Need to save files on a busted USB stick

By schoolTechi
Mar 9, 2009
  1. Hi all

    I have been handed a usb memory stick which a student saved all their current projects with no back ups. When she pulled it out of her computer only the casing came away. When she put it back into the casing the computer would no longer read it.

    I've manaed to have a look at the insides and there doesn't seem to be any loose conections and I'm evan getting a red light from the stick, but nothing is appearing on the computer. By squeezing the sides with my thumb and finger I can get a unrecognised usb device message.

    Any help with recovering the files would be greatly apreciated.
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Normally, in cases of problems in reading usb drives i'd refer you to a Troubleshooting Guide (See this Guide Troubleshoot: Windows Won't Recognize Your USB Hard Drive HOWEVER, frankly, in your case (no pun intended) i'd be worried that removing / inserting / trying to physically manipulate the device might cause physical damage to the point where it's not possible to recover the data.

    There are data recovery companies that specialize in recovering the data in situations like yours (and seems that pricing widely varies). I'd look online to find one and advise you try go that route.
  3. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    it is possible the data is still there, but it may be hard to retrieve. I think in this case, there is a lack of a contact on the circuit.

    Now you guys have also ran the risk of shorting it out in which case data recovery may be impossible.

    NEVER store data on a USB that you haven't backed up elsewhere.
  4. xehqter

    xehqter TS Rookie

    Hmm.. perhaps one of the surface mount’s came off.. It could be a weak solder joint, try applying light pressure to the memory chip & controller (square and rectangle chips) and then plug in the drive. As LookinAround said, you may have trouble finding someone local to Australia that specializes in USB Flash drives at a reasonable price.

    Barring the all mighty “static electricity” (haven't seen it yet, but it "could" damage the NAND chip) I’ve found NAND memory to be very robust, when I first started reverse engineering flash drives (my own drives, not customers drives) I did many stupid things.. Heating the chip to 800F, soldering it in backwards, etc. In all cases the chip still worked.. Out of the ~250 flash drives I’ve worked on I’ve never gotten a NAND memory chip that I couldn’t read, that’s not to say data doesn’t become “damaged” similar to bad sectors in specific blocks. I’m off topic.
  5. schoolTechi

    schoolTechi TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks guys

    Unfortunately the other people that I work with have deemed the usb unsalvageable working with a school's budget. Plus I think we have been short-circuiting the whole thing in a hope to get any response from it. I'm just going to tell the student that she needs to be more careful with her data, it will probably teacher a good lesson in time for VCE.

    Thanks again.
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