Recovering Broken, Unformattable, and Ghost USB Flash Drives

by Nick on September 8th, 2009

EDIT: This information is very out of date at this point. Beware of following this guide on modern systems. As some commenters have mentioned there are better ways of going about recovering Flash drives at this point. Check out Ben’s comment in particular about Chip Genius, the tool is very useful to ascertain what controllers/NAND you are working with.

Welcome again. Today I am going to provide a helpful guide to recover broken USB drives, ghost drives, and drives unable to be formatted. If you are asking questions like “I can’t format my usb drive! Whats wrong?”, you may want to read on.

This guide will also aid in the recover of ghost drives and return the flash drive to it’s actual capacity.

Check to see if your drive exhibits any of these behaviors:

  • Windows says “Unrecognized USB device”
  • You cannot format your USB drive. The format utility also displays a capacity of 8mb no matter the size of your drive.
  • Your drive status light flashes but nothing happens on the OS.
  • Your drive shows up, but when you try to write, it crashes and disappears.
  • Generally, your drive is not functioning correctly.

WARNING: Before you continue with this guide, be aware that, although highly unlikely, using some of the programs in this guide could possibly destroy the physical controller unit on your drive. Only proceed if this is a last resort. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR IRREPARABLE DAMAGE OR LOST DATA.

First of all, a USB flash drive is comprised of two main parts – the Controller and the NAND Flash Chip. This guide is going to explain the use of a program which accesses the controller unit directly to complete formats and recoveries.

NOTE: Since this program accesses the controller unit on your flash chip, I have included 2 programs that do the same thing. Each program has a list of controller access codes. Depending on your controller, one of these access codes may or may not work.

Lets get started!

Step 1

Download the program package and extract it. You will see the programs labeled prog1 and prog2.

Step 2

Remove all your USB Flash Drives. Once you have your drives out, start up ONLY ONE program. Don’t open both! This will cause some serious system related issues.

For prog1, click the lightbulb icon. For prog2, click umptool2090.exe. Once open, both of these programs should look extremely similar.

Step 3

Plug your broken flash drive in. If you do not see the flash drive appear on the program screen or you see “UNKNOWN FLASH”, try the other program.

NOTE: If both fail to recognize your flash, unfortunately you will have to continue your search for an answer.

Step 4

When you have your drive plugged in and it is recognized by our program, click start. No other setup is required. I have preset everything to return your device to it’s original state.

WARNING: If you continuously format your drives, THEY WILL BREAK! Prog2 is notorious for breaking drives. Expect a 15%-20% fail rate. Again, I have set prog2 to minimize this as beast I could, down to ~5%.

If you would like to poke around in the settings panel, there are a lot of interesting features. One that I would suggest is “Information Tab” for prog1, and “Vendor Settings” for prog2. This controls the vendor name information which shows up on the taskbar info bubble, a cool feature to show off to your friends. Other than that, I leave it up to you to figure out the settings AT YOUR OWN RISK. Remember, the more you run the drives through the program, the greater the chance they will break.

NOTE: In program 1, you will be prompted with a password box when you click settings. Leave it blank and hit OK. If it does not allow you access, you can check the .INI file in the root directory for the password if it got changed for some reason.

If you have any questions or would like additional controller codes for prog2, leave a comment and I will respond to you. You may also leave your email addy if you would like me to respond directly to you as well as in the comment thread.

UPDATE #1

I have gotten my hands on an updated version of the programs which can be found here. All the programs have again been optimized for successfully recovering your USB drives. A few notes though:

  • The “No Loader ISO” error is gone.
  • Changing settings requires a password and the password is blank, just hit okay.
  • Make sure you run the programs as administrator.
  • Do not proceed unless “Flash Type” shows some information. “UNKNOWN_FLASH” means the program won’t work, so don’t try it if it says this.
  • I provide no warranty. By using the programs you agree not to hold me or this blog liable for damages.

Furthermore I will get to all the comments as soon as possible, I know it has been a while, holidays have me busy.

Happy Holidays 🙂

70 Comments
  1. Juancho Talarga permalink

    prog1 says it’s missing a loader image and closes inmediately

  2. Nick permalink

    Try re-extracting it.

    It is a peculiar issue with this program. I believe it is tied to the img file in the AUTORUN folder, although I have not confirmed it, it seems when this file is missing or damaged it triggers the error but this is not always the case. Some times when it spits out that error the program will continue on loading I guess it all depends.

    In any event a re-extraction in most cases solves the problem.

    -nick

  3. Bojan permalink

    Hi,

    Prog1 alert me “NO LOADER IMG FILE”. Some dll files in DLL folder have fail (Except SETUP_DLL.DLL).
    In prog2 nothing happend when i attach USB drive. My Kingston Data Traveler 2.0 is not recognized in any OS. How to resolve this problem?

