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How To Restore USB Drive Back To Full Capacity (Windows)

Summary: Wondering why USB Drive doesn't show its full capacity? One of the common problems that can happen to a USB drive is that the flash drive does not display sufficient space. if you face the same issue then keep reading this article, and you can find the step-by-step procedure to restore the USB drive back to full capacity using Diskpart.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why Doesn’t USB Drive Show Full Capacity?
  2. How Can You Restore a USB Drive Back to Full Capacity?
  3. How To Recover Lost, Missing Files from the USB after Restoring it to Full Capacity?

Why USB Drive doesn't show full capacity?

It is really annoying to be unable to use the USB drive’s storage to its full capacity. This happens because of the following reasons. 

1. Damaged Drive

Your USB drive's capacity might alter if it sustains physical damage. The displayed capacity could increase or decrease, but it will eventually become unavailable in your system. A physically damaged drive can barely be repaired, but you can still attempt to retrieve your data from it.

2. Malware Infection

Virus or Malware infection might be also a reason which changes the actual storage capacity of your USB drive. Making your data inaccessible and at times making your drive useless and workable. 

If your Pendrive has gotten corrupted or infected by viruses, go through this article to find out how to remove viruses from Pendrive without losing data.

Important Note: Due to a virus attack, your USB flash drive might show empty but says full. If you have faced the same problem. Kindly go through this detailed guide to find out how to solve USB shows empty but is full issue.

3. Faulty Formatting Issues

The majority of the time, these problems are brought on by improper USB drive formatting. Your Drive can become mostly unusable if you format it wrongly or configure it incorrectly.

4. Creating Multiple Partitions

Your external devices, including USB drives, are designed to have just one partition. As a result, when you partition a USB drive into numerous sections, Windows is unable to recognize more than one partition, which prevents your USB drive from exhibiting its full storage capacity.

5. Hidden Partitions or Unallocated spaces on PC

At times there might be Unallocated spaces or hidden partitions existing on your USB drive that are invisible to the PC. Thereby not showing the actual capacity of your USB. 

Caution! With the help of Diskpart will make your Pendrive back to full capacity, but this will completely wipe the entire data on a USB drive. If you are unable to access the data, you can use data recovery software to recover data from USB drive. In addition, please be very careful to choose the correct partition or USB drive before formatting or cleaning it, else you can accidentally wipe the wrong disk.

Methods to Restore USB Drive Back to Full Capacity

This section contains methods that are proven to restore USB drives to full capacity on Windows as well as Mac systems.

How To Restore USB To Full Capacity on Windows?

Method  1. Run an anti-virus scan to get rid of unwanted viruses

Method  2. Deleted files manually

Method  3. Format the Drive using Disk Management

Method  4. Delete Partitions

Method  5. Check and fix errors on the drive using scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors option

Method  6. Clean the drive using Diskpart

Method 1: Run an Anti-virus Scan On the Drive To Remove Viruses And Return the USB to its Original Size

We highly recommend you regularly run scans to find and get rid of Viruses from your computer systems and storage devices. 

Follow the steps mentioned below to run an anti-virus scan for free on Your Windows desktops and laptops.

Step 1: Press Windows + S and type Windows Security into the search bar.

Step 2: Click Virus & threat protection in the Windows Security window.

type in virus and threat protection to start anti-virus scan on usb

Step 3: Select the Scan choices in the Current threats area, choose Full scan, and then tap the Scan button. Then, wait while the scan is running.

select full scan option and hit the scan button to start the usb drive scan

Method 2: Delete Unwanted Files Manually To Restore USB Size

A USB drive may not have as much free capacity or space as expected can be simply because you are using it.

Getting rid of outdated or unimportant files that are taking up space on your USB flash drive will make room for new ones. 

You can also make use of Remo Duplicate File Remover to easily find and delete duplicate files with just a few simple clicks.

Method 3: Format USB Back To Original Size

In Windows, Disk Management is a system utility that allows you to perform advanced storage tasks, this will help you to restore your USB drive back to its full capacity.

Follow the steps to restore USB drive size and fix the corrupted USB flash drive.

  1. Click Windows+R simultaneously, in the  Run dialog box type diskmgmt.msc.

    type in disk management

  2. Click on Format and set the parameters for formatting like volume, file system, allocation unit size. And click Ok.

Wait till the formatting process is reached 100%. Now, your USB Drive will be formatted to its original state. But, formatting will lead to data loss. however, you can recover data from a formatted USB drive easily.

