Filed Under: How to Repair, Windows

How to Fix Can’t Read from Source File or Disk Issue Easily


Written by Jack Lin

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can't read from source file or disk

Today, digital file storage is extremely reliable; however, it does not mean it cannot go wrong.

You might be going around your business, opening or closing a file on Windows, when out of nowhere, the can’t read from the source file or disk error comes up on the screen.

cant read from source file or disk

It could be frustrating when your valuable data becomes out of reach. However, there are several solutions that you can use to fix this annoying issue.

But before you do so, have a look at the causes of why you face this error in the first place. So, let’s move on to the causes and fixes without further ado!

Part 1: Reasons Behind Can’t Read From Source File or Disk

1. Switch It Off & On

The first thing you need to try on your Windows system when it shows up that ‘can’t read from source file or disk,’ is to switch it off. After a while, turn it on once again.

In most cases, the errors occur due to software glitches that usually banish with a fresh boot. This takes about a few minutes. So, just try this out.

Switch It Off & On

2. Disk Format Incompatibility

Two hard disks could look similar; however, how their data files are organized could differ drastically. Every operating system features its method of sorting the physical space on mechanical hard drives.

The only method to modify the system is through the drive formatting. This means that all the data will be erased from it.

Disk Format Incompatibility

Windows will work with drives nicely, which are formatted in NTFS, FAT 32, and FAT 16. This would not read hard drives formatted for Linux or Mac with no additional software.

For reading Mac-formatted hard drives, users could employ HFSExplorer, and for Linux-formatted disks, employ Linux Reader.

If the hard drive you want to copy from or to is FAT32, reformat the disk to zip the file or NTFS and employ the file-splitting operation of the compression software. In modern systems, it is best to go with NTFS.

3. Bad Sectors

A bad sector refers to a part of a storage device that refuses to be read from or written to. Bad sectors are not physically defective. However, they become corrupt due to some bad software or a power outage that has written junk data to the drive’s part.

These bad sectors are a typical reason for errors like ‘can’t read from source file or disk.’ Therefore, it is best to keep a check on them.

Fortunately, Windows comes with an in-built utility called Check Disk. It scans files and tries repairing bad sectors, which even recovers the lost data in a few cases.

If some sectors are unrecoverable, it marks them as bad, and then Windows refrains from writing data on those disks in the future. It is very easy to run Check Disk.

PS: If you are bothered by the errors of the Windows Update error code 0x80072efe, here are the top solutions.

4. Click on Death

Mechanical hard drives feature moving parts and extremely precise tolerances; some work far beyond their predictable lifespan, and others end later or sooner.

If your hard drive falls physically, you will receive errors like ‘can’t read from source file or disk.’ Technicians get an idea about busted hard disks that are responsible for these errors from the click of death.

On listening closely, users will hear the hard drive producing a rhythmic clicking sound. If your drive still reads files, it is advised to back up the files if possible.

If that drive does not like to give back the files, take the help of data recovery specialists. However, these services are expensive, and it is better to let go of them if the information is not valuable.

Also, “sign out is not available due to restrictions” is an error message that appears on your iOS device. And here are the six simple solutions you can try to fix.

5. Optical Disc Damage and Dirty Lenses

Most users do not employ optical discs on their Windows systems these days. However, it is better to know the damage on your disk’s surface if you like to receive information from a Blu-ray disc, DVD, or CD.

Sometimes, you wipe the disc with a cloth that you use for cleaning glasses or camera glasses to clear away debris and fingerprints.

If the disk’s outer layer is scratched, use a disk repair fluid or buffer to attempt a fix. If the damage is deep enough, there’s no hope.

Sometimes, the issue is not the disc but your drive. One can use a driver lens cleaner to solve the problem.

Optical Disc Damage and Dirty Lenses

6. Connection Conundrums

Disk drives of all types communicate with the system via the connection. For an external drive, it is always a USB. It means that USB ports or cables on the system might be damaged or faulty.

Connection Conundrums

Thus, you need to try an alternative port or cable on the system to rule out these problem sources. Also, try an external hard drive on another system to determine whether the system or drive is the problem.

When it comes to internal devices, this same rule applies to them. Try using alternative SATA cables for SATA internal drives. Users would like to modify the specific drive or SATA port they are using for examining the problem.

7. Power Issues

Several external USB hard drives require more power as compared to a standard USB port could provide. These drives usually arrive with a cable having two USB-A connectors.

Here, one connector carries data and power, while the other just carries power. The drive will not run reliably or boot up if you use single-connector cables with standard USB ports.

So, double-check the power requirements of the manufacturer and ensure that you provide the external drive with enough power to function properly.

8. Unsupported File Names

Names could cause a problem. Sometimes, Windows does not understand the file name used for a specific file. If the source disk features a file name format, which is against the file name rules of Windows, then try renaming that file.

9. File Ownership

Most users do not have to ever worry about file ownership. However, Windows sometimes does not support ownership of a specific file or drive. Thus, it becomes impossible for users to work on these files or drives.

File Ownership

The best part is that users can examine manually and modify the file ownership on Windows 10. Also, it is very easy to do so. Check online guides for carrying out this function.

10. Reading is Essential

Sometimes, you need to accept that your data is lost and cannot ever come back.

Thus, trying out these methods could not bring them back. That’s why it is best to adopt backup strategies for fixing the error ‘can’t read from source file or disk.’