    Thanks.

    • greffshy permalink

      we have the same problem did you fix yours?

  4. Nukoca permalink

    What Juancho said. prog2 doesn’t do anything when I plug it in, it just sits there.

  5. Nick permalink

    Again this is the same error. Not really sure what triggers it. The error occurred for me a while back and after clicking okay the program continued to open.

    If you flash drive does not show up then your controller does not match the program. The two controller manufactures which these programs are from are Alcor Micro and Chipsbank.

    Chipsbank is one of the worst in the industry, which is why I uploaded this program, most erroneous drives have the chipsbank controller.

    The Alcor program I just happened across so I also decided to upload it.

    I have about 40 off these annoying little programs here at my office. Most of our drives use USBest controllers. Rarely we will see chipsbank controllers float through.

    Good Luck. If you would like you can tell me what controller manufacturer your drive uses and I will let you know if I have the appropriate program.

    -Nick

  6. Graham Brown permalink

    thanks for this programme used program 2 & saved having to throw my new disc away

  7. Martino permalink

    got the missing loader image error, too. opened the .ini file. the program looks for C:\9384.img.
    1. I copied the Reserve.img from the installed folder AUTORUN, put it into both installation root and directly under C:\ (for good measure)
    2. Renamed the file to 9384.img
    3. Started the .exe, and it loaded up fine

  8. vision permalink

    Thanks! You saved my pendrive with prog2 🙂

  9. John Hank permalink

    Would this method work with a SanDisk Cruzer 2GB? This seems to be my last hope.

  10. cgt permalink

    No luck at all with a Kingston DataTraveller II,
    It only sees ~50mb of a 512 stick. Any help would be appreciated.
    Running WinXP sp3
    The app doesn’t see it at all

  11. Nick permalink

    Hello,

    Just to further clarify a few things. If your drive does not show up with these programs it is not the end of the world, it just means the program does not recognize your controller. Keep searching for similar programs around the web. Also if you have the heart to open up your drive and read the controller name then that should help in your search.

    I will continue to attempt and find the codes/programs which people request but without having the drives handy it will be hard. Always remember flash is not meant for storage but for transport. Never trust critical data to any flash drive, or any ONE hard drive.

    -Nick

  12. Chris permalink

    Hi Nick

    Is there any chance you have the programs for a SanDisk SDYNLNDHSP-016G. Would really appreciate you help.
    Thanks

    • Nick permalink

      Chris,

      I searched the web quickly and all I could find is a utility that works for compact flash.

      If I find anything that works on sandisk I’ll be sure to post an update.

      Sorry 🙁

  13. JB Burayag permalink

    Hi nick,

    I am downloading the program right now and i’ll try it after.

    Ahhm, one thing..the comments are very necessary to read before the downloading of the progs.rar, but it is more informative if you will put the date on each of every comments when it was posted.

    Thank you very much! More Power man!

    🙂

  14. tony permalink

    Thank you very much for your prog1, was really helpful saved my 32gb kingston

    happy newyear

    • Wow, 32GB, I bet you’re happy you found THIS. I kinda chuckled when people said that it saved their 512 MB drive, but yours was expensive.
      I wish I could get every thrown out drive due to mis-formatting and just fix it (then set up an ebay store and sell them again, hehe.)

  15. Amit permalink

    Hi Nick,

    When I am trying to fix my 4GB IBALL USB drive, it is getting detected by prog1 but showing up following error against it:

    20000: Invalid device error
    Bad Block: 0/0

    Start and other options are disabled, any idea what can I do to fix it?

    Thanks:
    Amit.

  16. Anuj permalink

    Dear,
    When i clicked on start button,
    it shows below error

    C0000:Read bad Block table error
    Bad Block:0/8192

  17. Anuj permalink

    Dear,
    When i clicked on start button with Prog 1
    it shows below error

    C0000:Read bad Block table error
    Bad Block:0/8192

    Please help

  18. Wasiq permalink

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for your support here. I tried all of the above, but no luck. I purchased a 16gb LGear from FutureShop. Now I have the same problem, and I am trying to recover my data. Do you have any suggested software at this point?

    Thank you,

  19. Steve permalink

    Besides cracking it open , know any neat way to identify the Controller and the NAND Flash Chip?

