How to Repair USB Flash Drives Broken, Unrecognized, Not Detected

When your USB flash drive doesn’t work anymore there’s two categories it will fall into. In other words, there’s two main levels of USB flash drive recovery. <<Neither one of them involve super glue.>>

Click here to learn about the two main types
of flash drive data recovery.

Are the following true for you: your flash drive is NOT actually PHYSICALLY broken, your your computer can recognize it, your computer assigns it a drive letter? If your answer is yes you can always try flash drive recovery software.

However, software will not work for drives that are not being detected, or recognized. This means you likely have a problem with the controller chip on the device, or a physical problem. In other words it has failed, or become corrupt.

View examples of botched self attempts at our national DIY Hall of Shame by clicking here.

Broken Stems and Connectors, & Dead Drives

The first level deals with broken stems, or USB connectors and requires above average (not handyman) precision soldering skills.


Because of the size of the circuitry and parts, how the device receives power, as well as the difficulty of soldering,  unexpected damage is a frequent issue with DIY attempts on these drives. Soldering irons have the potential to burn or melt the printed circuit board, make the recovery much more difficult for a professional, and even cause the drive to be unrecoverable.

Solder can easily be crossed with points on the drive shorting out other components that are required for the drive to communicate with the computer. Another common mistake is when the prongs, or whatever contraption being used to connect the drive to a computer is improperly connected, the memory chips and/or other components can be damaged due to improper power being supplied.

If you have attempted to repair this yourself and the drive is not working, there is a good chance more damage has been caused and you may not be able to get your data back at all. As with all data recovery situations, you may only have one chance at recovering your data. Our engineers have seen many cases where failed DIY attempts have rendered the data lost forever.

Level #2

Not Recognized, Not Detected, RAW, Need to Format, Not Accessible, and Dead Drives

The second level involves everything else besides a broken stem. This level includes various errors asking you to “Please Insert Disk Into Removable Disk” or “USB Device Not Recognized or Malfunctioned“, RAW partition, dead or unresponsive drives, drives asking you to “Format Disk”, and damaged controller chips and/or circuit boards (which can occur from failed attempts at Group 1).

This level of recovery requires specialized and very expensive data recovery equipment and the knowledge of how to use it.get a quote here


Below are the “how to” steps for the DIY tech.  Follow them very carefully.

Level 1: How to Repair Broken USB Stems

Here’s what you need:

  • Precision soldering iron
  • Solder and flux
  • Wire strippers
  • Small flat head
  • Scrap USB cable
  • Magnifying glass

Here are the steps to recovering from a USB drive that has physical damage to the stem, and is broken.

1. First you need to open the case of the USB device. You have to be careful here so you don’t damage the PCB board with whatever you are using to pry apart the plastic casing. A small flat head may do the trick, however there are some tricky cases out there, so it varies. An error during this step can ruin your chances of successful recovery. If you damage the NAND inside the casing, your data is lost forever.

2. Next visually examine the damage to the circuit board. You want to make sure there are breaks to the arms that are soldered to the PCB board. If there are not, you have another problem and are part of group 2. Once you have observed there is indeed a broken connection between the stem and the PCB board, you need to make sure the pads are not lifted.


This happens when the force to the stem pulls the solder pad off the board (where the arm actually connects to the board) . You will see what looks like a foot on the PCB side of the arm. At this point you should not continue, you need the help of a professional data recovery company.

Look for damage on the PCB:

  • Blown Resistors
  • Blown Capacitors
  • Cracks anywhere
  • Lifted Pads
  • Broken Crystal oscillator
  • Burn Marks
  • Damaged NANDs

You will not be able to continue with this repair if there is any damage other than broken arms.

3. If everything checks out after examination of the PCB and the pads are intact, take the scrap USB cable and prepare it  following these steps:

  1. Cut the female end off
  2. Strip the cable down to the four wires
  3. Expose about ¼ inch of the wire on each one
  4. Apply some solder to each wire

4. Carefully solder each one of the wires to the pads in the order they are supposed to go. Here is the order for most USB drives: with the pad side of the PCB facing you and the NAND or controller chip facing away: Left to right is black, green, white, and red. If you have  properly accomplished these steps, you should be able to plug the USB into a computer, get a blinking light, and copy your data over. A failed attempt will result in your drive not getting power, or you may burn some of the components of your drive listed above.

