard drive for each type. But I've used them with this behavior ongoing for a couple of years now. The data is still fine, I don't why it does it, but I'd say keep a backup and don't worry too much about it. I've run the windows drive error check and it fixes it for a short while before coming back.

So if someone else comes along with a way to fix this behavior, then great, I'll have a fix too, but otherwise I wouldn't sweat it. :)

Edit: I did just find a way to fix missing or corrupt partitions on your drive: - Follow the instructions from here


Data on USB drives can be corrupted easily from their frequent in/out of computers. I try to keep a backup of anything I put on a USB device for this reason.

Your best bet for recovering the data would be to use a data recovery tool. CNET has a few trial/free applications.

Or, if you're a windows user - you can learn diskpart / testdisk. Just google them, they are fairly straight-forward. This will also help you fix your MBR / Format if your disk needs it.

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