Memory chip data recovery

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Valery Aloyants
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Have you destroyed your smartphone and don't know how to recover the data? Probably the only way is to use the chip off technique. Here are the details.

Article index:

  • What is the chip off technique
  • How it works
  • What machines are used
  • What are the risks and disadvantages of the chip off
  • How long does it take for recovery
  • Conclusions

 

 

What is the chip off technique

The latest generation mobile phones are turning into ever more powerful and resistant devices. In fact, the latest models feature a uni-body body that increases resistance, offering greater protection against any falls. However in some cases there is still the risk of being able to destroy the terminal without the possibility of recover the data inside. These situations can occur in catastrophic events, such as accidents, fires or others.



When the smartphone is unrecoverable, but it is necessary to extract the information inside it, you can use one advanced technique called chip off. This technique is used as a last resort, after trying the more classic and less invasive data recovery methods. The chip off solution can also be implemented for other devices, such as USB sticks, cameras, digital recorders, music players and tablets.

 

 

How it works

The advanced forensic investigation technique called chip off, consists in physically removing the memory chip contained inside the device. In the example of the smartphone, it is a question of identifying and unsoldering the chip containing the information with specific equipment. After the gentle removal, all the data is extracted from the chip thanks to special devices. This type of advanced technique is then performed in extreme cases, when the device is irreversibly damaged and there is no solution to remedy the damage.



When all other forensic analysis attempts fail, the last avenue is to chip off. Flash memories are now used in many commonly used devices. They are nothing more than solid state chips that store our data. For this reason it is possible remove the chips from the devices and attempt an advanced smartphone data recovery.

Below you can consult the various phases necessary to perform the chip off technique, in a simplified way:

1. The damaged terminal is carefully disassembled to locate the exact location of the memory chip.

2. The chip is then unsoldered using desoldering irons.

3. The chip is cleaned with chemicals, it is checked if it is in good condition to attempt data recovery.

4. The memory chip is connected to some machinery that allows you to read the information in the raw state contained within.

5. The raw data acquired is finally analyzed and a thorough forensic analysis is initiated to retrieve the information.

 

 

What machines are used

Il memory chip it is nothing more than an electronic component soldered onto a plate. In order to remove the chip from the device, it must be physically unsoldered with special tools. This is done with a desoldering iron, which can be of various types. For example, it is possible to use infrared light or hot air desoldering irons, depending on the difficulties encountered in the removal process.

Another machine used in the chip off technique is the e reader chip programmer. After removing it and cleaning it properly with chemical solvents, the chip is inserted into a particular device that allows you to read the data inside. Since the chips can have different sizes and a different pin arrangement, it is necessary to have adapters which allow you to easily insert it inside the reader. There are many varieties of chips on the market, from the oldest to the latest, so it is not easy to find compatible adapters.



The whole process we have seen so far requires high competence and industry experience, in order not to damage the memory chip.

 

 

What are the risks and disadvantages of the chip off

If the chip removal process is not performed by experienced and competent people, it can cause it permanent damage to the chip, losing all data within it. The most delicate phase is certainly the removal of the memory chip from the terminal, because it requires skilled skills to unsolder the component without destroying it. In fact the temperature reached by the desoldering iron can be very high, so you have to master it correctly in order not to take risks.


The chip off technique is more expensive of other forensic techniques, because it is necessary to employ a team of specialized people using sophisticated machinery. If this is the only way to attempt to recover important information on your device, this approach is definitely worth a try.

 

 

How long does it take for recovery

The whole chip off process certainly takes more time than the other techniques. After unsoldering the chip, the data acquisition and analysis phase may require a variable time, depending on the various difficulties encountered. If for example it is a chip of one smartphone and you want to recover SMS, contacts and calls, sometimes it is not always necessary to rebuild the file system. In this case the recovery can be performed directly from the raw data just acquired.


If on the other hand you want to recover much larger files, such as videos, images and documents, it is necessary rebuild the file system. In this case, the data recovery time is higher. Once rebuilt, you can access the memory of the device and use the classic forensic analysis software.

 

 

Memory Chip Data Recovery: Conclusions

As you may have guessed in this article, the chip off technique is the last road to go if you need to retrieve important files from a terminal. If you have a damaged smartphone, an unusable USB stick or other devices irrecoverable, you can contact us for advice on possible techniques to be adopted to restore your data.

After an accurate and in-depth analysis of the terminal, we can decide if use the chip off technique or a less invasive solution, depending on the condition of your device.

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