USBs are an excellent way to transport files and transfer them without relying on a network. A portable storage device, such as a USB, is the simplest and fastest way to transfer larger files from one system to another.

While flash drives are convenient and can be attached to almost any computer, they can also put the system they’re connected to at risk. If a machine is infected with malware, transferring it from one system to another is simple with a flash drive.

Although a powerful antivirus program may be able to prevent the flash drive and the malware on it, you will be unable to access the files on it. If your antivirus doesn’t stop the flash drive, and you access its storage and copy data from it, you’ll very certainly infect your own computer.
How to Fix Flash Drive When Files Become Shortcuts

Flash drive files become shortcuts

If you connect a flash drive to your computer and all of the files on it are shortcuts, you’ve got an infected flash drive on your hands. The bad news is that by accessing the flash drive, you have infected your computer. The good news is that you should be able to restore your files from the hard drive.

How to Fix Flash Drive When Files Become Shortcuts

This type of virus was once popular, but it is still alive today and is known as the shortcut virus. It basically hides the files and creates shortcuts to all of them. The files may be contaminated as well, but the shortcuts are unquestionably infected. Here’s what you can do about it.

Related: How to Access MsConfig in Windows 10

How to Fix Flash Drive (4 WORKING Solutions)

1. Scan the flash drive

First and foremost, you must eliminate the virus. If you don’t remove it, the files on the flash drive will be concealed again, and the virus will propagate throughout your system.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Go to This PC.
  3. Right-click the flash drive.
  4. Select Scan with Windows Defender.
  5. Quarantine and remove any infected files that are found.
  6. Next, download and install Malwarebytes (the free version).
  7. Open File Explorer and go to This PC again.
  8. Right-click the flash drive and select Scan with Malware Bytes.
  9. Remove all infections that are found.
  10. Open the flash drive and your files should be there.

Note: Running a comprehensive system scan with Windows Defender and Malware Bytes is an excellent idea.

How to Fix Flash Drive When Files Become Shortcuts

2. Remove autorun files

When you access a flash disk, a virus runs. The autorun file may open the USB disk in rare situations, allowing the infection to spread across your system. Because antivirus software may not detect autorun files, it’s a good idea to remove them manually.

  1. Connect the USB drive to your system.
  2. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  3. Use this command to move to the USB drive.
Flash drive letter:


  1. Enter this command to list all the files in the drive.
dir /w /a
  1. Run this command to delete any autorun files that are on the drive.
del autorun.inf

Related: What Is an ISO File? How to open ISO image files

3. Unhide hidden files

Your USB drive’s files are hidden and must be unhidden. Check to see if you’ve already cleaned the drive, which means you’ve scanned and eliminated any malware.

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Run the following command to unhide hidden files. Change the drive letter to the letter assigned to the flash drive.
attrib -h -r -s /s /d Drive-Letter:*.*


attrib -h -r -s /s /d E:*.*

4. Format flash drive

It can be tough to eradicate a virus that generates shortcuts to your files and hides the originals. You should format the flash drive if you’ve been able to remove it using a scan and have backed up your files.

  1. Connect the drive to your system.
  2. Open File Explorer.
  3. Go to This PC.
  4. Right-click the flash drive and select Format from the context menu.
  5. Uncheck the Quick Format option.
  6. Format the drive.

Note: formatting the drive will erase all data from it.

Related: Hibernate vs Sleep in Windows 10: What is the difference?


USBs are extremely portable, and many people keep one on their keychains. They do, however, end up transmitting illnesses. Always make sure you’re connecting a flash drive that isn’t from an infected machine to avoid this. In most cases, illnesses are spread through publicly accessible systems, such as those found in libraries. Although most trusted home PCs do not have this issue, you should still be cautious. You will infect your own system if you connect a flash drive handed to you by someone who is likely to install dangerous software (by accident).