Do you have an unusable USB stick? If it’s stopped working for some reason, you will probably find one of the following scenarios: either the memory has been used up completely even though there are no files or Windows just won’t let you format the drive. In the worst case scenario, the USB drive name refuses to show up on your computer.
If any of this sounds familiar, you should know it may not be entirely the USB drive’s fault. There are many reasons why you may experience these errors. Sometimes there are partition errors which can suck up the storage space.
Follow the detailed steps in this guide to fix an unformattable and unusable USB drive. The objective is to permanently wipe the old data and gift yourself a new USB drive.
Note: the following steps are done on a Windows computer.
1. Detect a Corrupted Drive
If your computer is still able to detect your USB drive, you might want to know if it’s been corrupted. Select the “Properties” of the drive folder and check the device status. If it says “This device is working properly,” this USB drive is worth saving.
There’s no need to worry if you can’t see the USB drive folder. Pay attention to the next few steps as they will help you make the drive usable again.
2. Wipe the USB Drive Clean with Diskpart Command Line Tool
Windows comes with a built-in format disk option to erase everything from a USB flash drive. This is accessible from a simple right-click, but at this stage it probably won’t work.
If you no longer need the data in the removable media, the command-line tool is a better way to help you get to the root of the problem and fix the storage space issues once and for all.
On Windows 10, go to the search button and run the command prompt as an administrator.
Make sure the USB drive has been inserted already. As soon as it starts, enter
diskpart as shown here. It will soon load a program called “Diskpart,” which is basically Microsoft’s disk-partitioning utility. It allows you to view, create, delete or modify any disk.
Next to “Diskpart,” enter
list disk. This will provide a list of each and every disk connected to your computer. Here you can easily identify your USB drive by its size.
After this, enter
select disk#. Instead of #, you have to insert the numerical value of the removable drive as shown in the below screen. Very soon you should see a success status message, “Disk# is now the selected disk.”
Warning: do not accidentally select your computer’s hard drive number – in this case it was “0.” You will regret it.
To wipe your removable media clean, enter
clean. This will empty the contents of the USB drive completely. You can again check for freed space using
list disk. Now the USB drive is ready for further modifications.
3. Reallocate the USB Drive Volume from Disk Management Console
Even after you wipe your USB drive clean, your computer will not be able to view it. Therefore, we will need to open the Disk Management Console, which is easily accessible from the search menu. You can also type “diskmgmt.msc.”
As soon as the console window is open, you can see the disk number for your USB drive. Right-click on it and select “create simple volume.” It will lead to a “new simple volume wizard” pop-up window.
If your USB drive was identifiable on your computer, you won’t ever see this option. Instead, you will be able to directly format the disk from this menu. There is a reason we had to earlier run “Diskpart” in the command prompt.
Once you click next, you can specify the volume size for the pen drive. Select the maximum volume, which is shown as a default unit in MB.
As soon as you see the next step, select “assign drive letter,” which will help you view your pen drive once again. I chose “F” as shown here.
Format the partition in the next step. This may be just an extra step because you have already wiped the data clean. But it is always better to be sure.
Click “Finish” to complete the new simple volume wizard which will now be allocated to the USB drive.
After you reallocate the unallocated USB drive space, you will be able to view the USB drive storage once again.
4. Use Partition Wizard to Keep Your USB Drive in Mint Condition
Although you can now use the removable media once again, you will need a third-party tool to keep the USB drive working and optimize the disk storage space. For this, there is a good freemium tool called “Partition Wizard.” It can help you align SSD partitions, clone disks, and much more.
Download and install the software. It might prompt you to install a third-party anti-virus software, which you can uncheck as you may not need it.
You can view the removable media drive. Go for a full scan to identify any potential corrupt areas.
The scanning will restore your USB drive to its full available space. Once done, you can start using it just like when it was in mint condition.
If we ever find our USB drives usable and unformattable, our first impulse is to throw them away. But, there is still so much data, you can carry on it as long as it has not been corrupted. Therefore, it’s better to diagnose the problem and find out whether your pen drive is still recoverable. If yes, then you may be able to start using it once again as if nothing really happened. You might also want to know how to format it to a suitable filesystem after it is recovered.
Do you have a flash drive you can’t completely erase the data from? Let us know and we might be able to help you.