Lost Flash Drive

By omgitzmelissa
Nov 24, 2006
  1. Recently i've lost a usb 2.0 flash drive that had some important files that i intelligently forgot to back up. I've looked everywhere for the drive and i see no hopes of finding it, so is there any way to look into a computer's memory i have used the drive on and someone recover the files? This is my first post here, so i apoligize if there is already a thread or i am in the wrong spot. Thank you for your help =]
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    Imagine for a moment thise loose, drunken analogy...

    Your USB flash drive is a library. Your data is stored in books (sectors) in different book cases (tracks) in your library (drive platters). Your data is organized by shelves (clusters) in different rooms (partitions) in your library.

    In order to access your data, your computer decides what room to go to (partition). Once it is in the correct room, it searches the catalog (file allocation table / MFT) for the book (data) you want. If the book isn't in the catalog, your computer is too clueless to find it manually. :)

    Sometimes, these different components can get damaged or appear missing. For example, if you're MFT is corrupted, you no longer have a 'catalog' your computer can refer to in order to search for files. Sometimes the partition can become corrupted and your computer won't even know where to look for the catalog.

    In short (because I ramble too much), data loss often happens because your computer can't read the catalog (MFT / file table) to find files. If this is the cause of your data loss, then we'll need to find a way to get around it or fix it. Even though the catalog is damaged, those files could quite possibly still there. Your computer just doesn't know how to look for them anymore. There are programs which are designed to fix these issues and there are also programs that are designed to work around these problems. They don't always work very well or even at all, but recovery is very possible (especially for smaller files) and sometimes for the entire partition if you have partition damage. Just search around for freeware data recovery utilities... they are out there.
  3. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    you can try some file recovery programs, but good luck. A flash drive is static RAM, and once it gets corrupted, it is VERY difficult if not impossible to recover the data. NEVER store data you cannot afford to lose on a flash drive without having a backup. If the file table got corrupted and you haven't overwritten the files, you may be able to recover your data.

    If your flash drive isn't being recognized, read the FAQs. Unfortunately, your data is probably lost.
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