The best thing you can do for any flash drive is to unplug it from your computer when it’s not in use. Flash drives fail because reading and writing data from them wears out the inside the memory chips. Some programs and even windows itself will sometimes send a signal over and over at a given interval to re-check the amount of space available on it, check if the drive requires compression, check to see if the drive is even still plugged in and writeable, etc. All that extra read and write activity can shorten the life of your drive significantly. If you run applications straight off the drive, the drive does nothing but read data the entire time and die soon; If you keep the flash drive near any sources of electromagnetic radiation or any other type of radiation really such as your speakers, a CRT monitor or TV, wireless and cell phones, or power strips, the drive can die soon too.

Flash memory devices are very vulnerable to all sorts of environmental influence. Water, humidity, dust, extreme temperatures could be fatal.

Heat – This is by far the most common cause of damage to a camera card. The inside of digital units can get very warm when operating for several hours (some in only a few minutes), and flash media generally is very susceptible to changes in heat. Cameras don’t usually cause that problem, but computer slots which read information off of camera cards certainly can.

Leaving a card out in an area where it could get extremely hot or cold is also a danger; if the electronics which the card uses to communicate with your camera (or computer) fail, then you’re pretty much out of luck–you’ll have to have a data recovery company pull the data out of the camera card, or scrap it. To avoid problems with temperature, use your camera card moderately, only leave it in your computer’s card reader when you need to access information, and keep it at room temperature the rest of the time.

Except above causes, quality of the flash drives themselves is important too. Cheaper manufacturers tend to use low quality, cheaper parts that cause the drive to fail far sooner. The best brand seems to be Sandisk and PNY, Corsair, and Kingston aren’t too bad either.

If you are getting some error messages such as, “card is corrupt,” “please reformat card,” or if the card is showing up empty when you know there should be some pictures or other information on there, you may be able to retrieve your data. Let the card sit for at least two days. It could have something to do with heat or dust contamination. If this doesn’t work, then prepare your drive with the data recovery company or you can find some flash data recovery software or flash data recovery tools, up to your own specific situation.