Compact FLASH drive recoveryFLASH memory stick recovery USB thumb drive recovery SD card recovery Smart Media Card recovery SSD (Solid State Drive) recovery
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. Now the next question is how do we recover your data? Below is an example of one of our more simple recoveries.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.
Notice that each chip has 48 little pins not much thicker than a human hair.Each pin must be soldered carefully to their respective pad on the circuit board.All connections must be good and no two adjoining connections can touch.Believe it or not one of the most difficult parts is finding a matching device to solder the chips to.It is quite common for manufactures of these FLASH devices to change the design from lot to lot so in many cases we need to find a matching devices built in the same month of the failed one. Many times there are no markings on the outside of the device that indicates which lot the device is from. In many cases our customer is the best source for matching devices. It is quite common for a customer to buy two of the devices. Sometimes both for themselves or one for them and one for a friend. If you have a matching device, bring it in with your failed device. It could save you in the recovery costs.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. On top of that the data on the chips are constantly being shifted. They do this for “wear leveling”. Since any given location can only be written to so many million times before it fails (I bet you did not know that) they constantly rotate the data on the chip (like a game of musical chairs). That way if one location is constantly written to, it would not burn out that one location making the entire device useless.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)
Specially if you have a Solid State Hard 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 until you read each of the 16 chips in one at a time and try to piece at all together. 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.
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 single piece device is more difficult to repair since the components are not replaceable. New technology is being developed that allows us to connect to key points on the chip and read data out of it.