A flash drive suddenly stops communicating, making data inaccessible. In the best case, this may be a less severe failure of the memory chip. In the worst case, it could be significant degradation of the memory chip. The failure of the memory chip may or may not be related to a controller or firmware failure. "Controller failure" is often diagnosed as a critical failure of these media. However, in most cases, it isn't a direct failure of the controller component itself, but rather a comprehensive failure of the disk's internal processes, where the controller has lost the ability to manage the internal processes and cannot establish communication with a device (e.g., computer, etc.)

A flash drive is a miniature data medium with a large capacity. If we open it up, we sometimes see nothing but a monolithic body with everything integrated - just a thin black plate with a connector. In other cases, individual components can be found on the circuit board - the controller, memory chip(s), USB connector, and a few other replaceable components. Upon connecting the drive, the controller must initialize the medium via firmware. The firmware is probably stored in a reserved section of the memory chip but could also be part of the controller. Once the drive is initialized, it can communicate with a device, provide information about its capacity and how data is stored, and handle data operations as instructed by the operating system (or user). The quality of the memory chip is likely the greatest weakness of flash drives.

Find more information on how flash drives work and data recovery options here.

Degradation at the controller (firmware) level was also the reason for data inaccessibility with this Intenso-branded medium. The greatest obstacle to data recovery can be extensive memory chip errors or the lack of the necessary technology for a particular controller. There are countless modifications of branded and noname flash drives, and if suitable technology is not available, it can be problematic. Here, however, my colleague used advanced technologies and his extensive experience, resulting in successful data recovery.

Medium: Intenso Flash Drive
Capacity: 1 GB
Problem: Controller Failure
Solution: Data extraction via another protocol, data reconstruction
Result: Approximately 90% of the data recovered

Some recovered data was affected by errors that were already uncorrectable due to memory chip issues. However, the data recovery result was good, and the case was successfully closed. This is one of many cases highlighting that without proper backup, data is not safe on any medium.

If you've encountered a similar problem and need to recover data from a flash drive, don't hesitate to take advantage of our free consultation and diagnostics.