How to Fix IO Error in USB Drives?

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Have you encountered an IO error on USB? This error can make your data on USB not accessible putting your precious data at risk. In this article we have covered 8 easy solutions on how to fix IO errors on USB and recover your important data safely from it. However, if you are looking for quick and safe recovery you recommend you make use of the USB Recovery tool by Remo.

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io device error

“I have been facing an error which says “The request could not be performed because of an I/O error” whenever I am trying to access my USB drive I am unable to perform any action. How do I get rid of this problem and fix the IO error on my USB drive?”

- A User Query from Quora

If you are facing a similar issue then you have landed at the right page. In this article, we will discuss some effective solutions to fix the IO error on your USB flash drive. Before going ahead with solutions, let us firstly understand more about the IO error. 

What is an I/O error?

I/O device error stands for Input-Output Error and it occurs when the OS is not able to perform an input-output action making the flash drive inaccessible. It affects the read - write functionalities of USB drives. Here are the most common I/O error messages you will receive when you are facing issues with IO error on USB flash drive.

  • "The request could not be performed because of an I/O error" as mentioned in the above scenario.
  • I/O Error codes: error 21, error 103, error 105, error 131.
  • "The directory name is invalid" error.

Symptoms of IO error on USB drive and its Reasons

Symptoms of IO error on USBCauses of IO error on USB
You might receive an error “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error”.There are chances that it could be due to the connectivity issues between your Windows PC and USB flash drive.
You might receive a message in the window prompt stating: Disk Unknown or Not Initialised.Your external storage device might be damaged or corrupted
It might also displays error codes like- error 6, error 21, error 103, error 105, error 1311. There are chances that your device drive is outdated.
2. There are chances that your USB is damaged.
Either of a part of the request is completed. ReadProcessMemory or WriteProcessMemory request was completed.There might be chances that your USB controllers have become unstable or corrupt.  

How Do I Fix IO Device Error on USB?

Methods to fix IO Error on USB Drive Risk LevelDifficulty Level
Check if the cables are connected properlyLow Easy 
Fix IO error using Clean BootLow Easy 
Uninstall and Reinstall USB ControllersLow Easy 
By using Device managerLow Easy 
Update The Device DriverLow Easy 
Fix I/O Device Error USB Flash Drive In Command PromptHigh(possibility of data loss) Medium
Change Transfer Mode in IDEMedium Easy 
Change The Drive LetterLow Easy 

Note: Before resolving the error, if you have lost any data, like documents, images, or videos you can utilise USB recovery tool. As this is your only remaining opportunity to restore the data, it is advised.

 A dependable flash drive recovery tool called Remo Recover can easily recover lost or deleted data from corrupted, damaged USB drives. In just few clicks, you may be able to recover your data from the flash device that has an IO device error. Download it right away to easily restore the data.

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Check if the Cables are Connected Properly

Make sure that the cable connecting USB to the computer works properly. If the cable is faulty, the drive will not work. Try another cable and also try connecting the USB to another USB port to make sure the port is not defective.

Fix IO error using Clean Boot

  • Press Windows + R to open Run
  • Type msconfig and click OK
type msconfig in the run box
  • On the General tab > Selective Startup
fix IO error on USB drive
  • Clear the Load Startup items and click on the Services tab
  • Select Hide All Microsoft Services checkbox
  • Click Disable All
  • Click Startup tab, and open Task Manager
  • On the Startup tab, Right-click each enabled startup item and select Disable
  • Click Ok and restart your system

If a clean boot works properly, there may be problems with a driver or program on your computer.

Reinstall USB Controllers to Fix IO error on USB drive

A fault with the USB controllers may occasionally prevent the USB drive option from appearing on your computer. The I/O problem on the computer can be fixed by reinstalling the USB controllers.

  • Click Windows + X to open the power users menu
  • Click on Computer Management > Device Manager
  • Expand Universal Serial Bus controllers. Right-click on a device and click Uninstall
go to the device manager

Repeat for each device and once complete, restart your computer. Your USB controllers will automatically install.

