Solved - Accidentally Converted External Hard Drive to ESD-USB

Problem: Last week, I used external hard drive (1TB) to create installation media for Windows to do a clean install of Windows 10 on my laptop. However, after completing the installation, my hard drive came up as ESD-USB of 32GB.


What happened to my hard drive? What should we do if we converted the external hard drive to ESD-USB by mistake? In this situation, can we recover files after converting the external drive to ESD-USB with ease? What's more, is it possible to restore the external hard drive to its full capacity? Now, in today's post, I am going to show you how to effectively recover lost files from ESD-USB 32GB drive as well as how to revert the ESD-USB drive to normal.

Note: finding your hard drive not initialized, shown as unknown or unallocated? Don’t worry; MiniTool Power Data Recovery can help.

Part 1 Recover Files after Converting Drive to ESD-USB

No doubt, we can create a Windows bootable drive by using some tools like Microsoft Media Creation Tool and then use the created drive to clean install Windows 10. However, most users reported that their hard drive (neither external hard drive nor USB flash drive) came up as ESD-USB of 32 GB after creating this installation media, according to a survey. As a result, they could not find their original data stored on this drive. Therefore, more and more users want to know whether they can recover lost files from their drive.

Now, the good news is that MiniTool Power Data Recovery, a piece of professional and simple data recovery software developed by famous software development company based in Canada, can help to recover lost files completely, easily and quickly. Besides, this professional and all-in-one program offers wizard-like interfaces and simple operations which can help users complete data recovery without any difficulty. To be honest, even our grandmother can easily use this tool to deal with data loss situations because of its detailed instructions. What's more, it is a read-only tool. In other words, we can use this all-in-one program tool to recover lost data without bringing any damage to the original data.

Next, let's see the detailed steps of data recovery.

Step by Step Guide to Recovering Lost Data after Converting Drive to ESD-USB

Before you do:
  • Download MiniTool Power Data Recovery.
    MiniTool offers free edition and 4 licenses (personal license, commercial license, enterprise license, and technician license) to cater to the needs of different people. You can see Compare License Type to select the best one for you. Or, you can download the Free edition and have a dry at first.

  • Install this tool on drive.
    Warning: Never install the professional program on the disk partition you are trying to recover data from since that can cause irretrievable data loss. It is recommended to install it on a separate drive or make data recovery bootable disk by using CD/DVD or USB flash drive.
  • Connect your external drive to your computer.

Step 1: Launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery to get its main interface as follows, and then click Lost Partition Recovery to start data recovery.

main interface

In addition to the Lost Partition Recovery module, MiniTool offers other 4 different data recovery modules to help you recover lost data. To be specific:

  • If you mistakenly delete files by pressing Shift & Delete buttons, you can click Undelete Recovery to get them back quickly. (Here, I guess you might be interested in this post: How Can I Recover Shift Deleted Files with Ease.)
  • If you want to recover music, video and picture files, you can tap Digital Media Recovery.
  • If you lose all your CD/DVD data, you are supposed to choose CD/DVD Recovery module.
  • If you format your hard drive by mistake, or if your hard drive becomes damaged or RAW, you can recover lost data by using the Damaged Partition Recovery.

Step 2: Select the drive you want to recover and then click Full Scan button to begin searching partitions on it. This function will scan the entire device sector by sector to furthest find desired data, and it will take more time.

full scan

Note: If the device is not found on the list, you can click "Refresh" button to make the device appear on the list, or you should verify whether the device is properly connected or whether there are any hardware problems with the device.

Step 3: Choose all needed files, and then click Save button to store them in a safe place.


  • If you do not know whether a file should be recovered, the feature "Preview" makes it possible to view some types of files like pictures before recovering, as shown below.


  • If MiniTool Power Data Recovery finds and lists a lot of files, you can turn to the Filter feature to filter needless files by file name, file extension, file size, and creation or modification date.

    advanced filter

Note: If the "Lost Partition Recovery" module cannot help you find your needed lost/deleted files, you can try "Damaged Partition Recovery" module to recover lost files after converting external drive to ESD-USB. In general, as long as the partition exists, you can recover lost data by using this module.

First, launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery, and then select Damaged Partition Recovery.

Second, select the target drive containing lost data and then click Full Scan button.

full scan RAW drive

Finally, choose all needed files and save them in a safe place.

Tips: The Free edition of MiniTool Power Data Recovery can only recover 1GB data. If you want to recover more data, you had better choose advanced licenses like personal license.

After recovering lost data, let's see how to fix this issue – accidentally converted hard drive to ESD-USB.

Part 2 4 Ways to Fix - Converted External Hard Drive to ESD-USB Mistakenly

Let's begin with a true example from Microsoft Community.

