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Providing expert advice on broken flash drive repair and flash drive data recovery.
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Perhaps you’re like most people: perfectly content to enjoy the usefulness of your flash drive without ever considering the mysterious flow of electrons between the myriad tiny components that make it up. And that’s okay. But sometimes, even for the blissfully ignorant, curiosity can be peeked when a device stops doing the thing it's supposed to do, like when a flash drive breaks or stops being recognized by your computer.
For the electronics lay person who wants a general idea of how flash drives work, the following info is for you.
A key difference between flash drives and other types of memory devices is the lack of moving parts. Flash drives are solid state, which means they store data on a piece of silicon with zillions of tiny transistors, as opposed to traditional hard drives which use magnetic spinning disks.
Each transistor on the silicon chip holds a single bit of binary digital information: either 1 or 0. In flash drives, the transistor is set to 1 by default. To change one of these transistors' states to 0, an electric charge resulting in a crazy little process called Fowler-Nordheim tunneling is required.
One cool thing about flash memory is that it doesn't require a power source to remember what is on it. In fact, if you bury your flash drive in your back yard and dig it up a thousand years from now, the data will still be on the memory chip just as you left it.
Basically, the data on a memory chip is nothing more than a bunch of tiny ones and zeros. Making sense of those ones and zeros-telling them where to go and keeping track of where they are-is accomplished by the flash drive’s microcontroller. A flash drive’s microcontroller is roughly analogous to a computer’s CPU, or a human’s brain, but somewhat simpler, in most cases.
There is a vast array of brands and varieties of microcontrollers used by flash drive manufacturers. Some are better than others in terms of speed and durability. Second only to broken connectors, bad microcontrollers are the leading cause of flash drive failure.
USB flash drives talk with computers by means of either a standard USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 interface. At present, flash drives using the USB 3.0 interface are backwards compatible with the USB 2.0 plug.
USB 2.0 interfaces have four connections: a +5VDC power source, one positive and one negative data line, and a ground. USB 3.0 connectors have four additional data lines and a drain, creating a 10X increase in theoretical transfer speed.
In addition to the essential parts mentioned above, flash drive circuit boards are covered in lots of little surface mounted components like resistors, capacitors, diodes, oscillators, LEDs, and other parts, the primary purpose of which is to divide and direct electricity to the right places.
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USB flash drives are great for transferring files from one computer to another, backing up important documents, or even as a storage device as long as you use a flash drive backup program. Since you are reading this blog post, that last bit of advice is probably a day too late. As you have discovered, flash drives are fragile little devices that can break or stop working in the blink of an eye. The good news is that there is a very good chance you are a candidate for successful flash drive recovery. So go ahead, breathe a sigh of relief, and read on.
Repairing a flash drive with logical damage
Logical damage refers to flash drive failure at the file-system level. Bad blocks in the memory chip or a lost or corrupted MBR table are two causes of logical damage. Some common indications are a USB device not recognized notification, a drive that says it needs to be formatted, or a drive that doesn’t show up at all.
Fixing a flash drive with logical damage can often times be accomplished with inexpensive data recovery software like FDP Wizard. If your drive is not showing up at all, try following the steps in this blog post.
How to fix a physically damaged flash drive
In most cases, flash drives become physically damaged either due to impact or failed components. Repairing a flash drive that was bent while inserted into a USB port usually involves replacing the connector or in some cases rebuilding a damaged circuit board. If we suspect a failed component or components, we will search our database to see what are the most commonly failed components for this particular flash drive and also use other troubleshooting techniques to identify the parts that need to be replaced.
If we can’t identify the failed components, don’t have the part in stock, or if the circuit board is damaged beyond repair, our next step is to remove the memory chip from the flash drive and either place it on a new flash drive or, as a last resort, place it on one of our NAND memory chip readers.
Over the years FlashDrivePros has truly become a world leader in flash drive data recovery. We have a 94% success rate and are so confident we can recover your files from your broken flash drive that we offer a 100% no data – no fee guarantee. By making our client's files available for download from our secure online server, we’re often able to recover and deliver their files in less than 24 hours.
Click here to initiate a online service request now. Or for more information, give us a call or send us an email. We’re happy to speak with you and answer any questions you have about our data recovery services or flash drive recovery in general.
Check out of Facebook Fan Page to read over 100 great reviews from our very happy clients.
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It might seem so self-evident that it hardly warrants its own blog post, but given the vast number of broken flash drives we see with damage that could have been avoided, I think it’s worth writing about. Below are a few tips that should help extend the life of your flash drive and just might prevent you from requiring flash drive data recovery services in the future.
Don’t carry your flash drive around in your pants pocket.
So many things can go wrong if you do: moisture and condensation can cause corrosion of the small electronic components causing electrical failure, tiny bits of dirt and conductive debris can get stuck inside the tip of the connector causing a short circuit which could fry the electronics, or you might bump your leg against something hard causing the connector to bend or break off. The same goes for keeping your flash drive attached to your key chain. Instead, store your flash drive in a clean and dry place.
Don’t leave your flash drive plugged in to your computer.
We hear from people all the time who tell us they left their flash drive plugged in to their computer and that is was working fine when they left, but when they returned, it was no longer being recognized by their computer. This could be caused by physical damage from someone bumping into it while they were gone, by a power surge to the USB port, or who knows what else? Gremlins maybe? So be sure to unplug your flash drive when it’s not in use.
Don’t run software on your flash drive.
Flash memory can only withstand so many read/write cycles, and running software on a flash drive uses a lot more of them than just saving documents. If you do want to run apps on a flash drive, you should consider using an inexpensive flash drive and not store important files on it as well.
Use backup software!
