Warning: USB Flash Devices FAIL!

There exists a belief that USB flash drives, also referred to as USB flash sticks, memory sticks, thumb drives, or USB jump drives,  are  robust, reliable and a very secure alternative for storing your data!  But every month we routinely service dozens of data recovery cases involving USB flash devices from the Toronto area, so we can tell you from experience that this belief is just plain WRONG!

recovering data from USB flash sticks

Do you need Data Recovery for a USB Flash drive?

Perhaps it is the knowledge that these USB flash devices use solid state flash memory chips for storing the data and consequently there are no moving parts to become defective. Or maybe people just don’t treat them with the same respect and care they would with a hard disk drive.

I know I often use them for bringing home files I plan to work on over the weekend. And yes I throw them in my pocket, carry them for days, forget about them, take them motorcycling or fishing in the rain for a weekend , and even have the wife wash and dry them, as I forget to remove them from my pocket on wash day, (YES,  my wife refuses to check pockets).  Sometime they work after and sometime they don’t.

But and its a big BUT, I never store anything on them that I haven’t already backed-up on some computer. And that is the correct way to use these USB flash devices; as temporary storage locations used to move existing data from one location to another. They are NOT intended to be long term storage devices and they should NEVER hold the ONLY copy of anything!

Besides deleting files or formatting your flash device, the USB flash devices we receive for data recovery suffer from either physical or ESD (electro static discharge) damage. Typical scenarios may include;

  • USB device has been inserted into a running computer and someone comes along and inadvertently bumps into the USB flash device and causes it to physically break off
  • OR in the same scenario as above, it bends enough to cause some of the connections to touch each other and short out electrically
  • Users often try to force an incorrectly oriented flash stick into a USB connection and cause physical or electronic damage
  • USB flash devices are often stepped on or even run over with a vehicle.
  • Flash devices are often accidentally dropped or immersed in liquids ie. coffee cups, toilets and washing machines.
  • Carry a USB flash drive in your pocket can often cause static electricity to build up and it can discharge causing electronic damage.

Canadians in need of our services can click here  for our Toronto USB data recovery services.

Or if the topic interests you further, please wait for my next post where we will discuss the challenges in recovering data from USB flash devices and why the process is so complicated and not always even possible. To ensure you don’t miss any of any of my new posts be sure to subscribe to the Memofix data recovery blog.

© 2012, David Foster. All rights reserved.

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