USB disk unreadable???

  blackstorm2k 15:49 12 Jul 2006


I have a 256MB USB2 memory stick and it's always worked fine. However, I plugged it into my computer this morning and it told me that the disk is not formatted. I looked at he disk file partition type and it says 'RAW'. Judging from this I think the master boot sector is corrupt so I ran some recovery programs (ZAR and Steller recovery) but neither helped at all they didn't find any data or anything.
The data stored on the USB drive is very important - is there any way I can recover it? I have no idea why it's suddenly gone wrong :(
All I need to recover is about two small excel files.


  Marsh Warden © ™ 16:52 12 Jul 2006

Try this click here

  blackstorm2k 20:58 12 Jul 2006

Thanks Marsh Warden, I've just tried using that programme but it doesn't work. It recognises the USB stick, but says the drive doesn't exist?

  phono 21:42 12 Jul 2006

Try the software at this link, click here as far as I know it is all free but you can make a donation if you wish.

  UncleP 01:16 13 Jul 2006

I had a similar problem with a HD in an external USB2 caddy, but managed to recover the files I needed. For what it's worth - and I offer no guarantee that it also applies to memory sticks! - here's what I found worked. The RAW type file system, especially with memory size and memory used returns of zero bytes, apparently generally indicates MBR (or possibly MFT) corruption.

Assuming that you have WinXP2, go to Disk Management (Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Computer Management/). On the lower RHS of this window there should be a list of entries for each memory/storage unit detected, numbered from Disk 0 (the main C: drive) upwards. Find the entry for the memory stick (there should be one, as you say that it was recognised by one of the recovery programs you tried); on the LHS the device should be marked as on-line. If it is not, right-click on the drive here to bring up a short menu which includes 'initialize'. This may take some time to bring the device on-line.

Then right-click on the RHS of the memory stick entry to bring up a menu which includes 'make active' and also allows you to assign a fixed drive letter (obviously avoiding those already in use).

Then try your data recovery utilities; these simply read, sector by sector, the RAW data on the memory unit and try to make some sense of what they find. The probability of success depends on the level of corruption, particularly of the file table, the fragmentation of the files etc, so you may recover virtually everything or very little. Make sure that none of the utilities you try writes to the unit or tries to modify its contents in any way. RAW data may be written to another drive for later analysis if this is an option.

Good luck!

  blackstorm2k 01:35 13 Jul 2006

Ok, I've found where I need to be and the device is shown as being 'online'. However, when I right click on it like you say I see the box that pops up has the 'Mark partition as active' greyed out. :(

  UncleP 12:41 13 Jul 2006

I've never used a memory stick, so I'm well beyond my level of competence here. But I suspect from your results that there is some internal physical damage to your unit, broken or shorted connection for example, which is not good. It would mean that - unless another forum member knows better - there isn't a software solution to the problem.

However, before abandoning hope you could try phoning or e-mailing the technical support section of one of the memory stick manufacturers (not the distributors or retailers) who might have some practical suggestions.

And if the lost data is very important and valuable to you, it might be worth asking a specialist data recovery lab to look at it. The components of a memory stick are pretty rugged, so any damage should be limited. It's worth a phone call to discuss possibilities, but get a quote before you agree to any work being done. I believe some firms offer a 'no success, no fee' policy.

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