Memory lost

by phoxis

I previously posted that I accidentally vacuumed up a microSD card. Then I put it in a safe location. I thought it was safe until last week, when I inserted the card in my mobile phone.

After a day, I found that the taxi hailing application is not working as it is installed in the microSD card. It can happen in case the filesystem of the card was corrupt, or sometimes it might need a manual registration (mount) from the settings. When I tried to do it, the option was disabled, as if there is no microSD card installed. Then I restarted the phone. No use.

Now to see what exactly is happening. Therefore I now checked how many disks are present in the system at hardware level (kind of). For the technical people, I used fdisk. There was only two disks showing, the SSD and the HDD of my laptop. This is when I became concerned. This was a hardware fault, or the data channel of the cable is severed somehow.

I checked some internal details from the operating system (Linux), and came to know that the mobile phone was detected and initialized. That is when I was sure there was something really wrong with either the card or the slot, physically.  Trouble.  So I investigated further.

When I took out the card, it did not take much time for me to see that there is a very fine crack going diagonally from one end to the other, along which the card is slightly bent, visible when I shine some light on it’s black reflective paint.



It is gone. Unlike other data devices, microSD  cards are fabricated in a very delicate way and on a single chip. Therefore there is nothing repairable. Although there are ways, but for that you have to file off the paint layer and expose the connections, then have a microscope, a micro soldering iron, an appropriate controller, appropriate software, which are only available in data recovery labs.

Next I kind of searched how much it may cost to recover the data. It seemed like it will take around, at least 400 ~ 500 Euros to do it, only if it still has something to recover.

Although the microSD card is fabricated on one chip, it contains the power circuit, controller and the memory module laid out on the chip. If the crack did not go through the memory module, then it is possible to recover (with a huge amount effort in a lab). But, if the crack went through the memory module, no chance at all.

I searched the internet for the exact layout of the kind of microSD card, I could not find any (except some un-referenced general diagrams). Therefore I downloaded a patent for manufacturing microSD cards. The diagram showed that the crack went just through the memory module. Although not necessarily my card had the exact  same layout, but as the crack is not there in the front connector pins, and on the back, and given the fact that the controllers and the other non-memory stuffs are near the connector pins, it seemed that the card is gone.

I mailed a few data recovery places, I am going to call them and get a quote. Although I will not recover the data, as I will not be able to pay that kind of  money.

What was in the card? Around 28 Giga Bytes of data, mostly pictures and videos spanning three years. Why un-backedup? I have the first one and a half year of the three years backed up. The last one an a half year was not backed up. This is the first  device for which I did not have a backup (for some causes). I purposely do not use cloud. Okay, I lost a few very good pictures, and some priceless pictures. I think it is fine, as it could have been worse, like loosing two years of work completely (done that too previously).

Although the card is dead, I am still going to call the data recovery labs, as I will see to the end on what happens, and possible learn a thing or two about microSD cards or data recovery in general.

This is one of the stuffs which has broken last year.