I've got a USB drive here, that somebody asked to try and fix. When inserting it, it shows up in explorer, but when I double click it I get a message saying "Please insert a disk into drive H:". So I went to disk management, to see if it was correctly formatted. It doesn't show up in the upper pane, and in the lower pane it tells me there is no medium in H:.

After this I used chkdsk: the path is invalid. Then I tried TestDisk, which is supposed to look at raw data, and this can't even find the disk.

So I'm assuming the drive is dead, even though its LED is burning. But I was wondering if there might be something else I could try?

This system is Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit by the way.

(I'm translating things from a Dutch install, so some names might be wrong)

  • It sounds like the drive is dead. The last thing you can do is to break the case, and hook up the drive using a normal connection, this at least gets the data off it. – Ramhound May 31 '12 at 16:18

I've had two defective flash drives exactly like this. It is defective.

There is a possibility you might have some luck with Linux. (I was able to read and write data primitively to one of my defective flash drives.)

On Linux:

  1. Before inserting the flash drive, in the terminal, run the command cat /proc/partitions. This will list the drives detected by the system.
  2. Insert the flash drive. I'll let you be the judge of when the flash drive could be "ready to go", but waiting five seconds should suffice.
  3. Run the command cat /proc/partitions again. If something new showed up, that's a good sign, and Linux is recognizing the flash drive. Proceed below if this is the case. Otherwise, I'm sorry, that flash drive may be a goner. :(

Safe data recovery with Linux:

It looks like you want to salvage the data off of that flash drive. The command cat /proc/partitions should have returned something that looks like this:

major minor  #blocks  name

   8        0  250059096 sda
   8        1  174558208 sda1
   8        2          1 sda2
   8        5   67108864 sda5
   8        6    8388608 sda6
   8       16 1953514492 sdb
   8       17 1953512448 sdb1
   8       32 1953514492 sdc
   8       33 1953512448 sdc1
   9        0 1953511288 md0

Remember the new name that appeared. For example purposes, I'm going to say that both sdc and sdc1 appeared.

If there's a number at the end, that means a partition was detected. It's easier to get data off when a partition is visible.

This command will save the entire contents of the partition sdc1 into a file called fdd_backup.img in the directory that the terminal is currently working in (probably the home directory, if you didn't cd):

sudo dd if=/dev/sdc1 of=fdd_backup.img conv=noerror

The output should be blank. For how long? It depends on how large the partition is and it might also depend on how corrupted the partition is.

dd will say how the data transferred, and when you return to the terminal, that's when execution has completed.

Okay, now you can copy off fdd_backup.img. Unfortunately, this is where my knowledge stops. I don't know what to tell you to help you recover this image, but I hope that you could get here so that you have something at least.

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  • This seems like it might work :) I'm going for dinner now though so I will report in later. Does this Linux distro have to be actually installed (on an hdd or a CD/DVD) or is a virtual PC fine as well? – Simon Verbeke May 31 '12 at 16:35
  • Oh, I don't think Virtual PC would work because the USB interface would be channeled through Windows. The Linux distro can be a LiveCD. The Ubuntu LiveCD has all the tools you need to try to get data off of the flash drive. You can also try the included tool gparted to get some basic information about the flash drive in a graphical user interface. I hope this helps! – Deltik May 31 '12 at 16:44

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