How to Recover Deleted Files from USB Drive [5 Ways]

Unintentionally erased or removed files from a USB flash device? Formatted a USB disk without backing up data? Don't worry. This comprehensive guide offers 5 solutions to help you recover deleted files from USB and get lost data back safely.


By Phoebe / Updated on January 5, 2024

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USB flash drives (also known as thumb drives, memory sticks, or pen drives) are popular as portable storage solutions for computers and mobile devices. They serve as compact repositories for all kinds of data, including music, photos, videos from smartphones, cameras, and other handheld devices.

Many users entrust their valuable data to these removable storage devices. However, despite the convenience of USB flash drives, they are prone to data loss and face similar vulnerabilities to other storage media.

Can deleted files from a USB flash drive be recovered? Absolutely. This guide outlines 5 methods to recover deleted files from USB, whether through non-software methods or using professional file recovery software.


What causes USB data loss?

Understanding these potential causes can help users take preventive measures to protect data on USB drives, such as regular backups and safe handling practices. USB drive data loss issues can occur for various reasons, and these are some of the most common causes you may encounter.

✐ Accidental or mistaken deletion from the USB drives.

✐ USB drives become infected with viruses or malware.

✐ Physical damage to the USB drive such as exposure to water and extreme temperatures.

✐ File system corruption is caused by improper ejection, power surge, or software errors.

✐ Accidentally formatting a USB drive or encountering a partition error during formatting.

✐ Hardware failure resulted from components within the USB drive.

✐ Interruptions during data transfer when using the USB drive.

★Tips: How to maximize the likelihood of successful USB data recovery:
Stop executing "write" functions, preventing the intact data from being overwritten and beyond recovery.
Don't reboot the drive. You can turn off the computer but do not turn it on.
Never format the USB drive, as formatting will completely erase all the data on the drive.

How to recover deleted files from USB

After grasping the main reasons behind USB drive data loss, it is crucial to explore the 5 ways to recover deleted files from USB drives. These solutions fall into two main approaches: using software and choosing non-software methods.

Recover USB files with Restore Previous Versions feature

How to recover deleted files from USB without software? An effective way is to recover files from earlier versions of Windows 10/8.1/8/7. Windows provides a useful feature called "Restore previous versions". However, for this method to work, you must ensure that File History is set to automatically back up your files.

Step 1. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer.

Step 2. Access the Start menu, type This PC, and press Enter.

Step 3. Right-click on your USB flash drive and select Properties from the menu that appears.

Step 4. Navigate to the Previous Versions tab in the Properties window. Here you will find a list showing the available recovery options.


Step 5. Select the required previous version from the list and click Restore to start the recovery process.

If you see no previous versions, this means that you have not enabled this feature. It is recommended to consider the second recovery technique, which guarantees to work no matter what.

Recover permanently deleted files from USB with software

AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional offers a comprehensive and user-friendly data recovery solution that caters to even beginners who usually shy away from technical tools. This software simplifies the file recovery process making it accessible to all users, even those with minimal computer expertise.

Its functionality extends to retrieving files from damaged, formatted, or corrupted flash drives. The "Recover Data" function is good at recovering various types of files from a variety of storage media and is compatible with Windows versions such as 11/10/8/8.1/7/XP/Vista. It can retrieve lost documents, images, emails, etc. from USB drives, HDDs, SD cards, SSDs, and other storage devices.

Free DownloadWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Tips: For Windows Server users, it is recommended to use AOMEI Partition Assistant Server Edition.

To start the recovery process using AOMEI Partition Assistant Pro, follow these simple steps:

Step 1. Launch the software and navigate to Recovery > Recover Data in the main tab.


Step 2. The software will start the recovery process.

Step 3. Select the specific USB drive you want to recover and click Start Scan.


Step 4. All deleted or lost files will be displayed. Use filtering or search functions to locate target files. Click Recover ** files.


Step 5. Select the destination folder path on your PC to store the recovered data. Click Select Folder.


Step 6. The recovery process will start and once successful, the data will be saved to the specified path. When you see the small window below, click OK.


After the USB flash drive data recovery process is completed, your deleted data will be recovered effectively. In addition, if you accidentally lose a partition, AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional Edition can also help restore the lost partition easily.

