6 Common Causes of Flash Drive Failure

If you own a computer, or regularly use computers in your work, the chances are that you carry a flash drive around with you. These neat little devices have become the de-facto medium for quickly storing files and documents which need to be transferred between computers. Of course, this often means that the information stored on them is important to you, or to somebody else.

Flash drives don’t last forever though. The number of times that data can be written to and read from these devices is finite. Sooner or later, your flash drive will deteriorate and eventually fail completely. That’s when the innocuous device in your pocket or bag suddenly becomes the most evil little critter in the world. At best you will need to hand the drive over to an expert for flash drive recovery. Worst case scenario: those lost documents might be something your career depends on.

Before we go on to look at reasons why your flash drive might fail prematurely, here’s a gentle reminder. To save yourself from career ending gremlins in your flash drive, always make sure you have copied the documents on your computer, or backed up elsewhere. Even though expert flash drive recovery can usually retrieve your data, it’s not instantaneous and retrieving copies of your important files will be faster.

Apart from old age and overuse, there are a number of things which can cause flash drives to fail prematurely and to need flash drive recovery measures. The following six causes are some of the most common.

1)      NAND Memory and Lookup Table Failures

Flash drives make use of NAND memory. If you use your flash drive a lot, constantly writing to the memory and reading from it, the memory chip will eventually start to suffer from errors. When these errors occur, the lookup table (which is what enables your drive to make sense of your data) can contain incorrect information. When this happens, the controller in your drive fails to find pieces of data. This often results in a dialogue pop-up on your computer screen requesting that you format the drive.

If you see this message, you really need to take advantage of an expert’s flash drive recovery expertise. A professional in data recovery will be able to remove the NAND memory chip from your drive and read it, so you will get your data back.

2)      Solder Joint Failures

Because these little drives are so handy, we tend to carry them everywhere. This means they are subject to knocks and bangs. They get dropped and trodden on. Such is the price of being small and useful. Wear and tear can result in failure of the solder holding flash drive components in place.

If the solder has weakened or failed, your computer won’t recognize the drive. Sometimes the drive may show up as having only a few megabytes of memory instead of showing its normal capacity. If you are able to take the casing off the drive, you may be able to get your computer to recognize it.

To do this, try plugging the drive in without the case and gently applying pressure to the NAND memory chip and controller. These components are normally opposite one another, with the chip on one side of the circuit board and the controller on the other. By gently squeezing the whole thing together, you may be able to get your computer to see the drive and retrieve the data. If a light squeeze doesn’t do the trick though, don’t try to increase the pressure. Instead you will need to take it to a flash drive recovery expert.

3)      USB Connector Breaks Off

As a result of being dropped or just heavy handling, it’s quite common for the USB connector to break away from the flash drive circuit board. When this happens, if you’re handy with a soldering iron, you may be able to use an old USB cable to create a makeshift connector, with the wires soldered to the four original solder pads on the board. However, if your files on the drive are important and/or you’re not a dab hand with solder, leave the flash drive recovery to a professional.

4)      Leaving Your Flash Drive Permanently Plugged In

Flash drives are not supposed to be a permanent fixture of your computer. You should remove your drive from the USB port when it’s not actually being used. Leaving a USB flash drive plugged in can cause its voltage regulating surface mounts to fail prematurely. When these surface mounts cease to produce the correct voltage, your flash drive may overheat. Usually though, the end result is that your drive will stop functioning completely. You will see no LED and the drive will not be recognized by your computer.

5)      Flash Drive Data Corruption

Contrary to what some may believe, there is a reason for properly ejecting your flash drive from the computer before physically removing it. You should always use your operating system’s function for safely removing an external device. If you just pull out the drive from its USB port while your computer is still writing information to the drive, you risk data corruption. If this happens and you want your files back, you will need to have someone carry out flash drive recovery.

6)      Cheap and Nasty Hacked Drives

If you buy a very cheap USB flash drive, don’t be surprised if it quickly refuses to give up your stored data. This is especially true if you use flash drives to store a lot of files, documents or programs. These cheap drives are often hacked, so the drive displays a higher capacity than it actually has. So while you may have bought an 8 gigabyte drive, it may only have 4 gigabytes of actual capacity. Once you exceed the drive’s real capacity, the data will probably become unreadable and you’ll need help with flash drive recovery action.

Flash Drive Recovery Is Usually Successful

The good news is that even if your flash drive gets run over by a bus, as long as the NAND chip is retrievable, in most cases so is your data. Professional techniques are very effective. While paying to get your own data back isn’t very palatable, when your stored files are important it’s good to know they’re not lost forever. Dave’s Computers provides a flash drive recovery service for customers in New Jersey. If you need flash drive recovery to save your career, give the team a call on 908-428-9558.

by David Molnar

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