I was wondering if it is possible to recovery data that was stored in a Baby-G watch (BG-162) which had no battery in it for two years or longer? No current was flowing through it, I lost it's joint ring and left it that way. Is the data lost? I had some phone numbers in it.


closed as off topic by Olin Lathrop, Anindo Ghosh, Leon Heller, Phil Frost, Dave Tweed Feb 4 '13 at 15:16

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    \$\begingroup\$ This would depend if it used a battery backed volatile static ram in micropower retention mode, or an actual non-volatile storage mechanism such as eeprom or flash. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Feb 4 '13 at 15:09

Some forms of non-volatile memory, such as Flash memory, can easily survive not being powered for a few years. It is likely that the device in question uses a microcontroller and stores its data in either an external Flash memory IC, or Flash or EEPROM within the microcontroller. While the specific microcontroller used or architectural decisions applied are not known, some examples will be indicative:

  • The Atmel ATmega328 datasheet mentions Data retention: 20 years at 85°C/100 years at 25°C
  • The Texas Instruments MSP430 microcontroller is rated for 32.652 years of data retention at 40°C

Thus, there is a fair chance that the data in your device has survived.

The challenge however will be retrieval of that data. If the idea is to switch it on and copy the data, note that the device may not power on at all, since other components of the device may have failed over time.

As suggested by Gustavo Litovsky in comments, if you find that the device does not start up after providing it power, open up the device to examine if it contains a discrete-component circuit board, or some all-in-one highly integrated IC. Often, such devices will have their "brains" as a single microcontroller in a chip-scale package, directly mounted on the board and protected with a blob of epoxy or some sort of potting substance. In such case, there is not much that can be done to recover the data.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What else can you think of for data recovery? Thanks very much for the detailed information. \$\endgroup\$ – panny Feb 4 '13 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ For a proprietary device with no publicly available design documentation, there isn't much one can think of other than powering it up and hoping for the best. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Feb 4 '13 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Open up the device and try and figure out what the major devices are. See if any of them are some nonvolatile storage. \$\endgroup\$ – Gustavo Litovsky Feb 4 '13 at 17:31

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