Note - If you are wondering how to fix IO error on external storage devices, click on the given link.

select update device option

Check the Status of the Device in Device Manager

  • Press Windows + X to open the power users menu and click Computer Management.
  • Then select Device Manager
  • Check the status of the USB here to ensure the device is working properly. Device Manager will identify if there is any problem or a software conflict.

Update the Device Driver

  • Firstly, connect the USB flash drive to the PC and then right-click on the option This PC
  • Then choose Manage.
  • Next, you have to click Device Manager and then go to Disk drives. Next, search and right-click the problematic USB flash drive and then simply select the option there Update driver.
  • Now, you have to click the option Search automatically search for driver software online.
  •  You can further open the device to check whether the USB flash drive I/O error still persists after your computer reboots.

Fix I/O Device Error USB Flash Drive In Command Prompt

  • To open the menu and access CMD, go to the search bar below and type cmd.
  • Start the Command Prompt in Administrator
fix io error using command prompt
  • Next, in the new Command Prompt window, you have to type there chkdsk E: /f /r /x where you can replace E with the drive letter you are using. Once you have replaced the E drive, the IO error on the USB drive usually resolves
type chkdsk in the command prompt window to fix io error on usb

Change Transfer Mode in IDE

If your device is using transfer mode, which is not supported by your external device, then it returns an error “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.” To fix the issue, you need to change the transfer mode in IDE. To do so follow the steps below.

  • Go to the Device Manager and go to the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers and expand it.
go to device manager to change the ide
  • You will get a list of IDE ATA/ATAPI channels that your Windows supports. Right-click on the channel where your drive is connected, and then click on Properties.
go to the properties to change th ide

Note: Make sure you don't change the primary IDE channel to Device 0.

In the Transfer Mode box uncheck the Enable MDA in the Advanced Settings tab and then click on the OK option.

Now check if you are able to access your USB drive else move to the next section of the article.

Change the Drive Letter

You could occasionally be unable to access a drive letter because it is invalid; in this instance, replace the drive letter by following the instructions below.

  • Go to This PC and then go to Disk Management.
go to the disk management
  • Select Change Drive Letter and Paths by right clicking on your USB drive.
  • Now, click Change in the new window and then assign a new drive letter to the USB flash drive and then click OK.

Now if you receive this "Format to access the Drive" or any similar message, you can still fix a USB drive without formatting.

In case if you have already formatted the drive without taking the backup then we recommend you make use of the USB recovery tool to get back the lost data.

There are a number of tools available to recover data from inaccessible USB. Remo Recover is one of the best tools available, with more than 10 million downloads across the globe. It can recover data from inaccessible and corrupt USB drives. Additionally, this USB Recovery tool can recover more than 500 file types like Office files, audio, video, images, RAW media files, etc. 

trust pilot

Source: Trustpilot

Note - If you have deleted or lost files from USB drive check this information on how to recover them.


The article summarises how to fix IO errors on your USB and recover data residing on the external storage device (USB). To avoid any data loss issues in the future it is recommended you take a backup of your important data. In case if you have not taken the data then as we discussed in the above section of the article, use the powerful USB Recovery tool by Remo. If you have any further queries regarding the article, make use of the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is it possible for Physically Damaged USB to lead to IO Device error on it?

Yes, there are chances that a physically damaged USB device will lead to IO device error on the USB drive. In case the USB drive is bent or broken, this will make the USB unreadable

2. Is it possible for Corrupted files on Flash drive to cause IO Device error on it?

Yes, there might be chances that it can lead to IO device error, since when the USB drive tries to read the corrupted USB drive you might encounter the error ‘unable to complete the operation’. 

3. Is it possible for a computer's OS issues to lead to IO device error on USB?

Yes, there might be chances that having a problem with a computer's Operating System will lead to outdated or corrupted device drivers, system setting issues, or conflict with the software might lead to IO device error on USB. 

4. What can be done if you are still unable to fix IO device error on USB?

First try to format the USB drive. In case formatting is not assisting you to fix the issue then you can seek the help from professional data recovery services. 

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…