**You will either get your data back, or become part of Group 2. (if this worked for you please leave a comment below, share this post, and/or link to it!)

Level 2: If Your USB Drive is Not Recognized etc..

Due to the nature of the specialized equipment and knowledge required for this type of recovery, it does not fit within the scope of DIY data recovery, and is above and beyond the abilities of 99% of your typical “data recovery company”.  You will need to call a company that specializes in recovering FLASH drives and NAND storage technology. However, so you can understand what is involved here is a brief overview so you can adjust your expectations accordingly when getting prices for this type of recovery.
USB-FLASH-RAW-open-drive-not-accessibleno-NAND-need-to-format This level of recovery applies to the following types of USB Flash drive conditions:

  • Failed attempts at stem repair
  • Damaged circuit board
  • Damaged controller chip
  • Please Insert Disk Into Removable Disk Error
  • USB Device Not Recognized or Malfunctioned Error
  • Dead or Unresponsive Drive
  • Format Disk Error

1. This requires a NAND reader. These go for about $5,000. Then you need to find someone trained on the procedures of using the software that controls the NAND reader. This alone can take 3 months of doing recoveries every day.

2. Make sure that the reader supports the controller type on your USB drive. In order to do this you will need to remove the internals from the USB drive without damaging the PCB board and NAND. The controller type is found stamped on the controller chip. There are literally hundreds of different types of these. NAND recovery devices support most but not all.

3. Carefully remove the NANDs from the PCB. This requires a precision heating gun. Make sure to label them to know what side they came from on the PCB when there are multiple.

4. After you have successfully removed the NANDs Load them into the data compiler and let the software do it’s magic. (Wish it were that easy!)

Need Help With Your Recovery?

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. We will be glad to help you out with your recovery to ensure you get your data back in one piece. You can call in for a FREE phone consultation anytime! 1-800-553-5738

Discussion: Ever had a USB drive fail on you? What did you do to fix it, and were you successful? What are you experiences with prices for professional help? Add some value to the conversation below!

72 responses to “How to Repair USB Flash Drives Broken, Unrecognized, Not Detected”

    • It depends on the size of the drive, type of NAND, and what exactly went wrong with it. Please give us a call for a quote.

  1. I took my drive to a computer repair shop who said they can fix it and I think they messed it up worse. How can I get my files back?

    • This happens quite often, and unfortunately we cannot get the word out to everyone. If you can give us a call we can take a look at it for you and do a NAND recovery if necessary.

  2. Is there anyway you can help me i cant access my files on my flash drive it says needs to be formatted before i can use it and it was working a few days ago and the USB part of the flash drive gets extremely hot. i need it like by the 6th because is has my only copy of my senior project.

    • Sorry about the delay response on this. It’s best to fill out a quote form or call in to get the fastest response.

      • Sounds like a controller problem that will require a chip off recovery. Can you call in or fill out our quote form so we can help you get your files back?

    • Probably a failed controller chip on the drive. A chip off recovery would be required in this case.

    • Probably a failed controller chip on the drive. A chip off recovery would be required in this case.

  3. Thank you very much for this guide! My USB was not recognised. I searched the Internet and found this information. Then I decided to call the company and after that they repaired all that stuff. And if you are interested, here an article. Maybe it will be helpful for you :)))

  4. Thanks for another great article. Where anyone written such a perfect way of that kind of information might be? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the search for such information.

  5. I have 32GB pen drive, In properties it showing 13GB usage & 17GB free but when i open it all folders were converted into unknown file type with size in KBs & i can’t open these folders, I have data in that folders, Pls help me to fix it…….Thank you

    • You would need to send it in to us for a NAND chip off recovery. This data may be able to be put back together depending on what caused the problem. If the controller chip, then your files should be able to be rebuilt with our technology.

  6. i got problem with my usb drive yesterday it look okay and function normally but this morning when i plugged in my ps/2 connector it doesnt show any file can you help me?

