USB flash drive repair with our own hands: fixing hardware and software problems
Ilya. editor in chief of the site softdroid.net. Author of several hundred guides and articles on configuring Android. About 15 years of experience in repairing equipment and solving technical problems of iOS and Android. Dealt with almost all more or less popular brands of mobile smartphones and tablets Samsung, HTC, Xiaomi, etc. For testing we use iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 with the latest firmware version.
USB flash drive recovery has its own peculiarities. The good news: these devices, unlike SD-cards, are repairable. Therefore, if you can not exchange the flash drive under warranty. why not take advantage of the 60-70% chance to repair it.
In this article we will consider different cases, typical problems with flash drives and their solutions.
Phone doesn’t see the memory card: what to do?
Owners of expensive smartphones rarely have to puzzle over the problem with the flash card. in such devices, as a rule, 64 / 128 GB of memory, so MicroSD there is no need. But owners of budget gadgets flash card is a must. at low cost devices are usually only 16 GB, and part of them taken by the operating system. The user has to put the card and choose it as a main data carrier. And if the flash drive is no longer recognized, access to your valuable business and personal files will be lost.
However, if you are in such a situation, do not despair. In 90% of cases, the data can be recovered, but it is important to correctly identify the cause of the problem. We will tell you why your phone does not see the memory card and advise you on the best measures to take.
What to do first?
There are a number of simple actions that are recommended to perform in the first place. regardless of the reason for the failure:
- Reboot the gadget. If this does not help, perform the following action.
- Turn off the smartphone, remove the back cover, remove the battery. Then put the battery back and start the device. Of course, this tip is only good if the battery of your device is removable, so you definitely do not need to unscrew the housing.
- Check the card visually, gently clean its contacts with a soft cloth. Also check the slot. if the contact in the microSD slot is deformed, it will definitely catch your eye.
If such simple operations have not yielded results, then you should ponder on searching for the causes of the problem. What it can be?
The wrong card format
Many microSD flash drives with a capacity of more than 32 GB are in exFAT format. Alas, some smartphones do not accept this format, but almost all cell phones do. Why was the card readable before? Remember, maybe you have recently formatted it yourself. Because users make the wrong settings when formatting data storage media, the file system type usually changes.
How to fix the problem?
The stick works, so first you need to copy all the data from it to a PC using a memory card reader. Without a card reader (or SD-adapter) will be difficult. to change the card format can be directly on the mobile device, but this requires entering Recovery mode, which 99% of ordinary users have never dealt.
Much easier to download a simple utility on a PC SD Formatter and perform the procedure with it. of course, do not forget to specify that the output flash drive must be a file system format FAT32. How to format your flash drive using this program
If you don’t want to install third-party software, you can try formatting it with standard Windows tools. Right-click on the disk, choose “Format”, enter FAT32 in the “File system” field, and press “Begin”.
The flash drive is dead
The stick may break down because of mechanical or thermal effect. that’s the saddest case. It is not the gadget itself that is a pity, but the data stored on it. most likely, it will be impossible to recover.
The obvious solution is to buy a new flash drive. Or try to return the broken card to the store under warranty. since MicroSD is not a complex technical device, in theory it can be done. True, if the memory card is visually damaged, the seller will justifiably refuse you a refund.
Or maybe it’s not the memory card at all? Contacts of MicroSD slot on your phone could be oxidized or damaged.
If you have at hand another smartphone with a MicroSD slot, try inserting a flash drive in it. A “healthy” phone sees the card? That’s bad news for you. in fact, it means that you’ll have to take your gadget to a service. The repair itself will cost not expensive, but in the service for the time of recovery work will not give substitution. will have to get a temporary mobile device, or to stay off-line for a couple of days.
A software glitch can be suspected if only one of your phone‘s apps can’t see the flash drive. but everything else is fine. In such a situation, you need to poke around in the settings of the “problem” application. You probably find that the internal drive is selected as the save location. Set removable memory as storage location.
Most often “Camera” and “Gallery” applications make users worry. Complaints about the fact that the phone does not see pictures from a flash drive. a lot.
