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Quickly Fix Error - The File or Directory Is Corrupted and Unreadable


Error: The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable

Have you ever encountered the error message that saying "File or directory is corrupted and unreadable" when using a USB drive under Windows operating system? (Sometimes the error message could be "You need to format the disk in drive X:before you can use it. Do you want to format it?") Such problem may happen to anyone. Seeing this error message, you cannot access the data in the USB hard drive partitions. If you are unable to find a way to fix this error message and access the partition on that USB drive successfully, the direct result then is file loss. But don't worry; you are actually capable of repairing USB drive as long as you make use of the suitable methods.

unreadable partition 1 unreadable-partition 2

If you check the file system of the USB drive, you are likely to find that it is RAW file system.RAW gives an illusion that the drive is just manufactured and hasn't been formatted, while you know things should not be like this, for the last time you used the USB drive, it was in normal state. Here is one real story from ccm.net:

"I have Portable HDD of 260GB, and I have made 3 partitions in it.
Drive Name are as follows:
G: (Corrupted)
H: (Corrupted)
I: (Working)
The problem is when I click on G: & H: Drive its shows:
"H:\ is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted or unreadable."
And I have my very useful Data so I can't format it.
So please it's a huge request please give some of solution that works."

"So what caused this error message? And how can I solve this issue?" After reading the post here you must want to make them clear. Next we will show you all you want to know.

4 Causes for "The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable"

Although partition not accessible error is common to many of us, yet the causes remain unknown to most users. Why did this error happen? In general, if file, folder, MFT, FAT or the USB drive gets damaged due to certain reasons, this error will appear.

Let's see the details:

Cause 1: MFT or FAT corruption

To Windows users, the most frequently used file systems are NTFS and FAT. Then what is MFT? MFT is short for Master File Table and is included in NTFS file system, playing an important role in file storage. All the information about a file such as file size, creation time, and access permissions is stored in MFT entries. Also file recovery software retrieves lost data by analyzing MFT information. Therefore, once MFT gets damaged, system won't be able to access data from the NTFS partitions.

FAT partition (FAT 32/16/12) is most commonly used on USB flash drives and SD cards. FAT partition stores and manages data with the help of File Allocation Table which locates at the starting area of a partition. To put it simple, the main function of File Allocation Table is telling operating system where the file is stored. Users should know that files are saved on discontinuous clusters, and each cluster contains a pointer to the next cluster, thus system can read all data of the file. So FAT error will lead to partition corruption.

Cause 2: Virus infection

Today people browse seas of sites every day for all things they need, such as working, study materials, entertainment, and so on. During the process of surfing the internet, user sare likely to download or install malicious program to computer. Thus their computers can easily get infected with virus. The consequence is obvious, these viruses can delete important files without informing, corrupt partition information, damage operating system, or even infect other devices connected to virus-affected computer.

Once virus damages the file system of the disk, that specific partition will become inaccessible, and files on that drive are no longer available for common visit. At this time, opening anti-virus program to carry out anti-virus is too late for data retrieve.

Cause 3: Physical issues

Bad sectors are another cause for unreadable partition on USB drive or flash drive. Bad sector is a kind of sector that is no longer accessible or writeable due to permanent damage. Partition information such as file system is saved on a specific location. If this location includes bad sectors, then the operating system will fail to access data. At this time users will get the error messages "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable".

Cause 4: USB drives are not safely removed from PC

If you force to unplug a USB drive from computer when the drive is still in working state like transferring or reading data, then there is risk of losing vital files of system information. What’s strange is that this is the most common reason that leads to this error - a common sense we all know but tend to ignore for convenience…So next time when you are going to unplug an external hard drive, make sure that operating system has done on saving or transferring data to the drive. Then click on the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon on the notification area of the screen and then unplug the drive.

"These four reasons for 'the file or directory is corrupted and unreadable' proves to be useful for me to avoid this issue again. And I think they are also helpful to you…"

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3 Solutions to "The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable"

Before we cut into point, we would like to recommend users to download two programs to PC:
Free partition magic -MiniTool Partition Wizard
Free data recovery software - MiniTool Power Data Recovery
They will help a lot in the following part.

Download MiniTool Partition Wizard
Download MiniTool Power Data Recovery

Solution 1: Carry out Chkdsk to check and repair errors

Chkdsk.exe is a command-line tool offered by Windows to check and repair volume errors. This tool tries to repair any problem it finds out, for example, lost clusters, cross-linked files, directory errors, etc. How to carry out Chkdsk? Take Windows 10 for example.

Step 1:Run Command Prompt as administrator: click "Start" button and search for "Command Prompt", then right-click it and select "Run as administrator".

run cmd as administrator

Step 2:In the following message box, click "Yes" to allow it to change your computer.

Step 3:In the command prompt box, continue to type chkdsk /f h: and press Enter. H is the drive letter of the unreadable partition and it can be other drive letters according to your real situation. This takes some time to finish the process, and is largely related to the amount of files and folders on that partition, the read speed of the drive, the capacity of the volume, etc.


