If you experience slow transfer speeds or read/write errors on a USB stick, you might think the USB stick is fake or defective and throw it away. However, there are ways you can analyze and get rid of common USB stick problems. Here are some of them:
What Causes USB Stick Errors?
Before diving into the solutions, it’s best to explore why USB sticks start acting up or have slow transfer speeds.
1. Improper Ejections
It may not happen the first few times you do it but ejecting or detaching your USB stick from the computer without using the USB software utility on your OS is bad. The USB stick’s file system may get corrupted or destroyed if you don’t give the OS time to organize it and eject the filesystem properly.
2. Filesystem Viruses
One of the biggest causes of USB failure is virus infection. Some viruses are designed to attack the filesystem of any external media to destroy it or embed the virus in it for spreading. These USB stick viruses will often corrupt the USB stick, filesystem, make it impossible to read and write files, etc. You will start getting weird read and write errors or notice that any file you transfer to the USB stick is either destroyed or altered that it becomes unreadable.
Expert Tip: To prevent viruses from getting into your computer and infecting your USB sticks, you should always scan any files you download or transfer to your PC with an up-to-date antivirus. Corrupted USB sticks also indicate that your computer is already infected, and your personal information could be at risk. Use VPN encryption to prevent unauthorized access to your files, especially when accessing online resources. A VPN encryption protocol is defined as data transmission rules that ensure your data is encoded or scrambled to prevent unauthorized access. You can send and receive files online safely, even if your computer is infected with viruses.
3. Improper Formatting
Suppose you format your USB stick improperly or do not allow the format process to complete before ejecting. In that case, you may encounter errors or slow transfer speeds. For example, formatting a USB stick to the wrong file system can cause compatibility issues with your operating system leading to errors or slow transfer speeds.
4. Slow USB ports
Sometimes the problem is not with your USB stick but the USB port you have plugged it into. Some USB ports have slow speeds, while others are made for faster transfer speeds. If you don’t choose the right USB port, you will likely experience very slow transfer speeds.
5. Physical Damage to USB media
A very common problem that may lead to errors on USB sticks is physical damage. Because USB sticks tend to be moved around a lot, some damage may occur on the internal board or external interface. A USB with physical damage to its vital components will throw up errors when connected to a computer.
6. Fake/Counterfeit USB Sticks
The last reason some USB sticks throw errors or have painfully slow transfer speeds is to do with the design of the internal board. Most fake or counterfeit USB sticks have poorly designed circuitry and cheap components. They will always throw up errors or corrupt any files you transfer to them.
How to Analyze and Remove Errors on A USB Stick
Use a third-Party Tool
There are several third-party tools for both PCs and Macs that you can use to analyze a faulty USB stick and repair it. Examples for PCs include USBTrace, Endpoint protector, Safetica, GFI, Wondershare USB, USB Flash Benchmark, CrystalDisk Mark, HD Tune, etc. For Mac users, tools like USB Analyzer by Eltima and USBlyzer can be used.
To analyze and remove errors using any of the tools mentioned, you need to plug your USB stick into the computer and launch the tool. Look for the analyze button or “check USB button” in the menus and click on it. Some tools may require you to specify your stick’s drive letter, which you can find in the file explorer or finder program in your computer’s operating system.
Use Native Windows 10 Tools
Windows 10 has a native tool called CHDSK that you can use to analyze a faulty USB disk. Make sure your USB stick is plugged in, and then launch the tool from the command prompt. Type the command “chkdsk *: f and press enter on your keyboard. The tool automatically analyzes the USB stick, generates a report, and gives you ways to fix the errors at the end.