  7. when i insert the flash memory in to computer it said format it but when i tried to format it can’t be formatted.and it says windows couldn’t complete formatting. pls help me what can i do with it.
    thank you in advance!

  8. I have a USB that I use to store all my saved games for my Xbox 360. It recently broke but I have no clue how bad the damage actually is. When I put it into my Xbox it says it needs to be formatted and when I put it into my laptop it assigns it a drive letter and says it needs to be formatted. I really need the data I have on the USB because it has saved progress from the past few years and I’d rather not restart all of my games. Whenever I tried data recovery programs it said there were no files and I’m not skilled enough to take apart the USB to try and fix it like you mentioned in the article. I also don’t have very much money to pay to get the USB fixed.

  9. I have a USB that stop working a couple of years ago, and I don’t know why. I still have it, even though I don’t really need it. When i put it into any laptop or computer, nothing happens. Is that something that could be fix? I want to recover the data that is on there

    • It’s not really something that gets fixed. We need to evaluate it, however we are able to do whatever is necessary to recover your valuable files off the flash drive. It will likely require special technology that we have, in order to reverse engineer it’s design.

  10. What do I do if i insert my flash drive and the light blinks on it and the computer tells me it’s “ready to use” but when i click to open my files it doesn’t let me? like the drive doesn’t even show up but it’s “ready to use”

    • Sounds like a failed controller. It likely is just saying there is a USB device plugged in but cant recognize or initialize it to use it. If that is the case it will require us to virtually rebuild the controller in a special machine and recover the data for you.

  11. my usb stopped working when i plug it in it says not recognised this is for all computers i try laptop and pc i dont know what to do also i dont have much money and am a student there is important stuff on my usb what do i do please help me

    • same answer as above, and unfortunately this type of recovery is not cheap. However, please fill out a quote form and we can provide you one with our student discount if you have an .edu email.

  12. Hello, can you aso recover information from micro SD? I had it on my cellphone and don’t now why it just stoped working and now can’t read it on any phone or computer. Is a 32gb micro SD

  13. Hallo,
    I’ve got a LaCie USB flash drive. In the disk management it is visible as

    Disk 2
    Removable (H:)
    No media

    Also in Disk Manager I can see it under Disk drives together with the harddisks as

    USBest USB2FlashStorage USB device

    I have updated the driver and changed the letter and in the properties it is said that

    This device is working properly

    But – IT IS NOT!

    In This Computer I can’t see it and I can’t see the things I have saved on it.

    What is wrong and what shall I do?

  14. I have a 8GB USB with about 7.5GB used, recently I updated my win10 system with my USB plugged in. After that my USB cannot be recognized by any computer. I’m a student and don’t have much meney, if it is fixable, could you give me a discount? Could you let me know how much it costs?

    • We do have a student discount available. If it’s not recognized by any computer, it is likely due to a failed controller and will need special equipment to get the data recovered. You can send it in if you like.

  15. i dropped by laptop on the side while my usb was plugged in now it doesnt work and my assignment is due on tuesday and its all in there, what can i do

  16. My USB is unrecognizable (I’ve tried on three different computers, all of the ports, and still nothing.) It’s 8 GB, but there is information on this that I need for school. How long would it take you to make it where I can access the files (if let’s say I sent it in next week)?

    • We have an expedited evaluation you can send it in for. The recovery time depends on a few things: condition of the memory chips, which controller the drive has. Once we have an opportunity to look at the drive we can give you a better idea of turn around. Typically a few days.

  17. my usb flash suddenly not appear on neither in my computer nor in disk management on my laptop
    i tried it in another pc it’s working properly

    and my usb mouse now do the same

  18. Hi. My flash drive is no longer being recognized on any computer. Do you think you can help? If yes, how lo g do you think it’ll take?

  19. I’m not in Florida, but my entire life is on a flashdrive that my laptop doesn’t think exists (doesn’t work in any other computer either). How can I get help?

  20. After my flash drive broke and wasn’t acknowledged by my computer, I did some soldering and now my computer recognizes that something is plugged into the port, however I am getting a message on my screen to “unplug the device using too much power to re-enable USB devices” How should I proceed?

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