Emergency Stick Delivered With Rice

Today at R3 we greeted a client into the lab that was In need of a speedy and efficient recovery. The failed device was a USB stick. And the data stored on the stick was integral to the client's occupation, as they have recently started a new job that required lots of pre-planning. Coincidentally all of the aforementioned planning was housed on the device in question.

The reason for the failure was unfortunate. Liquid damage had occurred as a result of accidental water spillage and components housed on the device's PCB had blown. In an Endearing attempt to try and fix the issue of the spilled liquid the client had left the USB stick in a container filled with rice. This method, with vastly varying success has been known to work with liquid damaged smart phones, however the damage had already been done and needed the attention of a data recovery specialist.

Water damaged USB stick

Luckily here at R3 Data Recovery Ltd we have such individuals on hand, and in a swift and assuring manner the memory stick was diagnosed and recovery was attempted, resulting in some very intricate soldering.​

However this ultimately proved fruitless in recovering the lost data, and a separate method had to be taken in the form of a NAND read.​

While more costly in price and engineer time, the NAND read proved successful and all parties concerned left satisfied and happy. And perhaps most importantly within the predicted time that our emergency service provides here at R3, which is always within 72 hours.

If you're in a tight spot and you desperately need your data back quickly, try calling us on 0800 999 3282 our team will be able to give you an over the phone assessment and arrange a free courier collection so that we can get your drive in for a free assessment in our lab.

If you're in a tight spot and you desperately need your data back quickly, try calling us on 0800 999 3282 our team will be able to give you an over the phone assessment and arrange a free courier collection so that we can get your drive in for a free assessment in our lab.

Cheap USB Data Stick Recovery

Today R3 data recovery received another cheap and rather poorly constructed USB data stick.

Cheap USB data stick

The main problem with these devices is the poor-quality soldering with many dull joints that should be bright and shiny suggesting low grade solder was used and little attention to cleanliness and preparation. This is done to keep the manufacturing costs of the USB Stick down, anything and everything is used in these USB sticks just to keep costs down of production.

Flux residue and solder balls cover the printed circuit boards leading to problems after purchase and use.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know what’s inside a flashy outer casing but the only way to avoid problems is to back up the device often. We always recommend customers new and old to back up their devices just in case.

Here at R3 Data Recovery we see all types of storage devices small and large, in both size and storage capacity. For a FREE quotation on your storage device call us on 0800 999 3282 or alternatively email us at [email protected]

How Compact USBs and HDDs Have Been In Recent Years

Technology has evolved on a mass scale from the latter part of the 20th century to the present day. In the past you would only be able to purchase hard drives with only MB’s of storage space, and would be a lot bigger in size. Now you can have hard drives up to 5TB in size that can fit in your pocket.

how compact and fragile hard drives and memory stick are

It’s the same with USB sticks, although the physical size of USB sticks have not changed too much, the amount of storage you can have in one device has changed drastically over a number of years. Like hard drives, you would have USB sticks that would only be MB’s in size, but in recent years they have had 8GB sticks up to 128GB. A few years ago they introduced a USB stick which would store up to 2TB of data. It’s amazing to think that you can put the same amount of data on a hard drive as well as a USB stick. Of course the 2TB HDD’s are considerably less expensive than the 2TB USB sticks. 2TB hard drives normally sell for £65-£75, whereas the 2TB sticks can be priced as much as £1200 due to how rare these sticks are.

How Fragile 2.5" Drives Can Be

Any sized hard drive can be fragile if used incorrectly or if used with a heavy hand, for example, a hard drive can be dropped which will cause the heads to possible crash and mangle.

With 2.5" drives, they are arguably more fragile than 3.5” drives, mainly because the heads are more close together than on larger drives, so it doesn’t take much to damage the heads or the platters inside the drive. For example, if you have a laptop and squeeze it with some force or if you accidently sit on it, then that can cause damage to the hard drive later on, when the laptop is pressed down then the hard drive is also pressed with some force so that in time can cause problems when turning on the laptop. The heads will stick more to the platters generating scratches on the platters. Also the heads would struggle to mount so you would hear a clicking sound coming from the laptop.

At that point you know there is a problem. If there are finger prints and rings as well as scratches then the chances of recovering data from that particular drive is almost none existent.

The most fragile drives (that have been sent to us) are Seagate drives, specifically the 2.5” Seagate 1TB mobile HDD drives (ST1000LM035), we have a lot of these drives that have failed due to either Media degradation or the more common Mechanical fault, and unfortunately when it comes to sourcing a matching donor they are tough to match. Although since we have had a lot sent to us, it does mean that we have a lot of working drives to choose from, so we are not short on stock supply.

If a 2.5” is dropped then it is more likely to click and have major damage to it than larger 3.5” drives, this is due to larger drives being sturdier and having a thicker shape and thicker lid.

