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Fixing an 8GB USB Flash Drive

Susanne from Australia writes:

My new 8GB flash drive won’t work after I accidentally left it in my computer when I switched it off for the night. Is there any way it can be fixed?

USB flash memory drives are “plug and play” devices that are generally simple to use for storing and retrieving anything from text documents to family photos and even video files. While they don’t usually have problems, a USB drive may occasionally experience issues if it isn’t removed from the USB port properly or if your computer is unexpectedly turned off while the drive is still being accessed. In these cases the data stored on your drive may become corrupted, or you may be unable to open the USB drive at all.

In most cases a corrupted USB drive must be fixed by formatting the device, but unfortunately this action also deletes all your stored data. For a shot at saving your files you should first check to ensure that the USB ports on your computer aren’t causing the issue. To check if the ports are the culprit you need to uninstall and then reinstall each of them through the Windows device manager tool.

Unplug the USB drive, if it’s still connected to your computer, and then open the “Start” menu and type the phrase “Device Manager” in the “Search” box.  Open the device manager window by clicking the icon directly underneath the “Control Panel” heading in the search results. The device manager window is also accessible by navigating to the main “Control Panel” button in the “Start” menu, clicking “Hardware and Sound,” and then selecting the “Device Manager” link.

Opening The Device Manager

To locate your USB ports, expand the “Universal Serial Bus” heading located at the bottom of the device manager list by clicking the arrow icon to the left of the heading. Right-click the first entry in the expanded list and select “Uninstall” and then “OK.”

Uninstalling USB Ports

Repeat the process with each of the remaining entries in the Universal Serial Bus list to uninstall each of your computer’s USB ports. To automatically reinstall all the ports at once, click the blue icon at the top of the device manager window labeled “Scan For Hardware Changes.” Reconnect the USB drive to any of your computer’s USB ports and see if the drive is now working properly.

Scan For Hardware Changes

If the USB drive continues to malfunction, your next option is to format the drive and return it to factory settings. To locate the USB drive, click the “Computer” button in the “Start” menu.

Opening The Computer Window

Locate the name of your USB drive underneath the “Devices With Removable Storage” heading. Right-click the drive’s name and select the “Format” option listed directly above the “Eject” option to open a new window.

Opening The Formatting Windwo

If the “Quick Format” box is checked underneath the “Format Options” heading, click the box to remove the check mark. While the quick format option doesn’t take as long to complete, it isn’t nearly as thorough and may not fix all issues of corrupted data. Click the “Start” button at the bottom of the window to format the drive, which erases all the existing data and resolves any problems with the USB device.

Formatting The USB Drive

After formatting the device, be sure to always properly remove the drive from your USB ports to prevent any future problems from occurring. The Windows 7 operating system includes a feature to safely remove a USB device without any risk of lost data. While the drive is still connected to your computer, right-click the “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media Icon” in the taskbar at the lower-right corner of your desktop. Click the option labeled “Eject” to ensure your computer’s operating system is no longer accessing any of the data stored on the drive and then unplug the device.

~ Ty Arthur