Tuesday, August 29, 2017
When something goes wrong with them, it’s hard not to feel a sense of dread. Is that photo of your dog falling in the swimming pool gone forever?
But alas, you shouldn’t panic. There’s a high chance you can recover your data – you just need to methodically work through few troubleshooting steps.
Follow along with this article, and you’ll be laughing at your dog again in no time.
1. Check the Basics
Okay, I know this sounds simple, but have you performed some elementary troubleshooting steps?
For example, have you tried your memory device in a different port or on a different computer? Have you given it a little wiggle to make sure all the connections are touching each other?
Sorry, but I had to ask… Now, let’s take a more technical look at the problem.
2. Change the Drive Letter
If you plug your USB stick into your computer and can see the drive in File Explorer but can’t access the data, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the data is corrupted.
But hold up. That might not be the case. Windows simply might not be able to assign a drive letter to the stick.
Thankfully, it’s easy to change the drive letter. Open the Start Menu and type Disk Management. On the results page, select Create and format hard disk partitions.
Locate your USB stick in the list of drives and right-click on it. Choose Change Drive Letter and Paths.
Finally, click Change and select a new letter from the drop-down menu. Every time you connect your drive, it will use the new letter.
If you still can’t access your files, keep reading.
3. Reinstall the Drivers
Your USB stick and your data might still not be at fault. Instead, it’s possible that the drivers on Windows have become corrupted.
Leave your USB stick or memory card plugged into your machine and open Device Manager. You can find it by right-clicking on the Start Menu.
Once Device Manager has fired up, click on Disk Drives to expand the menu. You’ll see a list of all the drives connected to your machine.
Right-click on the name of the memory device you’re trying to fix and select Uninstall device.
Can you access your data now? No? Let’s keep trying.
4. Check the Disk
At this stage, it’s starting to look like the files themselves are corrupted. But don’t lose hope, you still have options open to you.
There are two ways to check and repair the disk. You can use Windows Explorer, or you can use Command Prompt.
Using Windows Explorer
Firstly, let’s look at the process using Windows Explorer. It’s the more user-friendly of the two approaches.
Plug your memory device into your PC and open the Windows Explorer app. Head to This PC and right-click on the name of the drive you’re trying to fix. You need to select Properties from the context menu.
On the new window, select the Tools tab. In the Error Checking section, click on Check. Windows will scan the drive and report back with the results.
If it finds any problems, another window will pop up to alert you. Select Repair drive to start the fixing process. It could take some time, depending on the size of the drive and the complexity of the corruption.
You will see an on-screen confirmation when the scan is complete. If you click Show Details, Event Viewer will provide you with a complete log of all the repairs undertaken.
Using Command Prompt
The other way to scan your disk and fix errors is to use Command Prompt.
Type chkdsk e: /r and press Enter. If your memory device is not using the E:\ drive, replace e: with the appropriate letter.
Windows will give you basic information about the drive and start the scan. You can see the progress of the scan in the window.
Once finished, it will show you its findings and list any repairs it undertook. As you can see from the image below, in my case, the drive was error-free.
5. Third-Party Apps
If you still can’t retrieve your files, you could try using a third-party app. If you do a Google search, you’ll come across lots of fancy-sounding expensive apps. You don’t need them. Try one of these three free versions instead:
- TestDisk and PhotoRec: Technically, these are two separate programs. However, they’re bundled together because they heavily rely on each other. PhotoRec can recover files (including more than 200 file formats), TestDisk can recover partitions on disks.
- EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard: This app works with hard drives, SSDs, USBs, memory cards, and digital cameras. It can recover data in a number of scenarios, including corrupted drives, partition loss, accidental deletion, and drive failure.
- Recuva: Recuva works with USB drives and other external media, as well as your primary hard-drive. It specializes in deleted files, but can also help recover corrupted files.
6. Take It to a Specialist
If all else fails, take your drive to a specialist shop. They might be able to use more powerful equipment than you have access to at home and salvage some data, if not all of it.
Check on Google for a shop in your local area.
What Approaches Do You Take?
I’ve taken you on a step-by-step journey through the most common ways of recovering data off a corrupt memory card or USB stick.
- check the basics
- change the drive letter
- reinstall the drivers
- use Windows’ Check Disk tool
- try third-party apps
- take it to a specialist
As always, you can leave your comments in the space below. And make sure you share this article on social media – you might save someone’s day!