Due to cheap storage technology, quick internet connections and cloud-backup options help you to prevent your files or information from losing forever. Make sure that you create regular backups of irreplaceable and unique files.

One can spread copies over OnDrive or DropBox and buy an external SSD over failure-prone external drives.

Part 2: How to Fix Can’t Read From Source File or Disk

Now, it is time to know about solutions to resolve the ‘can’t read from source file or disk’ issue.

There are various methods to do this, and here, we list some effective ones. So, let’s get started without further ado!

1. Fix Your Mismatched File Systems

It is pretty easy to diagnose mismatched file systems. If you are employing Windows 10 or 8, your file systems are NTFS. On Windows 7, these systems could be NTFS or FAT32; on Windows XP, these are FAT32.

NTFS is entirely different from FAT32. Plus, it can handle very large files quite easily. FAT32 cannot handle large files and is an old file system. If you transfer files from the FAT32 disk, then the maximum size of your file needs to be 4GB.

Also, if your file size is close to this size, it could result in errors like ‘can’t read from source file or disk.’

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

  1. Choose the drive from which you are copying.
  2. Right-tap on it and choose ‘Properties.’
  3. Look for the file system.
  4. Do the same for your destination disk.
Fix Cant read from source file or disk error

If both the systems are NTFS, then go after the next solution. If they are different, keep on reading. Usually, users cannot copy big files with FAT32. Sometimes, users use a file splitter to break a large file into small pieces.

Here, the file becomes corrupted, and Windows shows the error ‘can’t read from source file or disk’ or reads a corrupt or large file.

On seeing this error, look for a program that can split a file into small pieces and repeat the process. There are various file splitters online, like HJSplit.

This program comes with full, advanced features and is free. Install this program and split your file, and then rebuild the same.

2. Fix Bad Sectors

A Sector refers to a storage piece. While formatting hard drives, this process involves dividing up the drive into separate pieces. Therefore, you can use them collectively for storing large files or also independently for storing data.

Bad sectors are software errors that signify your system cannot read that data piece on a specific sector. It could even happen because of physical damage. For checking bad sectors, follow the instructions listed below.

Steps to Fix Bad Sectors:

  1. Choose the drive from which you are copying.
  2. Right-tap on it and choose ‘Properties‘ under the tab ‘Tools.’
  3. Mark the check against ‘Error Checking.’
  4. Wait for this procedure to complete.
  5. Repeat the same process for the other file system.
Fix bad sectors to Solve cant read from source file or disk

This disk-checking program is self-contained and looks for bad sectors. It is even capable of repairing these issues in most cases. However, it might damage the file you want to move, so be careful while performing this fix.

Users can even run disk checks using the command prompt if they like. To perform this action, follow the steps:

  1. Open the CMB window and run it as administrator
  2. Type ‘chkdsk/f D:‘ or paste the same and then press ‘Enter
  3. Next, modify ‘D:’ to the hard drive letter, which is in question
  4. Wait for the process to complete

In case there are bad sectors, this method will fix them. Thus, you would not face the ‘can’t read from source file or disk’ error and can move the file effortlessly.

3. Resolve File Permissions

In some cases, file permissions could become confusing for Windows, and thus, this posits trouble in front of Windows.

This problem can occur if someone sends you a file, and Windows can’t read from the source file or disk because of the file ownership. Fix this issue in the following manner!

Steps to Resolve File Permissions:

  1. Right-tap on the file that you like to copy.
  2. Next, choose ‘Properties’ and select the tab ‘Security.’
  3. From there, choose ‘Edit’ and tap on the ‘Add’ tab.
  4. Enter your computer’s username at the bottom and choose ‘Check Names.’
  5. After this, press O.K., and you will return to the previous screen.
  6. Tap on your username and mark the checkbox beside ‘Full Control.’
  7. Lastly, tap on ‘Apply’ and hit OK.


Q1: Can this issue occur with both internal and external disks?

Yes, the “Can’t Read from Source File or Disk” issue can occur with both internal and external disks. It can affect hard drives, SSDs, USB drives, and other storage media.

Q2: Will runninga disk error check erase my data?

No, running a disk error check should not erase your data. The purpose of this process is to identify and fix errors in the file system, not delete your files.

However, it’s always recommended to have a backup of your important data before performing any disk-related operations, just to be on the safe side.

Q3: What should I do if none of the methods mentioned in the article work?

If none of the troubleshooting methods mentioned in the article resolve the issue, it’s advisable to consult a professional technician or seek assistance from the manufacturer of your disk or computer. They may be able to provide specific guidance tailored to your situation.

Q4: Can I recover files from a disk that is physically damaged?

In some cases, it may be possible to recover files from a physically damaged disk. However, it’s important to note that the success of data recovery depends on the extent of the damage.

If the disk has severe physical damage, it may be challenging to retrieve the data. In such situations, professional data recovery services might be necessary.

Q5: How can I differentiate between a software-related issue and a hardware-related issue?

Differentiating between software-related and hardware-related issues can be challenging without proper diagnosis. However, if the “Can’t Read from Source File or Disk” error occurs consistently with multiple files or disks, it is more likely to be a software-related issue.

On the other hand, if the error is specific to a particular file or disk, physical damage or hardware failure may be the cause.


So, use these effective methods for resolving the error that Windows can’t read from the source file or disk.

All of these methods will work to fix this annoying error. Try them out and get rid of them easily and effectively.


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