Accidentally Converted External Hard Drive to "ESD-USB"

Ever since I got my Yoga 3 I have been having numerous problems with Windows 10. Finally, I decided to do a clean install of Windows 10 which involved installing the OS from an external drive. I did not know when downloading the pertinent installer onto the external it would format it into an ESD USB (I have no idea what that means). I have come to terms that I lost everything on the external, but it says the drive is only 31GB when in reality the external was 1 TB. Is there any way to revert the external back to normal? Please, do not tell me I ruined a perfectly good 1 TB external hard drive.

Here, can we revert the external hard drive back to normal?

Of course, we can restore the external hard drive to its full capacity. Here are 4 solutions to help you!

Method 1: Check and Fix Errors

1. Connect the external drive to your computer and check if it shows up in Windows Disk Management window. Note: If it doesn't show up in Disk Management, you can click the Action tab and choose Rescan Disks, as shown below.

rescan disks

2. Open Command Prompt (Admin). (If you don't know how to open it, you can find answers from this post: How to Open the Command Prompt as Administrator in Windows 8 or 10.)

3. Enter the command: chkdsk X: /f (where x is the external drive letter) and press Enter key. (Note: this step helps check the drive for the errors and fix it automatically.)


4.Enter the command: exit and press Enter key.
Now, you can check if you are able to see the full capacity of the external hard drive.

Note: It is recommended to back up all important data on the drive before checking and repairing errors. If any bad sectors are found on the hard drive, the chkdsk will try repairing that sector. However, the repairing process will lead to data loss.

Method 2: Recover Lost Partition

In fact, ESD-USB is only the name of Windows installation file and it is on its own disk partition. Your disk is still 1TB. But when creating this installation media, the tool erased all partitions and then it made this new ESD. Your data and files are still on the disk if you haven't created a new partition on this disk but Windows can't see them. When you open the disk manager you should see empty space behind your ESD-USB. Now, as long as you can see the missing space on Windows Disk Management, you can recover the missing space by using MiniTool Partition Wizard – a professional partition magic. Its Partition Recovery feature can recover lost partition and lost data at the same time as long as the data has not been overwritten.

Note: MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition can only scan for your lost or deleted partitions. If you want to recover found partitions, you'll need to upgrade to advanced edition.

Step 1: launch MiniTool Partition Wizard, select the disk where partition loss appears and directly choose "Partition Recovery" from the left action panel or from the toolbar.

Step 2: choose a scanning range from "Full Disk", "Unallocated Space", or "Specified Range", and then click on "Next" button.

partition recovery

Step 3: set scanning method to scan the specified range and click "Next".

Step 4: check all needed partitions, including existing partitions and deleted/lost partitions, and then click "Finish" button.


Step 5: assign a letter for the recovered partition(s) using "Change Drive Letter" feature if you want to see it in Windows Explorer, and then click "Apply" button to perform partition recovery.

Method 3: Create A New Partition

In general, since you have recovered lost data by using MiniTool Power Data Recovery, you can directly create a new partition while keeping this Windows restoration partition.

1. Open Windows Disk Management window.

2. Right-click the unallocated space and then click New Simple Volume.

new simple volume

3. Click on the Next button.

4. Type in how many MB (1 GB = 1024 MB) you want to use from the unallocated partition to create the new partition with, and then click on the Next button.

simple volume size

5. Select an available drive letter, and then click the Next button.

6. Type in a volume label, check the Perform a quick format box and click the Next button.

perform a quick format

7. Click Finish.

Method 4: Format It to NTFS

Sometimes, after converting the external hard drive to ESD-USB by mistake, you will find the drive shows up but is RAW. (picture below)

raw partition

Now, you can format it.

Note: Formatting drive may result in loss of data. It is recommended to transfer data saved on the hard drive before formatting to prevent any loss of data.

When it comes to drive formatting, you can turn to Disk Management, DiskPart, third-party tool and other tools. However, MiniTool Partition Wizard, a free and professional partition magic software is strongly recommended since its wizard-like interfaces as well as simple operations can help us easily and quickly format drives.

recommend How to Format a Hard Drive with Ease?

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Bottom Line

Have you ever mistakenly converted your hard drive to ESD-USB? What should you do if you external hard drive shrunk to 32GB? Now, after reading this post, I guess you might know 4 solutions to restore hard drive to its full capacity as well as the secret of how to effectively, completely and safely recover lost data after converting the external drive to ESD-USB. Should you have any questions or suggestions about MiniTool tools, you can leave us comments in the comment zone or directly contact us via [email protected]. We will solve your issues as soon as possible.

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