Hardware

Cracking open a flash drive

57 comments
mjbdiver
mjbdiver

I accidentally left one of these flash drives in my pants pocket and did a load of laundry. My flash drive survived its trip through the washing machine and dryer with all the data completely intact.

BRzeszutek
BRzeszutek

they make them out of transparent plastic nowdays--I have one

cathar.gnostic
cathar.gnostic

well, I have had mine open and still goes as do most of the equipment I repair. Big chip is the flash, other side is the controller with the internal timing for read write attached. Is this a guess the hardware or some sort of photo fetish that some people geeks get off on?

pzkfw4usa
pzkfw4usa

I would like to know if anybody has written new software for the flash drive. I need to use a flash drive as virtual memory. d davis.

.Martin.
.Martin.

Congratulations... You pulled apart a flash drive!!! I Agree with Hicks, why would you even but up a blog about pulling it apart if you were just going to take the casing of it off??? Furthermore, you comment that it still works even after you take the case off... Well it should, in most cases the casing of it is just there to protect the drive and no other purpose...

hicks6262
hicks6262

There are a lot of freebie flash drives(schwag) that run an activeX upon insertion to pop up an ad from the schwag provider. Ridding the flash drive of that junk would be a worthy tech tip imho. So I have to ask what was the point of all this if you were not going to modify or repair the device? I thought it was defective and you were going to fix it only to find there was nothing wrong with it. These type devices are very static sensitive so why risk damage on a working unit if you were not going to modify it? Oh, I realize it was fun... Well, I have several I will send you that are in-op if you'd like to "tinker" for real? Best wishes.

aafischer
aafischer

nice work. i'm very interested in memory layout architecture for this device. can you advise where/when was this particular USB was purchased? Thanks!

glcara
glcara

Really dependable gadget special for my backing-up my file. I use it very much...

DennisL692
DennisL692

Flash Drive will not survive the Xray room at the hospital ER bummer lost my data big time

JudyHaddad
JudyHaddad

Thanks. I feel much better now. I haven't trusted my USB storage devices since my 200 GB 3.5" USB drive quit on me with all my digital pictures and MP3 files. Now I won't worry so much about my 2 and 4GB flash drives.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

I had one go through the wash once. I had to crack it open to get the water out of it. Once the water was out of it, it worked fine. This was several years ago, it was a 256MB Sony. Personally, I am convinced that the only way to make one of these things NOT work, is to do some extreme physical damage to it.

shamanbobx
shamanbobx

I agree, the whole series could be a bit more than it is. It would help to also attempt to improve on the author's photo skills. Instead of a few vague lines of info at the bottom of a few of the shots, it would be nice to get a bit more info. It would be even better to see some use of all that computer power we all comand at our finger tips and put some overlay lines and indicators to the various components and what they are supposed to do. I've disassembled many a malfunctioning USB drive, either to attempt a fix or just to see what was actually inside the powerful little package. This photo gallery of the same ol' same ol' has done little to satisfy the itch that we all seem to want to satisfy... "how does the dang thing do what it does?" and if possable "what are the known weak spots that exsist and what can be done to bolster them or fix them if they do prove to be weak after all?" Let's face it fellow techies, we surf to these little articles because we're compelled to by our common affliction - UNBOUNDED CURIOSITY, we can't help but want to know... MORE! But, I could have used 3-5 of those shots and shown 4 times the info about the inner workings of the drive. It would have taken a little bit more time and research though. Maybe an hour or so, including photo editing time, instead of the 15 minutes that some of these photo articles seem to have had devoted to their creation.

cwolken
cwolken

The photography could be better. Try different lighting. The white background may be fooling the exposure meter.

Dave in Utah
Dave in Utah

try running over it with your car or truck

Loranap1
Loranap1

Try dissecting a fly next. I'll bet it still won't be working.

raydon.berry
raydon.berry

It may have been more useful if he had shown the connections being repaired - I have done this many times, reinforcing the weak mechanical fixing of the USB connector with hot-glue, where necessary.

billw
billw

Washed and dried mine a few times, must be engineered by Timex!! IT KEEPS ON TICKING

tim
tim

I ran one of these (accidentally!!) through the washing machine. Came out nice and clean, and - most importantly, it worked fine afterwards! No.. it didn't go through the dryer.

