An I/O Device Error occurs when Windows has problems with either reading or writing to a drive or disk, or in some cases copying data. An I/O Error can occur with numerous different types of media, for example external hard drives, SD cards, USB flash drives or pen drives, CD-Rom or DVD drives and CD or DVD discs.

There can be numerous root cases of this error, with the most common one probably being that the disk or device that the computer is attempting to read from or write data to is defective in some way. This can be due to a scratched disk, connection problems, or sometimes more serious defective issues. Occasionally, it is also the case that Windows generates this error when attempting to use a transfer mode that the hardware device cannot use.


This can be an extremely difficult problem to deal with, as if a drive or disk is seriously corrupted then there is little or no chance of recovering the data contained on it. However, there are a few steps that you can take to maximise your chances of doing so.

It is always worthwhile attempting to plug the drive, or use the disk, on another machine first to see if it will run. Naturally if it does then you know that you have a hardware issue.

If this does not work you should attempt to clean the disk in question. This can be done physically with media such as CDs and DVDs. However, if the problem persists then move onto the next step in the process.

Ensure that all cabling is connected correctly and securely. This will probably rarely solve a disk problem, as if the connections are unsatisfactory then it is unlikely that the machine would be able to access the data in question adequately at all.

Next try starting your machine in a clean boot state. This process cab be begun via the Start menu by typing ‘msconfig’ and select the option which pops up. Then select the General tab, and then click the ‘Selective startup’ option.

On the ‘Services tab’, click to select the ‘Hide all Microsoft services’ check box, and then click ‘Disable all’.

Finally, select ‘OK’ and then ‘Restart’.

If this is unsuccessful then you can check the status of the device in Device Manager. This can be done by opening up the Device Manager utility, and then selecting ‘Properties’. This will enable you to see if Windows is correctly identifying the device in question.

If none of these steps work then it is highly likely that the disk or device you are attempting to use is damaged. If physical media is damaged there is little you can do. If a device is damaged then contact the manufacturer.