  20. Meins321 permalink

    Programm one turned my 512MB stick to an removabledrive that needs a disk inserted?
    FC8308 is Printed on the IC and on the Memmory:
    R1FV04G13RSA-3
    additional to that it reports:
    CAP:512M

    and it fails after clicking on Start with:
    C0000: Read BadBlock Table Error: 0/16384

  21. dezi permalink

    Alcormp was able to detect my 16gb flash drive, hit started and the read bad block info goes for 2 times 0 – 100%.

    after the 2nd time of read bad block info

    i get this

    C0000: Read BadBlock Table Error
    Bad Block: 0/16384

  22. Justin permalink

    Hey Nick,

    I also purchased a 16gb LGear from FutureShop. No luck recovering my data?!? Any help?

  23. Muzammal permalink

    I have 16 GB flash disk
    sometimes it shows V8 detected
    other times its a chipsbnk 2096
    ump tool 2090 says unknown flash wp on! and when I push the start button
    the programm terminates

    is there a program for V8 or chipsbank2096?

    Thanks

  24. Jehreykein permalink

    hi I cannot format my drive, and it can’t be open..

  25. George permalink

    hi Nick,

    I’ve got a problem with a Sony Vaio 4GB usb flash drive and I’ve tried the programs you’ve posted here but no luck. The programs don’t recognize the drive and windows keeps playing that hardware-disconnecting sound. Can you help me get my flash drive back up and running?

    Thank you

  26. Lorne permalink

    Nick, thanks for offering these programs.

    Using the advice Martino posted (above) I was able to get prog1 to work. However, as with prog2, unfortunately neither program could see my thumb drive.

    Are you still reading the posts here? If so, I think I’m going to open it up to find the controller name. Maybe you’ll have a prog that works for it.

    Thanks again,
    Lorne

  27. smh permalink

    This program1 works fine, i got my 8gb usb back on working:)
    Thank you

  28. Will permalink

    I am haveing the same problem as Wasiq :

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for your support here. I tried all of the above, but no luck. I purchased a 16gb LGear from FutureShop. Now I have the same problem, and I am trying to recover my data. Do you have any suggested software at this point?

    Thank you,

  29. Flip permalink

    Hi Nick,

    when i use prog 2 i get no response…when i run prog 1 i get a pop up “cant connect to service control manager” please help.

    Many thanks.

  30. Arnel permalink

    The progs can’t read my flashdrive (hp v165w) I guess it doesn’t support it. BTW, thanks for sharing the prog. This could be useful in the future. Godbless

  31. mstf permalink

    hi, i have kingston 8gb usb flash memory..i tried this program but program does nothing..it couldn’t find my usb 🙁 please help..

  32. maural permalink

    prog1 says it’s missing a loader image and closes inmediately
    tried on different pc or to re run without result please let me know how to run pro1 thanks !

  33. Hammertimeaz permalink

    I have 2 disks that are taking years off of my life! I have a 128GB USB Flash and a 32GB Micro USB. Neither shows up. The first program allowed me to format the Flash drive but changed the size from 128GB to 2,88 GB said that the format failed. The 32GB is a sandisk and only reading at 8MB. PLEASE HELP. Many nights of lost sleep and losing hair by the minute! Thanks!

  34. sheikmohindenn permalink

    when am inserting my pen drive to system it is asking for format?

    any solution for this issue?

  35. sheikmohindenn permalink

    when i double click the pendrive it is asking for fomat .How to recover my data.How to solve the problem?

    • Nick permalink

      Unfortunately the programs don’t recover data. If the drive is asking to be formatted you are pretty much out of luck.

      You can bring the drive to a specialty company that can recover the info, possibly, but you will pay for it dearly. They routinely charge up to $4,000.00 for data recovery, sometimes more.

      You can also attempt to bring the drive back to life then run a file recovery tool on it. This is not a great idea since flash drives store electrons for the purposes of holding data unlike hard disks which create pits. The data is easier to loose and harder to recover so the odds of getting it back are slim.

      Sorry couldn’t help you more 🙁

  36. Nick S. permalink

    Do you know of a programs that could help out my DANE-ELEC 16 gb flash drive?

    • Nick permalink

      If you can get the drive ID like Dave below has done I can search for one. For example his sandisk has the ID SDYNLNDHSP-016G.

      Most of these programs have a list of drive ids with a set of hex codes that they use as meta data to instruct controllers accept firmware flashes. So with the id and can look through the ones I have.

  37. Dave permalink

    Nick,

    as previously asked,

    do you have an update for recovery of a SanDisk SDYNLNDHSP-016G?

    thanks!

    • Nick permalink

      I don’t have anything for sandisk, not that i know of. Sandisk either manufacturers their own controllers or they purchase from a vendor other than chipsbank.

      I’ll look and see if I can find a tool for SanDisk.

