Position : Tips - The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

Fixed - The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

In this article, you can find out symptoms, causes and solutions to "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" error. Also, you can learn how to recover lost data from corrupted, unreadable or RAW partitions. This error may happen to anyone, causing big trouble to users, such as you are not able to access data in the hard drive partition whose file or directory is corrupted and unreadable. If you can't find an effective method to fix it, you'll end up with losing everything in this partition. Do not feel stressful if you are bothered by same issue, for you are at the right place where you can find easy and efficient solutions.

Symptom of "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" issue

"I have a 1TH external hard drive purchased 2 years ago and it contains about 600GB data, most of which is backup copy. It is divided into three partitions used to store different data. I resized the second partition as it is running out of space but it took nearly an hour to completed 54%. The resizing was carried on my laptop which is not connected to power as I'd never thought the resizing should take that long. As the laptop batter won't last another hour and I had to move the laptop and external drive to study room for charging. When my laptop was well connected to power, I checked the resizing process which had stopped as the external drive had been disconnected from PC during the moving process. I reconnected the drive but failed to access the partition and got the message 'H:\ is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.' Moreover, the files system was RAW instead of NTFS."

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

Did you once encounter the error message "File or directory is corrupted and unreadable" when trying to open a partition in Windows File Explorer? You were unable to access data of the disk or hard drive partitions. Such problem may happen to anyone of us. The direct consequence of the error is file loss since you are not able to access the partition or USB drive now. RAW file system gives an illusion that the drive is just manufactured and hasn't been formatted.

If you type this error message in Google, you will find thousands of results, many of which would suggest formatting or chkdsk of the inaccessible drive. However, if the drive contains important files, you should try data recovery or partition recovery prior to any fixes. How to retrieve data from corrupted or unreadable drives?

How to recover lost data when file or directory is corrupted and unreadable?

It's easy to recover data from partition when file or directory is corrupted and unreadable. DiskGenius is a good option for hard drive or USB drive data recovery, as it provides specific functions and algorithms to retrieve files and folders from damaged/corrupted/RAW volumes. In some cases, DiskGenius is able to display files and folders of corrupt partition directly without doing any scanning. Let's see how to recover files from inaccessible partition.

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Step 1   Connect storage device and launch DiskGenius.

Connect the hard drive in question to computer and launch DiskGenius. If the device cannot be recognized by computer and DiskGenius, please check whether it is properly connected or change a new cable.

In DiskGenius, select the inaccessible drive and click Files tab to check if your files can be displayed. If files cannot be listed in the software, move to next step.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

Step 2   Load NTFS partition intelligently.

If file system of the corrupt partition is NTFS, you can try this solution: Select the drive which reports file or directory is corrupted and unreadable and select "Load Current Partition Intelligently" from Tools menu.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

If the NTFS drive is not damaged that badly, files and folders will be displayed directly without any scanning actions. Then you can save files you want to recover to a specified location: check needed data and right-click to choose Copy To.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

Please note this feature does not apply to FAT or EXT partitions. If your files cannot be found in this way, please try step 3.

Step 3   Scan corrupt partition to find files.

Select the corrupted partition and click "File Recovery" button from toolbar. You can see "Recover Files" window where you should select "Complete Recovery" and click "Start" button. Then DiskGenius starts searching files from selected disk space.

There are two recovery modes here: Recover Deleted Files and Complete Recovery. The former mode recovers files lost due to deletion, cut, empty Recycle Bin, etc. The latter is able to retrieve files from RAW, corrupt or formatted disks and partitions. The "Search For Known File Types" option is selected by default, which is responsible for deep scanning. You can click "Select File Types" button to specify file type for deep scanning.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

Step 4   Preview found files and recover data.

Once a file is selected, you can see a thumbnail preview on the lower part. If you double-click a file, you are able to view file content with original quality. File preview helps to make sure whether the file is correct or damaged. DiskGenius supports previewing image files, documents, text file, audio & video files, etc. and the free trial version also includes this feature.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

To get files recovered, please select and right-click files you want to recover, and click "Copy To" to save them to a safe location.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

How to fix "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" drive?

Note: These solutions may cause further or permanently damage to lost data, so please make sure files of the corrupted drive have been recovered or backed up successful before proceeding with following solutions.

Solution 1: Format the partition or volume in question

If files in the unreadable partition are not important to you, then formatting is the easiest solution. Formatting process configures hard disk with new file system, after which the old and corrupted file system will be replaced. The shortcoming of formatting is that it erases all existing data off the partition and affects file recovery result.

Step 1   Plug the external drive to computer and open Windows File Explorer.

Step 2   Right click the disk and choose "Format" item.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

Step 3   Choose file system format you need or just leave it as default setting and select "Quick Format". Then click "Start" to format the drive.

