Flash drive repair

Someone at work broke a sandisk cruzer micro flash drive. It was really broken. It ripped the pads off the PCB.

Of course it had the only copy of the data on it.

The power and ground traces were pretty easy to trace and solder onto alternate pads. I didn’t bother to take pics of that. The traces from the USB plug D+ and D- went directly to the tiny chip on the top of the board, as you can see in the second picture. Solder mask is pretty tough so I figured the pins of this chip would be the easiest place to connect.

I used 30 gauge magnet wire to make the connections. It didn’t have to last long, just long enough to transfer data off, so I just held wires in place with masking tape. I didn’t have a spare USB connector, so I rigged up the broken one on a piece of perfboard.

I was able to recover all the data.











6 thoughts on “Flash drive repair

  1. Nice. I like to use CircuitWriter conductive ink when the traces have lifted off the board. Available at Radio Shack or on Ebay.


  2. Is this something anyone could do? I’d like to try before spending a bunch of $$$$. Where are the power and ground connections?


  3. It takes a steady hand, but it’s not that difficult. Just keep in mind the USB drive is already toast, at this point. Recovering the data is the best you can hope for, but is not guaranteed. The idea is to reconnect the USB connector long enough to recover data. If it’s only snapped loose from the board, but the solder pads are still there, a little flux and a touch with the soldering iron will fix it.

    I’ve never used a circuit writer pen, but I’m going to order one if I have to do this again. It looks like a much simpler fix.

    If you want to try the method I used, you’ll have to trace the power, D+, D-, and ground connections from the USB connector. Here are a few useful links, specifically the USB connector pinout and techniques for SMD green wire repair.

    USB Connector Pinout

    SMD Soldering Tutorials

    SMD Green Wire Tutorial


  4. Thanks for the links. They are really helpful. I went to radio shack and looked at the circuit writer pen, but picked up some conductive glue thinking that maybe I wouldn’t have to solder to the pen marks. The pads are completely gone. Do you think that the glue would be conductive enough? I just don’t see what they will be connecting to, it is completely green where those pads used to be. I’m having fun trying this, and have a bet with my husband who thinks I can’t do it. 🙂


  5. I just fixed this same flash drive, or at least the board looks almost the same. It’s a SanDisk Cruzer Glide. I did scrape the mask off and solder to the data lines, didn’t think of doing it directly to the controller but then again I wouldn’t have been able to, my tip is terribly corroded. I barely managed to get solder to stick to the little areas I exposed. Either way, I still don’t feel comfortable with those itty bitty things. I would have probably destroyed it 🙂 Maybe when I have more practice and buy a good iron with a really fine tip.


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