Repair a faulty thumb drive and get it working again

Thumb drives, flash drives, pen drives or whatever you want to call them are great for carrying files in your pocket, except when they stop working. It may be possible to fix a faulty thumb drive though.

A problem that you may encounter with a thumb drive that someone else has used is that it is not recognised by Windows. Nothing happens when it is plugged in to the PC and it does not appear in Explorer. Windows does not ask you what you want to do with the drive and it just isn’t there.

This can happen when thumb drives are faulty too. One day the computer stops recognising that it has been inserted. It may be because some files were corrupted on it.

If a thumb drive does not appear in Explorer, when there is no notification when it is inserted, and when you just cannot find it, it means that Windows does not recognise it. This may be because the drive has a format that is not recognised, but it could be because key files have been corrupted.

This can happen with USB drives too, and it is not just a problem with thumb drives.

Open an Explorer window and find This PC on the left (or Computer). Right click it and select Manage in the menu that is displayed.

 Disk Management

When the Computer Management window opens, select Disk Management on the left. The drives are displayed on the right and the lower half of the window has the thumb drive or USB drive. It is called Disk 1 here (Disk 0 is the PC’s internal disk drive).

 Disk Management

Right click the drive and select Delete Volume on the menu. The idea is to clear everything off the drive and start from scratch.

 Disk Management

After deleting everything, right click it and select New Simple Volume on the menu.

 Disk Management

It is possible to divide a disk into two or more partitions, but the simplest setup is a single partition. Allocate all maximum space and click Next.

 Disk Management

A drive letter is chosen automatically and it can be anything as long as it is not used for any other drive.

 Disk Management

The drive must be formatted and the standard file system for thumb drives is FAT. If this was a big USB disk drive then NTFS would be the file system to choose. Enter a volume label, which is the disk name, and tick Perform a quick format.

 Disk Management

That’s it. Windows will go ahead and format it. When it has finished it will automatically appear in Explorer windows.


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