How to Fix Can’t Read From the Source File or Disk

Most of the time, whenever you try to copy files to another location like an external hard drive. Then you receive “can’t read from the source file or disk error” as shown in the picture below. Even you try again and again, this error persists. Let’s now discuss How to Fix Can’t Read From the Source File or Disk.

Well, digital file storage is incredibly reliable these days, however, that does not mean that things can’t go wrong from time to time actually. You may just be going about your business, just try to open or copy a file in Windows. Whenever all of a sudden the “Can’t Read From the Source File or Disk” error jumps out at you just like an unwelcome Halloween prank.

It can be really frustrating when your precious data seems to be out of reach. However, there are many fixes that stand between you and finally giving up on recovering your information actually!

can't read from the source file or disk

How to Fix Can’t Read From the Source File or Disk

You have to follow the two methods in order to fix the ‘can’t read from the source file or disk’ error in Windows 10/8/7. If you guys get this message when copying, moving, or deleting files from PC to external storage devices. Such as USB or SD, etc, calm down. You guys can regain access to your data and also fix the ‘can’t read from the source file or disk’ error here now.

Turning It Off & On Again

Yes, it is a cliche actually. But, the first thing that you should try on a Windows PC. That says it can’t read your data is to turn it off as well. Then just take a deep breath, count to ten, and also switch it on again.

In most of the cases, these errors are down to software gremlins that basically banished by a fresh boot. It only takes a few seconds, so it is actually worth a go.

Disk Format Incompatibility

Whenever two hard drives might look the same, the way their data is organized can actually differ drastically. Each and every operating system has its own way of dividing up the physical space on a mechanical hard drive or solid-state disk as well. The only way in order to change that system is through formatting the drive, which means all the data on it will be erased.

Windows will basically play nicely with drives that can format in FAT16, FAT 32, and NTFS. It won’t read drives that are formatted for Mac or Linux without additional software.

If the disk that you are trying to copy to or from is FAT32, then you should know that it can’t handle single files that are larger than 4GB actually. You will have to reformat the target disk to NTFS or zip the file and use the compression software’s file splitting function as well.

Whenever possible, on a modern Windows computer, then just try to stick to NTFS.

Bad Sector Blues

A “bad sector” is actually a section of a storage device that basically refuses or be written to or read from. “Logical” bad sectors are not physically defective. However, have become corrupt due to something just like a power outage or a bad piece of software. That has written junk data to that part of the drive actually.

Bad sectors are a really common cause of disk read errors, so it is a really good practice to always check for them. Luckily, Windows has also a built-in utility known as Check Disk (CHKDSK). This will scan the media in question and attempt in order to repair bad sectors. That can also recover your lost data in some of the cases.

can't read from the source file or disk

If a sector really is unrecoverable, then it will be marked as bad and Windows will refrain from writing the data there in the future too.

Check for bad sectors:

  • Choose the hard drive that you are trying to copy from.
  • Right-tap and select Properties, and then the Tools tab.
  • Choose the Check button.
  • Then allow the process to complete.
  • Now repeat for the destination disk.

The disk checking tool is also self-contained and will tell you if it finds bad sectors. And it will also be able to repair them in the majority of cases. But, this process may damage the file that you are trying to move. So, be aware of that before doing that.

The Click Of Death

The mechanical hard drives have moving parts and also incredibly precise tolerances. However, most will work far beyond their estimated lifespan, the end will come sooner or later actually.

If the hard drive is failing physically, then you will get disk read errors whenever trying to work with the contents of the disk. In computer technician circles one of the tell-tale signs that a busted hard drive is actually responsible for disk read errors is the so-called “click of death” as well.

If you hear closely, you’ll then hear the drive make a rhythmic clicking sound. That’s a really bad sign actually. If that drive will still read any files at all, it is a really good idea to back them up as soon as possible. If the drive does not need to give your files back, there are data recovery specialists that can salvage and also rebuild the drive for you, however, this is incredibly expensive.

Power and Cables

In some cases, the issue is related to other hardware factors actually. If you guys are trying to copy to an external hard drive, then make sure it’s got enough power. Most of the time if it’s connected to a USB hub, then the drive may not get enough power for the writes and therefore it fails actually.

Also, try to switch out the cable you are using to connect the external drive to your PC and see if that makes any difference or not.

File Name Problem

Sometimes it is the file name that is actually playing tricks. If the file name is something that Windows doesn’t recognize, then Windows gives you an error whenever copying. Such as, you can’t move files via Windows Explorer if the file name is ended up along with a dot, such as “test.”. This can happen if the file was originally copied from a different operating system. Such as Mac or is renamed via command prompt. etc.

Just try to rename the file and see if that makes any difference. You guys may have to go into DOS and rename the file there if you are unable to do this in Windows.

File Size Limit

Well, another possible reason is that you have to copy large files. Such as, if one of your files is a huge 8GB movie file, then you won’t be able to copy it to an external hard drive that is formatted along with the FAT32 file system.

Most of the external hard drives and flash drives can format in FAT32 nowadays. That can only support more than a 4GB individual file. If this is the cause, then you guys should, first of all, convert the file system of your target drive to NTFS as well. Here we recommend you to use MiniTool Partition Wizard to do this job. As it can finish this conversion without even losing data. For more information, please refer to Convert FAT to NTFS actually.

Connection Conundrums

Disk drives of each type communicate with your PC through some sort of connection. For external drives, this is almost always USB these days actually. This means that the USB cable or USB ports on the computer or drive might be faulty too.

Try to use an alternative cable or port on your PC, in order to rule out those as the source of the problem. Trying an external drive on another computer will also determine actually. If the drive or PC is in fact the problem actually.

For internal drives, the same applies to them too. You should try alternate SATA cables for internal SATA drives. You may also want to change the SATA port a particular drive is using to see if the port itself might be faulty or not.


You are good to go. If you have any queries and issues related to this article then let us know in the comments section below.

Also See: How to Fix Audio Crackling in Windows 10

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