What is the I/O device error and how to fix it without affecting the original data? This article will help you understand the origins and solutions of the I/O device error. And you can try MiniTool data recovery software to recover lost data as well.

cannot access my external hard drive due to the following error message “Drive is not accessible. The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error” as shown below.

The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error

You can read this post to find some reliable solutions to fix this I/O device error in external hard drives as well as removable media without the loss of any data.

Part 1: What Is an I/O Device Error?

An I/O device error (short for Input/Output device error) happens when Windows is not able to perform an input/output action (such as reading or copying data) when it is trying to access a drive or disk.

It can occur in many different types of hardware devices or media.


Tip: Sometimes, the I/O device error may occur when you try to access the floppy disk driver in Windows XP Service Pack.

Common Reasons for the I/O Device Error

  • The plugged storage device is incorrectly connected. The PC cannot detect the connected device normally.
  • The computer USB port or the USB card reader is damaged or broken.
  • The computer storage device driver is outdated, damaged, or incompatible with your attached device.
  • The external hard drive, memory card, or USB drive is recognized with a wrong drive letter.
  • The external hard drive, memory card, or USB drive that you are trying to access is dirty or damaged.
  • Windows is trying to use a transfer mode that the hardware device cannot use.

Common Symptoms of “I/O Device Error”

In general, you will get the following messages if your storage device unexpectedly gets the I/O device error issue:

  • “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error”.
  • “I/O error 32”, “I/O error 21” or the similar “I/O error + codes”.
  • “Only part of a read process memory request was completed” or “Only part of a write process memory request was completed”.

So, how to solve this I/O device error in Windows 10/7? Here is a video tutorial for you.

Regardless of why and how the I/O device error message is triggered, it is strongly recommended for data of the affected drive be transferred or recovered before any attempts to fix the issue. All of the files and data stored on the affected drive are at risk of being lost completely in the occurrence of the I/O error.

However, how to get lost data back from this damaged drive effectively? Please keep reading.

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Part 2: Recover Data from Drive With the I/O Device Error

How to recover data from the drive with the I/O device error without affecting the original data?

We recommend MiniTool Power Data Recovery for the following reasons.

  • All-in-one and read-only data recovery software.
  • Excellent data recovery effect and great reliability.
  • Detailed instructions to help you recover data successfully.
  • Millions of users world-wide.
  • Support Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows Server, etc.

In short, using MiniTool Power Data Recovery, you can easily and quickly recover lost data without damaging the original data. It is a tool with high security, excellent performance, and simple operations.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe


Warning: Do not install MiniTool Power Data Recovery on the drive containing lost data. Otherwise, the original data could be overwritten and there is no way to recover overwritten files.

A step-by-step guide to recovering data from the drive with the I/O Device Error:

Step 1. Launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery (You can click the Scan Settings icon in the left panel to configure scanning for specific file systems and file types).

Under the Logical Drives section, select the target drive and click Scan to scan for desired data in the disk sector-by-sector. For the best recovery result, please wait until the full scan is complete.

select the target drive to scan

Step 2. After scanning, you can use the following features to filter, preview, and search for your files.

  • Filter: Filter files by file name, file size, date modified, etc. For instance, if you only want to recover photos, you can choose Picture to filter out other types of files.
  • Preview: Before recovering files, you can preview the selected files. You can also preview photos before saving them.
  • Export Scan Result: After scanning, you can export the results to a specific location. Then you can load previous results in the future without rescanning (Recommended if the disk scanning and data filtering take a long time. And, this feature is only available for paid editions).
  • Search: Find a specific file using the keyword of the file name.

filter, preview, search, and export scan result

Step 3. Verify the files recovered, and then click Save to store useful ones to a safe place separate from the original drive.

save all needed files

To recover unlimited data, use MiniTool Power Data Recovery Personal by purchasing and registering a MiniTool license key.

With MiniTool Power Data Recovery, I quickly recovered lost data from the hard drive with the I/O device error without bringing any damage to the original data.Click to Tweet

After recovering lost data, let’s see how to fix the external hard drive I/O error.

