How to repair a damaged usb flash drive

10 10 2008

Flash drives today are ubiquitous, mainly because they have become very affordable, and much more portable than external disk drives.  Unfortunately, the risks associated with flash media can be more than traditional disk drives.  Most folks do not understand tthe procedure to unmount drives before removing them from the port.  This procedure is very important to prevent corruption of the partition and file tables.  Most flash drives employ the use of FAT16 or FAT32 file systems to allow for universal access from all operating systems (Mac, PC, and Linux).  Unfortunately, these file systems are easily corrupted during write operations as the drives are removed.  Most of the time the files are still there, but the file tables and formatting are corrupt, making the drive unreadable, and unusable.  Many times the user mistakenly FORMATS the drive when prompted by the OS- which can be devastaing for your data.

Many times, formatting your drive will make it functional, but most times you will permenantly destroy your data.  So it is always good to know a few techniques to avoid data loss.


  1. Never write to your flash drive if you cannot see your data – this means, do not format, and do not use anti-corruption tools or “disk repair” tools like SpinRite, or any other S.M.A.R.T based (Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) tools that write to your drive
  2. If you don’t understand sectors, cylinders, file structure, and do not have a thorough understanding of file systems, do NOT ATTEMPT to use this guide
  3. You should always have two copies of your files, and you should NEVER use flash media as primary storage, rather, only to move files from one place to another.  Now ask yourself, why are you reading this if you have another copy of your missing files?

If you are an IT professional, and have experience with CLI, click here for instructions and tools

If you are a Do-it-yourself guy – click here for instructions


Water-proof and fire-proof hard drive promises protection for data

10 06 2008

water proof driveMany business and homeowners have experienced the loss of data to fire, flooding, and natural disasters. Now there is a company who intends to protect us from all these forms of data disaster. ioSafe is looking to be the first company to protect data from both water and fire with their new design, “DataCast endothermic insulation technology, which the manufacturer claims forms a chemical bond with water molecules that, at temperature above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, releases water vapor to limit the internal temperature of the unit.” The story

Why USB drives are not recognized, not visible in the drive list

8 05 2008

Many folks are left pondering this question:  Why can’t I see my USB drive or thumb drive?”  The biggest issue we see with faulty flash drives are users removing the drives from the port during a write operation.  Most operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Unix(Mac), and others warn you about removing flash drives before unmounting.  It may not make sense to you why this needs to be done, but if your computer is writing to any device while you unplug it, your run the risk of destroying file tables, formatting, files, and other stuff that you will lose when you “snatch and run”.

Static electricity can also be a potential problem with these drive, so it is a good idea to protect the connectors after removal from the machine to prevent current discharges across the circuit board/chips during transport.  Most drives come with a cap to protect the connectors, and some have a slider to move everything inside much like a turtle.

usb drive

Flash Read Error, Flash Drive not recognized- How to repair USB flash drive

21 02 2008

Many times we see flash storage that is not recognized by the Operating System due to formattingflash drive not recognized problems, read errors, and lost file table information. Many times this is not a disaster, but rather an easily and quickly correctable data recovery issue that can be handled cheaply by a professional recovery shop.

If you feel you are up to the challenge you will need several things:

  1. Weller WP25 Soldering iron
  2. Weller ST7 Solder Iron Tip-Conical
  3. Soldering station with alligator clips. iron holder & magnifying glass
  4. putty knife or strong blade to cut into drive case
  5. some soldering skill

usb-repairPlease do not attempt this procedure if you cannot afford to lose all your data, leave this procedure to the professionals.

The first step is to 1-gently cut into the case, not touching any of the sensitive components inside (this is really a ONE-SHOT deal) if you screw them up, oh well, you saved money but lost all your data. 2-peel back the case, exposing the board and chipset. 3-identify the broken connectors, this is the trick, and you may need a higher powered dual-scope for this procedure. Resolder the connectors after identifying them. If this procedure does not work, you may need to remove the connector completely, and attach wires to the board that are tied to a new cable connector. (refer to images)
usb-cable-wiring-diagram fro repair
This image will guide you to connector alignment(do not connect to the wrong lead, you WILL damage your data) making sure the alignment is correct. Connect your newly repaired usb connector to the machine….VOILA !!

If you have difficulty in this procedure, please give us a call

Solid State Hard Drives – the future of data storage

16 02 2008

And possibly the end of data loss, or at least loss on the scale that has been present for the last 6 years in the age of ever expanding sizes of drives, and the ever increasing density of data packed onto one drive.Solid state drives

The great thing about these drives is there will be no moving parts, jus solid-state chips, the can’t be damaged by mild shocks that will destroy a platter spinning at 7,000 RPMs, or ate least damage the read-heads. You are looking at the future (on the right) of mobile computing in the very near future, and possibly the future of all data storage in the regular future. Make sure you are backing up your data until you own one.

How should I backup my data?

29 01 2008

One of the most common questions we hear, unfortunately it is usually “post-disaster”.  After our clients spend $120 retrieving their data, a common question is:

“How do I prevent this data loss from happening again?”

There are 3 rules you MUST FOLLOW to prevent disaster requiring data recovery:

  1. Make sure you have 2 copies of all critical files in 2 separate places (different drives)
  2. Make sure you AUTOMATE the backup procedure (making the second copy should not require any human intervention other than initial setup) using backup software like Cobian Backup (free download), or Mozy, or Time Machine ( MAC)
  3. Check the backup copy occasionally to ensure accuracy (drop additional file into primary folder to check if it winds up in secondary after backup)

These 3 rules cannot be altered or omitted, or you WILL be calling us for  service again.  Hopefully we can help you once more, but why risk it.  If you need help or have questions about setting up your backup strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us.

“Drive not formatted – Format it now” What does this mean?

11 01 2008

Many times this message is seen in hard drives, disk drives, flash drives, and external USB thumbdrive not formatted format it now? drives that have lost their formatting. Most likely (96%) a large portion or all of the files still exist, but the index and/or the formatting and partition information is missing, damaged, or corrupt, preventing your machine from recognizing the files that still exist. The next few steps you take are critical:

  1. Do NOT format your drive if you want to retrieve all your files
  2. Do NOT ask anyone at Dell, HP, or Gateway tech support how to recover your files, this goes for all other “phone tech-support” organizations. The results will be catastrophic.
  3. Do NOT attempt to recover the files yourself if they are important to you, unless you know exactly what you are doing
  4. Attempting recovery using software may be more expensive and risky than using a professional and affordable data recovery company

Always consult a data recovery expert before attempting any recoveries yourself. You may be surprised how affordable the process really is. Find out what other steps to take and get a free data recovery quote by contacting the Data Recovery Experts