How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

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MolemanFilm   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work AgainThere you are, at your friend’s house. You’re all gathered around the computer to watch a funny video. But then something happens. A virus pops up and gives you the digital bird. “No problem,” you say, “since I’m a geek, I’ve got antivirus software on my USB stick.” Now you’re the hero. Now you and your mates can watch that guy get the football in the groin…again. You pop your thumb drive into the USB port and – nothing. Back to zero, hero!

Unless, of course, you know how to fix that too.

There are a few causes for this sort of thing happening. So I’ll take you from most likely and easiest method to make corrupt USB jump drives work, to the least likely and still pretty easy way.

Two Drives With the Same Drive Letter

Typically, a computer will assign either the E, F, or G drive letter to your jump drive when you plug it in. Normally, if one of those drive letters is already in use, a different one will get assigned. So let’s say you have a backup drive set at drive letter E:. Then your jump drive should get assigned F: or G:.  But sometimes, that just doesn’t happen and that can cause USB jump drives to not work.

Here’s how you fix that. My instructions are for Windows XP, since I like to kick it like it’s 2003. Click on the Start menu, then right-click on My Computer. From there, click on Manage, because we will manage.

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drive letter step 11   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Now the Computer Management window opens. Click on the Disk Management option. In the right-hand window, you’ll see all attached drives listed. The U3 drive is my USB key. Currently, it’s not conflicting with anything, but it will do for this demonstration.

drive letter step 21   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Right-click on the drive that you want to change the drive letter on. Then click on Change Drive Letter and Paths.

drive letter step 41   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Now you can click on the Change button.

drive letter step 42   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Then select a new drive letter. I chose G for Guy. Isn’t that cute?

drive letter step 51   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Windows will ask you to confirm that this is what you want to do. I’d click Yes, but that’s just me.

drive letter step 62   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

As you’ll be able to see in the window showing all the drives, the drive letter is, indeed, changed to G:. Whut up G?! Now your USB drive should not conflict with any other drive.

drive letter step 71   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

That didn’t fix the problem? Hmm….well, maybe your USB drive is actually corrupted somehow. Let’s take a look at fixing that – there are still a few ways to make corrupt USB jump drives work.

Error Checking

Window’s Error Checking utility can be used on USB drives. To access it, open up Windows Explorer. (Here’s a shortcut tip – hold down your Windows Key and press the E key to quickly open Window’s Explorer.)

Once you are in Window’s Explorer, right-click on the USB disk you’re having problems with. Then go down and click on Properties.

drive scan step 1   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Once the Properties window opens, click on the Tools tab. This is where the Error-checking software can be accessed from. Click on the Check Now… button.

drive scan step 2   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

I advise checking the box for Automatically fix file system errors. What that will do is, well, fix any file system errors automatically. Yeah, that was a brilliant explanation. Just click on Start.

drive scan step 3   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Lookit! It’s scaaaaaaaaaaning!

drive scan step 41   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

The scan doesn’t take very long at all. You guessed it, click the OK button.

drive scan step 51   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

My USB thumb drive is 8GB in capacity and it was done in a matter of seconds. If it takes longer than that, perhaps your drive’s problem is somewhat more serious.

You can also do a similar test and repair with third-party disk repair tools out there.

Format the USB Drive

Well, this step doesn’t really help you get at the files you want, but it will restore the file structure so that it doesn’t happen next time.

Warning: Formatting the USB drive will ERASE all the files on your hard drive.

Go into Window’s Explorer again. Right-click on the USB drive you wish to format, and then click on Format….

format step 11   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Once the Format window opens, you have a few choices to make. First, choose what type of File system you want. This is a matter of personal choice. You can choose FAT or FAT32, and with some fiddling around elsewhere in your computer, you could choose NTFS. That may be an article for another day.

You can also set the Volume label. Perhaps you want to customize it and call it ‘My Toolbox’ or something like that.

Then you can choose to either do a Quick Format or not. With something like this, I don’t think it matters if it is done with a quick format or not. Meh…click the Start button.

format step 2   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Now, jump out of your chair, point at your monitor and scream, “It’s formaaaaaaaaaaaating!!!!!!” as though you were  Robert Thorn in Soylent Green when he figured out what Soylent Green really was. You don’t have to do that part, but if you do, let me know how fast your Sys. Admin loses his mind thinking you formatted something important.

format step 4   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

Well, that makes the next part a little anticlimactic. Just click OK, and put the files you want on to the USB drive.

format step 5   How To Make Corrupt USB Jump Drives Work Again

There are a few more things that could be done, that are a little more complex and beyond the scope of this article. However, it involves messing around with drivers or data recovery software. If there’s enough interest, maybe we can do a follow-up to this article. Anyone?

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33 Comments - Write a Comment



Somehow, I find this unlikely >.<

“…will ERASE all the files on your hard drive.”

Guy McDowell



enjoyed your article – found it informative and entertaining. I’ll be back for more. LOL to all.


Brian 500



“Jump Drive” is a Lexar brand name. I prefer “thumb drive” or “flash drive;” YMMV.

Guy McDowell

I think I used those throughout the story. Does anyone ask for a tissue anymore, or just a Kleenex?


A little thin skinned there Guy? Doc pointed out something that is in fact correct. Trying to defend your mistake by saying other people make mistakes in other situations isn’t a real defense.

