I have a USB flash drive which is no longer recognized by my computer. Windows Disk Management and DiskPart report No Media with no storage space (0 bytes) on the drive and I cannot partition or format the drive:

Console window with DiskPart showing "No Media" on the flash drive
Source

If the drive appears in Windows Explorer, trying to access it returns an error message indicating that there is no disk inserted, such as the following:

Please insert a disk into drive X:.

Various disk partitioning and data recovery utilities don't recognize the drive or only give a generic name for the drive and cannot access the contents of the drive.

What can I do? How do I recover data from the drive?

This question comes up often and the answers are usually the same. This post is meant to provide a definitive, canonical answer for this problem. Feel free to edit the answer to add additional details.

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Failing Flash Drive

"No Media" means the flash memory controller cannot communicate with the NAND flash memory on the drive. Because of this, it appears to the computer as an empty disk drive. This is usually caused by the NAND flash failing. To the computer, the drive is not much different than a floppy or optical drive with no disk inserted.

As a result, it is not possible to access any data on the drive, nor is it possible to repartition or reformat the drive. Again, from the standpoint of the computer, there is no medium in the drive to be formatted or repartitioned.

Fake Drive?

It is also possible that the drive is fake and the cheap memory chip in the drive has failed. Drives failing in this manner will often show up as a storage device with 8MB capacity.

Potential Hardware-Specific Restoration

From this answer: You can obtain more information about the drive and its controller using a tool called ChipGenius. You might be able to recover the drive hardware by using a tool such as Bootice to manipulate the MBR.

Additionally, if the drive uses a Phison controller, you may be able to use the Phison USB Mass Production Tools to reprogram the controller and restore normal operation. Note that doing this will erase all data on the drive.

Data Recovery

In cases where stored information is merely corrupted, consumer data recovery software can often recover the contents. However, that won't work if the drive fails as described here.

There are data recovery services that can use special equipment to try to recover content from the chips. However, it is expensive. If you can't restore the drive to normal operation, it probably isn't worth sending it to a data recovery service unless the data stored on the drive is particularly valuable. You should simply replace the drive.

  • Jake Gould: I'm not sure if I agree with your edit. I won't be around much longer today, but the answer is deliberately structured in this fashion. To understand why I format my answers this way, see recent answers posted by Thaddeus at Science Fiction & Fantasy. Let me know what you think about this format, perhaps in this chat room, and I will respond tomorrow. – bwDraco Jan 31 '15 at 4:03
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    Looking at Thaddeus’s answers versus yours, I see a key difference: This is a bullet list of items with one paragraph at the top. Formatting it so you are essentially shouting an answer doesn’t bring more focus to something that already has focus. It just looks like shouting. – JakeGould Jan 31 '15 at 4:14
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    @JakeGould ultimately you should respect the wishes of the person who originally wrote a post if there's disagreement about an edit (unless we're talking something completely inappropriate). I agree though that heading formatting shouldn't be abused to make text stand out (it should be used for headings in long posts), and I think your edits were appropriate. – nhinkle Jan 31 '15 at 4:28
  • @nhinkle Agree with the spirit of the original poster, but I believe the tone used for an area like the science fiction and fantasy site is different from other sites that are essentially dealing with hard facts. – JakeGould Jan 31 '15 at 4:37
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    I have had lots of luck with the HP USB Recovery Tool. – Burgi Mar 2 '16 at 22:38

Go to MyComputer/Manage/USB Controller/USB Mass Storage/Unistall while plugged, then remove it, and re-plug in, the driver will -re-installed. It solved it on my computer.

  • 1: I knew my USB Drive was fine, but had been used as a bootable USB to install Windows. This suggestion made it possible for me to see the entire partition in Disk Management. 2: I had no data I needed to recover on it, so I cleaned it before the last step; this can maybe be avoided if you have... I went to diskpart (open in CMD): 2.1: list disk 2.2: sel disk x 2.3: clean 3: Finally, to be able to format it again, I wen into the drives properties and under policies and switched it to "Optimize for performance" (instead of "Optimize for quick removal"). – RasmusP_963 Feb 21 '17 at 11:14
  • This worked for me – PlanetWilson May 6 '17 at 14:05

This may happen also when there is insufficient power supply to the flash from the usb port. Check that you are not overloading the usb ports with power hungry peripheralas. Also tortured USB cables, if there are any connected, may sometimes leak current and reduce the available power.

The flash drive is fried, or at least not functioning. I did this to save the content: put it in the freezer for a couple of hours, and it appeared again for just enough time to copy the contents to the harddrive. Then it disappeared again.

protected by bwDraco May 15 '16 at 18:28

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