Can Data Be Recovered From A Damaged MicroSD Card?

Time to answer a reader question from my buddy Eric, who is in a bit of a dilemma after his MicroSD card flaked out on him:

Hey Stu,

I have a Micro SD card in my Blackberry that simply quit working. I’ve tried it in multiple computers and devices and none of them will read it. So even data recovery software is useless given that the card can’t be read. What’s weird is that the card looks perfectly fine physically and I didn’t drop it, etc. So, any suggestions, or am I effed? (I lost pics of my daughter and about 80 audios from!) Thanks Stu!

Don’t lose hope yet, Eric: there are a few things you can try. I can’t guarantee that any of them will work, but if the data does still exist on that MicroSD card, I have three ways you might be able to recover it.

Now, let me first say that all the methods I’m about to describe depend on Windows recognizing that the card is connected to the computer. I’m not sure if you meant “Windows sees the card and assigned it a drive letter, but it appears to be empty”, “Windows sees the card and made the usual sound when I connected it, but didn’t assign it a drive letter” or “Windows doesn’t even notice the card is plugged in” when you say that none of the computers you’ve tried will read it. Method #1 might help if it didn’t assign it a drive letter, but if not, you might be out of luck. Doesn’t hurt to give it a shot!

Windows 7 Troubleshooting Wizard

Though the built-in help and troubleshooting functions in earlier versions of Windows left a lot to be desired, the Windows 7 troubleshooting wizard is a huge leap forward in Windows being able to self-diagnose and fix problems with you having to do little more than say “There’s a problem, fix it.”

After plugging your MicroSD card into your card reader, try the following:

1)Go to the Start menu, then click on Control Panel and select Action Center. (You may need to change the view in the Control Panel to large icons or small icons if it’s set to display categories by default.)

2)Click on Troubleshooting, then select Hardware & Sound from the list of options that pop up.

3)Click on Hardware and Devices, then select the Advanced link in the next window. Make sure Apply Repairs Automatically is checked, then click Next.

4)After running, the wizard will have a report ready showing the problems it was and was not able to fix. Check and see if it was able to repair your MicroSD card and, if not, let’s try another method…


Yep, we’re going DOS on this one. Plug the MicroSD card into your reader, and do the following:

1)Go to the Start menu and open a Command Prompt. (In Windows 7, just type cmd into the text box on the Start menu and hit Enter.)

2)After checking My Computer/Computer to see which drive letter your MicroSD card was assigned, go to the command prompt and type chkdsk (drive letter): /r. (So if your MicroSD card was assigned to drive f:, the command will be chkdsk f: /r.)

3)Let the CHKDSK utility run to completion, and it will automatically recover any files it’s able to. If you’re still missing the items you want to recover, let’s move on to…

Recovery Programs

If both of the Windows-based methods fail to recover your data, the only other option I know of is to try a data recovery program from the internet. There are a ton out there and I’m really not too familiar with most of them, but one that comes highly recommended by a couple of people I trust is one called ZAR (Zero Assumption Recovery). They have a pay version, but I’m told the free version ought to be okay for what you’re looking to do. You can download ZAR here, and here are the steps you would take to try and recover your missing data with ZAR:

1)After connecting your MicroSD card to your card reader, launch ZAR and select Image Recovery (Free).

2)ZAR will search your system for storage media. Once it’s finished, select your MicroSD card and click Next.

3)ZAR will take a few minutes to scan your MicroSD card, and then it will show a list of files it’s able to recover. Click the “root” checkbox to select everything, then click Next.

4)It will prompt you to select a folder into which recovered files will be placed. Select the root folder again and click Next.

5)When you’re prompted for a location to save the recovered files, make sure you choose a folder on your computer and not back onto the damaged MicroSD card.

6)Once it’s done running, go to the folder on your computer and see what ZAR was able to turn up for you.

I can’t personally vouch for how well or poorly ZAR or any other data recovery program will work, but they’re really all you can do if the Windows 7 troubleshooting wizard and CHKDSK don’t help. Good luck, and I hope you get your stuff back!

