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I have an SD card that was left in a MacBook Pro and subsequently bent directly across the lining of where the SD card sticks out from the SD card slot. The card is not detected by computer or camera, and it has a lot of important (and sadly, not backed-up) footage. Is there any way to recover the footage?

The pins are completely untouched and the backside looks fine. The front side has an indent which causes a slight bend in the SD card.

Picture

I searched the internet quite a bit and found a lot of closely related but not identical issues to mine. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

  • Out of curiosity, what was the outcome? – dgatwood May 4 at 6:53
  • Unfortunately it was a low-budget project so I couldn't afford to try and send it in. I tried finagling the card but to no avail. Currently the SD card is still sitting and theoretically could still be fixed. It is holding a game's worth of UW football footage so maybe someday I'll fix it, but the footage wasn't useful after about a week after the card was damaged. – Matt Kelly May 5 at 22:34
38

Send it to a data-recovery company.

If you're lucky, the only damage is to the internal wiring of the card. A data-recovery company will be able to open up the card, pull out the memory chips, and read them directly using special equipment.

If you're not lucky, the bend cracked one or more chips. In that case, you probably won't be able to recover anything.

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    If you want to do it like this you should first think about how important this footage is for you because the data recovery from a professional recovery company is not cheap and will cost you a couple hundred Dollars from my experience. – LuZel Sep 17 '18 at 10:48
  • I's even worse than @LuZel says; such firms often charge a fair bit to return the card if you don't go ahead – Chris H Sep 17 '18 at 13:59
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    That's why you don't just send it off blind, but rather contact the company first. Any reputable company should be able to give you a quote immediately for initial investigation and possible return (or disposal) of the card; with that initial investigation out of the way, they will be in a much better position to tell you the cost for extracting the data. – a CVn Sep 17 '18 at 14:53
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    Here's a link with a teardown of a possibly similar card: goughlui.com/2015/05/23/… If the internal layout of OP's card is the same, the PCB is probably ruined and the chips may have broken off the pads, but they might individually be intact and recoverable. – R.. Sep 17 '18 at 17:27
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Since this is a full sized SD card, it is possible there is a MicroSD card inside the bigger package. If the inner card is not damaged, it may be extracted and read with suitable adapter.

Like on this photo:

microsd inside sd

Image source: https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1hr36f/sd_card_i_bought_whilst_in_vietnam_decides_to/

12

I think scottbb's answer is probably correct - but there's one other possibility that's worth checking, which might give similar symptoms.

I have an SD card that wasn't being recognised by some devices. Eventually, I tracked the problem down to the plastic dividers between the contacts.

They're pretty thin bits of plastic, and on my card, one of them had broken where the divider meets the leading edge of the card. Since the divider turns out only to be attached to the body of the card at the leading and trailing edge of the contacts, that basically let it hinge at the trailing edge - so if it hit anything while being inserted, it would swing across over one of the neighbouring contacts and prevent the card reader connection from reaching the contact.

If something like that's happened to your card, then carefully straightening (I tried this with mine and didn't have a high success rate) or removing the offending divider may let you access the card - otherwise, I suspect scottbb is right and the chip or an internal connection is broken.

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    I don't see any answer by scottbb. – David Richerby Sep 17 '18 at 12:36
  • Or: literally hardwire the damaged card to a microsd adapter (or even to a cheap card reader. Make the wires as short as possible!). – rackandboneman Sep 17 '18 at 20:19
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    @David Richerby - Don't know where scottbb's answer vanished to - It was the first answer I saw posted. Basically, he said that bending the card could have damaged the memory chip or broken some of the chip-to-contact pad connections. – JerryTheC Sep 18 '18 at 0:11
  • I don't think it's relevant to the OP, their card is clearly bent in the middle. – Dmitry Grigoryev Sep 18 '18 at 7:43
  • @JerryTheC OK, but you need to edit that into your answer, now. At the moment, your answer doesn't make a whole lot of sense because it depends on one that no longer exists. – David Richerby Sep 18 '18 at 7:49
6

If you want to get an idea of the probability and cost to recover your data, open up the card enclosure to see what's inside. It should look similar to this:

enter image description here

Typically, you have a flash controller chip on top (near the contacts), and memory chips below. The controller doesn't store anything and is typically discarded during recovery even if it still works.

Usually, the green circuit board breaks between the chips. If this is the case, chances to get your data are high: go to a repair shop and ask if they can extract the flash chips for you and read out the data. This shouldn't be too expensive, perhaps $200 or so.

If the flash chips are are missing some legs, it will probably still be possible to recover your data, but the price will increase significantly, because the recovery specialist will have to open up the chip case to get to the signals. This can easily cost $1000 or more.

If even one of the memory chips is cracked, and you can see the silicon die through the crack, don't expect to get your data back.

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