Note: If you see the message "Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts?" you are expected to type "Y" and hit Enter key, and then restart your computer to resume the disk check.

Although Chkdsk is always the way that comes to mind at first time, it won't work in some cases, and sometimes it may over-repair items, leading to difficulty for file recovery. Thus this tool is not suggested to fix error if you want to recover data.

Solution 2: Check bad sectors with MiniTool Partition Wizard

Partition Wizard is a versatile and useful tool which can be used to check bad sectors, manage partitions, recover partitions, and more.
Step 1: Install and launch MiniTool Partition Wizard and you'll see its main interface in which information about all your disks and partitions connected to computer is clearly shown.
Step 2:Right-click the unreadable partition and select "Surface Test". Click "Start Now" and the program starts to scan the partition.

surface test 1

Step 3:When the scanning is finished, it reports how many bad sectors there is on the unreadable partition (in my case it's 0).If there are bad sectors, please think twice whether the data in this drive means a lot to you. If YES, before you send it to repair center or throw it away directly, you should perform data recovery at once instead. And now you need the help of MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

urface test 2

Recover Data from Corrupted/Unreadable Partitions

Today data recovery from partition whose file or directory is corrupted and unreadable is no longer a troublesome issue. The prosperous development of data recovery industry brings convenience to everyone by offering professional data recovery programs. What's worth mentioning is that, among those professional tools, MiniTool puts forward a free solution for users to give a first trying.

And here are the detailed steps:

Step 1:Install and launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery, in the five data recovery modules, choose "Damaged Partition Recovery".

power data recovery

Step 2:Select the unreadable partition to have a full scan (by analyzing the partition size). When the scanning is finished, Power Data Recovery will display all found data in the next window where you can preview the files and tick the ones you want to retrieve.

preview files

Step 3:Now select a destination folder to retrieve files and folders from damaged volumes. That's all.

save data

Note: Free edition only allows to recover up to 1GB lost data. Thus, if you want to recover more data, you will need to buy personal edition or other advanced editions.

Solution 3: Format the corrupted partition for reuse

If "Surface Test" in Solution 2 responds no bad sector, or the files in it are not important to you, then you may carry out format as the last straw. Formatting process configures hard disk with new file system, after which the old and corrupted file system will be replaced.

To format unreadable partition, please read on.

Step 1:Open Windows Explorer or Disk Management.
Step 2: Right click the disk and choose "Format" item.

format 1 Format in Windows Explorer
format 2 Format in Disk Management

Step 3:Choose file system you need to format or keep it as default setting. Then click "Start" or "OK" button to format the drive.

Seems rather easy, right? However some of you must have found one point:"Why can't I choose to format a partition to FAT32 sometimes (as showing in the pictures below), is this random in Windows or did I arrange the wrong setting?"

  • fat32 unavaliable 1 Format in Windows Explorer
  • fat32 unavaliable 2 Format in Disk Management

Here we would like to make an explanation: Windows won't allow to create/format a partition to FAT 32 file system as long as the partition volume is larger than 32GB. What if you just want to employ FAT32 file system (for using on PS4 or something else)? How can you achieve this goal?

Why PS4 Doesn't Read My Hard Drive and How to Solve it

To break this limitation, use MiniTool Partition Wizard to help you!

Format unreadable partition to FAT32 with Partition Wizard

Step 1:Launch free MiniTool Partition Wizard. In the main interface, choose the corrupted partition you want to format to FAT32 and press "Delete".

delete partition

Step 2:Then recreate a partition and choose to format it to FAT32 partition.

creat partition

Step 3:Click "Apply" to confirm changes.


Tip: For normal partitions, MiniTool Partition Wizard can directly format it to FAT32 partition without deletion and recreation.


Useful Tips on Protecting Data in USB Drives

1.Take good care of your USB drives. Please take care of your hard drives, especially the removable ones. Protect them from being damaged or destroyed.
2.Kill virus regularly. Hard drives can be easily affected by virus, especially when it was connected with stranger PCs. Thus anti-virus program should be installed and updated regularly to prevent files from being damaged by virus or malware. In addition, do not insert un-trusted USB drive to your PC, for the drive may carry scared virus.
3.Remove hardware safely. Before unplugging from USB port, move mouse to the lower right corner and press the SAFELY REMOVE HARDWARE icon in notification bar to eject USB drives.
4.BACKUP data in regular. Backup is always the first choice to prevent data loss, and you can use some backup software, or MiniTool Partition Wizard to copy drive. Then you won't be upset when getting "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" error. It is never too late to begin.
5.NEVER FORMAT before data recovery. If you fail to access a drive, do not perform formatting if the corrupted partition contains important data. File and partition recovery should be the first consideration.

Bottom Line

In this post, we mainly talk about why "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" error occurs, and put forward three solutions to fix unreadable partition. Besides, to avoid data loss, we should take good care of our drives and make backup in advance. For any questions or suggestions related to this issue, please leave us comment below. We read every thread.