Etcher killed my USB stick

Hi, ive just had this happen to me on a 16GB toshiba usb and i use windows 10. Attempted to flash linux ISO and it failed leaving me with a dead usb that has 2.38MB capacity, i have literally all my school work on it and some files i would really like to get back. In hindsight i should have backed up the files but…

Must i just reformat the stick and lose it all for good or is there any way to recover the damage? Many thanks for any assistance.


This is not a very simple case. Etcher, like any other USB burning application, essentially reformats the USB, and all existing files become inaccessible and some may be overwritten. To recover the USB in case of a failure, we point people to Etcher’s own documentation:

However, you should not write anything to the USB until you have recovered as much as possible. This is not guaranteed, but a quick google search for “recover usb files” gives multiple hits. I cannot recommend any specific programs though.

I had the same problem. I recovered it by formatting it in Linux.
Guys can access this website for more details.

I hope it helps.

choose this and then select target on etcher and then click on flash. this will unmount usb and issue will be resolved.

@ashir why would you flash this file to your SD card or USB stick ? This makes no sense.

My USB got recovered this way

How was it broken ? You flashed some binary from from electron that is not a disk image. If you need to format your USB stick on windows use the “Disk Management” tool. (Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > Disk Management).

You need to use the microsoft tool Disk Part. You can find it in the search from start button. right click and run as administrator.
To recover a failed flash drive, stick, card or drive, this will get your drive back.
If you google Disk part youll find guides on using it.
With the Drive connected…
Basically after running Disk Part as administrator you then use these commands in the command box after each ‘Disk Part’ prompt;
list disk (note disk is spelt with K)
find the drive you need to recover (be sure you note the number of the correct drive)Then;
select disk * (* your disk)
Disk Part will now report drive as clean.
list disk (again)
your ‘clean disk’ will now have an * before it.
create partition primary
select partition 1
format FS=fat32 label=data quick
when that is done
your drive now has full size back

I have a similar problem and manage to find a solution. What happened is that after burning the iso I coundn’t use the usb device, it didn’t appear in the windows explorer, only in the ‘‘diskpart’’.
In the diskpart you need to type:
-“list disk”
-“select Disc X” - select the disk you would like to fix
-“create partition primary” - if already doesn’t exist

after that, you need to assign a new drive letter to the Device
in this link above you can see how to do it step by step, it’s pretty simple.

I hope this can solve your problem.

I did an install of a linux product yesterday on one of my old laptops. the linux page linked etcher. I tried to flash two different usb drives and balena etcher made both of them unviewable or useable. I started researching ways to fix it. But before I did that, I tried to flash the drives with Rufus. Rufus was able to see the drives and flash them with no additional steps to recover them before flashing! I am not affiliated with Rufus or any other tech company of any kind…

The issue I had with Etcher on an USB stick a year ago or so was solved. It was most likely no problem with Etcher for me, nor the USB; it was my lack of knowledge about those different file systems which are created when burning the ISO file for eg Linux installation, and that Windows and macOS cannot really recognize Linux file systems.

My latest use of Etcher was 1-2 weeks ago, on macOS, to create a Linux ISO file on a USB stick, and it went fine without any issue.

After creating a bootable Linux flash drive using Etcher, the flash drive may look like completely dead in Widows environment (although there is nothing wrong neither with Etcher nor with Flash Drive). It is clear incompatibility between Windows and Linux filesystems. In my case I was not able to write another image using Windows tools again. Windows disk administrative tools and diskpart utility were useless to recover the Flash Drive back into “windows mode”.
My solution is following.
If you have no access to a computer running Linux, you can make another bootable flash drive to run Gparted (Gnome Partition Editor).

  • boot your computer using that liveusb drive (Gparted will start automatically);
  • insert your “dead” usb flash drive;
  • choose “Update device list” command from the main menu;
  • select your target device from drop-down menu in the right-top corner. Its name will be most likely \dev\sdc - check its size to be sure is your “dead” usb drive;
  • use mouse to navigate to instruction to change the device file system to FAT32;
  • Click the “tick button” to apply your instruction;
  • Done.
    Remove your flash drive and it is ready for Windows again.

Thanks to @taprackpull 01-Feb-19 and @derek 30-Apr-20, I have recovered both USB Flash Memory sticks that got “bricked” whilst using balenaEtcher-Portable-1.5.98.exe running on Windows 7 as Admin to Flash linuxmint-19.3-cinnamon-64bit.iso onto USB 16Gb.

Etcher failed immediately with an “Oops something went wrong …” notification helpfully suggesting that either the drive was read only or the ISO image was corrupt - neither true!

I wasn’t able to screen shot this but other screen shots are attached, including the method of recovering the USB.
Etcher killed my USB stick.pdf (513.3 KB)

I observe that it is the Create Partition Primary command in DiskPart.exe, rather than the Recover or Clean, that restores the Volume back to RAW and Healthy. Then a Windows Disk Format succeeds in setting the format to FAT32.

I understand that tool changes the disk format to suit Linux and this is incompatible with Windows. However it is clear to me that in the process the tool trashes the drive (as far as the Windows environment is concerned) before it completes the transfer of the ISO image.

Obviously the tool has to be able to write the image successfully in the Windows environment before changing the disk format to suit Linux. It also needs to be able to restore the disk format back to suit Windows for further updates. So that the user does not need to resort to using something like DiskPart.exe to do this.

However this leaves me no further forward towards getting Mint 19.3 Cinnamon 64-bit flashed onto USB.

Please can someone suggest a good dependable alternative to Etcher, cos I’ve wasted enough time on this and clearly there is a long standing problem here that ain’t getting fixed.

Hi @HunkyDunc – sorry to hear you ran into problems using Etcher. Can you let us know if you successfully verified the Linux Mint ISO image you downloaded using the instructions here? If the image fails this step, it would definitely be worth downloading it again.

All the best,

Hi Hugh,
Yes I had verified the Linux Mint ISO. Thanks.

Rufus worked a treat first time; created a bootable USB, FAT32 with a LINUXSYS MBR and loaded with the Linux Mint ISO.

Happy it worked for you.
Rufus is a software that specialises in creating bootable USB sticks for windows. In contrast Etcher really only flashes an image but makes no attempt to make it bootable. So if your image has issues booting on your target system rufus might be the better tool.

I was just flashing an image from my new USB stick (where I had a backup image stored for my raspberry pi) on to my SD card and it killed it. Is this something you are not supposed to do?

I receive an abrupt message on Balena Etcher and now the usb stick doesnt appear in windows or Linux. It just appears on Window Disk Manager as “No Media”. Can’t reformat it.

It doesn’t appear on linux when I run the command df -h

It seems unrecoverable.

flashing from a USB stick seems allright to me.
On windows the device will only show up if it contains a recognized file system and on linux it only shows up in df if it was mounted.
In linux you could use gparted or fdisk to examine the drive. lsblk will show you the block devices in your system, you can run it with and without the SD-card to check which device it is. On my computer an SD card will show up as /dev/mmcblk0.


Thanks for your prompt reply.

I just installed gparted on raspbian and examined it, but the USB device doesn’t appear on gparted (I don’t see any /dev/sda). It only detects the pi sd card. Same with lsblk. It doesn’t show any sda devices.

When I remove the USB stick however I get a notification “Drive was removed without ejecting, please use menu to eject before removal”.

Also, it seems I may have had an error with the original img file which I tried to flash using BalenaEtcher, hence it stopped abruptly.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can try based on the above to recover the USB.