Flash drives are mini computers with their own operating system called firmware. If the firmware is corrupt or unable to load because of an issue with the flash memory chip, the flash drive will boot into safe mode. When a SanDisk flash drive first boots up, it queries the flash memory chip for its ID. Think of it like asking “are you okay?” if the flash memory chip responds it continues loading the firmware if not it boots into safe mode.
In safe mode the drive is seen in device manager as a “SanDisk Firebird USB Device” and Disk Manager as a 64 MB RAW Healthy (Primary Partition). You’ll also get an error message saying “You need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it.” and “The volume does not contain a recognized file system please make sure all the required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted.” The flash drive is representing itself as a working 64 MB read only flash drive but the data is filled with zero’s. When the operating system tries to mount the SanDisk flash drive it thinks the drive is uninitialized, not that it’s in safe mode which is why you get those errors.
Your data is still stored in the memory chip. Recovering the data may involve removing the flash memory chip and reading using a special tool or locating the point of failure, typically a bad solder joint, on the flash memory chip and repairing it. If you need your data recovered we’re more than happy to help, fill out the form below to get started.