Recover USB data from Windows File Recovery

To meet the growing demand for third-party data recovery solutions like AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional, Microsoft has launched its data recovery application called Windows File Recovery.

To use this useful tool, make sure your Windows operating system version is Windows 10 version 2004 or higher. If your system meets these requirements, you can proceed to recover the USB drive by following these steps:

Step 1. Download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store.


Step 2. Connect the USB flash drive to the computer and note the drive letter assigned to it.

Step 3. Open a Windows Terminal or CMD as administrator.

Step 4. Enter the following command: Winfr E: C: /extensive (remember to replace "E:" with the drive letter assigned to your USB flash drive and "C:" with the drive letter assigned to your storage device Drive letter to save recovered files.)


Step 5. Let Windows File Recovery complete the process.

Recover deleted files from USB using CMD

Command Prompt (CMD) serves as the command line processor for Windows, enabling users to execute commands directly. Using the command line, you can recover deleted files from USB by following these steps:

Step 1. Connect the USB device to the computer and confirm that the system recognizes it.

Step 2. Press the Windows + R keys simultaneously to open the Run window. Type cmd and press Enter to grant access to the Command Prompt window.

Step 3. Enter the command chkdsk g: /r/f/x and press Enter (replace "g" with the exact letter assigned to the USB.)


Step 4. Type attrib -h -r -s /s /d F:\*.* and press Enter (replace "F" with the exact letter assigned to the USB.)


After successful execution, the deleted files should be visible on the USB drive.

Recover USB files from Windows Backups

Like File History, the Backup and Restore feature is an integrated Windows backup system that enables data backup and retrieval. It originated in Windows 7 and retained the name "Backup and Restore" in Windows 8, 10, and 11. Creating backups ahead of time can simplify this process.

How to recover deleted files from USB from Windows backups:

Step 1. Access Control Panel > System and Security and select Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Click Restore my files.


Step 2. In the Restore Files box, use the following options:

☞ Search: Enter a file name fragment to select deleted files for recovery.

☞ Browse for files: Navigate to the folder containing the deleted files, select it, and click Add Files.

☞ Browse folders: Select the entire folder containing deleted files.


Step 3. Select the location to recover deleted files from the flash drive. You can select the original location or specify a new location. Then, click on Start Restore.

Allow the process to complete. Check the selected location to find recovered data. All previously permanently deleted files will be restored at the specified location.


Recovering deleted files from a USB drive is not an irreversible loss. In this article, we detail 5 effective ways to recover deleted files from USB. AOMEI Partition Assistant stands out as a leading solution offering extensive file retrieval capabilities. Its features include deleted file recovery, format recovery, raw drive recovery, and a host of other data recovery features.

However, this software goes beyond mere data recovery – it is a multifunctional tool that offers a variety of functions. Apart from recovery, it can also be used as a disk cloner, MBR/GPT converter, application/folder mover, and disk formatter, enabling users to resize partitions, conduct disk speed tests, perform junk file cleaning, etc.

FAQs on recovering deleted files from USB drive

Q1. Where do the deleted files from the USB drive go?

Files deleted from the USB drive are not physically deleted. Instead, their space on the drive is marked as available, allowing for potential recovery using USB recovery software before overwriting.

Q2. How to repair a corrupted USB flash drive?

Repairing a physically damaged USB flash drive is complex and often requires transferring the flash chip to a new circuit board. For non-experts, it is recommended to seek professional data recovery services.

Q3. What to do if data on the USB drive is lost?

✍ Stop using the USB drive to prevent file overwriting.

✍ Safely disconnect the drive from the computer.

✍ Avoid trying to copy USB data to another location.

Q4. Can permanently deleted files be recovered in Windows 10?

Yes, it can be restored. Take advantage of the option of previous versions of Windows or use data recovery software to retrieve it.

Phoebe · Staff Editor
Phoebe, an editor at AOMEI Technology, is dedicated to offering optimal solutions for Windows-related concerns, specializing in partition management, disk upgrades, data recovery, and more. During her free time, she enjoys indulging in reading, watching movies, and exploring her passion for cooking.