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The Generation Game

Question About Usb Flash Drives

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Oh, Elders of the off topic world. I am in grave need of your extensive and varied expertise!

I stupidly managed to knock my laptop on the floor yesterday. The laptop itself is fine but it fell onto its USB ports. The USB mouse has bent slightly but is still operational. However my USB flash drive looks more terminal.

To anyone this means anything to, it's manufactured by "pqi". Despite looking at images of USB drives I have no idea what it should look like. The plastic outer casing broke. I cannot see the PCB as there is some internal plastic casing. This inner plastic casing is in two parts (no idea whether this was originally the case but I can't see a line where it would have sheared off).

My laptop recognises the drive but cannot read it. Can't remember if there is anything important on it.

Any ideas?

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If you can't remember if there was anything important on there then it wasn't important?

1,000 Bitcoins perhaps?

Here is a whole host of YouTube videos about recovering data from a broken USB flash drive dependent upon how it was broke.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=broken%20usb%20flash%20drive&sm=3

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I've had success with a bent flash drive by resoldering it. I couldn't find the break, I just stripped it down to the PCB and using a 0.2 mm tip soldering iron, just heated every solder joint I could find.

It worked well enough after that to be able to recover the data.

If you don't have the patience, then you could probably do the whole thing at once, by gently heating it in a frying pan over a medium heat until the solder melts. I've seen broken graphics cards repaired in a similar way (put under a hot grill for just long enough for the solder to melt and the joints reform), but haven't actually tried it myself.

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Tip for the future might be to connect a USB drive via one of those short and flexible USB leads (they generally come with wifi dongles) so that if your laptop takes a bang some of the impact gets deflected. Might save your motherboard/laptop too.

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I've had success with a bent flash drive by resoldering it. I couldn't find the break, I just stripped it down to the PCB and using a 0.2 mm tip soldering iron, just heated every solder joint I could find.

It worked well enough after that to be able to recover the data.

If you don't have the patience, then you could probably do the whole thing at once, by gently heating it in a frying pan over a medium heat until the solder melts. I've seen broken graphics cards repaired in a similar way (put under a hot grill for just long enough for the solder to melt and the joints reform), but haven't actually tried it myself.

Do you think butter or lard would work best?

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I've had success with a bent flash drive by resoldering it. I couldn't find the break, I just stripped it down to the PCB and using a 0.2 mm tip soldering iron, just heated every solder joint I could find.

It worked well enough after that to be able to recover the data.

If you don't have the patience, then you could probably do the whole thing at once, by gently heating it in a frying pan over a medium heat until the solder melts. I've seen broken graphics cards repaired in a similar way (put under a hot grill for just long enough for the solder to melt and the joints reform), but haven't actually tried it myself.

that just reminded me of an incident that earned me a clip round the ear.

My dad saved up and bought himself a metal kit of a 00 gauge steam engine...he had spent a few hours prep and lovingly used the special adhesive to stick some parts together. the glue, however, took hours to set, and I dont know if the advice was to leave in a warm place to speed it up, but he decided to pop the thing in the oven...he wasnt sure what the metal was, but being a time served toolmaker, assumed that the low setting in the oven would be OK.

How I laughed when he took the tray out of the oven to see several train shaped molten pools....its making me laugh now....but I got a good clip round the ear for that one..

Lets hope people dont see the same thing with their USB sticks..

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Done a few of these.

First you need to get the plastic case off. This may wreck the case in the process, but if you want to get the data back ...

The point where the stress is most likely to take place is where the metal USB connector meets with the board. The impact will have likely either damaged the pcb (in which case you have got a job on) or wrenched the USB connector off the board.

It is very unlikely that the connection on the flash ics to the pcbs is damaged. And even if it is then it would be difficult to fix as the pitch on those sorts of chips is very fine, and if you put an iron on them most likely you will end up soldering two or more of the pins together. You need paste and a reflow oven for this sort of stuff.

Where the USB connector attaches the board the soldering is pretty large by comparison, so if this is the problem you should be able to just run an iron over the pins to make sure that it works ok.

If the pcb is snapped and the connection lost then just find out where the tracks go ( there are 4x on a USB, g, +5, d+ and d-) and then use a glass fibre pencil to remove the solder resist on both sides, then bend the pcb back straight and bridge the broken tracks with solder.

If the board is multi layer and the USB to the flash IC tracks are on internal layers then you are screwed unless you can find out which pins they go to on the IC.

Anyway, if you can't figure out what to do get the case off and then post some photos. Just don't go at the main ICs until you have exhausted the other options.

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http://www.easeus.com/datarecoverywizard/free-data-recovery-software.htm

Have you tried this Easeus Data Recovery wizard, the free version will recover 2gb of files.

If the drive is seen but nothing is recognised it maybe the data is there but hidden. Is Windows wanting to format the drive?

However the first rule is never work from USB's and don't just have a single copy. I've lost track of the people I've helped out rescue data because it's the "only" copy they have. If it's important make sure you have several copies.

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