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What happens when your SD card fails? - PPA Today

What happens when your SD card fails?


ESS Data Recovery overviews the data recovery process for flash medium.

Most photographers by now are using some form of flash medium. Tagged as more reliable and efficient, flash memory is a sensible solution for professional photographers.  Being at the forefront of storage technology, many PPA members are taking full advantage of compact flash, SD and “thumbdrive” devices.

But what do you do when that SD card fails?

“Like anything else electronic, flash media will eventually go down,” says ESS Data Recovery President Ben Carmitchel “Whether due to a static charge from your pocket or a dunk in your morning cup of coffee, that flash card will eventually stop functioning normally”.  ESS Data Recovery sees between 120 to nearly 300 flash drives per month.  For data recovery experts, who typically deal with magnetic medium such as hard drives, a new set of data recovery problems have arisen—while flash drives may be more reliable than hard drives, the data recovery procedures used are completely different.

So, what’s the secret?

Flash media failures require complex recovery procedures, often involving the removal of delicate surface-mount chips from the device. This is the only “physical” data recovery step.  Software is used for the rest of the recovery.

Once the chips are removed, the data is imaged from the chips in a raw format, which results in large files containing “service” data combined with the needed sectors (small units of information). Service data is simply data that the flash controller needs to properly store data on the chips.

Next, the service data is removed and the raw sectors combined in the correct order. Once complete, the data recovery engineers then combine the data from the other flash chips, which are often spanned.  The result: a mirror image of your flash drive before it took a swim in your morning cup of java. Finally, the image is mounted similarly to a hard drive and a final copy of the data is made. The result is usually a 100% recovery.

Data loss can be devastating and counter-productive to your practice, but through ESS Data Recovery (, a PPA corporate member, recovery of those irreplaceable photos is only a call away. Be sure to mention that you are a PPA member and receive a 20% discount.

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This page contains a single entry by published on June 10, 2008 9:28 AM.

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