When all is said and done, the truth is that flash drives are mass produced electronics devices that are destined to fail at some point. To avoid losing all your important files, you should use flash drive backup software that keeps a copy of your flash drive on your computer.
I hope that helps! Please leave a comment below if you can think of anything we missed.
Since you found this blog post, chances are you just plugged your flash drive into your computer, but rather than accessing all your important files as usual, you got a small notification at the bottom right of your screen saying “Flash Drive Not Recognized” or “USB Device Not Recognized.” This is actually a very common problem with USB flash drives.
Several things can cause a flash drive to stop working. The most common causes are failed components or USB connector damage. While a sure sign of physical damage is a loose or bent connector, the damage is often not so obvious.
The good news is there is a very good chance all your files can be recovered!
Flash Drive Data Recovery Software
Flash drive data recovery software can sometimes recover files from flash drives that ask to be formatted, have become corrupted, or have even been erased, but software can't recover files from a physically damaged flash drive. So it's not going to help in your case.
Guaranteed Flash Drive Data Recovery Service
The FlashDrivePros data recovery engineers are able to quickly repair any thumb drive with almost any type of damage, and at a price much lower than other data recovery labs. We have a 94% success rate will only charge after we recover your files. Otherwise you pay nothing. We will even pay for for return shipping.
To get started, just fill out our service request form then ship your flash drive to our office in Seattle. As soon as we recover your files, you will be able to download them from our secure server. Or your files can also be returned on a new flash drive.
Please don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions. We would be happy to speak with you about our flash drive recovery service or broken flash drive repair in general.
When my business partner and I started FlashDrivePros in 2009, we took a good, hard look at the other data recovery companies out there providing flash drive data recovery services, and also spoke with people in need of those services. By doing so we hoped to discover ways in which our new company could stand out and hopefully do a better job. It seems to have worked. Here's what people were telling us:
I want to know how much I'm going to pay up front.
The problem: Most companies charge a diagnostic fee and return shipping. This seemed to us like a subtle disincentive for the company to do their very best work at recovering the data. They get paid either way after all.
Our response: If the rare event (about 4%) that we can't recover the files, there is no charge and we even cover the cost of return shipping.
Doing these five things, as well as adhering to many other principles that we've found to be important, our company has indeed become one of the most popular places to get flash drive data recovery.
1. Order our standard or student flash drive data recovery service.
2. Record a short video testimonial describing what happened to your flash drive and your experience working with FlashDrivePros to get your files back.
3. Let us post your video on our Youtube channel and website.
That's it! The first five people to send us their video after using our service will get a full refund!
Fine Print: Please do not let us know you are planning to send us your video until after your files have been recovered and the job is complete. Your video should be between 1 and 3 minutes long and be of reasonably good quality. Feel free to use the questions below as a template:
Many ex-flash drive aficionados, compelled by the benefits of the cloud, have already made the switch. Their USB flash drives have been benched for all but the occasional computer-computer file transfer at home. And for those ex-flashophiles who have ever lost important data on a failed or lost flash drive, cloud storage is an especially attractive alternative.
Nonetheless, there are still a few folks out there who, for different reasons, are not ready to retire their USB sticks in lieu of some newfangled technology with such an ephemeral name as “the cloud.” But resistance to change and misguided phobias aside, there are definitely a few benefits to sticking with that USB; especially when it comes to security.
To help you make an informed decision about where and how you store your personal documents, we’ve put together a list of some pros and cons for both cloud storage and USB flash drives.
For all you faithful out there still using flash drives, tell us, what keeps you from going over to the grey side? Or if you have made the switch to cloud based file storage and ditched your flash drive, what compelled you to do so? Let us know and might just send you something nice!
Let us know if we missed anything and we’ll add it to the list.
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Here’s a typical scenario: You turn on your computer, take your USB flash drive out of your pocket and plug it in, but instead of that familiar ding letting you know your computer recognizes the flash drive, there’s nothing. No sound, no pop-up window, no light, no nothing. You try it in another computer but it’s the same thing. This is about the moment all the blood rushes from your face as you remember just how much important stuff you have on that memory stick, and you don’t have a backup. Of course, you should have had a backup. Especially since there are backup programs out there like FDP Sync that will do the job automatically. But hindsight is 20/20, right?
There are several reasons your flash drive might not be showing up. While there is no way to know for sure without removing the case and performing a diagnostic, physical damage is the most common reason a flash drive isn’t detected. The connection between the USB connector and the circuit board can become disconnected after even normal use. A telltale sign is a loose or bent connector, but sometimes the damage is undetectable with the naked eye.
The first step when troubleshooting a flash drive that doesn’t show up is to try it on several computers, preferably with different operating systems. If it isn’t showing up in any computer, you have two options. If you are “techy” and willing to risk causing further damage to your flash drive, you can try to fix the flash drive yourself. Your other option is to send it to a reputable data recovery company like FlashDrivePros for a free analysis.
If you accept the risk and choose to repair your flash drive yourself, the first step is to apply light pressure to either side of the flash drive while it is inserted. Make sure the sound on your computer is on so you will hear the “ding” if the connection is momentarily reestablished. If you do get an indication, you can try to hold your flash drive in the position that causes it to show up. While you hold it in place, ask someone to access the drive and save your files to your computer. This requires a steady hand and if you have a lot of data on your flash drive, you might have to hold it in the same position for a long time.
If after all this your flash drive still refuses to be recognized, you’re going to need some help from a pro. The FlashDrivePros has recovered the data from thousands of unrecognized flash drives. We have a no data-no fee policy on all our services and will even pay return shipping in the event your files cannot be recovered. With our 94% success rate, your scenario is likely to have a very happy ending.
Give us a call or send us an email to speak with a data recovery engineer today.
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