How to Undo External Hard Drive Conversion to ESD-USB

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ESD stands for electronic software delivery and a type of format for storage devices usually used to install Windows on a machine. It is the format required if you want to install Windows on a machine, and usually formats your entire drive, and then allocates a 32GB partition from your device to this format. If you have accidentally formatted your hard drive to this format and are now seeing the drive as an ESD-USB rather than an NTFS drive, then this article will show you how you can easily undo this. Furthermore, we will outline the best way for you to recover your data from a drive that has been converted to ESD-USB. Then, we will give you some tips to suggest how to protect yourself from this error in the future.

Part 1: 3 Ways to Undo ESD-USB

There are 3 ways to convert your ESD-USB back to normal. Let's check them one by one.

Method 1: Format External Hard Drive

This method will erase the data stored on your hard drive but will return your hard drive to your desired format: NTFS. This format lets you use the external hard drive to store and transfer files.

To do this:

1) Open your File Explorer on Windows.

2) Locate the external hard drive.

3) Right-click on it and select Format.

4) Make sure the file system is set to NTFS and set the allocation unit size to 2048 bytes.

5) Tick "Quick format" and start the process.

format external hard drive to undo esd-usb

You can use this device normally now.

Method 2: Undo ESD-USB via Command Prompt

Command Prompt is a tool that can be used to easily make changes to your machine and its peripheral devices using command lines rather than selecting options manually in settings. Open your File Explorer and locate the disk and make a note of the letter assigned to that drive. Then, open Command Prompt as administrator by right-clicking on the Windows button and selecting Command Prompt (admin).

Once this is done, type in the following command, where Y must be replaced with the letter assigned to your drive.

chkdsk Y: /f

use cmd to undo esd-usb

Wait for the command to run. This should automatically find any issues with your external hard drive and fix them.

An alternative method to fix this trouble using command prompt is to format the external hard drive. Enter the following commands:

1) Diskpart

2) List disk

From the list of disks, find the disk number corresponding to your external drive.

3) Select disk X (where x is replaced by the number of your disk).

4) Clean

5) Create partition primary

6) Format fs=ntfs

7) Assign

undo esd-usb with command prompt

This will manually format your external drive back to NTFS.

Method 3: Create a New Volume

Creating a new partition will also erase all your data, so ensure that if you want to save the data stored on this drive, you recover it by the method listed in part 2. Since ESD-USB formats your drive and then only allocates 32GB of your total capacity to this format, you can allocate the remaining capacity to the NTFS format.

1) Open Windows Disk Management by searching for it in Windows.

2) From the list of drives, find the external hard drive and right-click on the unallocated space.

3) Click on "New Simple Volume" and enter the size of this partition (we suggest you enter the maximum disk space).

4) On the next screen, choose to format this volume and then select the NTFS format.

5) Enable "Perform a quick format" and continue.

create a new volume to undo esd-usb

Once this has finished, you will be able to use your hard drive as a storage device once again.

Part 2: How to Recover Lost Data from ESD-USB

Even if you have accidentally formatted your drive as ESD-USB and can no longer see the files that were previously on there, you can still recover your data. You will need to use AnyRecover, a tool by iMyFone.

AnyRecover is an excellent data recovery tool which lets you recover data from drives in almost any situation. This software will recover your files without overwriting any other ones, which means you can be rest assured that none of your other files will be deleted or removed. This is a common issue faced when formatting drives to return them to their original state, but with AnyRecover, you do not have to worry about this.

Some other features of AnyRecover:

The tool can recover more than 1000 file types, including documents, images, videos, email, music files and etc.

It supports all types of external storage devices, including external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD/SDHC/CF cards, etc.

It can recover data under all data loss situations, such as accidental deletion, drive formatted, virus attack, trash/recycle bin emptied, etc.

It adopts quick scan, deep scan and all-round scan simultaneously, which ensures more data can be found in a shorter time.

All scanned data can be recovered successfully. Furthermore, you can recover 3 files for free.

Note: Once you find that your external storage device has been converted to ESD-USB and you still need the precious data stored on it, it's recommended to stop using your storage device. Otherwise, the data stored on it will be overwritten and cannot be recovered. AnyRecover is free to scan and preview data, so you can download the program first to check whether it works for you.

Download NowDownload Now

It is very easy to recover files from ESD-USB using this software, you will need to:

Step 1 Connect your external storage device to a computer. Launch AnyRecover, and choose your device under "External Removal Devices". Then, click on the "Start" button.

select location

Step 2 The program will begin to scan the lost data. The scanning time depends on the size of your files, but you can pause or stop the process at any time.

start scan

Step 3 Once you have located the data you want to recover, click on the "Recover" button. You can choose to preview it before recovering.

preview and recover

That is all you need to do to recover your files from a drive that was accidentally converted to ESD-USB. With the added advantage of only recovering files that you want, you can avoid recovering any files that you do not need.

Part 3: How to Avoid Data Loss Before Conversion to ESD-USB

Some Windows users don't know that the Windows Media Creation Tool will delete everything stored on the external storage devices. Therefore, in order to avoid data loss before your external storage devices have been converted to ESD-USB, we prepare some useful tips for you.

Tip 1: Back up Data to Somewhere Else

The first thing you can do to protect yourself from data loss in the future before your external hard drive is accidentally converted to ESD-USB is to create a backup of the drive. You can do this in many ways, and some of these are listed below:

Copy the files from your external hard drive to another external drive.

Copy your files to another location on your PC, such as a folder in documents.

Set up automatic cloud backup with OneDrive or Google Drive every time you plug in your drive to your PC. (Due to the limits on the storage capacity of these cloud storage services, it is recommended that you only use this method if you are not using much space on your external hard drive).

Tip 2: Use a Blank Hard Drive to Create a Bootable Media

Almost always, this issue arises because the user was attempting to use their hard drive to create a bootable media drive for Windows. Although you could use your main external drive, you will be at the risk of losing your data. Therefore, we recommend that you do not use this drive but instead an alternative one, such as a USB with 32GB of storage or more. This will prevent you from facing this error on your main external drive.


We hope this article has shown you how you can undo the ESD-USB error, and recover your files from a device that has accidentally been converted to the ESD-USB format. Be sure to check out the AnyRecover tool!


By Scott Tarmey , to External Device Recovery

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

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