The desire to expand the memory of your mobile device can also be a bummer. Before you go to buy a flash drive for your smartphone, you need to know how much capacity your gadget can hold. If you install too high capacity card, the phone in the best case will hang, and in the worst case. it will refuse to recognize the MicroSD.
If the flash drive in your phone is not seen by your laptop computer
The “classic” situation: you connect your Android smartphone to your notebook by cable, waiting for the new removable disk to show up on your PC, but it doesn’t show up.
Such situation is a consequence of the user inattention. When you connect your smartphone to a PC, a menu appears on the mobile screen with “Mass Storage” checked by default. It is enough to choose the “Media Device” (“MTP”) option and the computer will identify the USB stick. But users, alas, prefer not to pay attention to the menu that has appeared.
In fact, when the smartphone does not see the memory card, it is almost never the result of a failure of this or that. so if you immediately, “hot-headed” go to make a claim to the seller, with a high degree of probability “sit in a puddle”. So it’s better to first perform the simple actions described in this article. restart your smartphone, clean the contacts in the slot and on the card itself, make sure that the file system of the flash drive has the correct format (better. FAT32). And don’t forget to put the card into another smartphone so that you can determine if the problem is with the card or the mobile device.
The memory card of the phone (tablet) is out of order
The cause of the problem. As a result of mechanical/thermal damage incompatible with life, the phone stopped seeing the memory card or the SD card stopped working. As an alternative. The phone has stopped detecting the flash drive, on other devices the card is also unreadable.
What to do. Alas, you can not do anything with a damaged SD card. You will need to buy a new SD card which is compatible in size and specifications with your smartphone or tablet. The most annoying part. All data stored on the memory card of your Android or iOS phone is permanently lost. You will not be able to restore them anymore. neither by connecting phone with a flash drive through USB nor through a card reader.
If the flash drive has a warranty and looks like new (no visible damage), try to return it to the store. With any luck. you will receive a new card for replacement.
Not detected by the system
It often happens that the flash drive simply cannot be opened by the system, for no reason. It is not detected in the menu “My computer”, the auto-start of the stick does not work, nothing happens.
In this case, you need to check the function of this USB port by connecting another device which also works through this interface. Or connect the removable drive itself to a different port on your computer. If the flash drive does not work, the USB port can be defective. If possible, you need to test the removable drive with the LED.
But, in any case, in order to save the data on the flash drive in safety, it is necessary to address in special service centers.
Problems can also occur with memory cards in telephones. Let’s understand what can be the reason that the flash drive doesn’t work on your phone.
- Did not follow correct operating procedures. Physical damage to the memory card is contraindicated. The flash drive should not be dropped, crushed, bent. It should be protected from moisture, electrostatic discharges and direct sunlight, and kept away from heat sources. The card during the transfer of information can not be disconnected.
- The phone may not support the size and format of the card. For example, old models of phones do not support a big capacity memory card. Before you buy a flash drive, you need to look at the instructions for your phone and find out what the maximum capacity of the card fits it.
- Sometimes there can be a bad compatibility of memory card and phone.
- The memory card has been produced by untrustworthy manufacturers.
If the flash does not work on your phone, what to do in this situation is up to you. First of all, do not panic. It may be possible to solve the problem with a small bloodshed and restore the card.
Hardware and mechanical failure: damaged controller
Most often, everything rests in the controller of the flash drive, which is the main link in the drive. The controller contains important microcircuits, and disconnecting a contact or burned-out feet will make data recovery on the flash drive very problematic.
- To replace the controller yourself (which is unrealistic at home).
- Take the USB drive to the service. but the repair of flash memory will cost a decent amount of money. On sale controller for USB-flash drive you can not find. The lab can find a donor flash drive and “transplant” the faulty controller.
- If the data on the flash drive is vital and you would like to recover it, the lab can use an expensive hardware and software package to extract the data, bypassing the hardware controller.
Why the flash drive is no longer detected
First, you need to understand that the memory card is a medium with a sensitive chip that stops working when contamination occurs. In addition, due to the small size of the stick can easily break, which, of course, lead to the inability to determine the phone. These are not the only reasons that can lead to such a problem. Today we will look into all the causes of memory card failure and offer several ways to get rid of the error.
