We opened up the case of a USB stick (that didn't work before we opened it) and it looks like this:

Image One

Image Two

Has the memory been taken out of it or do some USB sticks actually look like this? Note that it was probably cheaply-produced.

  • 16
    Did the pendrive work?
    – kinokijuf
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:18
  • 2
    @kinokijuf No. Person in question says that their work was on it. Now it's gone. We get unrecognized errors when we plug it in.
    – Wayne
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:20
  • 3
    Out of curiosity, how big is the drive? Dec 17, 2014 at 14:50
  • 1
    @DavidGrinberg We weren't actually told that. Doesn't seem to be visible on the casing either.
    – Wayne
    Dec 17, 2014 at 19:39
  • 3
    I agree with Blackbeagle's answer below, but you may want to use a utility like TestDisk to try to recover the data. I have used it several times to restore data from corrupt flash drives and SD cards (or to verify that they were truly good and dead).
    – techturtle
    Dec 17, 2014 at 22:41

4 Answers 4


It's possible for it to be good. I have micro size USB flash drives where everything is inside the silver connector portion. The ribbon would only be for the LED.

  • 5
    I second this. Nowadays small storage USB drives can be produced small enough to be no bigger than the USB-plug itself + some plastic casing the be able to pull the drive out. The dots on the ribbon probably are small LEDs lighting up when you transfer data. If the drive still works (or you have a second one), transfer some data onto/from it and see whether you see some light (probably flashing).
    – BlueCacti
    Dec 17, 2014 at 23:01
  • 18
    Consider: The dimensions of the metal plug of a USB A connector are 4.5 x 12 x 15-19 mm. The dimensions of the entirety of a micro SD card are 1 x 11 x 15 mm. Chips have gotten really really tiny.
    – Foo Bar
    Dec 18, 2014 at 2:14
  • 4
    Notice that the ribbon cable only has two traces, and there is in fact an LED soldered to the end. There's no hint of anything else having ever been connected, so it's quite safe to assume everything else fits inside the connector. Dec 18, 2014 at 19:35

This is what it actually looks like.

We managed to get a hold of another USB stick (same type, same brand - owned by somebody else). Opened it up and it looked the exact same as the one shown in the pictures above.

  • 6
    You should add this to your original question.
    – Icode4food
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:06
  • 14
    @Icode4food This seems more like a self answer to me, not an edit to the question(and a bad one at that).
    – kurast
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:19
  • 7
    @kurast My apologies. Didn't have much time to write the answer. Knew that there was some interest in it. Didn't want to be one of "those guys" that says he'll report back but never does.
    – Wayne
    Dec 19, 2014 at 8:01

Well the pictures aren't 100% clear but it could be that all the electronics fit inside the USB plug.

If the drive works ok in your computer this is the case.

If you are adventurous you could try to open the metal casing of the USB plug. Warning this could destroy your drive (so backup data first).


One would actually have to check both halves of the caseing, but just from looking at the picture this half of the case does not appear to be designed to hold more than it currently does.

As such it at least appears unlikely that something has been taken out.

If the person had their work on it it is probably a real USB.

  • 9
    Almost all USB 2.0 drives <=32GiB I bought recently are very small. The casing is mostly just for better handling, not losing them. The attachment could be for an LED most likely. It could also be an advanced spy device and it is the antenna, but I doubt it in this case. It could be helpful to plug it in a Linux PC and check dmesg
    – Josef
    Dec 17, 2014 at 17:12
  • 1
    Notice also the wear on the contacts. It does look like this device has seen usage, i.e. was once a working device (that as you note, has not had pieces removed).
    – dotancohen
    Dec 17, 2014 at 19:13

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