All data recovery companies, regardless of skill, unanimously say that if the memory chip of a device has just a hair line crack, data recovery is impossible. Not unlikely, not expensive, but impossible. One company even stated that even the FBI can't retrieve the data. Is this true?

Why is this? I find it hard to believe if just a tiny section of an extremely common chip has a tiny crack, all of the data is completely gone.

I would have thought someone talented person somewhere would be able to patch up the area of the chip and get some of the data back...

Is it something to do with the charge? I know flash memory uses transistors to store its ones and zeroes in the form of an electrical charge. If the chip is cracked, do the transistors "short-out", turning them all to zeroes, something like that? Is the data gone rather than irretrievable?


closed as off-topic by David Richerby, FrankW, Raphael Apr 13 '14 at 9:55

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The data may well still be there, the problem is that there is no (reasonable) way to get an electrical signal into or out of the data cells. When you crack a chip you are cracking wires. The minimum feature size in many chips made these days is around 20nm=200 Angstroms. I suppose that if you (a) had an electron microscope, (b) knew exactly how the manufacturer had laid out the chip (what every wire means, and what signals need to be sent where to get the data), and (c) had some kind of electron microscope based soldering iron or micro-manipulator with a tip just a few atoms wide, you could laboriously and painstakingly repair all those broken connections.

But, while data recovery companies (the super duper ones) might have electron microscopes, I doubt they have either (b) any access to the manufacturer's layout or (c) a micromanipulator that could actually be used to do the repair. Also, we're talking about potentially needing to repair thousands of connections, so even if someone were able to do it, they'd probably charge tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.


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