If you bought a new flash drive, the phone can not see it for a trivial reason: the device supports drives with a limited capacity (eg, up to 32 or 64 GB).
The memory card on your phone doesn’t work: the causes of the failure and how to fix the problem
The memory capacity of modern smartphones can meet the needs of most users, but some still need to expand it.
Frequent and active use of an additional file drive leads to certain problems with accessing information. In the material will be considered options, why the memory card on the phone does not work and how to fix its failure yourself.
Why the SD card is not working
USB sticks can fail for a variety of reasons, and the solution to the problem depends on this. Often the SD card does not work because of a bad contact or destruction of its sectors, but more serious failures can also occur. How to solve the most common problems yourself, described below.
The problem with the contact
Such a breakdown has an abrupt onset. The microSD card was working fine until recently, and then it was just no longer recognized by the device. The thing is that the contacts on the card and on the connector are small, and even a slight shift or contamination immediately affects the speed of data reading.
The problem can be solved by removing the memory card and clearing its contacts. It is better to remove dust and other debris with alcohol. Also, you should clean the tracks of the connector and reconnect the additional memory to the device.
Incompatible with the device
Storage expansion cards for phones have a micro SD format. It is divided into several generations, the difference between which is the amount of memory and speed.
In the specifications of most smartphones manufacturers immediately indicate the maximum amount of memory that can be read by the device. If you insert a larger memory card into the phone, the gadget simply does not recognize it.
The opposite situation is with smaller memory. Anything less than the maximum will work on your phone without crashing, regardless of its generation.
Malfunction of your smartphone
If the SD card does not work when it is compatible with the phone and the contacts are clean, the problem may be a system failure. Incorrect operation of some applications or smartphone infected with viruses leads to a blocked reading of data from removable media. In this case the card will give an error similar to the hardware problems.
You can restore the work of the memory card after scanning the device and removing malware from it. After scanning is complete, be sure to reboot the phone.
If the card is intact, but is not recognized by the gadget and after that, you can do a system reset to the factory settings. In this case, all the existing files on your smartphone will be deleted.
To restore the performance of the card at the software level it is recommended to format it. The method works with media of all formats:
You can perform the procedure directly on the phone, if the device recognizes the card, but does not open the data.
When the media is not even detected by the phone, you need to check it through your computer, perhaps the card has the wrong file system. Obligatory condition for formatting is the installation of the file system only FAT32, because Android does not support other formats.
Memory card breakage
If none of the above options to fix the problem help, there is a risk that the card is mechanically damaged. The contacts can wear out from prolonged use inside the media and there is no way to fix it.
Also, no one is immune to factory defects when buying, so if the memory card is not recognized on any device, you should simply replace it with a new one.
Restore data from a broken drive will help the masters of the service center of cell phones, but to do this is not always possible.
How you can restore the functionality of an external SD card
When the memory card does not work only on the phone, you can try to return it to work by your own efforts in several ways.
Method One: Repairing a damaged file system chkdsk
If the phone does not see the card, but the computer recognizes it, software damages of the medium can be fixed with the standard Windows tool.
It is available in all versions of the operating system and is designed specifically to recover system disks without removing files from them. Data preservation is a priority for most users, so it is worth trying this method.
- Connect the memory card to a PC.
- Open an explorer and remember the different icons for the removable drive.
- Call a command prompt using a WinR key combination and type CMD in the line that appears. Or just type “command line” in the “Start” menu search.
- Enter the chkdsk “drive letter” command: /f.
- Press Enter to activate the process.
After finishing scanning and fixing bugs on the memory card, you can remove the media and check if it works in your phone.
Method two: Format a damaged SD card
The method is almost universal, but erases all data from the medium. Format the flash drive to fix the reading of individual sectors must be through a computer. After formatting there will be no data left on the medium, but there is a chance to return the card to its previous state.
Follow the instructions to do it right:
- Connect the card to your computer and wait until the card is recognized.
- Open the “Computer” folder in Explorer and find the desired volume.
- Right-click on the drive and select dropdown menu.
