Thumb Drives, Portable Devices For Data Loss

By: Suhaimi Baruddin

Thumb Drive:Convenience is the magic word.

The thumb drive is an excellent device, no doubts about that. Although it costs more than optical discs, it has much more storage space in a smaller package.

Convenience is the word here, as now you not only have a large enough storage space to backup spreadsheets, databases, videos, mp3's and more, BUT you can just put in your pocket as it is not as frail as optical disks, nor does it have any moving parts in it.

Thumb Drive: The Dangers.

In fact, thumb drives are hardy. And that's part of the problem.

Once you know it is sturdy, people tend to take the fact for granted and neglect basic things like backup and such, with the presumption that the thumb drive will never fail. The basic fact is (and this goes just for about anything mechanical, electronic or biological) will fail.

Here are a few ways in which thumb drives and other solid state devices can fail, in fact:

    -Write/erase limit

Thumb drives "wear out" after a number of write/erase to the devices. Yes, there is a limit of some sort (with numbers ranging from 10,000 to 100,000) of how many times you can write to the thumb drive.

    -file corruption

Like in normal hard disks, there is a possibility that file corruption occurring. When this happens, you either cannot open the file as normal or the whole drive cannot even be opened, and there are messages which ask you to format your drive.

    -burned chips/component

During power surge, or even improper eject of the thumb drive, the memory chip where all your data is stored may get destroyed. When this happens, there is no chance at all to even recover your data.


With the nature of the drive itself, its diminutive size makes it easy to forget its existence. It is easy to misplace, lose and leave behind.

As you can see, there are dangers in trusting the thumb drive solution wholly. And in some cases, like burnt components, misplacement and theft would mean that your data is lost forever.However, if you only either delete your data, or your files get corrupted or your thumb drive returns messages which ask you to format it, then there is still a chance that you can get back your data.

Recovery from deleted/corrupted files in thumb drives

When you have lost data through either deletion or corruption, it is of utmost importance that you immediately stop using the media to increase the chances of you recovering your data.

Once that is done, you need to create a backup image of the thumb drive.

This step is necessary so that recovery can proceed while preserving the integrity of the original thumb drive (or any storage media actually) which has lost the data.

Backup procedure

Then, you need to download recovery utility. From this point on, I will be referring and using the data recovery software and data recovery tools (free).

Download ADRC data recovery tools

Once you have downloaded the software, unzip it and double click on the application.

The following process is to create a disk image of the thumb drive so that recovery can be done on the image instead of the original data disk.

To create an image, you want to use the Image Backup/Restore function, which is under the tools menu in ADRC's data recovery tools.

You should see there are two radio buttons. Select Create Image From Disk.

Then, in the lower drop down menu, select the drive you want to clone. Save and image file name, and then wait for the operation to finish.

Image created, you want to proceed on to recovery from this image file.

Recover from file deletion

Still in the data recovery tools software, under "tools", select "undelete". Select the drive which you have backed up the image drive to, and click search.

Wait for the process to finish. With luck, the file you need and deleted can be found in the list.

Select the files (to select many files, press ctrl and click) that you need. This may be a tedious process as there are many files which you may not need. Persevere! You need the files!

Once you have selected the files, click the "Undelete Files" button. You will then be prompted to specify a location to save the files.

Recover from file/drive corruption

There are many recovery software on the market, both good and bad. However, in this particular guide, we are referring to ADRC's data recovery express, which costs US$6.99. The software relatively powerful but cheap costing software, thus there is minimal risk.

Download ADRC Data Recovery Express

Run the software (just double-click on icon). Under the settings tab, you would want to check the "raw disk scan" option. Then, select the image you have created, and click "Begin Scan".

And now we wait for the automated recovery process to finish.

As long as you have not done anything after realising that your drive is corrupter your files should be remain intact. In fact, ADRC recovery express can repair files that have suffered corruption, so long as the corruption is not severe.

Problem solved.

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