USB Flash Drive Data Recovery Blog

Providing expert advice on broken flash drive repair and flash drive data recovery.

How Flash Drives Work

Brian Ernst - Saturday, May 18, 2013

Parts of a flash drive

You plug it in, grab an important file, and yank it out. It all seems so simple. But have you ever wondered what is going on inside your flash drive as your files are moving to and fro?

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.

Flash Drives vs. Hard Drives

NAND memory chips

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.

The Brain of a Flash Drive

Flash drive microcontroller

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.

How Flash Drives Communicate with Computers

USB flash drive connectors

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.

I hope that helps unravel a little bit of the mystery behind the flash drive. Don’t forget to back up your flash drive and let us know if we can help you recover lost photos or other data.

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How to Repair a Flash Drive

Brian Ernst - Sunday, March 31, 2013

Engineer Repairing Flash Drive

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.

Fixing a flash drive with logical damage

Repair 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

Physically Damaged Flash Drive

In most cases, flash drives become physically damaged either due to impact or failed components. Fixing 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.

Repairing A Flash Drive

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.

NAND Chip Reader

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.

FlashDrivePros LLC

Check out of Facebook Fan Page to read over 100 great reviews from our very happy clients

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Taking Care of Your Flash Drive

Brian Ernst - Thursday, March 07, 2013

Flash Drive Care

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. 

Flash Drive Not Recognized? The Flash Drive Pros Can Recover Your Files in a Flash!

Brian Ernst - Friday, February 15, 2013

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. 

FlashDrivePros LLC

What Makes FlashDrivePros Better?

Brian Ernst - Monday, December 31, 2012

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: We found that many data recovery companies had confusing, variable pricing structures which left the customer anxious about what the final bill was going to be. It even seemed that some companies might be using pricing structures that were deliberately convoluted in order to get as much of the customer's money as possible. This practice has been confirmed by dozens of conversations we've had with customers who went to "the other guys" first. 

Our response: We offer 100% fixed-rate pricing. Our customers know exactly what they are going to pay when they submit their recovery service request

I want immediate and personalized customer service from friendly and intelligent staff. 

The problem: A few of the other companies made it difficult to get a hold of a live person on the telephone and didn't publish an email address. Instead, they often used a contact form with one of those annoying captchas at the bottom that always tells you've entered the wrong text when you haven't. 

Our response: Our 800 number (888-806-6567) and email address ( is published all over our website and we encourage our potential customers to give us a call. Sean, the general manager, takes every phone call and provides the friendly and intelligent support people want but rarely find.

I prefer a company with an excellent reputation and lots of third-party reviews. 

The problem: Finding real and unbiased reviews of the other companies was a serious challenge. Sure there were a few testimonials on their websites, but of course there's no way to no if they are real or fabricated. 

Our response: We invite all our customers to leave a review on our Facebook page letting the world know about their experience working with FlashDrivePros. These reviews are always the exact words of the client and can't be made up or modified by us. We now have several hundred reviews on our Facebook Page for anyone to read. 

I need to get my files back fast!

The problem: Other companies' websites had very little information about how long the recovery might take and the information we did find indicated that it could take well over a month.

Our response: We only hire staff and engineers with the same sense of urgency as our clients. We also decided to offer express services to anyone willing to pay a little extra. 

I only want to pay if the recovery job is a success. 

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.

FREE Flash Drive Data Recovery for the Next 5 People Who...

Brian Ernst - Thursday, August 16, 2012

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!

Free Flash Drive Repair Services

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:

  • What happened to your flash drive? 
  • How important were the files that you needed recovered?
  • How did you feel when you realized you couldn't access your files?
  • How did you find out about FlashDrivePros?
  • What are the reasons you chose FlashDrivePros over another company?
  • Did FlashDrivePros recover all your data?
  • Please describe the quality of service you received?
  • Would you recommend FlashDrivePros to a friend?
  • Do you have any advice for someone who is unsure about sending a broken flash drive to FlashDrivePros?

P.S. The person with the most interesting and well-made video will get a free 16GB Super Speed USB 3.0 flash drive loaded with a free copy of our automatic backup software, FDP Sync.

Cloud Storage vs. Flash Drives: Which is Best for YOU?

Brian Ernst - Monday, July 16, 2012
Flash Drives vs Cloud Storage

As if you hadn't noticed, cloud storage is all the rage these days. Ever since Dropbox made cloud storage simple and available to the masses back in 2007, a whole slew of companies, including both start-ups and stalwarts, have been busy fighting to be #1 in this mufti-billion dollar industry that until just a few years ago didn't even exist. The list of start-ups to hit the cloud storage stage includes names like, Mozy, Jungle Disk, SugarSync, Carbonite, MediaFire, and SugarOak, to name just a few. 

And several years behind yet never to be outdone, the big names in tech have also now begun vying for their own piece of pie. Wealthy tech giants Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft have all recently launched their own cloud-based storage solutions, naturally doing their best to drive small guys like Dropbox (who kinda pioneered the whole idea of simple, personal cloud storage) out of business. But, I digress. 

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!

Pros & Cons of Cloud Storage



  • It's easy to purchase additional storage capacity when you need it
  • You can access and synchronize your files across all your internet enabled devices
  • Files sharing is fast and simple
  • The threat of viruses is low
  • Many cloud storage companies offer free accounts
  • There are some very useful third-party apps


  • Data recovery is often extremely complex, expensive, and has a relatively low success rate
  • Files and personal information is potentially available to creative hackers
  • Transfer speed is limited by your internet connection
  • Transferring files over a network is inherently less secure than storing your files locally
  • You're often required to install software on all your devices

Pros & Cons of USB Flash Drives



  • Allows you to maintain physical custody and security of your files
  • No need for internet to access
  • The potential for extremely fast transfer speeds
  • You can run many applications and even operating systems directly on a flash drive
  • Susceptible to damage, loss and theft.
  • Limited service life
  • Automatic backup usually isn’t available  without purchasing third-party software
  • Adding more space requires purchasing a new flash drive
  • High potential for a virus infections

Let us know if we missed anything and we’ll add it to the list.

