USB Flash Drive Broken Stem Repair

This repair guide is for broken stems, or USB connectors which usually results in a dead drive that is not getting power, the light is not coming on, and the computer is not recognizing the drive.

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This also requires above average (not handyman) precision soldering skills.

broken-flash-drive-repair

Fixing Dead or Physically Broken Flash Drives

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.

soldering-broken-flash-drive

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.

how to repair flash drive

Our engineers have seen many cases where failed DIY attempts have rendered the data lost forever.

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

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.

dead-flash-drive-repair

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 find yourself in a potentially worse situation. (if this worked for you please leave a comment below, share this post, and/or link to it!)