How to fix “The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable” error

This is a common error commonly encountered on Windows computers when the operating system cannot access data on the external hard drive:

E:\ is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.

(Drive E:\ is inaccessible. File or folder is corrupted and unreadable).

You may get this error after trying to open something from USB. Or, depending on how your computer is set up, the error may appear immediately after inserting the hard drive into the computer.

Cách sửa lỗi "The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable"
How to fix “The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable” error

This “not accessible” error can happen at any time, even if you’ve only recently used the drive. The beginning of the error message is the unreadable location of the data, so it could be E:, H:, K:, etc.

Cause of “The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable” error

There are several reasons why you might get this error:

  • Drive is safely removed without disconnecting
  • Malware has infected the drive: It is not surprising that you can infect your computer with viruses or malware when you download something from unofficial sources. This can lead to damage to connected external devices and prevent you from accessing your files.
  • Physically damaged external hard drive: If the storage device is permanently damaged, you cannot access the stored information. Also, check the integrity of the hardware connection by looking for any damaged USB ports or cables.
  • Corrupt MFT or FAT: The MFT (Master File Table) contains the file or directory type, size, creation or modification time, among other information. So you won’t be able to access your files if the MFT is corrupted or has problems. FAT (File Allocation Table) is a system similar to MFT and it is designed for hard drives. If the FAT is malfunctioning, it can also lead to the same error.

This error can occur on any Windows operating system. The steps below apply to Windows 10 and earlier.

How to fix errors “The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable”

The best way to fix the “The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable” error is to perform these troubleshooting steps, in order:

1. Restart the computer

If you are in the habit of putting your computer to Sleep instead of shutting it down, you may encounter various problems and issues. So there’s a chance that the “File or directory is corrupted and unreadable” error is just a temporary glitch that will go away after you restart your computer.

If you still get the same error after reboot, move on to the next solution.

2. Run the chkdsk command on the hard drive

Do this by opening Command Prompt with admin rights and entering the following command, replacing the last character with the letter of the drive that is showing the error:

chkdsk /r e:

Note: Running the chkdsk command is the most likely successful fix for this error. If you skip this step, maybe the next two suggestions below will not work because the drive is still unreadable.

3. Scan your hard drive with a malware removal program

If malware is the cause of the error, removing it can restore access to the drive. Refer to:  Remove malware (malware) on Windows 10 computers for more details.

4. Change the location of the file

In case you get an error when trying to open a particular folder or file, try changing its location. So if you want to open a file or folder from the external hard drive, copy it to the internal hard drive and try to access it from there.

5. Set a new drive letter

Mặc dù đây là một thủ thuật kỳ quặc nhưng nó có thể giúp bạn giải quyết lỗi “The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable” trên máy tính Windows. Hãy làm theo các bước sau để thay đổi ký tự ổ đĩa:

Although this is an odd trick, it can help you solve the “The File or Directory is Corrupted and Unreadable” error on your Windows computer. Follow these steps to change the drive letter:

Step 1:  Press Win + R  to launch the  Run dialog box.

Step 2: Enter diskmgmt.msc and click OK.

Step 3:  In the  Disk Management window, right-click the external hard drive and select  Change Drive Letter and Paths.

Step 4:  Select the drive letter and click the  Change button.

Step 5: In the Change Drive Letter or Path window, select Assign the following drive letter and choose a new character from the drop-down menu.

Step 6: Confirm the action.

Your external hard drive now has a new character and you can open it. If you’re using a script to open files from the drive, you’ll need to modify that script as well.

6. Run the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool

There is a possibility that you may not be able to access certain files or folders due to memory related issues. To fix it, you should use the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool. The easiest way to launch the tool is to type Windows Memory Diagnostic in the Start menu search bar and select the best match. Then select Restart now and check for the problem.


Note: Before starting the scan, save all your work and close any running applications.

7. Format the drive

If the drive is unreadable, it doesn’t seem possible that you can format it, but try this anyway.

Note: Format will erase everything from the drive! Before you complete this step, try to recover files from the drive using  file recovery program.

If the reason for the “The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable” error is because the drive is physically damaged, repairing the drive is not enough to recover data and prevent errors. In this case, you will need to replace the drive.