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Home Office Tools – Home Office USB Duplicator

Today, like never before, individuals are working from the home office. Working in an favorable situation is decent and beneficial and I think this is why so many love the home office. As favorable as things may be; now and again the home office doesn’t have a computer gear to carry out the responsibilities required. With numerous business now practicing social distancing, one will discover certain things are still needed.

Consider the niche requirement to make USB duplicates at the home office. For instance, let us consider an IT director who needs to turn out bootable restore recover sticks, or a product engineer who is required to send programming updates to a group of remote office sales guys. These managers need a snappy, simple and econimical bit of gear to do the job.

The smaller USB flash drive duplicator by Nexcopy is an incredible solution for this definite issue. The unit measurings is 15cm long and 10cm wide. So it will fit into any computer bag, and light as a book.

Nexcopy USB Dupliclator

The USB duplicator is a one-master to four-target copy station. The duplicator is a digital binary copier which duplicates any file system or structure provided by the master host flash drive. Using a USB cable the duplicator can power the five USB flash drives; however, is not recommended for using with USB hard drives.

With a duplicator like this, making duplicates at the home office is speedy and extremely simple. There are four menu buttons, enter, escape, up and down. The unit will work at the press of a single button, which makes this unit ideal for non technical people. The mini duplicator may be configured to perform a binary copy or a binary copy and compare. The copy and compare function gives the user piece of mind that each copy is exactly the same as the master. Having a verification option will insure every copy is the same as the master, giving the user piece of mind all the copies are 100% correct and exact.

Reviewing the features of the duplicator, we have note worthy features:
  • Asynchronous copy mode, all the time
  • Binary copier will copy any format; FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, Ext2,3,4, Proprietary
  • Binary CRC verification algorithm
  • Quick Erase and Full Erase for disk sanitization
  • Four language modes in LCD menu
  • USB speed benchmark utility
  • Firmware upgradeable

Is the cost of the mini sized USB duplicator worth the cost for a home office employee? The easiest way to determine this is asking ourselves how much time the duplicator will save. This mini copy station, called the Nexcopy USB104SA will copy one GB of data to each device in just over one minute. That is extremely fast. If an IT manager or software engineer had to data load a 12 GB worth of data on a PC, it would take about 12 minutes to make four copies. Windows could never copy that much data, that quickly. When using the copy and compare mode it takes a bit longer… about 1.5 minutes per GB. So still incredibly quick.

Several features are worth mentioning in a bit more detail. The Erase function is a technical term to remove all data from the USB flash drive. This is a robust feature which guarantees data is removed from the flash drive with no ability of the data being recovered. Formatting a drive doesn’t clean data from the drive, the format function only destroys the file allocation table (the directions to find data), but erase will actually overwrite random binary data over the data blocks. There are two erase settings available on this little USB104SA, and the quick erase will scrub certain portions of the drive so some data could remain, but most likely the files would be corrupted if trying to be recovered because the random write sequence skips around the drive and over writting just bits of memory. The full erase function will write binary randomly zeros and ones to all the NAND memory of the flash drive. By doing this randomization, it would be impossible for sophisticated forensics recovery software to restore any data.

The four language modes include English, Spanish, Portuguese and Simplified Chinese.

The USB benchmark speed is a great a convenient tool for testing the read speeds and write speeds of a thumb drive. This is even more valuable when dealing with promotional quality media, as this low-end memory is very instable and can get frustrating to deal with. The easiest way to determine the quality of memory is looking at the write speed. With the benchmark utility one can test the read and write speed of a drive. The USB duplicator will write about 20MBs of random data to determine the average read and write speed. If the USB memory has a write speed of 4MB/second or lower, it’s not good quality. If the write speed is above 8MB/second for USB 2.0 media and above 20MB/second write speed for USB 3.0 media, it is of better quality memory.

The duplicator uses the CRC verification protocol. We did a previous article on Cyclical Redundancy Checking and a great read.

