USB flash drives have gradually replaced CDs and DVDs since a long time ago. They offer excellent read and write speeds and are quite compact, and these days you can find many high-capacity USB drives. However, USB has a slight disadvantage of being vulnerable to malicious threats.
A special virus will hide all the files you have stored on the USB and leave only their shortcuts. This may seem intimidating, since the first guess is that your data is gone. But that’s not the case. The following article will show you how to retrieve data.
How to access files on USB from their shortcuts?
1. Scan for malware
As mentioned, the problem can be caused by corrupted data on the USB. You can use any third-party tool to scan for malware, but make sure it has the latest virus database.
A quick scan isn’t enough, so make sure to do a deep scan. The article recommends Malwarebytes for an efficient and fast scanning process, as well as a high virus detection rate.
Note that this tool also comes with a free version that you can use to clean up USB malware.
2. Use Command Prompt
Step 1: Do not plug in the affected USB until all preparations are complete and of course do not format it.
Step 2: Then enable hidden files.
Step 3: Download and extract Autorun Exterminator.
Step 4: Run the tool and plug in the USB. (The utility will delete all autorun.ini files and protect you from possible malware spread.)
Step 5: Now, right click on Start and open Command Prompt (Admin)
Step 6: Copy and paste the following command into the command line and press Enter (don’t forget to replace f with your USB drive letter):
attrib -h -r -s /s /d f:*.*
B7: After running this command, you will be able to see all the hidden files on the USB.
3. Use UsbFix tool
Another way to eliminate the possibility of virus infection on USB is to use a nifty third-party anti-malware tool, this time specifically for this type of device.
It is possible that the classic anti-virus tools do not detect specific malware that attacks external storage, hides all data, and creates shortcuts to all files.
The software that this article recommends is called UsbFix and specializes in solving problems caused by viruses, like the one you are trying to solve here.
Follow these steps to use UsbFix and resolve the issue:
Step 1: Download UsbFix. (If your antivirus is blocking it, turn off your antivirus temporarily.)
Step 2: Plug in the USB, but it won’t open.
Step 3: Run UsbFix.exe.
Step 4: Click Deletion and wait until the tool is finished.
Step 5: Open the USB and hope that your files are still intact.
4. Format USB
Step 1: Plug in the drive and back up all the files.
Step 2: Right-click the USB and select Format from the context menu.
Step 3: Select Quick format and select Fat32 as the drive format.
Step 4: Wait until the device is formatted, and you can use it again without any problems.
This means you’ll have to start from scratch with copying files on this device, but at least now you know it’s a “clean” device.
Hopefully these steps help, and you can finally get your files back and deal with the malicious threat in the process.
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