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Part 3: How to Fix I/O Device Error in Windows 10/7/8

Here are several solutions to fix the I/O device error in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. You can feel free to try them one by one.

Solution 1: Ensure the Storage Device Connection Is Working Correctly

The affected storage device might not have been connected properly. To check the connection, disconnect the storage medium and connect it with another USB port, USB cable, USB adaptor, or USB card reader. Data on the device should be able to be read as usual if this is caused by a faulty connection.

Solution 2: Download, Install, or Update Your Device Driver

If the computer storage device driver is outdated, damaged, or incompatible with your attached device, it might affect its input/output functionality.

Download, install, or update your device driver, and then disconnect and reconnect this device to see whether the I/O error is fixed.

Solution 3: Change the Drive Letter

If the external drive is detected with a wrong drive letter, its I/O functionality will be affected because the computer would be reading from the wrong or non-existent drive.

You can change the drive letter to fix this issue. To do so without affecting the original data, you can use MiniTool Partition Wizard, a free, simple, and professional partition magic.

Step 1. Download and install MiniTool Partition Wizard, and then launch it.

MiniTool Partition Wizard FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Step 2. Select the target external drive and choose Change Drive Letter from the action panel.

change the drive letter

Step 3. Choose a drive letter from the list. Click OK to go back to the main interface.

Step 4. Click the Apply button to perform this operation.

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Solution 4: Check and Repair Disk Errors on the Drive

You can also run a check disk from a command line to check for and fix disk errors.

Step 1: Type CMD in the Windows search box and right-click the Command Prompt to select Run as administrator.

Step 2: Type “chkdsk /f x:” into the Command Prompt window and press Enter. The letter “x” should be replaced with the letter name of the drive you’d like to run the scan on.

Step 3: Finally, type “exit” and press Enter.

Solution 5: Change the Transfer Mode for The Drive in IDE Channel Properties

Windows cannot transfer data from the drive to the computer if the transfer mode for the drive was changed or incorrect. Therefore, in this case, you can follow these steps to change the transfer mode to fix this problem.

Step 1: Press the Start button and select Device Manager.

Step 2: Expand IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. You will see a list containing various IDE ATA/ATAPI channels for your PC.

Step 3: Right-click the channel where the external drive is connected, and then click Properties. Typically, the channel that is usually used for external hard drives is the Secondary IDE Channel.

right-click to select Properties

Step 4: Open the Advanced Settings tab and select the PIO Only option in the box labeled Transfer Mode for the device representing your external hard drive. Usually, this is Device 0. Click OK to close all windows.

Step 5: Restart your computer and check if the I/O device error has been addressed.

Solution 6: Perform a Clean Boot

Similar to starting Windows in safe mode, performing a clean boot can determine whether a background program is interfering with your computer. Here is how to do that.

Step 1. In the Windows search box, type msconfig and select System Configuration.

Step 2. Go to the Services tab, and check Hide all Microsoft services. Then select Disable all and click Apply.

disable all services

Step 3. Go to the Startup tab, and select Open Task Manager.

open Task Manager

Step 4. For each enabled startup item, select them one by one to click Disable.

Step 5. Close Task Manager and click OK on the Startup section of the System Configuration window.

Solution 7: Format the Hard Drive

If all the above solutions cannot help you, you can try formatting your hard drive. If you don’t know how to format a hard drive with ease, you can try MiniTool Partition Wizard which offers concise PI.


Tip: If formatting does not work either, your drive must be seriously damaged. In this case, you have no choice but to replace it with a new one.

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Bottom Line

Are you troubled by this message “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error”? Now, you can try the solutions listed above to fix this I/O device error on external and internal hard drives. Remember to recover your lost data in the drive before trying the solutions.

Like this post? Share it to help more users get rid of the I/O device error.

If you have any questions about data recovery using MiniTool Power Data Recovery, please feel free to contact us via [email protected].

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