How to fix corrupted external disks without losing data in Windows

Sep 10, 2019

harddisk-driveExternal disks such as pen drives, SD memory cards, memory sticks, and external hard drives have been great storage media to expand the storage space on our computers, phones, digital cameras, and other digital devices. They provide such great convenience for file sharing and file security. However, those external drives can only be reliable for 3 to 5 years before they get corrupted. Once they are corrupted suddenly, people will find their photos, videos, documents, and other files stored on those drives inaccessible.

How do you know your external disk is corrupted?

You will notice your portable external disk is not working normally when you connect it to a PC or when you are trying to open it for use. Usually, you will see one of the error messages listed below:

“The disk in drive E is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?”

“You need to format the disk in drive E: before you can use it. Do you want to format it?”

” E:\ is not accessible. Access is denied.”

“E:\ is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.”

“E:\ is not accessible. The volume does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all required file systems drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted.”

“E:\ is not accessible. The parameter is incorrect.”

“E:\ is not accessible. The disk structure is corrupted and unreadable.”

Sometimes, you may not receive any error message but noticed your removable disk shows 0 used space in Properties or becomes RAW in Disk Management. Moreover, you find a lot of corrupted or missing files on the disk.

In brief, if you have any problem reading or writing to the removable drive, the drive is probably corrupted. Before you go to the solutions to fix the corrupted SD memory cards, USB flash drives and external hard drives, you should check if the external drive failure is caused by hardware issues.

Quick diagnosis: Check if your external drive is physically damaged

The reason why you need to do the quick diagnosis first is that the hardware issues will stop you from trying the following solutions for fixing the corrupted external disks. To know if your external drive is physically damaged, follow the steps:

Step 1: Right-click “This PC/My Computer” icon at the desktop and choose “Manage” in the context menu.

Step 2: Select “Disk Management” in the left sidebar in the Computer Management window.

Step 3: Look for your external disk to see if it is detected and listed.


If your corrupted SD card, USB flash drive, external hard drive, etc. shows up in the window, congratulations! Your external drives don’t have physical issues that prevent you from fixing them and recovering data from them. However, if the corrupted external disk is not showing up, you will have to go to a local data recovery service for help.

2 easy ways to repair the corrupted external drives in Windows

After you have confirmed that your corrupted external disk is showing up in the Disk Management, we will introduce 2 easy solutions for you to fix the external disk corruption problem easily one by one.

Solution 1: Repair the corrupted external disks using Command Prompt

Command Prompt is an application in most Windows operating systems. Its filename called cmd.exe. After it is launched, it will execute the entered command lines to perform the tasks as you tell it to do. In this scenario, we will input a command line to ask it to check and repair the corrupted external disk for us.

Step 1: Click on the Start button.

Step 2: Type in “cmd” in the search box and press Enter.

Step 3: Right-click on “cmd.exe” or ” Command Prompt” and choose “Run as Administrator”.

Step 4: Input command “chkdsk E:/f” in the Command Prompt window and press Enter. (Replace letter E with the letter of your external drive)


chkdsk command can repair minor logic errors that have caused a corrupted external disk. If it fails or is not available to repair the corrupted external disks, your external drives must be seriously corrupted. Go head to the next solution to make your corrupted SD cards, USB flash drives and external hard drives workable again.

Solution 2: Format the corrupted external disks

Do you have important files on the corrupted external disks you want to get back? If you shake your head, go head to format it now. If you nod, you had better recover the data before you format the disk because formatting a disk will write in a new file system and leave you a blank disk.

Recover data from the corrupted external disks with free data recovery software:

iBoysoft Data Recovery is one of the best data recovery software for Windows. It can recover photos, videos, documents, audio and any other files in Windows desktops and laptops for free. It is capable of recovering files from RAW/formatted/inaccessible/corrupted hard disks, SD cards, memory sticks, and USB flash drives. Additionally, it can find lost partitions and recover deleted or lost data from them. More importantly, as the best BitLocker data recovery software, iBoysoft Data Recovery specializes in decrypting and recovering data from BitLocker encrypted drives or partitions. The software is fully compatible with Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP. Its Mac version called iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac which works with macOS 10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

Tutorial to use iBoysoft Data Recovery:

Step 1: Free download iBoysoft Data Recovery and launch it on your PC.


Step 2: Connect the corrupted external disk to the PC.

Step 3: Choose the corrupted external disk in the disk list and click “Next”.

Step 4: Click the file in the scanning results to preview.


Step 5: Select the files and click on “Recover” to save them to a different location.

After you have successfully got back important files on the corrupted removable disk, you can follow the instruction below to format the disk.

Step 1: Right-click “This PC/My Computer” icon at the desktop and choose “Manage” in the context menu.

Step 2: Select “Disk Management” in the left sidebar in the Computer Management window.

Step 3: Find the corrupted external disk in the disk information and right-click it.

Step 4: Choose “Format”.


Step 5: Give your drive a name in the Volume label, choose a file system, use “default” as Allocation unit size.

Step 6: Check “Perform a quick format” and click on “OK” button.

Formatting a disk could solve nearly all software problems you might have with your disk. After formatting the corrupted external disk, you will be able to use it normally.

Final thoughts

The causes for a corrupted external disk vary from hardware issues to inner logic problems. To better protect your portable drives, you had better handle them with care. For example, remember to eject the external disks safely on a computer every time you finish using them. What’s more, back up your important data often and keep multiple copies using both portable drives or cloud storages.