How to Rescue Data from a Corrupt USB Drive on Mac

Summary: This blog shares several methods to rescue data from corrupt USB drive on Mac®.

Data recovery from USB is a critical need if it contains valuable documents, photos, videos, etc., and there’s no backup copy. You just can’t erase the corrupt USB drive with Disk Utility to fix the corruption unless you have first recovered the data stored on it.

Before you proceed with the methods shared in this post, download the free trial of Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac because that’s what going to help you a lot.

Mac hard drive Recovery

A USB drive is a removable external storage device that connects to a Mac through a USB port of type A, B, or C. It can be an external flash drive, hard drive, or solid-state drive, which you can use it for storing and transferring data from different Macs, viz. iMac, MacBook, Mac mini, etc.

Sometimes, when you connect your USB drive to a Mac, the following things can happen:

  • macOS fails to recognize your USB drive in Finder
  • Finder displays the drive, but its files and folders are not visible
  • The USB drive has files with weird file names that do not open when accessed
  • macOS displays error messages while accessing the USB drive’s data
  • Disk Utility shows the connected USB drive in gray

The symptoms suggest that your USB drive is corrupt and can be due to the following reasons:

  • An issue with the USB driver that makes the storage drive unrecognizable
  • Improper ejection of the USB drive when a write operation is still on the process
  • Connection to a system infected with malware that may lead to corruption of files
  • Damage of drive’s file system due to sudden power outage or surge
  • For USB flash drive or SSD, wearing of NAND cells due to aging and usage
USB drive recovery for Mac

Methods to Rescue Data from a Corrupt USB Drive on Mac

Method 1: Update USB Driver

  1. Connect the corrupt USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Visit the manufacturer website of the external USB drive.
  3. Go to the Support page then the Downloads page.
  4. Select Mac compatible software.
  5. Select the required driver installer/software.
  6. Click Download then install the USB driver.
  7. Safe eject the external USB drive.
  8. Wait for 10 seconds then reconnect the USB drive.
  9. Reboot your Mac. The USB drive may work normally.

Method 2: Use First Aid of Disk Utility

  1. Press the Command + Spacebar keys to open Spotlight.
  2. Type ‘disk utility’ and press the Return key to open Disk Utility.
  3. From the View menu, select Show All Devices.
  4. From the sidebar, select your corrupt USB drive.
  5. Click the First Aid tab. A message box appears with the message, “Would you like to run First Aid on “USB Drive Name” First Aid will check the volume for errors. It will then repair the volume if necessary.”
  6. Click Run. Disk Utility will try to verify and repair the drive. Read More: Repair macOS Start-up Drive with Disk Utility

Method 3: Run USB Drive Recovery Software on Mac

Step 1) Download the *free version of Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac.


Step 2) Install and launch the utility to interact with its graphical user interface.

Install Mac data recovery software
Mac data recovery customize scan on USB drive

Step 3) Select the required file types that are present on the corrupt USB drive then click Next.

Professional - Select the Location - USB

Step 4) Select the corrupt USB drive then toggle on Deep Scan and click Scan.

Professional - Select Location -HDD-Deep Scan
USB drive recovery for Mac

Step 5) Preview the scanned files and select all those that are required then click Recover.

Save USB drive on Mac

Step 6) Browse the location to save the recoverable files and folders then click Save.

Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac

*Free version of the Mac USB drive recovery software allows free scanning and file preview. To save the recoverable files to the desired location, you need to activate the Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac software.

Fix Corrupt USB Drive on Mac

Step 1: Once data from the corrupt USB drive is rescued by using the Stellar Data Recovery tool, open Disk Utility to erase the drive with APFS or HSF file system format and resolve drive corruption.

Step 2: Select the USB drive from the sidebar and then click the Erase tab.

Step 3: On the dialog window, provide a name, choose a format and partition map, and then click Erase

Step 4: When the USB drive’s erase process is over, quit Disk Utility.

Step 5: Copy the recovered file from the saved location to the USB drive.


The blog shared different symptoms and reasons for USB drive corruption on Mac. It also elaborated various troubleshooting methods to rescue data from the corrupt USB drive on Mac. In the first method, you try updating the USB driver from the manufacturer’s website. The update can fix USB driver issue and hopefully allow the USB drive’s content to be visible on Mac.

In the second method, you try verifying and repairing the corrupt USB drive for errors and bad sectors by using Disk Utility’s First Aid feature. This may result in data loss due to the deallocation of bad sectors. So, try backing up the drive by creating its clone then operate.

In the third and the best method, you run a Mac USB data recovery software to scan, preview, and recover inaccessible data from the corrupt USB drive. Once you rescue data, you can fix the corrupt USB drive on Mac by erasing it with a file system format. 

When you successfully rescue the lost data and fix the corrupt USB drive on Mac, your next plan of action would be to develop a strict backup strategy and follow it as per schedule. With this, you would not have to worry about losing data in the future! A little step can go a long way!

  1. Mark February 12, 2019
  2. Lucy January 30, 2019
    • Vishal January 31, 2019
  3. Gavin Heath September 25, 2018
    • Vishal September 25, 2018
  4. Eric July 18, 2017
  5. Michelle Shipley March 23, 2017
    • Vishal March 24, 2017
  6. William White January 30, 2017
    • Vishal January 30, 2017
  7. Ruth McIntire October 27, 2016
  8. Joy Holloway October 5, 2016
    • Vishal October 6, 2016
      • Undetected Unmounted USB Flash Drive boy July 10, 2020

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