2.5 inch drive damage

SanDisk Cruzer Edge 32GB Data Recovery (Case Study)

SanDisk Cruzer Edge 32GB with Crystal Oscillator
  • Wednesday 13:37 - Client made contact - The client sent a web enquiry that his SanDisk USB stick had been physically broken and contained data he needed to retrieve.

    R3 advised that with physical damage the recovery method was dependant on how badly the break was and where it was, some cases of physically damaged USB drives may need a direct read of the Nand flash chips that store the data.

    The client advised he would like to have a think about it and get back to us at which point he was sent a formal quote by email with his unique reference number.

  • Friday 12:07 - Client accepted - The client wanted to proceed and his device was shipped to our lab in Sheffield from his location in Suffolk. He was advised as per all customers shipping to us to follow our recommendations on packaging.

    The device was to be shipped using registered post to be with us the next working day.

  • Monday 09:15 - Received - The broken memory stick was delivered to us Monday morning at which point it was booked into our DB and the client was advised.

  • Monday 10:02 - Diagnosis and temporary repair - One of our lab engineers diagnosed the device and confirmed the damage to be a clean break of the USB connector (the circuit board was bent but not damaged). The device did have a failed crystal oscillator (on the right side of the image) that had to be replaced.

    This left the device in a temporary working state which allowed an image to be made of the USB stick and backed up on our secure server. In all cases an image of the entire device is taken before the extraction of the lost data is performed.

  • Monday 10:54 - Data backed up and recovery listing sent - After the recovery of any data it is important to reassure the customer their data has been recovered and is safe.

    R3 provide a listing of all the data recovered so that customers can be certain their data is there for verification purposes, it also provides a verification to ensure any files that might be damaged are known about.

    This is something R3 offered free of charge for our customers, other companies often charge for this stage of the recovery process. Another recovery done less than 24 hours after arrival!

  • Tuesday 17:06 - Client confirmation and secure download - The client confirmed he had check the listing of the recovered data and advised he was happy to proceed.

    After the formality of invoice and payment the data was sent back to him by secure transfer so he was able to download straight away rather than having to wait for it to be sent back on a new USB stick.

  • Wednesday 13:30 - Dispatched - Client asked if we would send back a second copy on a new USB stick to his business address in Somerset.

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have any sort of problem with a USB memory stick or any other data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.

What Goes Into a Nand Read?

When a USB memory stick becomes unresponsive and a simple soldering iron repair doesn’t produce positive results then we have another recovery option called a nand read.

This method of recovery is very complex and involves several stages each very dependent on its proceeding stage.

Stage 1 is the removal of the nand chips. The number and style of nand chips varies with manufacturer, the chips must be unsoldered paying attention not to damage the delicate pins and then cleaned in an ultrasonic bath to remove flux residues.

Stage 2 is making dumps of the chip content. The data must be read from each nand chip, to be entered into software. This involves setting correct parameters for dump number, page sizes and any timings unique to the nand chip. This may have to be repeated if too many errors are detected at the end of the reading process and the settings tweaked.

Stage 3 involves reassembly of dumps. Once all the dumps are made they can be entered into software to start the long process of recreating what the microcontroller did when in charge on the USB device. Getting the data to line up within the dumps is a complex task involving a Xor pattern with many parameters to change that unfortunately isn’t automated. Once this process has been completed successfully the integrity of the data is checked and if good copied off... Stage 3 may have to be repeated several times to get good data.

If you'd like to learn more or speak directly with our engineers, please call us at 0800 999 3282

nand read

Broken Memory Stick - USB Data Recovery Services

USB memory sticks are a very convenient way of keeping your data close to you as you move from one place to another. Teachers/lecturers and students especially but anyone who moves from computer to computer need a way to keep their data with them. USB drives, memory sticks, pen drives (call them what you will), are a very convenient and easy way to keep your data with you while you move around.

Cloud storage is all good and well but USB sticks are just so easy to use. No installing of cloud storage apps, no waiting until the data syncs on a new PC you haven't used before, no logging into a web site... Plug and play - its just so convenient.

Simple though comes with its own dangers. USB devices are very much prone to failure that users are not advised of when they purchase them.

Snapped USB stick

The various components on the devices are very robust but they have weak points:

  • Physical damge - Where do we start?
  • The dog chewed my memory stick.
  • It snapped while it was plugged into my laptop.
  • I ran over it with my car.
  • We have seen them all.

Non-physical Damage

Sometimes these devices will just stop working, this is normally caused by an electronic component failure.

In most cases the controller chip fails, of course the device will not be useable and may behave in the following way:

  • It may show/register on your computer but not be accessible.
  • Not be detected on your computer at all.
  • Get very hot when you plug the device in.

Physical Damage

Physical damage is just that, it has been damaged by someone or something accidentally. It is also equally impossible to predict when the controller might fail but what isn't impossible is getting the data back, not for our engineers at R3.

If your device doesn't behave as it should contact our team of experts at 0800 999 3282. Our skilled professionals will be able to reliably recover data on your USB stick and provide industry-leading turnaround times which give you the confidence that's necessary to develop a solid, effective recovery plan.