The USB duplicator made by Nexcopy is a backward compatible product and will copy to USB 1.0, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives. The duplicator will write to the device as fast as it will allow. The best write times will result from the operator using USB 3.0 media.

Source: GetUSB.info

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Inexpensive iPhone Charging Cable – and Smart

Are you looking for an inexpensive iPhone cable? This is a common search on Google because those cables go missing, get taken by your kids or co-workers, or possible break. It is as-though we need an endless supply of them. I don’t recall the last cable I had which lasted more than four months. There is an article out there, somewhere, that claims for each iPhone made, the user will need at least three cables for charging it. The link to that article escapes me, but I do believe it speaks the truth. From personal experience there is one needed for the car to charge while driving. One needed at work to charge while working, need that TV back-ground noise {wink}, and one needed at home for charging overnight.

iPhone cables or lightening cables are expensive. Go to Amazon and you will find a decent six foot cable costing nearly $20. Couple that cost with our observation about needing three cables, we are now looking at a $60 dollar expense. No thanks! We want an inexpensive iPhone charging cable.

This cable problem actually gets worse, not better, here is why:

You need microUSB cables to charge your portable battery packs. Okay, so we have our three cables for charging an iPhone. The work one, the car one and the home one. Of course we all have portable batteries to charge our phone, when away from said places. How do you charge those portable batteries? With a microUSB cable. At least those are cheaper than an iPhone lightening cable. Never-the-less it’s still another corded cable.

We all need the portable battery for charging – don’t think otherwise! Kids baseball game could stretch to three hours. Girls softball games are usually 1.4 hours and a couple per day. A golf round with your friends, typically 4.5 hours. The point, many times we find ourselves away from the car, home and work place and have the need for charging.

How do we solve this problem of finding an inexpensive iPhone charging cable? The answer is with a combination of products. The combination will not only charge your iPhone, but also charge the portable battery packs.

Going to Amazon you can find a pack of five microUSB cables for under $10. Be sure to check the length you want. It is easy to make the mistake of buying a shorter cable because the price is a bit lower, only to find out the length is too short.

The other item you need is a microUSB to Lightening adapter. This are little adapters that sit at the end of your microUSB connector and transfor the connection to a Lightening connection for your iPhone. A pack of four can be found on Amazon for less than $10.

Its important to note, these adapters only supply power to your iPhone. The adapters do not allow data transmission to your iPhone. Which is fine, when is the last time you connected your iPhone to the computer anyway for sync’ing? It’s all done wirelessly.

So with our $20 you just spent at Amazone you have three Lightening cables to charge your iPhone and you have three microUSB cables to charge your portable power pack. This is a very inexpensive iPhone charge cable solution. It would amaze me on why anyone would purchase something different, don’t you?

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USB WiFi Smart Adapter – But Why?

Given USB is everywhere, this guy gives you the ability to control the on and off power of a USB powered device.

I think for most people, there is no real difference between a WiFi outlet and the WiFi USB adapter. The only difference would be if you want to control the power of a USB gadget which is being powered from your computer. If it’s anything else, as for the power source, it will be a wall outlet.

Can you plug in your Alexa via USB? No. Can you plug in your Google Home via USB? No. Can you plug in your lamps in our family room or living room via USB? No. Can you plug in your bluetooth speaker to charge vai USB? Yes, but who cares about controlling the power of that? Can you plug in your phone via USB to charge it? Yes, but who cares, you want that thing to charge to it’s full capacity anyway. Oh wait, unless you are a super nerd, like these guys (read the comments section).

For the $6.50 that Sonoff is planning to charge you, I would put my money towards a more usable product, like the Smart Life WiFi outlets.

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Change USB Connection Sound, #Easy

We all spend so much time on our computer, its worth customizing sounds and events we experience while using the computer. Today, we will cover the topic of changing the USB sound when a USB device is connected. You can really have some fun with this, especially if you consider some of the USB jokes mention before, and how those jokes could apply when a USB is shoved into a USB port.

