Introduction: How to Fix a USB Flash Drive

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This will show you how to fix the pins on the USB port of a flash drive.

Step 1: Disassemble the Drive

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You'll want to disassemble the flash drive with a small precision screwdriver. Gently prying at the seams of the casing until the circuit board is exposed. Then pull the plastic off and make sure that the USB leads are exposed.

Step 2: Tools

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Most of the tools should be available almost within hands reach.

-Soldering Iron
-Small Precision Screwdriver (Flathead)
-Reading Glasses (these come in real handy when you need two free hands to solder but they are
-Electrical Tape
-Desoldering Tool of Choice

Step 3: Desoldering

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Dedsolder the points that need to be replaced.

Step 4: Soldering

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At this point, your leads should be desoldered and ready to be attached.

Take the soldering iron and solder away. Make sure that you have some way of magnifying the leads. This is where I used my reading glasses. I don't use them, they're my step-dad's. But they magnify the leads pretty well and make them a heck of a lot easier to see.

Step 5: Reassembly

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Reattach the two halves of plastic that you pried off in step 2; making sure that you don't wiggle the circuit board during reassembly. Then wrap the plastic and circuit board in electrical tape until you can make a suitable housing for the board.

Step 6: Test & Relax

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Make sure that you test the drive after reassembly. You want to check for any shorts. If there are any, disassemble the drive and find the shorts repeating steps 3-6 until fixed.

This was bugging me all day. If it has or happened to you, you know the feeling, and when you're done you can relax. At least until you have to make a new housing for it. Which is a different Instructable almost entirely.


MylesE (author)2015-10-06

I have an afterglow headset and it connects with a USB connector, a family member tripped on the cord. I took the drive out, and it seems a little bit loose. when i try to use it, the USB connects but when the headset connects to the USB it loses coneection to the system

Sounds like the wire may have been ripped off the PCB somewhat. These instructions are gonna be similar to what you need to do but when you finish soldering check the connections for continuity to make sure nothing is shorted. It should be obvious what came disconnected when you open the casing. I'd recommend filling the open space inside with hot to prevent any future disconnections.

ComputerRepairPortland (author)2012-09-04

Repairing a thumb drive? Is that just to try to get the data off? or? Otherwise wouldn't it be easier to buy a new one... Frankly we have never had a call requesting thumb drive repair, so would be curious as to how many really go through all this?

Wow. Haven't seen this one in a while.

I had to do it to get the data off it. It had a cracked solder joint and I saw it as opportunity to show other people how to fix it. It isn't something that would be very common and I think I just had a bad drive.

lavaspringz (author)2010-05-14

sorry if this is an obvious question but how do you go about desoldering?

 Well, there are a number of tutorials on soldering in general.  Many of which are found here on Instructables.  I might suggest this page on desoldering and this guide on soldering which contains several Instructables on soldering, specifically, and several other soldering related things.

Nicely done. If you every decide to become a flash drive recovery engineer, drop me a line. ; )

thanks a lot!

punkhead58 (author)2010-04-15

But, judging from the tone of your writing, I presume that you were, in fact, being sarcastic.

bowmaster (author)punkhead582010-04-15

Yes, yes I was.

firecracker125 (author)2009-07-02

thank you thank you you have saved my computer

You're very welcome.

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-09-20

how would i fix it if it has been in the laundry, and dryer? (no visual harm)

I work in schools, you would not believe the way some drives are treated.

1. the washing machine.
do not plug it in, for your own sanity and safety, do not plug it in.
pop it in the airing cupboard for a few days until it is thoroughly dry. Now plug it into a hub. You may be surprised.

2. The drier.

See above, plug it into a cheap hub as that is expendable if it goes bang. It may well still work.

You may be surprised at how tough they can be.

The important thing is, make sure it is really dry before testing.

By the way, I have an older machine with a blown usb header. The mobo ones still work, but the header (3 ports) won't. I have replaced it and it appears that a chip has been fried. Never plug a suspect usb device directly into a port, and remember, sometimes the rear ports are more powerful than the front ones.

bowmaster (author)2009-02-22

I thought this would help me fix my USB drive that I dropped in some burning Napalm. I was trying out a new mix of "Therpalm", a mix of napalm and thermite, and the reaction got to hot and I ran, dropping my USB drive in the process.

pyro515 (author)2008-11-06

what do you use to unsoder something?

Just a desoldering braid. Place it over the the joint, heat it up, and it should soak up the melted solder.

now were could i get one of those?

Radioshack would probably be the easiest.

LasVegas (author)2007-09-21

I wouldn't recommend plugging in the flash drive to test for shorts. If there are any shorts, plugging it in could blow the USB port. Instead, use the ohm meter of your Multi-Meter to test the contacts.

killerjackalope (author)LasVegas2007-10-22

no worries I had a few wee accidents with diy usb devices and when it shorts windows stops the power to the port and give a warning until you unplug the device

LasVegas (author)killerjackalope2007-10-22

If you're lucky enough to have just shorted out the supply. Shorting +5v to one of the data lines has the potential of burning out the port or the entire chip. I have a customer's computer right here that has no working USB ports simply because she pluged in a faulty cable.

pyro515 (author)LasVegas2008-11-06

wow i have been lucky

killerjackalope (author)LasVegas2007-10-22

ah right I do belive it was supply lines that shorted as the data lines went off earlier than the short. I agree that safe is better than oopsy in this case and as a result i alway test my new homebrew toys with a usb hub in between (their shabby electronic cause them to burn out earlier than the computer's hubs. On an older setup i just made a tester female plug with a diode wired into each line...

ok...let me rephrase then. plug it in to make sure it works. if it doesn't, then open it back up and check for any touching leads.

Rephrasing doesn't remove the danger. If it's shorted, and it's plugged in, it can very well destroy the USB port. It is of the utmost importance that you verify no shorts exist before plugging it in.

Darkshot (author)LasVegas2007-09-22

your to technical -.-

LasVegas (author)Darkshot2007-09-22

Not if you want to keep your USB ports functional.

Darkshot (author)LasVegas2007-09-23

fine.......................................i guess i do........ur still to technical thou :)

mrmath (author)2007-09-20

There are plenty of instructables on how to make your own case for a thumb drive. This one is my favorite.

I'm not sure. Were you just resoldering the existing connector, or using a new one.

Why use electrical tape? Why not "crazy glue"?

i used electrical tape beause i plan on encasing it in something else, like the lego brick case. and i was resoldering the connectors on both sides.

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