22 Jun / 2015

A Brief Overview of Data Recovery Methods for USB Devices

usbUSB devices are one of the most common ways to store data. The largest advantage of these devices is the fact that they use solid state memory, which means that they are far less likely to suffer data loss or failure from vibration or changes in temperature

The downside of this is that not all USB data can be recovered using the same methods. Some may require far more technical expertise than others.

Let’s take a brief look at the most popular USB data recovery methods to better understand why this is.

Software Data Recovery

The most basic and accessible of USB data recovery methods involves using software to connect to a USB device. This requires that the device still works without any breaks to the electrical components.

This type of recovery is best used when a file has accidentally been deleted. A technician can open the USB drive, use software to read bits that were previously overwritten, and likely restore lost data.

The downside is that time and usage of the drive greatly influence how successful software data recovery is when USB devices are involved.

Mechanical Repair

usbOne major disadvantage about USB devices is that they tend to be prone to breaks where the connectors are. This can make recovery of data difficult, and it can increase the chances of the device shorting out to cause data loss.

While not a method of recovery, repairing the device itself may be enough to restore access to the SUB device. Technicians generally opt for this procedure over raw data recovery given the simple nature of fixing some broken circuits.

Raw Data Recovery

The last major method of data recovery is an “if all else fails” methods. It involves desoldering and lifting the chip responsible for storing data on the USB device.

There are numerous disadvantages to this, but it often has the highest chance of success when performed by a skilled technician.

The downsides of raw data recovery include destruction of the USB device, loss of the memory chip itself, loss of files and a large bill to finish the recovery process.

The advantage of this method is that it reads the raw data left on the solid state flash chip. This allows a technician to have the highest success rate for retrieving data, but it does require a high amount of technical expertise to perform successful.

Recovering USB Data

The bottom line pertaining to USB data recovery is that it’s anything but easy. There are numerous technical challenges that make SUB data recovery more difficult than recovery involving other types of permanent memory storage.

Source: Virginia Technology Institute, Wikipedia