If you want to get picky, you used the phrase “jump” 6 times in the story, “thumb” 2 times and “flash” does not appear at all in the story.

And, yes, I always ask for a tissue.

Guy McDowell

I wasn’t defending a mistake, because no mistake was made. Using a brand name as a generic name happens all the time. Nor was I upset about Doc pointing that tidbit out.

And nope, I don’t want to get picky!



The more common problem i already discovered with flash drive was damage on IC component due to power loss or electricity and mean that you (usually) need throw this and buy a new one

I have unusual with portable mp3 player, i have an old creative muvo usb 2.0 that someday in the past were damaged and incapable of working (already try this and that), then i leave it on my desk after i desperate, and lately after 1 month it seem back to normal

Guy McDowell

Yep, the integrated circuit is fairly easily damaged, especially in older flash drives.


Bev Montenaro

I needed this post as this is a problem I’m currently having. But please, stick to the remit instead of trying too hard to make it amusing as well. You just aren’t funny and so it spoils an otherwise good article.

Guy McDowell

Correction: YOU don’t find me funny.


Correction: Bev and Peter don’t find you funny.

Guy McDowell



Henderson NV

I’m gonna “Xerox” this off and send it to all my friends, then I’m going to take a dip in the Jacuzzi, then… tissue… yep tissue. Would you like a Cola or a Coke?

Soylent Green is PEOPLE… everyone knows that right?

Guy McDowell

LOL! Very good!



Why would I use a system that I know is infected with a virus and corrupt to try to fix a corrupt drive? That is a really bad idea and pretty much guaranteed to cause other problems for you down the road.

Guy McDowell

Although you might infer that I was suggesting to use a corrupt system to fix the corrupt flash drive – that wasn’t what I was suggesting.


Pranav Gupta

i am having a 1 GB memory card in my nokia 3230 phone.
a friend of mine was sending me some files via blutooth when my phone hung……
i restarted my cel phone multiple times but in vain…it hung up the very moment i started….
then i restarted formatted my cellphone…….
now its workin fyn….but the moment i put in my memory card….it gets stuck………

then i tried scanning my caard for virus on my computer…
i tried norton , mcafee , avg , avast & quickheal….but one of these identified the virus….
i thought it maybe corrupt but when i look for PROPERTIES…it shows the amount of space used {AROUND 900 MB}….sometimes i am also able to the folders in the card but upon opening…those folders r empty….

i rely need the data in that card………..
sometimes i am also able to open the

Guy McDowell

I’d suggest using a disk-repair type of tool to check the memory card for faults. If there is absolutely nothing wrong there, then I would suggest contacting the maker of the phone to see if there is some sort of compatibility problem.

Devesh Prabhu


I once has that problem on my friends phone, but not quit sure how I was able but I do remember using Avira (anti-virus) and a-squared Free.

I first did a virus scan & then used the a-squared software. After that I have been using both these software for better protection. Hey! By the way, both are freeware.

Devesh Prabhu



Can I assume that if my 4GB USB drive shows up as having only 30MB that it is completely messed up?

Guy McDowell

Only if you can be sure that there is more than 30 MB of free space on it.



I have a 4GB USB drive (USB to IDE type). When plugged in, Windows device manager regocnize it as a Drive with some wierd name (ÑÑÑÑ -> capital N with tildas on top of it), but no Drive Letter is assigned, and it doesn’t show up on Disk Management, but it shows up on Device Manager. Is there any tool that might be able to restore it?

Devesh Prabhu


I once has that problem on my friends phone, but not quit sure how I was able but I do remember using Avira (anti-virus) and a-squared Free. I first did a virus scan & then used the a-squared software.

Devesh Prabhu



Very useful article indeed.


Devesh Prabhu


I really was intrigued by the article, but had some doubts. You post presumes the USB drive to be detected by the system (PC/XP).

What happens when it is not detected by the system. In that case hos do I get it working. The device shows a question mark in Device Manager and does not show up in Disk Management.

Would appreciate a reply as to if there is any way i can recover my USB Drive.

Devesh Prabhu

Guy McDowell

If the device is showing, but with a question mark, that can indicate a driver problem. Perhaps try updating the driver?

Is this a U3 drive or a regular USB drive? If it’s a regular USB drive is it the 2.0 USB spec or lower? Is there any physical damage to the connections on the USB drive or port? Does it do the same thing on every port or another computer?

Lots of questions to answer before the problem can be narrowed down.

Devesh Prabhu


The device in question is a Transcend 1 GB Pen Drive. I had installed the drivers, but being an XP SP2 machine the system should have detected the device even if it was a 1.0 or 2.0 device, of which I am not sure.

From the outside there is no physical damage, but from the inside, which of course, is not visible.

Yes, it shows the same thing on all ports and on all machines.

Devesh Prabhu



“Windows unable to complete the format”. Crap. It’s worse than before. I try to format, it shows the same message every time.

What to do?! Please respond, this drive was $40.



Thanks for the article, it was really helpful and i liked the humor!



You guys kill me. This guy wrote a great article and was trying to be helpful and you whine about if he used the term jump drive or thumb drive. He was 110 percent write about the kleenex/tissue/brand/generic reference. Give up or kill yourselves already. lol. Great article guy.


agree with gary , thx for the help!

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