  38. Marcus Greening permalink

    Hi Nick,
    Prog 1 updated recognises stick but after pressing start get the following error

    30500: No Support Flash error
    K9HCG08U1M
    CAP:16384M

    Thanks for your help

    Marcus

    • Nick permalink

      Hello Marcus,

      I have experienced that a couple times, usually I junk drives that say that, but I doubt you want to junk a 16gb drive. Most likely what is happening is that the program is reading the controller on the flash drive and falsely assigning a set of values, meaning that it thinks it is a different controller than what it really is.

      What type of flash drive is it? If it is a big name flash drive they will most likely use a custom controller to lower cost and reduce potential errors. Try to see if you can search around for the program for that one, or if you can send the flash drive PID VID HID and maker I might be able to dredge up a utility that may be of use.

      -Nick

  39. Marcus Greening permalink

    Hi Nick,
    It is a Transcend 16 GB drive
    The program reports it as a Samsung K9HCG08U1M
    Configuration information reports:
    Controller Type 6984
    Firmware Version, PID and VID are blank
    ID(0) 0xEC 0xD7 0x55 0xB6 0xEC 0xD7 0x55 0xB6

    Setup reports:
    Samsung K9HCG08U1M
    VID 058F
    PID 6387

    Thanks for your time

    Marcus

  40. Marcus Greening permalink

    Hi Nick,

    I found a two useful utilities for Transcend Sticks. I am putting the links in this message. Click the first one for instructions and utility 1, the second link is a download link for the second untiliy described in the instructions.

    My good news is that I acheived a full recovery including the data!

    Thanks for your help.

    http://uk.transcend-info.com/Press/DrT.asp?LangNo=0&axn=Detail&PrsNo=96&NewsKeyWd=

    http://manibaba.weebly.com/uploads/6/4/1/6/6416067/recoverisp.exe

    EDIT by nick: I have checked these utilities and do not see any malware packaged with them. However you use these tools at your own risk, I do not control them and therefor cannot guarantee they will remain malware free.

    • Nick permalink

      Hi Marcus,

      Thanks for the additions. I’ll be adding it to the main post as well.

      -nick

  41. nna permalink

    Do you have one that will work on Windows NT 4 or, I guess Windows 2000? I run into the usual dll errors when I use either version of the two programs.

    I have an Alcor Micro chip.

    Thank you.

    • Nick permalink

      Hello,

      I doubt there exists any tools that are compatible with NT4 or win2k. Most of these tools are written strictly for Windows XP.

      I would say attempt to run XP as a trial in a VM if you do not have a spare machine.

      -nick

  42. Jorge permalink

    Hello

    I am from Peru. Thanks for the addition. It works perfectly. I have a USB ALCOR Micro AU6983HL-1. cap: 8GB. It have been rescued it but real capacity is 961 MB.

    Thank you

  43. guy permalink

    thanks for this, it took me a good 10 months looking for ways to format my 16gig LGear stick. once i was able to quick fix at a exfat format then it stops working again giving me that message that i have to format it again. but so far so good thanks again

  44. thank you very much. your AlcorMP helped my Dell USB flashdrive out

  45. Peacemaker permalink

    Thank you very much for the help nick. Works perfectly!!! It save my 8Gb flash disk using the prog 1.

  46. Rimmer permalink

    Nice Article!

    I have a 8gb Trekstor usb stick that have failed. I openend the thing and found out it has a Silicon Motion controller. Have any prog for that?

    • Nick permalink

      Sorry, we don’t use that company to produce our drives. If I come across it I’ll email you and add it to the post of course.

  47. Pino permalink

    Hi, I opened my USB drive and found a MV6208E controller, so I used Ameco UDTools to fix it: http://www.flashboot.ru/Files-file-304.html.
    Hope it helps! Bye

    • Nick permalink

      Cool, thank you for adding the program.

      I will download it and test for malware then add it to my post, until then any user downloading this do so at your own risk.

  48. the_syco permalink

    Please Rename the path of 9384 from
    LoaderPath=C:\9384.img
    to
    LoaderPath=.\AUTORUN\Reserve.img

    with the MSDOS file structure of “.\” meaning this directory. It allows you to not have weird img files on the main root of your machine.

    • Nick permalink

      I’ll reup the programs with the corrected path info.

      Thank you

  49. moze permalink

    The program can’t detect my FlashDisk. But with low level format can detect that. How can my FD detected by your program??

    • Nick permalink

      These programs have a list of controller ids which it matches based on the flash drive that is inserted. The program can recognize the disk but won’t format it because it does not know if that controller will accept it’s the settings. It basically flashes the firmware on the flash controller. If it flashes with the wrong firmware the drive is done for.

      Best advice is to keep searching for similar programs until you find one that works. Alternatively you can get the controller model / manufacturer and then pose as a flash vendor to request a copy of their utility.

  50. thank you my 1-terrabite kingston usb. was allready ok now..

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