When (not if...) USB sticks fail...!?!

Discussion in 'PC Hardware' started by smallhagrid, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Senior Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    In the process of trying to bring some order & neatness to my data storage I have gone through my handful of USB sticks lately.

    Most have been OK, but much to my (unhappy) surprise, several Transcend brand 16GB sticks have suddenly failed rather spectacularly.

    They either fail to read altogether...whether able to display their directories or not - or they do this strange mount, then dismount thing...appearing in, then disappearing from the drive tree sort of randomly.

    I even tried them under different OSes and they did the same misbehaviours.

    In the past I have also seen a Crucial branded stick fail quite dramatically - suddenly refusing to even mount anymore (and of course their warranty is about as worthless as used toilet paper).

    Fortunately for me, when the Crucial branded stick failed it had just been in use for portability & pretty much all its contents also existed on a (far more dependable...) HDD storage.

    Some of the data on theTranscend branded sticks also has backups, but much to my dismay some of it was too recent to have been backed up just yet and may remain a mystery forever thereby.

    Of course I have been aware that flash storage is known to suddenly fail with zero warning like these have done - but for me, just the very sudden onset of it in several sticks at once concerns me given that they have not been mistreated in any manner.

    I am also aware that such failures are just as likely no matter which corporate name is printed upon the things simply because they were most likely made at outsourced non-domestic 'factories' with wildly varying (if any..) QC.

    All these failures had in common is how they happened so suddenly & with no warning signs whatsoever.

    So I pose this query:
    Has anyone run across some good & useful method, s/w or service which is actually able to bring back at least of some of the lost data stored on USB sticks from such a sudden departure ??

    Thanks for any helpful replies !!
     
  2. kaljukass

    kaljukass MDL Expert

    Nov 26, 2012
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    I have never encountered such problems.
    USB sticks are all pure electronics, usually there are no intermediate states - they either work or don't work. If they do not work, then is clear - they will never work again and there is nothing to restore.
    And you probably now realize that I don't believe your explanations because I'm a physicist-electronician by specialty.
    So, remember - they either work or don't work and will never work again.
     
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  3. Enthousiast

    Enthousiast MDL Tester

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    #4 Enthousiast, Sep 29, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
    My old Transcend Jetflash 780 (8GB USB3.1 Gen1), i have hammered for quite some time now, suddenly refused to work on USB3 ports, on 2 different systems, it started with badly copying files to it and using it for OS installation, it caused errors/missing files messages.

    When inserted it in an USB2 port, it still works, bought 2 new ones before 8GB is not available anymore :D
     
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  4. Joe C

    Joe C MDL Guru

    Jan 12, 2012
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    lesson to be learned,
    you buy a cheap usb drive.... your going to get a cheap usb drive. Don't expect much life from something that is so low cost because they must cut corners somewhere
     
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  5. Enthousiast

    Enthousiast MDL Tester

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    My Corsair Voyager-GT 64GB USB3 Gen1 (110MB/s write/200MB/s read), cost 91 euro, broke down after 2 years of hammering, i got a new one by RMA.
     
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  6. Joe C

    Joe C MDL Guru

    Jan 12, 2012
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    I had 3 ADATA 16gb usb 3.0 drives, not one of those lasted more than 1 year.... they were so cheap it would cost me more to send them in for rma than the price I spent to purchase. They were on sale for $16. for the three
     
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  7. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Senior Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    @Joe C:
    Actually, the Transcend drives were purchased due to great service life of the previous, smaller ones & of course they have a 'lifetime warranty' but they want blood samples to redeem it...
    I still have a few more exactly the same as the failed ones, freshly formatted after I backed up whatever was on them to HDD & those are fine...for now.

    So:
    -IF- there was some equally easy to carry that was reasonably priced I would use that instead, but the closest anything else comes is using 2.5" HDDs with adapters which isn't always an option.

    Even if I spend $$$ on BR drives & media THAT is not a very good option either.

    Bottom line is that I need to use fewer USB sticks & be sure to back 'em up more than I have 'till now.

    And...
    @pcnavarra - thanks & that linked page, it made me giggle when I read the text there:
    (Data ?? Who needs to recover some steenken data anyhow ?!?)
     
