How to Fix a Disk I/O Error in Windows

Gavin Phillips 29-01-2018

How often do you take offline backups of your important files The Windows Backup and Restore Guide Disasters happen. Unless you're willing to lose your data, you need a good Windows backup routine. We'll show you how to prepare backups and restore them. Read More ? Once a month? Once a year? I have another question for you. How often do you check that those backups are still working? I decided to do just this recently. And when I connected my external drive to my laptop, up popped an I/O device error.


I couldn’t immediately access the drive. My heart sank. Nearly ten years’ worth of photos were lost. But I was sure of a fix — and lo, there is. So, here are five ways to fix an I/O device error, without losing any files in the process.

What Is an I/O Device Error?

Input/Output device errors are quite common. We usually attribute them to hardware issues, such as an errant cable, a glitch with input or output storage device, or a misconfigured driver. With that in mind, there are more than a few different methods for trying to fix an I/O device error. Better still, most of these fixes only take a few moments to try, as well as being very easy to do.

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Before we begin, I have one piece of advice. Restart your system, then try again Why Does Rebooting Your Computer Fix So Many Issues? "Have you tried rebooting?" It's technical advice that gets thrown around a lot, but there's a reason: it works. Not just for PCs, but a wide range of devices. We explain why. Read More . If you still have an error, carry on.

1. Cables

The first thing to do, before worrying, is to simply adjust the cables. Reseat the cables connecting your external drive to your computer. Do this at both ends. If you’re using a USB flash drive, try disconnecting and reinserting, then trying again.


If it doesn’t work, use a different USB cable, and try again. Unsure if the cable is good or not? Connect the cable to a different external device and connect it to your system. If it works, you know that the cable is good.

2. USB Port

If the cable is good, but you still have no luck, try an alternative USB port. Most modern systems have more than one USB port as so many devices rely on a USB connection. Furthermore, check your USB ports USB Ports Not Working? Here's How to Diagnose and Fix It USB ports not working? This article explains how to quickly identify the problem and fix it as fast as possible. Read More are clean. If it is dusty or dirty, give it a gentle blow to remove any lingering lint and then try again.

3. Drivers

Another basic but easily overlooked I/O device error fix is to update the drivers on your system Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 A bad Windows driver can ruin your day. In Windows 10, Windows Update automatically updates hardware drivers. If you suffer the consequences, let us show you how to roll back your driver and block future... Read More . Windows 10 should update all of your drivers, all the time. The issue of constant upgrades was an extremely sore point for many users when Microsoft released Windows 10. In theory, a system that constantly updates drivers is excellent. You should never have a Windows 10 driver issue.


fix device input output error windows

But the theory is great, and reality is, well, reality. It doesn’t always correlate, and sometimes the constant update system just doesn’t work. That’s where a program like IOBit Driver Booster steps in. Download and install Driver Booster (ensuring you uncheck the McAfee Antivirus bundle install button), then let it quickly scan your system for any out of date drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More .

Don’t be surprised if it turns up a lot of drivers that are out of date. In many cases related applications and services still work fine. It just so happens that there is a more recent driver version. Update your drivers and retry your external drive.

4. Chkdsk

While I/O device errors predominantly relate to hardware, we can attempt to use an integrated system tool to fix the issue. The chkdsk tool verifies file systems and fixes file system errors.


Press Windows Key + X to open the Quick Access menu, then select Command Prompt (admin). If the Command Prompt option is no longer there (replaced by PowerShell), don’t worry. Just complete a Start Menu search for Command Prompt, then right-click and select Run as administrator.

Next, type chkdsk /f /r /x [your drive letter here] and press Enter. The scan could take a while, especially if there are multiple sectors requiring repair.

fix device input output error windows

Please note that this will not fix certain types of broken drive sectors.


5. Use Speccy to Check Drive Health

If the two easy fixes don’t work, we can check the overall health of the hard drive using free system specification program, Speccy. Download and install Speccy. In the left-hand column, select Storage, and scroll down to find the corresponding drive. They’re normally well labeled.

fix device input output error windows

Underneath the drive technical specifications is the S.M.A.R.T dropdown attribute table. This is what we need.

fix device input output error windows

SMART stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology. The in-built hard drive monitoring system reports on various hard drive health attributes. As you can see, Speccy gives each monitoring metric a rating. We’re particularly interested in the following metrics:

  • 05: Reallocated Sectors Count
  • 0A: Spin Retry Account
  • C4: Reallocation Event Count
  • C5: Current Pending Sector Count
  • C6: Uncorrectable Sector Count

Want a startling fact? A Google study found that in the 60 days following the first uncorrectable drive error, the drive was on average 39 times more likely to fail than a similar drive without errors.

To be fair, the Google study also concludes that SMART ratings are of limited usefulness in predicting impending drive failures — but can still give a good general indication of drive health. With this in mind, if any of the metrics above show errors (or multiple errors across multiple metrics), I would seriously consider backing everything up and replace the drive The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide We've summarized every backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More .

Now, this doesn’t necessarily immediately solve your I/O device input error. But it might indicate what is going on.

Want a second drive health opinion? Give HD Tune Pro a try.

No More I/O Device Error!

I hope your I/O device error is done with and you’ve accessed your drive. An I/O device error isn’t always the end of the line for a hard drive. It is, however, a good indicator that something is afoot. And in many cases, it simply isn’t worth waiting around to find out if the error is the beginning of something more sinister.

Now, go and backup your files to a separate location 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More and consider purchasing a new hard drive Buying a New Hard Drive: 7 Things You Must Know Buying a hard drive is easy if you know some basic tips. Here's a guide to understanding the most important hard drive features. Read More .

Have you experienced an I/O device error? What did you do to fix it? Was it the end of the road for your drive? Or did you manage to rescue your important files first?

Related topics: Drivers, Hard Drive, Troubleshooting, USB Drive.

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  1. Yu lung
    May 28, 2019 at 4:13 am

    I got problem with "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error", but this occurred only to one video file. The problems occurs all of sudden. I had been moving it for one drive partition to another in one harddisk and it all fine. But some day i got those error, and i couldnt move to another drive or copy it at all. Fortunately i still have my backup. However several weeks later, the same thing occurs to another file. Again a video file. I still can read , rename, or locally move it, but i couldnt copy it or move it to any other drive. Im a bit uncomfortable with it. Any idea what is the cause? Or how to fix it?
    Im using win 7 for OS