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What is a flash drive?

Basically anything that contains a NAND Flash Chip.

Where are they used?

In Digital Cameras and Cell Phones.

Compact FLASH (CF) Cards
CF Express Cards
SD card recovery
Micro SD card recovery
Smart Media Card recovery

Note: The Bottom Right shows a Old CF card which is actually a Mini Hard Drive.

In Computers:

USB Thumb Drive (Also called a Jump Drive)

Do USB Flash drives fail?

Some of our best customers did not believe those little flash thumb drives can fail.
They say There are no moving parts, how can they fail?
As you can see from our recovered FLASH drive pile above, they do.

One common failure is the customer bends it.

Now the next question is how do we recover your data?

Our customer brought a SD FLASH camera card that he bent while removing it from his camera.
Notice the card on the left is bent on the bottom.
What we had to do with this one was to find an identical SD card and transplant the chips from the bad one to the good one.

If the above fix does not work, the next choice is to read each chip in one at a time and manually reconstruct the file system. Sounds simple? No it is not. First off the data on the chips above are not saved in any standard format. There is no rule or standard on how to save data on these chips so everybody does it a different way. On top of that, the data is spanned between the two chips meaning a little piece of a file is saved to one chip and then the next in a back and forth manor. 

The reading of the chips can be done with a special chip reader.
Each chip must be removed one by one and read into the reader.

But the files need to be manually reconstructed by hand.
(This can take quite a bit of time to do)

A Solid State Drive (SSD)

Notice that a SSD Hard Drive uses the exact same chips as a USB FLASH drive.
It is just that they use more of them (the above device has 8 more chips on the back side).
The square chip in the center is the controller chip.
The controller chip is a computer that determines how the data is saved to all the little flash chips.

Sometimes the controller chip loses track of where it saved the data. In that case, the device just locks up and you can not get anything out of it. SSD Recovery is different and covered on our SSD page.

There are some flash devices that can not be recovered. The most common unrecoverable failure is when one of the little FLASH chips above fail. There is no way to cut the chip open and fix one of the million little transistors inside the unit.

Compact Flash CF Camera Cards

Most CF Camera cards have removable chips.
The one above had four BGA-100 chips.
The chips have to be removed and read into our reader one at a time.
The chips are set up like a RAID where every file is broken in small pieces and saved to all chips.
The files have to be manually pieced together like a large jigsaw puzzle.

USB FLASH Thumb Drives

In the picture above you can see a multi component flash drive on the top and a single component FLASH device on the bottom.
The bottom device is called a Monolithic FLASH drive.

Monolithic USB FLASH Recovery

Monolithic Micro SD FLASH Recovery


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