Flash Memory and Data Recovery

Memory cards and USB storage devices utilise what is known as Flash Memory (Nand chips) as the means for storing data. Flash memory was invented around 1980 by an employee of the Toshiba Corporation. The term Flash memory was first suggested because of how the data is deleted from flash memory reminded one employee of the flash of a camera.

Flash memory is non-volatile, after power is removed from the device the data is not lost and is stored for use when the device is next used. This differs from volatile memory (such as RAM) which loses the data it is storing after power is removed.

Advantages of Flash memory

Portability is an obvious advantage of devices using flash technology however, compared to traditional storage technology, flash memory has incredibly fast read/write times. Nand chips (which stands for Not AND) derive their speed advantage as there are no moving parts, as is the case with a traditional hard disk or the now obsolete floppy disk. Devices employing Nand technology also use less power.

Disadvantages of Flash memory and why devices fail

A major disadvantage of flash memory is the number of times data can be written and deleted, typically around 100,000 times, although we at TRC Data Recovery see device failures way before they have reached this level. With the exception of physical damage, one of the primary causes for failure is the chip which controls how the device works rather than the chips which store the data. Controller chips are also tasked with handling voltage step down. The voltage supply on a USB port is 5 volts and Flash devices operate at 3.3 volts.

Differences with Flash memory

The three main types of flash chip used in these devices are TSOP, TLGA and BGA.

How do we get the lost data back?

In the majority of cases because the actual memory chip is not at fault, the data is still accessible, though specialist help is required to retrieve it. We at TRC refer to this recovery process simply as a Nand read, which, as it suggests is a direct read of the Flash/Nand chip. We then have to replicate how the failed controller chip managed the data stored on the memory chip and piece together how the data was stored and effectively rebuild your lost data.

Using a mix of specialist hardware and highly skilled technical staff we are in almost all cases able to reverse engineer the algorithms hard coded onto the controller chip to retrieve your lost photographs, office documents or whatever important information you have lost.

To start yourself on the way to getting your data back, call us on 0800 955 3282 or submit an enquiry.

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