Method 4: Delete Partitions To Restore USB Drive To Original State

A USB flash drive can be "divided" into partitions much like any other storage device. "Partitions" might also be mounted or hidden, rendering their space useless.

Partitions have a more practical issue in that you cannot use a device's entire storage capacity because they divide it into numerous smaller compartments. An 18GB file or folders may therefore fit on a 32GB flash drive, but not if it is divided into two 16GB partitions.

On Windows 11, follow these steps to remove all partitions from your USB flash drive and reuse the entire thing at once:

Step 1: To reach the Power User tools menu, press Windows Key + X. Then, select the Disk Management option.

Step 2: On the list at the left of Disk Management's window, locate your USB flash drive. Next, select Delete Volume by performing a right-click on each of the partitions on it.

right click on the USB drive and click on delete volume option

Step 3: Click on the Yes option for confirming deleting the partition(s).

Now that every single partition has been successfully deleted. Now is the time to create a new partition and format it. Follow the steps below

Step 1: Choose New Simple Volume from the menu when you right-click the "Unallocated" space.

Step 2: When at the Specify Volume Size step, ensure that "Simple volume size in MB" and "Maximum disk space in MB" both display the same amount of space on the device. This is to ensure you create only one partition.

Method 5: Check and Repair errors or Bad Sectors On the USB Drive To Restore the Capacity of the USB Drive

The USB drive may not show its full capacity due to the presence of bad sector(s) on the device. You can check for errors and correct them to regain USB storage.

  1. Press Windows + E to access Windows Explorer and choose the USB drive.
  2. Select Properties by doing a right-click on the drive. Click the Check button after switching to the Tools tab.
    click on check under tools tab
  3. Click Start after selecting the option to search for and try to recover faulty sectors.
  4. If faults are discovered, you can select Repair drive to automatically correct them.
  5. Restart your computer (if required) to verify that the USB capacity is reliable.

Method 6: Clean the USB Drive Using Diskpart To Reclaim Space On USB Drive

First, launch the command prompt as Admin. In Windows 10 and 8, you can just right-click the Windows icon or you can press Windows Key + X and select Command Prompt (Admin).

Else, you have to search for Command Prompt by typing the same in the search box. Now, right-click on the shortcut Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.

To use Diskpart to clean the drive, make sure the USB drive, SD card, or any other memory card that you want to clean is connected to your computer.

  1. Type the Diskpart command in the Command Prompt and press Enter.

open the command prompt to clean the USB Drive

2. Type the list disk command to know how many disks are connected to the computer.

If you carefully observe the image below; Disk 0 is 465 GB and Disk 1 is 4700 MB.  The USB drive that we want to clean is 8 GB. By this, we know that Disk 0 is the computer’s internal drive and Disk 1 is the USB drive.

select the appropriate drive to clean and restore USB to full capacity

  1. Once you are confirmed about the disk you want to clean, type select disk followed by the disk number and press Enter.
    list disk to clean and restore USB Drive back to full capacity
  2. The disk is selected as you have mentioned. Now, any action you perform will be performed on the chosen disk. To wipe the disk completely clean type the command clean and press Enter.clean the disk to restore USB Drive back to full capacity
  3. You’ll now see that Diskpart succeeded in cleaning the disk. So your disk has been wiped out and you are done with this task.
  4. You can see the USB drive without a partition, To create a partition Type Create partition primary on the command prompt and hit Enter. Now type format fs=ntfs quick and hit Enter. To format your newly created partition.

Caution!  Diskpart will make your Pendrive back to full capacity, but this will completely wipe the entire data on a USB drive. If you are unable to access the data, you can use data recovery software to recover data from USB drive. In addition, please be very careful to choose the correct partition or USB drive before formatting or cleaning it, or else you can accidentally wipe the wrong disk.

Note: Learn more about Diskpart with this Diskpart guide to make better use of it, and also learn why SD card not showing files.

How To Recover Lost, Missing Files from the USB after Restoring it to Full Capacity?

We recommend Remo Recover a powerful data recovery software specially made for USB drives. Built with an advanced scan engine that helps in recovering lost, deleted, or corrupted files, Remo is easily the best tool you can rely on. Download and try the tool for free now. 

Note: At times your USB might get corrupt due to which disk management might show disk status as no media. If you have faced the same issue, then refer to this informative write-up to find out how to fix USB drive no media problem.

Final words:

Now, your USB drive should show the full capacity and function properly. If the above procedure is not working, then you are trying to clean the USB drive which is not recognizable or It is unable to partition the drive. In such a case then the USB drive is physically damaged and cannot be used to its full capacity.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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