dsnowins
dsnowins

A flash drive should not get damaged by the level of Xray in a typical exam room. Note that depending on the particular Xray system there are flash memories on some of the subsystem control boards. If your device was left near the generator it may then be possible to experience the effect of the transformer (em pulse) but that is unlikely as well. I would suggest looking for another cause as to the loss of data.... I from time to time have used my flash drive as well as other various electronic devices as test phantoms after repair work I haven't experienced any data loss. I am curious.

jgallardo
jgallardo

Maybe we can put anti-xray films on the flash drive case.

wparkinson
wparkinson

i did not run my flash drive (same as the one cracked) thru the washer, dryer, dish washer, etc.) but it just crapped out one day, asking for a complete reformat. lost all my data - grrrrr

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

I wanted to reply to this series last week with the I-Phone. Well now I am. I felt the I-Phone was a waste of time or an illogical/stupid piece to do with the only intent is to get ratings or readership up. Because no one who had to go through extensive trouble to secure the device (5-24 hrs) waiting on line and paying $500 would destroy the object of their mis-guided LOVE (techophiles). Now with the flash drive....which the author knew could not be anything more than 1 or 2 memory chips, What is the point.....you knew what you would find inside. So I am casting the first VOTE to discontinue this article. It is NO longer interesting.

Womble
Womble

I would have enjoyed this a bit more with some info on the chips/battery found inside

rustybear59
rustybear59

we dont have to take our wonderfully expencive toys apart to find out whats inside we just look at the photos provided and there we are we know whats inside and we dont have to try and put the things back together!

Lovs2look
Lovs2look

Well I vote to KEEP this article and others like it. For those of us who cannot afford new or even second hand equipment to test/practice on, these articles are invaluable for parts identifying, tools needed, any gotchas that may be encountered...heaps of time savings as far as I'm concerned. That's why these forums were created, wasn't it?

tcferrier
tcferrier

I DO find them interesting...I'd hate to see them go.

alpha431
alpha431

This would have been more interesting if he had better closeup shots and listed/described the few chips that are in there. That last goes for many CO articles. I know in general what I'll find in most devices, I want more specifics.

Geko
Geko

Lets crack open his Iphone and see what makes IT tick! By the way, did they tell you you have to send it back to Apple when the battery dies?

Realvdude
Realvdude

I agree about the flash drive; I was hoping for a little information on the USB controller or memory chips. As far as the iPhone, well that was moderately cool, seeing how it all came together.

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

Ladies and Gentleman; I apologize, if you still want to see this series of articles, please do. I was just so annoyed with the I-phone as a simple, ratings/readership ployed that I felt this series had run its' course. Thumb drive..it is a memory chip....a reader respondent...better yet show us the connections and if possible repair or in this case..how to put it back together. My thumb drive died after 2 years...and I assume it is the delicate connections between USB connector and the circuit board. But whta is most interesting is dissecting "older' electronics when every component is discrete......so you get to view all the capacitors, resistors, coils, transistors, yes TUBES and the occasional intergrated circuit (IC). Again so sorry for being so negatitive. Enjoy the Series!!!!!!!!!

meryllogue
meryllogue

Just ignore them. I really have wanted to see what was inside one. Not a real surprise, I'll admit. But if your vote had won about 3 weeks ago, I would never know that! So each wave of newcomers has to go through viewing and finally becoming bored. Give us that chance, Joseph! :-) You have a nice day.

carolhook
carolhook

I cast a counter vote, Joe, cancelling your vote. I find these articles great fun! If no longer interesting to you, then you cannot even open such articles when you see them posted---unless your mind surreptitiously enjoys: 1) boring you, or 2) hardware dismantling type articles. Figure that out and report back, ok? Happy afternoon to ya!

pgiler
pgiler

I had several that were under brackish (combination salt and fresh) water from Lake Pontchartrain, via the broken levee on the 17th St. Canal from Hurricane Katrina. These things were under several feet of that yucky water and chemicals for at least 2 weeks, probably 3. I was totally surprised when I plugged them in and they worked almost 2 years later. I was expecting them to almost explode when plugged in. I was able to save the data off of them, but I finally got rid of them as the contacts werre quite corroded and if you just bumped them they lost connectivity. I wish my whole computer would have been mad as well as my thumb drives. Then, I wouldn't have lost eveerything that was not backed up properly. I never expected 82 inches of water in my house.

darrylhadfield
darrylhadfield

I have one that went through the washer, then the dryer, and it still works. :)

kyle
kyle

When checking out the reviews for my flash drive one guy said he accidently ran it over with his truck and it still worked. When I buy a new one I'll give it a try. OCZ makes some dang good stuff.