Solution 2: Carry out Chkdsk to check and repair file system error

Disk checking (Chkdsk.exe) is a command-line tool offered by Windows to check and repair volume errors. This tool tries to repair any problem it finds out, for example, lost clusters, cross-linked files, directory errors, etc.

Step 1   Press Windows logo key and R key together to open Run dialogue.

Step 2   Type in cmd to the open box and hit Enter key, then you'll get the Command Prompt.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

For Windows 7 and 8 user, you need to run the Command Prompt as administrator: click Start button and search for "Command", then right-click it and select "Run as administrator"; If your computer is running Windows 10, right-click on Start menu and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin).

Step 3   Continue to type chkdsk /f g: and press Enter.


Solution 3: Check and repair bad sectors with DiskGenius

DiskGenius is a versatile and useful tool which can recover data, manage partitions, backup system, check and repair bad sectors, etc.

Step 1   Free download, install and launch DiskGenius and you'll see tis main interface. All disk and partition information is clearly shown in home interface.

Step 2   Select the unreadable partition and click menu "Disk" to choose "Verify or Repair Bad Sectors".

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

Step 3   Click Start Verify button and the program starts to scan the drive and check if there are any bad sectors.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

When it finishes scanning, it reports how many bad sectors on the drive and asks you whether to repair them or not. Still, if files on the partition mean too much to you, you should perform data recovery at once instead of repairing bad sectors. For more information, please refer to Free Bad Sector Repair Software.

What is causing "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" error?

This error will occur if file, folder, MFT (Master File Table), FAT (File Allocation Table) or the USB drive gets damaged due to certain reasons. This error is common to many of us, and yet the causes remain unknown to most users. Let's see why this error happens.

Cause 1: MFT or FAT corruption of partition

As to Windows users, the most frequently used file systems are NTFS and FAT. MFT means Master File Table and it is included in NTFS file system playing important part in file storage. All information about a file such as size, time, date and permissions is stored in MFT entries. When files are deleted from NTFS partition and MFT entries of these files are tagged as free and can be reused. File recovery software retrieves lost data by analyzing MFT information. Therefore, once MFT gets damaged then system won't be able to access data from the NTFS partitions.

FAT partition is commonly used on flash drives like USB flash drive and SD card. At present, users are very familiar with FAT 32, FAT 16 and FAT12. FAT partition stores and manages data with the help of File Allocation Table (FAT) locating at the starting area of partition. Simply speaking, its main function is telling system where file is stored. Files are saved on discontinuous clusters; each cluster contains a pointer to the next cluster, so that system can read the all data of the file. Thus FAT error will lead to partition corruption.

Cause 2: The external hard drive or flash drive is infected with virus

As the Internet user, you browse many sites every day for working, study or entertainment and you may download or install program to computer. Thus it's very likely that your computer can be infected with virus if you visit certain site containing virus or install unknown apps to computer. You know the harm of virus clearly. It can delete important files without informing you, damage operating system, corrupt partition information, etc.

Moreover, it may infect other drive connected to your computer. Thus, the installation anti-virus software on your PC doesn't mean your USB drives are free of virus, as they can be used on other PCs which are not well protected by anti-virus software.

Once virus damages file system of the disk, the partition will turn to inaccessible and files on the drive are no longer available for common visit. And anti-virus program is not able to retrieve data from the disk even after virus is cleared. Therefore, update your anti-virus software in time and scan USB drive every time it is used on strange PCs. What's more, do not insert untrusted USB drive to your PC, for the drive may contain scared virus.

Cause 3: USB drive gets physical problem

USB drive or flash drive can be corrupted on account of bad sectors. Bad sector is a kind of sector on hard drive or flash memory which is no longer accessible or writeable due to permanent damage. Partition information such as file system usually saved on specific location. If the location includes bad sectors, then operating system will not able to accessible data. Then you'll get error messages such as "The file or directory is corrupted or unreadable" or "Disk in drive X:\ is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?"

Cause 4: Removable drives are not safely removed from PC

The removable disk will risk losing vital files system information if you unplug a USB drive from computer while the drive is transferring or reading data. This is one of the most common reasons of the error. Most external disk can be unplugged safely by clicking the Safely Remove Hardware icon on the notification area, the right bottom corner of the screen. Make sure that system has done on saving or transferring data to the drive before ejecting it. If the USB device has a small light showing it is still in use, then wait a moment until light stops flashing.

How to avoid the issue?

In some cases, a corrupted and unreadable file / directory can be avoided. Here are some tips you can pay attention to:


The error "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" prevents users from accessing files and causes data loss issue. Fortunately, it can be fixed easily without losing data with the help of DiskGenius. If you are experience similar issue, do not feel helpless, free download DiskGenius and follow this guide to get the problem fixed. Should you need any help regarding recovering data from RAW drive, please feel free to contact our support team.