The Compact Flash card recovery challenge
As data recovery specialists, we have had many cases over the years where data loss has occurred on NAND Flash-based storage devices - SSDs, USB sticks, and the so-called CF (CompactFlash) cards.
In many cases, our customers are using a CF card inside their digital camera and experience data loss while trying to transfer photos/videos from their camera to a computer or NAS. In most of these cases, the internal NAND Flash controller of the CF card is defective.
This very small controller is responsible for where the data segments are distributed over the several storage chips (wear-leveling). When the controller is broken, it is not possible to recover the data with a common data recovery software, because the algorithm on how the data segments are distributed is not available.
Additionally, sometimes the error is not due to the controller, but down to the memory chips themselves. After a certain age, they can no longer be read properly and then the controller simply fails in trying to.
In many cases – but not in all – professional data recovery experts like Ontrack are still able to recover the data with specialized tools and software without the need to have an original controller. But this depends highly on the brand and specific the product.
In any case, such a data project is not an easy task and a lot of specialized knowledge is needed to recover data, which can result in an expensive bill!