Smart_Neuron
Smart_Neuron

Now that's an interesting possibility! You might even find a *CORN* chip. Keep up the nice work!

IT cowgirl
IT cowgirl

Some people do not like gadgeta, some people do. Some like networking, others do not. Some people like to view all the capacitors, resistors, coils, transistors, yes TUBES and the occasional intergrated circuit (IC) because that trips their trigger! Some want to know how EVERTHING/ANYTHING works. (Yes me, I admit it!) Therefore, TechRepublic is satisfying those readers who want to know. If people are not interested then TechRepublic would not increase their readership any. However, I see nothing wrong in providing their readers with content they want to see and read! I would imagine those who do not wish to know or are not interesting in the interworkings of electronics would not bother to read the articles or look at the pictures. If they choose to read and look, why bother to then post that they are not interested.... Curious behaviour on their part.

Lovs2look
Lovs2look

Go girl! SPOT ON! Why comment that you're NOT interested in something in a topic that you don't enjoy? Small man syndrome i suspect...some just LOVE to be heard, weather they have anything of value to contribute or not (as the case may be)

Lovs2look
Lovs2look

methinks he doth protest too much

sshade
sshade

joseph.r.piazza@ is right that the flash drive isn't very interesting, but I now know something I didn't know before. More intersting than the flash drive is IT Cowgirl. Nice rant...funny and somewhat deserved!!! swaley's comment was not funny or original. What makes this interesting??? OPINIONS!!! What makes this stupid is people telling people that their opinions don't matter. Wait...I guess I'll cease since this is a technology forum and not a forum for learning basic manners....

swhaley
swhaley

So I read the entire thing and commented on it.

Geko
Geko

Me thinks they protesteth too much!

mkowitz
mkowitz

Remember a few years back when Apple started using translucent cases for their Macs? Then phones, digital clocks, and anything else electronic was transparent. But my point is: to see what? Nothing moving, not even blinking lights. Just circuit boards! What was the point? Except it did catch on and boosted sales (?!)

IT cowgirl
IT cowgirl

OMG There must be some dastardly force among us causing those who do not care about gadget interworkings to read about and view photos about something they care nothing about! This inexplicable force then causes them to explain they do not care about it! Why would anyone bother to read/view something that does not interest them and then post the same? Do these people search all over the internet for thigs that do not interest them so they can read/view the content and then post that the content does not interest them. Maybe I am so intelligent that only I realize that I would ignore any content I am not interested in and then also not waste my time and others' to post my dis-interest. Or maybe these disinterested persons are secretly interested and must speak out to protect themselves! Me things some do protest to much!

ericddobbs
ericddobbs

We are so blasé about electronics and data storage in general that we forget the fact that it is amazing these things work at all. Imagine having a time machine and being able to bring Ben Franklin to your office. Of course you will have prepared him for much of what he would see (electric lighting for one thing - that would be easy for him). Remember that this man was the first national publisher (he had a string of associate printing companies up and down the colonies). Once he understood the Internet, imagine his reaction. But I think the thing that would astonish him the most is how the data are stored. I can hear him saying, "how can you get all of those pictures and an encyclopedia into that tiny object?" I was delighted to see the inside of this particular flash drive, since I have one myself. Eric Dobbs

ohair
ohair

Whoop-de-do. What's inside a flash drive? A connector, a PCB and a few chips. Who cares.

rustybear59
rustybear59

sat a pc tower on one it never worked again, another was blasted by a bad mainboard, and the third just stopped working all by its self

jmay
jmay

Hi Greg how are you getting on? RUTC crew

xchoo
xchoo

Went through the washer and dryer twice (and both times not knowing until after it came out the dryer XD). Broke down once, but that was because of a loose USB connector. So i cracked it opened, re-soldered (one of the pins of) the USB connector back on, and it worked! That was about half a year ago... still ticking.

gregoris.kotzamanis
gregoris.kotzamanis

they had a big test on THE GADGET SHOW in the uk, they testt dvds, cds, flash drives and i think a usb hdd even after being burnt, frozen cooked and even shot and washed the usb drive was still working albeit a slight bit of tinkering

tim
tim

I'm a bit surprised it survived a dunk in the ocean. Did you give it a rinse right away in fresh water? SO here's a challenge.. what can these USB drives "reasonably" survive and still work? hmm.. dry ice perhaps?

devin.fessler
devin.fessler

Washer twice, Dryer twice and the atlantic ocean once. And still ticking!!!