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Retrieving data from a USB stick

My laptop shut down with a USB stick in the USB port because the battery was low. After restarting the computer, XP reported "USB device malfunction and device not recognized." Reinstalling the driver didn't help. Is there a way to retrieve the data?

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The unexpected system shutdown may have left the data stored on the USB stick in an inconsistent state. It might be a good idea to try to read the USB stick from another system to verify that assumption. If the device is not recognized by the other system, the problem is at the device level, which probably rules out the ability to run a scanning utility to correct any normal issues cause by a power failure.

Unfortunately, this type of storage device stores data on memory chips rather than on magnetic media such as a hard drive or tape. This can present some challenges when it comes to recovering from data loss or corruption. Data is typically not "erased" from magnetic storage media unless it was purposely cleansed using a specialized utility; this makes it retrievable using software products or a data recovery service provider. However, when it comes to solid state media (memory chips), data could potentially be "flushed" from memory. Not to say that this is necessarily the issue with your particular device, but you probably should consult the vendor's support center to determine what your options are.

This was first published in July 2005

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