Access to a password-protected memory card

No access to the USB stick or SD card, what can I do?

Updated on by vinett-video media service

It has probably happened to everyone. The USB stick or SD card is connected to the computer, but it is not recognized or the corresponding drive cannot be accessed. The storage medium worked smoothly the last time!

As always, first of all: don't panic. The USB stick or memory card does not always have to be defective. Sometimes the periphery is to blame and it is possible to access and rescue the data. The following steps are not a panacea, but at least worth a try.

1. Check connection

In some cases, the files on the storage media simply cannot be recognized because there is an external defect on this or, in the case of the external hard drive, on the connection cables. With hard drives in particular, problems can arise due to a loose connection on the power or USB cable. The problem can be resolved quickly and easily by using a new cable.

In addition, SD cards often have built-in write protection, which prevents the data from being readable. If problems arise, you should first test whether the difficulties persist after you flick the switch to remove the write protection.

Even if you have probably already done this, we recommend it for the sake of completeness: First try to connect your stick or memory card to another computer or another USB port. In some cases, the cause of the error is not the storage media itself, but the device used. This can be the case with SD cards in particular, so different digital cameras and card readers should be tested.

With a little luck you will have access to your files. If that doesn't work, go to step 2.

2. Change the drive letter

There is a possibility that Windows was unable to assign a drive letter to your device. If no drive appears in Explorer after plugging in, you can assign it manually. To do this, open Computer Management by searching for it under Start.

In Computer Management click on Disk Management on the left. You may have to expand the "Data storage" tab. There you select your USB stick based on its size or name. The designation can differ, in most cases it bears the name of the manufacturer or the model. Right-click and choose "Change Drive Letter and Path".

Now assign a new (free) drive letter to your device.

You should then find the drive in Windows Explorer. If you still cannot access it, please go to step 3.

If your data carrier is not displayed in the computer management as described above or in the device manager as described below (point 3), then the electronics may have been damaged. If it is an external hard drive, you can try putting it in a different housing or connecting it directly to a SATA / USB adapter.

3. Reinstall the driver

No panic. Your USB stick or SD card may not have been correctly recognized by Windows, which is due to a defective driver. To rule that out, uninstall it in 2 easy steps.

Leave your USB stick connected and open the Device Manager by looking for it under Start.

There you select the appropriate data carrier under Drives. It usually bears the name of the manufacturer and / or model, such as Transcend's JetFlash in this example. Right-click and choose "Uninstall device".

Remove your USB stick from the computer and restart your computer. Once it has booted, you can reconnect your stick and Windows should search for and install the driver by itself. You can usually access your drive after a few seconds. If not, go to step 4.

4. Disk verification

It is possible that your data is affected. This can be This can happen, for example, if your storage medium was not properly disconnected. Open Windows Explorer as usual and select "This PC". Right click on your USB stick and then on Properties.

Here switch to the second tab on Tools and click on Check in the error check. Then confirm the process with "Scan and repair the drive".

In the best case scenario, you will have access to your data after the automatic repair.

5. Data recovery tools

If you still do not have access to your data, one or the other (free) tool might help you.

TestDisk is one of them that can be used to restore damaged or "lost" file systems. It repairs file allocation tables and supports FAT, NTFS, exFAT, HFS formats, among others.

Another tool is Recuva.

6. Visit a specialist / specialist shop

If nothing works, then panic! Nonsense. Do you have contents insurance? Check if your insurance policy includes data recovery. These costs from specialists from 150 EUR upwards. Google for data recovery or "data recovery" and you will usually find competent companies in your area.

additional Information

USB sticks and SD cards are not designed to last forever. In most cases, a carelessness or technical defect is enough to damage your data. You should therefore back them up redundantly with additional copies.

The storage medium cassette

Video cassettes are also a storage medium. However, they lose quality over time. It is therefore best to react early and have the cassettes digitized. So you will have some of your favorite memories for a long time. We'll help you!