Portable USB devices have many names, such as memory stick, thumb drive and pen drive. A common issue with most of these devices is that once plugged into a USB port, is that they stand proud of the laptop or desktop they are plugged into, as also tend to be rigid. They are therefore vulnerable to accidental damage, whereby they are snapped.
USB memory devices are an extremely popular way to transport or store data, with many being attached to chains, keyrings, or even carried in a pocket which makes them vulnerable to scrapes and knocks. It is important to retract the connector or replace the cap if it has one, in order to protect the USB device from accidental damage. With a small portable device such as a USB stick it is easy for them to be dropped, leading to accidents, such as falling into water or even being crushed while on the floor.
Common USB Device Problems
Damage due to a USB stick being snapped while inserted into a USB port is the most common problem which we see. Besides breaking the connector and the contacts, damage may occur to the components mounted on the circuit board. If a USB has suffered damage from a knock, it is possible that the connector or even the USB port may become damage when attempting to insert the device.
A water damaged USB device should never be inserted into a USB port as it may lead to further damage. A short circuit could occur due to the conductive effects of the water, which my damage the USB device components or even the USB port.
The number of read/write commands that can be made to each memory cell is limited, which means that eventually the device will suffer failures. This is a large number, but some applications can cause this to rise to rapidly. It is therefore important that a USB thumb drive is never defragmented, as this may lead to a rapid increase of read/write commands, decreasing the lifetime of the device.
USB Device Data Recovery
If only the connector on a USB memory stick is broken, most times it is possible to fix the issue, such that an image of the device can be secured for data recovery. If the damage is more severe, such that internal circuit board is broken, the interconnections and chips may also be potentially damaged.
Damage to the circuit board is usually fixed so that access to the raw data can be made, as this is more efficient. Should the device have suffered damage while still being used, there is the potential for the internal clock to fail. A failure of the internal clock can however usually be repaired.
In the most severe cases of damage, the device may still be inaccessible, in which case direct access to the memory chips is the required solution. The raw data stored on the memory chips is usually held in a proprietary format, which makes this type of recovery a complex process, as the data must undergo additional processing to recover the data such that the file system can be recovered.