This Killer USB Drive Will Fry Your Laptop

Do you know the USB devices we carry each day can be converted into a bomb? You must be thinking like “yeah whatever.”

No, it’s true, a researcher just showed how a USB can be converted into a killer USB that can kill your whole PC within seconds.

Though, this is not the first time such a USB has been demonstrated. In March, the same researcher showed that a USB can cause harm to vital components of a system if plugged in. But, this time around the USB he demonstrated was significantly more powerful and was named as “Dark Purple”

The USB has been developed with a DC/DC converter, caps and FET. On plugging, the DC/DC converter charges the USB to -220V in the new version (in the old version it was -110V). This voltage is applied to the signal lines of the USB interface.

The process repeats itself until all the components of the PC are destroyed.

What’s more troubling about the version 2.0 is that the reaction rate is much more than the earlier version, which allows it to destroy the whole system within few seconds.

During the demonstration, the researcher lost his new laptop. This is what he said after the demonstration:

“Do not worry about the laptop, the new motherboard is on the way – and the laptop will live again,” He specifically bought new laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad X60) just for this experiment, according to the researcher’s blog post.

This is not the first time a USB has been used as a weapon. USB drives have been used many times for compromising systems in air-gapped networks.

Stuxnet worm is the best example in the recent past when a USB drive was used as a weapon. Stuxnet worm was designed to destroy centrifuges at a nuclear facility.

So, our advice for you would be to be very careful while using anyone’s USB (better still, do not use anyone’s USB in your system), as one wrong step on your side can put all your data on risk.

If you need any type of USB or memory stick recovery, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 999 3282 for a free no obligation quote!

IBM Sent Off USBs Infected with Malware

​A new warning has been issued by IBM and the situation seems to be rather serious. According to the firm, there are a number of infected USB sticks out there with some very dangerous malware. The USB sticks in question were shipped with Storwize flash and they have hybrid storage systems. IBM suggests destroying the USB sticks immediately. Otherwise, your device can be infected with malware making the system vulnerable.

Apparently, the infected USB sticks contain a tool used for Storwize systems and it is the tool that was infected with malicious code, as unveiled by the IBM. The infected models include drives that have part number 01AC585 and that were shipped with Storwize V3500, V3700, and V5000 Generation 1 storage systems.

When it comes to dealing with the infected device, the vendor recommended that users should first update their antivirus and then try to use the USB drive. It is also recommended to not to use the drive again and to destroy it, in order to cease the infection via the USB sticks.
Security company Trend Micro’s antivirus detected the malware as PE.WINDEX.A and claimed that it was served up by one of the North Korean websites. Other vendors have also been able to detect this malware, but they classified it as a Trojan that would attempt downloading other malware if executed.

IBM also stated that the malware/Trojan was not executed during the Storwize initialisation.

When it comes to dealing with the infected device, the vendor recommended that users should first update their antivirus and then try to use the USB drive. It is also recommended to not to use the drive again and to destroy it, in order to cease the infection via the USB sticks.

However, for those who do not wish to do so, IBM strongly recommends deletion of the malicious files and to complete reinstall the Storwize initialization package. After that, the users should scan the code with their updated antivirus and hopefully, that should be enough to deal with the malware that’s infecting the drive.

An alert concerning these infected USB drives was also issued by a Chinese PC giant called Lenovo. IBM has originally manufactured equipment that had Storwize systems for this very company, so it’s not strange that they would decide to include this warning as well.

This is another situation where an updated antivirus could be of huge help to the users, and they’re advised once again to update their software regularly, especially when malware are being sent off in every direction lately.

USB 3.0 Flash Pen Drive by Team Group

With the lighting fast speed of USB 3.0 and the massive storage space of 32GB to 128GB the New X101 USB 3.0 flash disk from Team Group Incorporation who specialise in the manufacture of memory modules, USB disks and digital flash memory, the X101 is the first signs of change to the flash media market and technology - as the speed and size of flash media is increasing.

With the transfer speed of 5GB per second he X101 is 10x faster than current USB 2.0 devices making the whole process of transferring your collection of movies, photos, music and data, more reliable and a whole lot faster.

The design of the X101 has been well though-out, striking colours (matt black with bright orange indented elements and glossy white with burgundy indents) with sleek round corners all designed around usability and fashionable design. The X101 has a “no-cap-loss” design, which means the device has a moulded end which you can click the cap on whilst the device is in use.
The X101 is 100% RoHS-compliant and ultra light, weighing in at just 18 grams making it to keep all your important data with you all the time. The X101 supports multiple operating systems and even comes with a lifetime warranty covered by Team Group.

As will all types of media devices they are prone to drive failure – this is usually down a "controller" issue or electronic fault thus rendering the drive inaccessible to the average personal computer. The team at abc Data Recovery have a dedicated and specialised systems for dealing with this exact problem, so if you are struggling to get your data back from a damaged, accidentally formatted or deleted USB device please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 999 3282 or fill out our contact form for a no obligation quote.