As Certified Data Recovery Professionals we can recover data from all types of flash media. This includes deleted or corrupt data, reformatted file systems and flash drives with damaged or broken USB connectors and circuit boards.
Flash Drives were a great invention when they were first launched in the late 1990’s and were initially intended as a device to move data from computer to computer before the general use of networking or the internet. They initially had a very small storage capability (about 500MB), but as technology developed, the storage capacity of Flash Drives increased and people started using them for daily storage of data. However these small, inexpensive devices are surprisingly complex and the recovery of data from a failed unit is equally as complex.
Inside most flash drives is a small circuit board with a USB connection soldered to one end. They are easily damaged, most commonly when attached to a laptop computer which has been moved or dropped. The data recovery process from a Flash Drive falls into 3 categories:
Circuit Board Damage:
Damage to the circuit board or USB connection is common, but the data is often recoverable by working to reconnect severed circuitry under the microscope using micro-soldering techniques. However, if the circuit board is badly damaged and is not repairable, then we need to perform a “chip off” recovery where we remove the memory chip (called a NAND chip) and gain access to the data using specialist data recovery hardware and software.
Controller Chip/Memory Chip Failure:
Data is stored on a Flash Drive Memory Chip via a Controller Chip. The Controller uses algorithms when saving data to accomplish three tasks:
- Extend the life of the chip by using wear leveling techniques such as scrambling and XOR algorithms
- Speed up the process of reading and writing data by reading and writing data simultaneously to different parts of the chip or
- Special functions such as reading and writing data to more than one memory chip.
If the Controller fails, then we need to remove the Memory Chip and mimic the actions of the Controller to reconstruct the raw data.
A monolithic device is made up of the same basic components as a flash drive but they are all encased in plastic epoxy. While this makes them smaller and lighter than traditional flash drives, it presents a far greater challenge to recover data when the device fails.
Data recovery from a monolithic device is a delicate, difficult and time-consuming process as access to the memory chips is not possible until the epoxy coating is painstakingly removed to expose the minute electrical contacts hidden within. Once the contacts are exposed, fine wire traces need to be soldered to the intricate web of circuitry in order to access the data stored on the memory chip.
Due to the complexity of data recovery from Monolithic Devices, we need to quote on a case by case basis. As with all of the other forms of flash media recovery, the evaluation is free-of-charge and the no-data no-fee guarantee applies.