  8. Joe C

    Joe C MDL Guru

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    #9 Joe C, Sep 30, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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  9. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Senior Member

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    Indeed.

    In 2011 (when that was written) it said this:
    Which was no doubt correct at that time, followed by...:
    Given that nothing is 'perfect' in this world and that tech gear is usually considerably LESS perfect than most other stuff, a certain amount of volatility is to be expected as the norm.

    My dismay at the failures of these several sticks is directed at these facts:
    1 - They were not cheap, knock-off, fake or low quality items;
    2 - They had literally sat untouched for a while as I had other priorities demanding my time & attentions;
    3 - These several sticks pretty much failed at the same time in my view - same day - put 'em in & BAM !! Failure.

    All the above strikes me as odd given that I've never had several sticks fail together like that before.

    It is too bad that SSDs are just glorified flash drives, else they might be good to use as portable media instead.

    It is also too bad that there is nothing made SPECIFICALLY to hold 16GB or more of data AND to last quite a while even if it is just sitting.

    I have kept (already written) optical media stored for years without problems between uses and thus I wonder if archival on some sort of BR media might exceed the performances over time as compared with flash media...
     
  10. Enthousiast

    Enthousiast MDL Tester

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    Optical disks also have a limited lifetime, all storage media has a limited lifetime, that's what NAS's are for, mirror set and when one disk goes down the drain, you can exchange it and it will mirror the working one.

    For portable use you can still use an USB key or disk.
     
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  11. Joe C

    Joe C MDL Guru

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  12. Enthousiast

    Enthousiast MDL Tester

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    Yeah, you're right, an optical storage solution will survive mirrored setup nas solutions,

    How do they keep my files alive in the cloud?:thinking:
     
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  13. Joe C

    Joe C MDL Guru

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    #15 Joe C, Oct 2, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
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  14. John Sutherland

    John Sutherland MDL Addicted

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  15. perceivedelusion

    perceivedelusion MDL Junior Member

    Mar 10, 2010
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    at smallhagrid,
    There may be (some) hope for those Transcend drives. (and other brands) If you run ChipGenius and note the VID and the PID for each drive you can check using the VID, PID info to see if the manufacturer has released any MassProduction Tools for certain (PID) drives. Transcend seems to have released more than a lot of manufacturers have, IIRC. The MassProduction Tools can have the capability of fixing a range of problems from fixing a "Fake Drive" that was flashed to erroneously give a higher capacity than it actually has to drives not being recognized/appearing as unmountable. Tool quality may vary between Manufacturers due to how well they were made.
    ChipGenius (developed by a Chinese man) has a link to a Chinese site where you can find a list of available tools but I never had much luck navigating that site, getting the list requires registering first but I have used "flashboot.ru" to access the information for free without any problems. Seems like that section/info was halfway (or more) down the page on the left side or center, maybe.
    As always, YMMV.
     
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  16. MS_User

    MS_User MDL Guru

    Nov 30, 2014
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    PNY and kingstone to me has been very reliable.
     
  17. smallhagrid

    smallhagrid MDL Senior Member

    Sep 14, 2013
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    Thanks for your wonderful reply Perceivedelusion !!

    ChipGenius does indeed look to be a very helpful tool - if only I had a compatible OS to use it with.
    (I did have a look at both the Chinese & Russian sites as well.)

    It is sad to say, but I have now pretty much given up on ever getting any of the data from that handful of failed sticks.

    For now, I'll be more careful & rely upon HDDs for storage - and later if/when I can ever find some affordable 25/50GB M-Disks I'll also use those.

    For the moment what I've found about the M-Disks is very concerning to me as there are very low priced DVD-RW drives which claim to use that media - but without testing the write function hands-on I find the idea of a $20 drive being able to write to these disks to be a bit far-fetched.

    Also, when searching for said media the results always include loads of BR media requiring a BR burner, which are all very $pendy !!

    Adding to all the above, at $2-$3 per disk for the most generic media, even a 25 pack is a BIG investment just to verify that the supposedly compatible DVD drive that I already have can indeed WRITE to such media.

    So again, unless/until there is another very reasonably sized & priced alternative to HDDs - which can easily be had for ~$20 for 500GB - this misadventure has made me very leery of trusting USB sticks as anything more than transport media, ever again.