What happens when you receive or take custody of evidence that ends up being non-functional? Without the right tools and training, the answer might be nothing. Perhaps the owner purposely tried to damage the device or it is due to some internal malfunction. Either way, data on these devices can be of great evidentiary value that proves or disproves previously held conclusions. And while there are an ever-growing number of data recovery shops, their services can be costly and may introduce significant lag time to a case.
Whether it is due to budget or time constraints, it may be worthwhile to assess the situation yourself (after getting permission from the appropriate authorities, of course). When it comes to USBs, we will discuss a few methods we can use to extract data from the broken device. Please be aware the methods we will discuss involve using high heat to separate the memory chip from the USB logic board. It is possible to further, and even irreparably, damage the device this way. Practice, as always, is key.