- Select “Format” from the list.
- In the new window, set the file system to FAT32 only.
- Activate the default allocation size.
- Uncheck the “Quick Format” checkbox for deeper cleaning.
- Press “Start.
Once the process is complete (it will take a few minutes), the card should be safely removed from the computer and inserted into the phone
Method three: complete deletion of all partitions and re-create
The memory card, like a hard drive, can be divided into several partitions. By default, there is only one partition on such media, but you can also delete it completely and create it anew.
Why the SD card (flash drive) doesn’t work on your Android phone
When you start your phone one by one, you may suddenly find that your smartphone has detected the card as not working. This will be indicated by a special message in the notification area of the curtain at the top. Why the card can suddenly become unusable? Is it time to change it?
Why the SD card (flash drive) doesn’t work on your Android phone
Let’s look at the most famous causes of the error “Card not working” on an Android smartphone.
Common system crash. Restarting the device
The error may be a single failure in the system, so do not panic before time. try to restart your smartphone. Press the physical power key and select restart or shutdown from the menu. If you choose the latter, then manually turn on the device again. The phone may be able to correctly identify the flash drive when booting up again.
The card moved in the slot
Movable phone elements, including the “sim card” and the flash drive may move in the slots during use, or even when the smartphone is in a bag or So it’s possible that your card has slightly moved away from the phone’s pins, which receive its signal.
You need to remove the card. Make sure to remove it as safely as possible: before taking it out, go to “Memory” in the settings and click on “Eject Card”.
Unplug the card before removing it
Open the phone cover (turn the phone off beforehand if you need to remove the battery before taking out the flash drive). Remove the card. Examine the flash drive very carefully: there may be dust on the contacts. If available, wipe it down with alcohol wipes or at least just wipe off the dust with cotton swabs.
Remove the memory card and reinsert it into the slot
If the contacts are clean, wait for a while (at least a few minutes), then reinsert the card into the slot until it is firmly seated. If it was a bad contact between the phone and the card, the “Card not working” error should disappear after turning on the smartphone.
There are bad sectors on the card. format the flash drive
If you’ve had bad luck (rebooting the flash drive and phone didn’t work), it could be that some of the memory cells on your flash drive were damaged at some point. This happens when the user just takes the USB cord out of the phone from the computer without first enabling the “Safely Disconnect” feature.
Before you remove the phone from the PC, enable safe shutdown in “Windows”
Erroneous sectors may also appear in case of emergency shutdown of the phone, when it is discharged, for example. Memory cards with the FAT32 file system are the most susceptible to this problem.
Before the “Card doesn’t work” error, the user usually notices that something is wrong with the flash drive: files are read with errors or disappear from memory altogether.
- Remove the memory card from the memory card slot, beforehand turn on “eject card” function in the memory settings.
- Insert the card into a special card reader and plug it into your computer.
To connect the card to a PC, use a memory card reader
Determine the file system and click “Start
If the computer does not correctly show all the data on the flash drive, you will not be able to copy the files for the backup. You will have to format it as is and then try to recover some files with special programs. For example, you can take these utilities: Active File Recovery, Auslogics File Recovery, CardRecovery and others. You need to install them on your computer. After installation, connect the phone with the card via USB or the card itself using a card reader to the PC, then start scanning for remaining files.
To recover files from the flash drive you need to use a special program for PC
The card is physically damaged
The most unfortunate outcome is damage to the card. If the computer doesn’t even see it, this is probably the case. Of course you can try to connect the flash drive to another computer or phone to see if it works.
The USB drive may be damaged if it is old (expiration date), if it was in water, or from overheating (contacts may have burned out). In this case, you are powerless. you can just accept it and go buy a new flash drive. In order not to lose data from flash drives in the future, it is recommended to back up your files on multiple drives.
First of all reboot your phone and flash drive (take it out of the slot and insert it again). If it does not help, connect the card to your computer with a card reader. If the information on the flash drive displays, copy all the data and format the card. If the data does not show but the stick is recognized, simply format it, but in this case be aware that you will lose almost all the data from it. If nothing helps, most likely the flash drive “flew”. you need to buy a new one.