You need realistic expectations though. When you’re buying budget laptops, you’ll get middling performance. You can play games, but not at max video resolutions. A desktop replacement will do everything that your current old desktop does, but not what a modern desktop today can do.
That said, $500 isn’t a small amount, and the machine will do the basics of the task you buy it for.
Best Desktop Replacement: Asus X555 DA AS11 ($500)
If you aren’t a gamer or someone who needs tons of horsepower from their computer, stop using a desktop PC. It’s time to upgrade to a “desktop replacement” notebook. These do everything that the average user needs while offering a laptop’s portability and energy efficiency.
The X555 DA is powered by a quad-core AMD A10 processor and 8GB of RAM. I’d recommend sticking with the 256GB SSD for faster performance, but you can opt for a 1TB HDD at a $50 discount.
Spend a Little More: Acer Aspire E15 E5-575G-57D4 ($580)
In case your budget lets you add $80, forget about the Asus and get the Acer Aspire E15. It’s a far superior laptop, and worth much more than the extra 80 bucks it costs.
Upgrades include a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card, and significantly higher battery life.
I’d highly recommend you borrow or save up an extra $80 and get this one over the X555 DA.
Best Battery and Lightest: Lenovo ThinkPad 13 ($510)
A laptop with a dead battery is nothing more than an oversized brick. If you need long battery life and portability, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 is perfect, even if it’s $10 above the budget.
ThinkPads are renowned for their durability and toughness, so it will withstand all the bumps and drops of regular life. And it has that delectable ThinkPad keyboard with the trackball, along with an excellent trackpad.
The company claims to have solved all of the security reasons to avoid Lenovo, but familiarize yourself with them nonetheless. And be on your guard.
Note: The Lenovo ThinkPad 13’s price has fluctuated a few times. It debuted at $650, dropped to $510, and went up to $550 again. It’s still a good deal at $550, but if you don’t want to spend that much, wait for it to drop again.
Best 2-in-1 Hybrid or Convertible: Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi ($426)
The specs are perfect: a 12.5-inch Full HD IPS touchscreen, an Intel Core M processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB SSD. And there’s all the bells and whistles you expect, like a micro USB port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and so on.
The T300 Chi “transforms” from a regular laptop into a tablet by detaching the screen. And Windows 10 is primed to work with touchscreens anyway. Connect the two pieces back together and you’ll get over eight hours of battery life. What’s not to like here?
Best Chromebook: Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA($469)
The Chromebook has gotten better and better with age. When you’re ready to ditch Windows, don’t even think twice and get the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA. You’ll never look back.
The Chromebook Flip does not skimp on the hardware, unlike most other Chrome-based laptops. It has a fantastic 12.5-inch Full HD screen, an Intel Core M processor, 4G RAM, and 64GB SSD. And hey, you get a USB Type-C port too. All put together, this is a well-performing machine that will feel fast and powerful on its Chrome OS.
One of the things to keep in mind when buying a Chromebook is Android support. Some current and all future Chromebooks will support Android apps, which makes them far more useful than ever before. Asus has also confirmed that the Chromebook Flip C302CA will work with Android. Since it has an excellent touchscreen and the ability to flip the screen back, you get two devices for the price of one.
Best “Get Things Done” Laptop: Acer Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM ($350)
Just because your budget is $500 does not mean you need to spend the whole amount. If you can get things done and save a few bucks, why shouldn’t you? The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM is the top choice on Amazon, as well as the recommended notebook from several reviewers.
In short, it lets you be productive without spending a bomb. The Aspire E15 E5-575-33BM is ideal for web browsing, Office work, and basic multimedia.
An Untested Gem: ASUS F402BA-EB94 ($500)
We try not to judge a device by its specifications alone, since those can overpromise and under-deliver. That’s why I’m not comfortable recommending the Asus F402BA right now, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
The hardware on this device is unbelievable for $500, including a 14-inch Full HD screen, an AMD A9 processor, 256GB SSD, and 8GB RAM. There’s a USB Type C port too. And even with all that, it weighs under 4 pounds and is less than an inch thick.
The Asus F402BA hasn’t been tested by reliable sources, and there aren’t any Amazon product reviews you can trust. But if it delivers what it promises, this is a killer machine for $500.
Can You Go Cheaper?
Chromebooks and Intel’s new line of low-cost processors have made it possible to go even cheaper than $500. In fact, we have an entire guide on the best laptops under $300, including which processors to get and avoid.
Do you think $500 is necessary to get a good laptop these days or would you go even cheaper? What’s your pick for the best budget laptop?
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