As always, if you found this info useful, interesting or mildly entertaining, please share it!

Flash Drive Not Showing Up

Brian Ernst - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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?

Why Is My Flash Drive Not Recognized?

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.

Getting the Files off Your Unrecognized Flash Drive

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.

How to Repair a Flash Drive Yourself

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.

When All Else Fails

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.

Toll Free 888-806-6567

Best Flash Drive Data Recovery Software

Brian Ernst - Monday, May 28, 2012
For the last few years, FlashDrivePros has been working tirelessly to develop the best flash drive data recovery software on the planet. Last December we released the first version of FDP Wizard, our proprietary data recovery software designed specifically for USB flash drives and camera memory cards. FDP Wizard is our attempt to create data recovery software that is easy to use, fast and recovers as many files as possible.

Since we released FDP Wizard last December, the data recovery application has been well received by our clients. Not only because it is incredibly easy to use, but also because we offer a full refund to anyone whose files cannot be recovered with software and choose to use our data recovery services. 

One key feature of FDP Wizard that distinguishes it from other types of flash drive data recovery software is actually what it doesn’t have. Most file recovery programs are designed for a wide array of storage devices in addition to USB flash drives and memory cards. As a consequence, many data recovery apps are confusing and difficult to use because of their many settings and features that don’t apply to your standard flash drive. Since FDP Wizard was designed specifically for NAND flash storage devices, it has only those features and settings that apply to flash drive data recovery. This makes our data recovery software much more efficient and easy to use than other brands. 

Another feature of FDP Wizard that has received positive feedback is the wizard style user interface that guides you through the process of recovering the data from your flash drive. We’ve broken the process down into five simple steps that anyone can follow even if they have never used data recovery software before. Below is a description of how FDP Wizard recovers files from a malfunctioning flash drive.

The first step is to enter your license key. If you don’t already have a license, you can purchase an activation key by selecting “get activation key” and then clicking the “next” button at the bottom.

The second step provides information about what types of damage flash drive data recovery software will work for. Specifically, if it appears your flash drive is physically damaged, FDP Wizard or any other data recovery application will not work. Instead, you should seek out a reputable flash drive data recovery service like that provided by FlashDrivePros. 

The third step is where you select the flash drive you want to recover. Make sure you select the correct drive. If you are unsure, you can remove the flash drive and take note of which drive letter disappears. 

Next, select the destination folder on your computer’s hard drive where you wish to save the recovered files. CAUTION: Make sure you don’t select the drive being recovered as the destination folder or your lost files may be overwritten making recovery impossible. 

The fifth and final step is where the magic happens and FDP Wizard recovers your files and folders to your computer. 

If FDP Wizard doesn’t recover the files you were hoping to recover or you are unsatisfied for any reason, you can apply the purchase price towards any of our in-house data recovery services.

When Flash Drive Recovery Is Impossible

Brian Ernst - Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Over the years, the Flash Drive Pros have become serious black belts in the art of data recovery from flash drives, as our 94% success rate and no-data, no-fee policy can attest. But what about the other 6% whose files cannot be recovered? Sure, they get a full refund and even get their flash drive mailed back to them for free. But why couldn't their files be recovered? Is there any hope?

Physical Damage to NAND Flash Memory Chips

The most common reason that files can't be recovered from a flash is physical damage to the NAND Flash chips. Small, hair-line fractures that are often only visible under magnification are fairly common. In this situation, data recovery is impossible. 

Another common cause of an unrecoverable flash drive is broken or missing pins on the NAND chip. Broken pins don't always mean the flash drive files can't be recovered since several of the NAND chip pins are not used. Even if the pins are used and have been bent or broken, they can sometimes be bent back into position or replaced and reattached to the circuit board making recover possible.

Too Many Bad Blocks in NAND Chips

Flash memory stores your data in blocks of information that are comprised of many small physical transistor gates. The chief benefit of flash memory is that it is non-volatile and has no moving parts as in a traditional spinning hard drive. The down side is that those transistor gates can only withstand so many read/write cycles before they wear out and become useless. Flash drive manufacturers use a process called "wear leveling" to make sure all gates put in their fair share of the work. Usually, dead gates on in NAND flash are not a big deal. However, when the ratio of good to bad blocks reaches a certain threshold, the NAND chip can stop working completely. Is this situation recovery is usually not possible.

Erased and Formatted Flash Drives

Data on flash drives that have been erased or formatted can often be recovered. When data is erased on a flash drive, is isn't actually removed but rather is set to be overwritten at some point in the future. As long as the data has not been overwritten, is can usually be recovered. The important thing is to unplug your flash drive as soon as it happens to make sure the underlying data on your flash drive is not damaged. 

If your flash drive has become damaged or inaccessible for any reason, give us a call and we can probably tell you the odds of a successful recovery.

FlashDrivePros LLC are global leaders in flash drive repair and data recovery. With advanced data recovery labs in the US, Europe and Asia, we have recovered millions of files from thousands of flash drive for clients all over the world. We offer much lower prices, faster turn-around and better service than other data recovery companies. Order our services today and find out for yourself.

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