While your mind wonders, I’ll move along to the tutorial part of this post:

In the search field, type in Control Panel and select the Control Panel.

From with in the Control Panel click Hardware and Sound

From the Sounds category, select Change system sounds

The window will pop up on the “Sound” tab and you’ll need to scroll down through the list of “Program Events” to find Device Connect and you will click on that time to highlight it.

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USB Vacuum For Holiday Season

For most, the middle of November is when you start thinking about Christmas and the holiday season. With that in mind, if you have an office gift exchange, this USB vacuum could make your short list, if you draw the office IT person as your secret Santa.

What tipped my memory about seeing this USB vacuum several years ago, is a commercial during Sunday night football. Yup, someone actually worked this USB gadget into a prime time commercial. First image is from the commercial, second image is the link to get the USB vacuum from Amazon (or equivalent).

Before you get your hopes up the USB vacuum actually works, it doesn’t. The thing will make a vacuum noise, but doesn’t suck anything up.

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USB-C to Lightening Cable, Unique Combo For Sure

We really don’t like reporting about cables. It’s boring. But this post is going into publication for two reasons: 1) The model used to show off the product is a complimentary image {wink} and 2) It’s actually a unique feature combination for a USB cable.

Hyper has a new USB-C to Lightning cable that makes it convenient to keep the cable near by and doubles as a cleaver key-chain holder. The new HyperDrive Cable series includes Key-chain, Lanyard, and Tough. All of the cables are MFi certified (Made For iPhone/iPad devices) and make use of bulletproof ballistic nylon for high durability and longevity.

The cable length is 3.3 feet, or 1 meter.

Made of TOUGH 2m material by Hyper. This is material that can withstand 70kg of tension before something bad happens.

The key-chain has made of aluminum and screws into the capsule like casing which also doubles as the housing for the ends of the USB-C and Lightening connections.

They Hyper cable starts out at $27.99 USD at the time of this post.

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How To Format a Flash Drive as UDF (Windows 7 & 10 Solution)

When trying to format a flash drive in Windows (7 or 10) you will see the file system options best suited for the device. The proper file systems for a flash drive would be: FAT, FAT32 or exFAT. Windows will also list NTFS for a flash drive, but not the best for a USB stick, as mentioned before. The file system types listed by the Windows GUI (Graphical User Interface) will depend on the GB capacity of the flash drive connected.

So why no UDF file system on the list?

First, let me say it IS possible for Windows to format a flash drive as UDF (Universal Disk Format). Microsoft just doesn’t want you to do it; and there are good reasons why.

Before the reasons given for not using UDF as a format on flash drives, let’s clear one thing up: If you think formatting a flash drive as UDF will make the thumb drive appear as an optical drive in the computer – you are mistaken!

From the Wikipedia page about Universal Disk Format, UDF, the specification is governed by the Optical Storage Technology Association and because of that, many believe a UDF anything will work like a disc. It, UDF, is most widely used for DVDs and newer optical disc formats, can be used on flash drives, but does make it operate like one.

If we take out the hope of formatting a USB with a UDF file system, some may feel the Universal Disk Format means the flash drive will work in anything, such as from Windows, to Mac, to Linux, Symbian and/or to proprietary system. The truth here is exFAT will do just the same. Please keep that in mind.

So why not format a USB as UDF in Windows? Here is a list:

  • The lack of fully-functional filesystem check tools.
  • 64GB limit with Windows & Linux, a bug, not a limit of UDF
  • SD and USB mass storage devices are exposed to quick wear-leveling failure
  • UDF is read-only for Windows XP

Without bogging down this post with ultra-technical information, from the above list, the most important to consider is the first, lack of filesystem check tools.

This means if the USB is pulled out while in operation and a bit is affected by the action, there are no tools to check the file system for errors. You are flying the dark as to why the USB no longer works and there are no tools available to help you figure it out. Given the flash drive was specifically designed to be portable and quick access, the above action is most certainly going to happen sooner or later, which makes UDF a high risk file system.

