QUESTION I've been using my favourite 32GB USB flash drive for many months now without incident, but the other day I plugged it in to be greeted by the message "you need to format the disk drive before you can use it". I'm then unable to access any data of the drive. I've looked in the Windows Disk Management application and I can see my USB drive now has the partition type of RAW rather than FAT32. Is there any way I can get my data back, or will I just have to cut my losses and reformat it?
HELPROOM ANSWER You can usually recover all of your data when this happens, but you will need to download a tool to do it. We've managed to recover data successfully in this sort of situation using the free-to-use EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition.
You can download EaseUS Partition Master directly from http://www.easeus.com/partition-manager/. EaseUS offers many very similar data recovery tools often with overlapping features. There may be alternatives you can use, but for this particular task Partition Master does the job.
The process of recovering your partition with EaseUS Partition Master is simple, but not obvious. Start the program, but don't select Data Recovery. Instead, select Partition Manager.
Now locate your USB drive in the displayed table of disks at the bottom. Right-click on the partition you wish to recover and then select Partition Recovery. Try the Fast mode first – it'll probably work. If not, the program will give you the option to try again in complete mode.
When your partition is found, select it by placing a tick in the box next to it and click on Proceed. The program will then automatically restore the partition and you can exit.
You should now be able to access your files again from within Windows.