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Researchers Discover Major Vulnerabilities In Popular Password Managers

A few months back, I posted a blog talking about how adamantly against the idea of password managers I am. I said that password managers are a huge security risk because you’re putting all your passwords to everything in a single location that might as well have a neon sign on it that says “KEYS TO EVERYTHING HERE”. I got a lot of responses from people who said I was being too uptight and gave me all kinds of reasons why they’re perfectly safe to use, but recent findings from a team of researchers back up what I initially said: password managers are a prime target for attackers, and it was just a matter of time before someone found a way to exploit them.

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Real Life vs Online Life: Why Outdated Laws Need To Be Redefined

While many have begun looking internationally for services where their data will be safe from US government surveillance in the wake of the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal of 2013, the US government has drawn a big line in the sand by saying that companies doing business in the United States must comply with requests for data even if it’s stored on servers outside the United States. This interpretation of the law was used when the US Justice Department recently ordered Microsoft to hand over emails stored on servers in Ireland, and is becoming increasingly typical of issues concerning the chronically grey area of online law enforcement.

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How To Get Removed From Google Maps

While a lot of people find it extremely handy that Google has sent cars around to map nearly the entire United States (and many other places) down to the street level, others aren’t exactly comfortable with the idea of absolutely anybody being able to not only find their address online fairly easily, but also use Google Maps to see what their house actually looks like. Aside from just being able to see the house, there’s also concerns about what else Google might have picked up while driving around: children playing outside, license plate numbers, or any of a number of other potential privacy issues.

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Why Doesn’t Streaming Video Work As Well As Cable TV?

People stream a lot of video these days, and whether it’s Youtube, episodes of Dancing With The Stars from ABC’s website, Netflix, or a variety of other sources, streaming video has become so accessible to the average person that a lot of people are starting to cancel their cable TV service and just stream everything they watch.

However, the more time people spend watching streaming video, the more they notice increasingly common technical issues. Have you ever been watching a perfectly clear video that suddenly becomes so blocky that the people look like they’re made of Legos? Or been watching coverage of a major news story or a big sports game, and the video stops every ten seconds while a message pops up on screen to inform you that the video is buffering? Or worst of all, have you ever gotten the dreaded “I’m sorry, this video is not available at this time” message?

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The Heartbleed Security Flaw: How To Protect Yourself

As many of you may have heard, a major Internet security flaw called Heartbleed has recently been discovered, though it has been around for a couple of years. It affects about two thirds of Internet web servers and compromises the security that protects your data, passwords and interactions. Many of the Internet services you use both personally and professionally may have been compromised. The nature of this flaw is such that it can be accurately detected if a site is vulnerable, but not whether cybercriminals have actually exploited the flaw to breach the site’s security.

Because of this, you can expect to receive notices for many of your Internet accounts to reset your password as a precautionary measure. It is important that you consider the following guidelines:

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Reader Question: Why Can’t I Bring My Own Wireless Router To Work?

Time to dip back into the reader mail! Today’s question comes from Tim P., who had some questions about his recent attempt at BYOD:

“I have a question for you: at my job, me and the other people in my group spend a lot of time going back and forth between each other’s offices, and since the company gave us all laptops, we thought it would make our lives easier if we bought a wireless router so we can take our laptops with us whenever we need to move around. The IT department found out what we did and made us stop using it. I’m not gonna lie, we tried to use it anyway once after they left for the day but they somehow blocked it and it wouldn’t work even when we plugged it into other outlets that we know work.

So I have to know, how did they figure out we were using it (nobody knew we had it except us), how did they block it, and why is it such a big deal?”

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Reader Question: What Is Virtualization And Why Should We Be Impressed?

Today’s blog is in response to a reader question from Greg H., who wrote in to ask about virtualization. He hears the tech guys at work talking about all kinds of virtual machines and virtual servers, but feels out of the loop because he doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. So for Greg and everyone else, here’s the skinny on virtualization.

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Comcast Customers Are Now Running Public WiFi Hotspots, But Get Something In Return

If you’re a Comcast customer, you may not be aware of a pretty awesome new service they recently, and quietly, began rolling out to their customers. The newest wireless routers they’ve been issuing since the middle of 2013 not only provide internet service to the customer’s home, but also act as a public WiFi hotspot to other Comcast customers in the vicinity.

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