How to format a flash drive as UDF:

Connect the USB to your computer and note the assigned drive letter

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Does Erasing Flash Memory Shorten It’s Life?

Yes. Performing an Erase or “full format” shortens the life of the device. The erase function is also very slow.

Here are some additional questions based on the answer above which we will address in today’s post:

Is “erase” and “format” the same thing?

Erasing flash memory (a.k.a. Setting all bits to 0, also called a “full format” by Windows) does more damage. Flash memory has a limited number of times that it can be written, and the more you write to it, the more it degrades. With an erase function, you’re writing to the entire device.

With a format, all that’s happening is changing a few bits at the front of the device to say the rest of the memory space on the flash drive is available to be overwritten. This saves the life of the flash memory because the old data is not being overwritten, just flagged to do it at a later time.

Why would you need to erase a drive?

Since a format is changing just a few bits at the front of the device, it means all the data is still on the drive. The few bits we are talking about which are changed, is related to the file allocation table. The changed bits in the file allocation table, mean there are no longer instructions about the location of the digital files. Recovery software can scan the memory space and retrieve those files even though the file allocation table isn’t giving instructions on where they are located.

Think of the file allocation table as the table of contents of a book. If you tear out the table of contents of a book, but all the pages of the story are still there, it’s the same concept as formatting a device. Sure you can scan the pages to find chapter 12 with the part about Paul getting a bucket of water, it’s just hard. Same thing with formatting a drive, you can use recovery scanning software to find the files, but it’s hard. Coming back to the original question, why would someone want to erase a USB flash drive? One possible reason could be a security risk of some kind and the operator wants to insure no data is on the drive. For example, you are donating a flash drive and you had financial or medical records on the drive. By performing an erase, that data cannot be recovered.

Why does an erase take longer?

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Remote access to USB security keys

If you are an avid user of USB security dongles, you might know how challenging it may be to get remote access to these devices. To simplify this task, Electronic Team, Inc. has developed a dedicated software solution capable of sharing USB protection dongles over the network.

Donglify is a lightweight desktop application that allows connecting USB hardware keys to remote computers over the Internet and LAN. The software uses the 2048-bit SSL encryption to secure your connections, so you don’t need to worry that your sensitive data will be intercepted or lost.

One of the nicest things about Donglify is that it can redirect one USB dongle to several remote PCs simultaneously. In order to make a USB hardware key available for use on multiple computers, you can just connect the device to your local PC and share it over the network with nothing more than a couple of clicks. This option, currently, works with HASP HL Pro, Sentinel HL Pro, SafeNet eToken 5110, and CodeMeter CmStick security keys.

USB hardware keys of other types can also be shared over the Internet but you’ll be able to access them from one remote machine at a time.

Donglify is available by subscription and comes with a 30-day free trial. When the trial period is over, you can continue using the service for $19.99 a month.

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New mini Size USB Duplicator from Nexcopy

LAKE FOREST, CA, USA, November 20, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ — Lake Forest, CA – November 20, 2019 – Nexcopy Inc., introduces all new mini size USB duplicator, the USB104SA, a 4 target standalone USB flash memory Duplicator specifically design to be light weight and portable.

The USB104SA USB Duplicator has a list of features which pivot from the larger, award winning, Nexcopy standalone duplicators. Features include:

  • Asynchronous copy mode, all the time
  • Binary copier will copy any format; FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, Ext2,3,4, Proprietary
  • Binary CRC verification algorithm
  • Quick Erase and Ful Erase for disk sanitization
  • Four language modes in LCD menu
  • USB speed benchmark utility
  • Firmware upgradeable

“With the lack of optical drives in computers and laptop, the USB stick continues to grow in popularity,” reports Greg Morris, President of Nexcopy. “What we have seen is a demand for both small configuration systems for those transitioning from optical media to USB media and large production systems which we’ve serviced for years. The USB104SA is a great stepping stone for those coming from the optical duplication industry.”

Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “What we have seen, are small organizations and business requesting something low cost and low volume for data duplication. Our main focus is still business-to-business, but the growing demand for low volume duplication equipment justified the development of a product like the USB104SA.”

The USB104SA is a portable solution and ideal for trade shows or spoken word events. The unit weighs less than one pound and with a foot print of about six inches by one inch tall. The unit can easily fit into your computer bag, which is ideal for carry-on luggage at the airport.

The USB duplicator is powered by a microUSB cable which can be connected to your computer laptop USB port. A USB block is also provided for powering from an outlet.

Nexcopy firmware is a code technology which has evolved since 2008. This system is backward compatible with USB 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 flash memory. The system will accept SD card reader adapters, microSD and CF card reader adapters. The firmware may be used to speed test flash memory which is a great tool for understanding the quality of flash memory a supplier has provided.

EIN PressWire official news release

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Power Over Ethernet to USB-C From Far Away

USB-C is great. Ultra fast data transfer rates close to 10Gbps and increased power to charge laptops, monitors and TVs. However; the power improvement from USB-C doesn’t last over longer cables. The USB-C (or USB 3) specification indicates the optical power and transfer rates will retain as long as the cable length is under two meters, or about six feet.

POE or Power over Ethernet, is a way to get both data and power to longer destinations via cable. PoE Texas has unveiled such a product for USB-C connections.

“As a standard USB-C offers amazing speed and power delivery. Unfortunately, USB-C can only transmit power less than ten feet (three meters), and the cable infrastructure comes at a cost premium. Ethernet cable, nearly ubiquitous in modern construction, can transmit power and data 328 feet (100 meters). USB-C power and data transmitted over Power Over Ethernet significantly lowers the cost of adopting USB-C by eliminating the need for new electrical infrastructure.”

Let’s give an example of how the PoE USB-C product could work – the following is a real life example from our own experience:

A user has a work station about 30 feet away from the production unit it needs to communicate with. The production unit is a USB-C duplicator by Nexcopy. The work station has a manager who controls the data to be loaded to USB-C flash drives, and the production unit, or USB duplicator, is manned by a production manager who physically connects and disconnects the USB sticks during the duplication process.

Because a standard USB-C cable cannot be used, as the distance is too far, the User could employ the USBC Power Over Ethernet product and get both the power and data to the destination.

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How USB Cables Affect Charging – Simple Test

I came across an interesting article today from Dr Gough, a tech nerd. and thought it good enough to summarize here:

The USB specifications for power from a port vary from 100mA to 1.5A and up to 100W of power for USB Type C, but the cables and connectors used in a cable might not align with the power specifications of the product being designed and used. Cables are typically rated for about 1.8A of current, which is most common for cables used for charging.

usb cable

The 1.8A rating is based on safety limits for resistive heating of the cable and connectors. The rating is no guarantee your +5V at 1.5A setup will get you the maximum level of power. The important point here, the cable and connector combination is simply a rating to deal with heat, and ensures nothing melts. Going a step further, most specs ensure nothing gets noticeably warm to the human touch.

Every wire that’s not a superconductor has some finite resistance. Said another way, resistance is transferred into heat. Ohm’s law tells says that E = IR, where E is voltage, I is current, and R is resistance. So when you put power through a wire, the current X resistance gives me the voltage that will be “consumed” across that wire, power that turns into heat, and thus, never makes it to your phone.

I want to end this blog post with the above paragraph as that is the real takeaway here. The more inefficient (or cheap) a cable is, the warmer it will get. So if your iPhone cable is warm to the touch, it sucks. If your wire charging your power bank is warm, it sucks. Get a better cable. From what I can tell, there is no rating posted on all these cables you see on Amazon at cheap prices, so word to the wise using your tactile feel!

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