How to Retrieve Documents From a Flash Drive That Doesn't Work

by Ty Arthur

There's no need to panic if your flash memory drive has stopped working properly. The documents that were stored on the device are still written into the flash drive's memory, so they can be retrieved even if they aren't showing up on the drive anymore. In order to recover the lost files you must use a program that reconstructs the lost data and saves it onto your computer. You may need to also reformat the device, depending on what caused the original problem with the flash drive.


Access one of the Resources links for a file recovery program if you don't already have a similar program installed on your computer. Download an install a file recovery utility such as "Recover My Files."


Insert the flash drive into your computer's USB drive. Close down the pop-up window that will ask what action you want to take. Open the file recovery program.


Click on the "Complete File Search" button and then click on "Next." Look through the list of computer drives and click on the check box next to the entry for the USB flash drive. Click "Next."


Scroll down through the list of file types that the program can search for. Click the box next to the type of file you want to retrieve from the flash drive, such as "text documents."


Select the "Start" button at the bottom of the window. Wait for the program to finish running to see if it was able to retrieve any of the files. Click on "Save." Choose the location where you want the recovered files to be saved if the program found any.


Minimize the window if the file recovery program didn't find any files. Open the Start menu and then click on "My Computer."


Right-click on the drive letter for the flash drive. Select "Format" from the pop-up menu. Leave the options at their default settings and click on "Start."


Return to the file recovery software once the formatting process has ended. Go back to the main menu and click on "Complete Format Recover." Choose the flash drive from the list of drives and then select the type of document you want to search for.


Click "Start." Click "Save" once the program has fond the lost documents and choose the folder where you want the files to be saved.


  • check Formatting the flash drive should fix the problem and make the drive work properly again. If it still isn't working after that point the drive has suffered a hardware malfunction and will need to be completely replaced.
  • check The exact buttons and menu names you use may be slightly different depending on the specific file recovery program you are using.
  • check If your computer uses the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system you may need to go through another step to open the file recovery program. If the software doesn't open just by double-clicking on it you will need to right-click the program's icon and select "Run as Administrator" from the pop-up menu.

About the Author

Ty Arthur has been writing technical and entertainment-related articles for a variety of online sources since 2008. His articles have appeared on and many other websites. Arthur attended the Great Falls College of Technology and studied both computer science and creative writing.

Photo Credits

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