A while ago, I got a Patriot Xporter Xpress 64GB flash drive, and figured I'd use it to do some heavy lifting. I've been ripping audiobooks and DVDs on one of my computers, and figured I'd use the flash drive to move the final files (.mkv movies, made from the DVD rips) onto an external hard drive that was hooked up to another computer. However, a couple of days ago, while I was in the middle of moving all the movies onto the hard drive, the flash drive started spazzing out, saying it was plugged in, then it wasn't, then it was.
Since then, I can't get any of my Windows computers (either of those desktops, my netbook, my work desktop or my work laptop), which run either XP or 7, to properly recognize the drive. (It's formatted using exFAT, but all the computers with XP have the exFAT driver installed, so that's not the problem.) Either the computer won't recognize the drive at all, or it will recognize it and try to install the driver before failing to initialize it entirely.
What can I do to recover the data on the drive? I have a few live CDs with various flavors of Linux installed on them, so I can try that, but they won't do any good if it won't recognize the drive is plugged in at all. I have read plenty of reviews on Newegg about this particular brand of drive sucking ass (and Patriot responded to the reviews as well), but I don't know what I can do about it through their channels because I sent in the original UPC for a rebate and threw out all the rest of the documentation.
You wanted the best, you got... the Out of Context Quote of the Week.
"£8.70 for a measly 16 out of your average fag machine." (dMr)
It sounds like a hardware problem. I have a drive that showed the exact same symptoms. I cracked the case and have confirmed that there are some solder joints that are shot where the USB connector meets the PCB. My soldering skills are best described as "terrible" so I have not attempted to tackle repair myself, although many claim that if you're willing to sacrifice a usb cable it's fairly easy to do.
If you open yours up you might find the same thing. If you're out of warranty you have nothing to lose. If you don't solder and don't have any friends that solder, you could go with a recovery service, but it likely won't be cheap.
I would be really surprised if what you described is not a hardware problem. Best case scenario is that it's the problem I describe above. Worst case is that it's a capacitor or one of the flash chips.
There are programs you can use to try and retrieve the data, yes. Can't think of a name of one at the moment, but there are definitely free ones out there. Do a search for recover deleted files or something like that.