How do I recover data from a corrupted SanDisk pen drive?

Quick Answers

There are a few options for trying to recover data from a corrupted SanDisk pen drive:

  • Try using SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe data recovery software
  • Connect the pen drive to a computer and run chkdsk /f
  • Send the pen drive to a data recovery service
  • Replace the pen drive’s controller board

What Causes a Pen Drive to Become Corrupted?

There are several potential causes of a corrupted pen drive:

  • Improperly ejecting the pen drive before disconnecting it
  • A virus or malware infection
  • File system errors or bad sectors on the drive
  • Physical damage from dropping, bending, water exposure, etc.
  • Power surges while the drive is plugged in
  • Hardware failure or malfunction

These issues can damage the file system, electronics, or physical components of the pen drive resulting in corrupted data.

Try SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe

One of the best options for DIY data recovery is to use SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe software. This is a data recovery program designed specifically for SanDisk products like USB flash drives and SD cards.

To use RescuePRO Deluxe:

  1. Download and install the software:
  2. Connect your corrupted SanDisk pen drive to the computer
  3. Launch RescuePRO Deluxe and select the pen drive
  4. The software will scan the drive and show recoverable files
  5. Select the files you want to recover and save them to another drive

RescuePRO Deluxe offers a quick, easy way to attempt recovering files from a corrupted pen drive as long as the hardware is still functioning. It supports recovery from accidental deletion, virus attacks, and other common software-level corruption issues.

RescuePRO Deluxe Limitations

While RescuePRO Deluxe works well for minor software corruption problems, it has some limitations:

  • May not be able to recover data from drives with severe file system damage or physical defects
  • Does not repair corruption problems, only extracts recoverable files
  • Has a simpler scanning algorithm than some more advanced data recovery tools
  • Relatively expensive at $40 for a single 1-year license

For severe corruption or outright failure of a pen drive’s hardware, more advanced recovery methods may be required.

Try chkdsk /f

chkdsk (Check Disk) is a command-line utility built into Windows that can check drives for errors and repair simple file system problems. Using chkdsk with the /f parameter tells it to fix any errors it finds.

To run chkdsk /f:

  1. Connect the corrupted SanDisk pen drive to your computer
  2. Open the Command Prompt as Administrator
  3. Type “chkdsk E: /f” – Use the drive letter of your pen drive instead of E:
  4. Press Enter and wait for the scan to complete
  5. Type “Y” if it finds errors and asks to fix them

After chkdsk finishes, reboot your computer and see if the pen drive’s data is accessible. This can potentially fix drive errors caused by improper ejection or other file system issues. However, chkdsk is limited in what problems it can repair.

chkdsk Limitations

chkdsk has some notable limitations and disadvantages, including:

  • Can only fix file system errors, not hardware defects
  • May recover accessible data but not repair all corruption
  • No user-friendly interface, requires Command Prompt
  • Not designed specifically for flash drives

For more serious corruption from physical damage to the pen drive’s components, chkdsk is unlikely to fully repair the drive. But it’s worth trying as an initial quick fix before more advanced data recovery methods.

Send to a Data Recovery Service

For severe pen drive corruption that RescuePRO Deluxe and chkdsk cannot fix, a professional data recovery service may be able to extract your files.

Data recovery specialists have access to advanced tools and techniques like:

  • Opening the pen drive in a clean room to safely swap internal parts
  • Repairing or bypassing failed controller boards
  • Using specialized software and hardware to rebuild drive directories
  • Extracting raw data from NAND flash chips if the controller fails

This requires expensive equipment and advanced technical expertise. Reputable data recovery services like DriveSavers, Gillware, and Secure Data Recovery can often recover data when DIY options fail. But their services typically cost $500 to $3000.

The steps to use a data recovery service are:

  1. Research companies and pick one with good reviews and reputable certifications
  2. Ship your pen drive to their lab per their instructions
  3. Pay their analysis fee to have them evaluate your drive (often $50-$100)
  4. If they determine the data is recoverable, choose a service plan based on how much data you need recovered
  5. They complete the recovery process which can take 1-2 weeks
  6. You receive your recovered files on an external hard drive shipped to you

Data recovery labs provide the best chance of getting your files back from a severely corrupted or physically damaged pen drive. But it’s expensive, so only worth pursuing if the data is extremely valuable.

Data Recovery Service Limitations

While data recovery services can often extract data when other options fail, there are some limitations:

  • Expensive fees make it cost prohibitive for recovering non-critical files
  • No guarantee – If the drive damage is too severe they may not recover anything
  • Long process – It can take 1-2 weeks to get your files back
  • Destructive – They may have to dismantle your pen drive resulting in data loss

Overall data recovery specialists provide the best last resort option for valuable data. But the fees are high and there’s a risk nothing can be recovered if hardware is too damaged.

Replace Controller Board

If you can narrow down the pen drive’s issue to a faulty controller board, replacing the board can allow the drive to function so data can be recovered.

The steps are:

  1. Disassemble the pen drive case and detach the board
  2. Find an exact replacement board (often available online)
  3. Carefully connect new board to the flash memory chips
  4. Reassemble drive
  5. Hopefully drive now works to copy data off

This requires technical skill disassembling the drive without harming delicate components. And you have to source a compatible replacement board. But if successful, you can recover the data yourself for much cheaper than a specialist.

Controller Board Replacement Limitations

While board swaps can be successful, there are risks involved:

  • Disassembly process can damage fragile components
  • Hard to find a compatible replacement board
  • No guarantee replacement board will work right
  • Doesn’t fix problems with failed flash memory chips

Overall, board replacement provides a DIY method to fix electronics failures without extreme cost. But it only applies to a subset of problems and risks further damaging the pen drive.


To summarize, if faced with a corrupted SanDisk pen drive there are escalating options to attempt data recovery:

  1. Try SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe – Quick and easy DIY software recovery
  2. Run chkdsk /f – Utilizes built-in Windows tool to fix file system errors
  3. Send to a data recovery service – Expensive but best chance for badly corrupted drives
  4. Replace controller board – DIY fix for electronics failures

The optimal approach depends on:

  • Your technical skill and comfort disassembling drives
  • How severe and what type of corruption or damage is present
  • The value of recovering the pen drive’s data

For mild software-based corruption, try RescuePRO Deluxe and chkdsk first. But for severe physical damage or failure, a data recovery service may be the only hope. With the right method, there’s a good chance of recovering at least some data from a corrupted SanDisk pen drive.