USB Flash Drive Data Recovery Blog

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

Three Most Common Types of Flash Drive Failure

Brian Ernst - Friday, March 02, 2012

FLASH DRIVES FAIL for all sorts of reasons, and we at FlashDrivePros LLC have certainly seen our share of issues over the years. Here are the top three causes of flash drive failure that we come across on a regular basis.

Broken Flash Drive Connectors

The most common type of flash drive damage is a broken USB connector. When a flash drive is sticking out of the side of a laptop or the front of a PC tower, it's very easy to bump or kick it causing the connector to bend or even break off completely. When this happens, it's very important to unplug the flash drive and not to plug it back in. When a flash drive's connector is bent, sometimes the power lead will be torn loose from the circuit board and short circuit across other components or data connections. Plugging it in in such a state could cause serious damage and make recovery very difficult or even impossible. 

Sometimes people with soldering iron experience will try to re-attach the broken leads themselves. However, more often than not, the solder pads have been torn off the circuit board leaving nothing for the solder to attach to. Is such cases, we will either rebuild the solder runs and solder pads. Or if the damage is too severe, we will either remove and attach the memeory chip(s) to a new identical circuit board or use one of our external NAND chip readers to access the raw data directly.

Failed Flash Drive Components

USB Flash Drive Parts that Fail

Sometimes one of a flash drive's components such as a micro-controller, oscillator, resistor or capacitor will burn out and need to be replaced. Having a very large inventory of old flash drives means we often have replacement parts on hand. If not, one options is to locate or purchase a flash drive of the exact same model to use for parts. 

From time to time a customer will ask us if they can use a flash drive after it has been repaired by the FlashDrivePros. This is not advisable since the process of repairing a flash drive for the purpose of data recovery is very different from the manufacturing process. Any flash drive that has been repaired by a data recovery shop should not be used as it will likely stop working very soon. 

Flash Drive File System Damage

Corrupted Flash Drive Files

Pulling a flash drive out while files are still transfering, power surges, viruses, and a host of other things cause file system damage in flash drives. When file system damage occurs, we usually have to use advanced command-line software tools to locate, repair and rebuild the data. This can be a very difficult and time-consuming process. One way to protect against file system damage is to always use the "safely remove hardware" feature in Windows. 

A Word About Flash Drive Backup Software

Flash Drive Backup

Of course, if you keep an up-to-date backup of your flash drive files, the only thing you have to worry about is the cost of replacing a broken flash drive rather than loosing all your important (often irreplaceable) files. FDP Sync automatically syncronizes all the files on your flash drive with a special backup folder on your PC or laptop. Now that you know the most common ways flash drives can fail, there's no excuse for not downloading a free trial version today.