Microsoft Windows has been sending out updates which have created some problems for those cloning mass storage devices like USB flash drives and USB hard drives. This article should help you resolve those issues.
The Disk Signature is a unique ID Windows will assign to a device inside the Master Boot Record or MBR. The disk signature is 6 bytes long and sits in the first sector of the mass storage device. The disk signature becomes a problem for those cloning flash drives or hard drives with either a software utility or a large duplication equipment like a USB duplicator. The disk signature compounds itself if a multi-partition device is being cloned.
Many times a multi-partition device is created in Linux and at the time of create only one disk signature is assigned to the physical device. However, if multiple units of those copies are put in a Windows computer, Windows will try and assign a disk signature to each partition. This will cause a collision.
There are different situations one could have a disk signature collision, so this is only one example.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
USB 3.2, the most recent, shipping, standard sees a maximum transfer speed of 40Gb per second. USB4 will double that. Said another way, 80Gbps is equal to moving 10,000MB in one second. Said another way, that’s about 10GBs in one second.
Keep in mind, this is all theoretical, maxium speed. Real world applications will not get to this point. Never has, never will.
USB4 is built on Intel’s Thunderbolt technology. You know, the technology Apple tried to force everone to use back in 2012. The big change for USB is the interface. The Thunderbolt licensing setup is expensive and thus, we never saw low priced accessories to accommodate the technology. This is why Intel was always so interested in getting Thunderbolt to be the backbone for USB. It would gain in both speed and reduced price.
USB4 is also backwards compatible with USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3. Since the new standard merges both USB-C and Thunderbolt, we should start to see decreasing accessory price points that utilize faster speeds as USB4 gains popularity.
USB4 device manufacturers must also include USB Power Delivery technology, which regulates device charging. PD can quickly charge your phone or gaming laptop, sending the optimal amount of wattage for each device to charge quickly without damage.
Expect to see the first USB4 products hit the market as early as mid-2020.
Came across an article today, which I thought was a very good read. It’s a niche article, but for anyone who deals with flash drives, I would suggest checking it out.
From the article:
The optical drive is nearly dead – they are no longer found in laptops and rarely found in tower PCs. With that said, the trend for giving out data is shifting to USB flash, not CD or DVD media. Because of this shift, many companies are taking a closer look at buying a USB duplicator.
There are several factors one must consider before spending thousands of dollars on a USB duplicator. We have broken down the most important considerations into four categories. After reviewing these four categories, you should have an excellent idea of which type of duplicator is best for your organization.
USB Duplication Speed
Speed is the first area you should analyze to figure out which direction you should go. When considering speed, we are not simply talking about the copy speed of the USB duplicator, but other factors as well, such as number of USB sockets and the user interface required for feedback during operation. Questions you should ask, include:
# How many USB drives will you need to copy in a day or week?
# How large is the data load in MBs or GBs?
# What kind of turn-around time do you have between a duplication request and when that request should be completed?
# Is there printing, or branding required, on the outside of the USB?
# Do you need proof of performance via a log file?
Answering the above questions will give you an idea of what type of USB duplicator to consider. The type of duplicator will be size, how many USB sockets, copy speed of the duplicator and what type of software, if any, your organization will need.
Your Production Crew
Your next step is to consider the production crew who will be running the equipment. Will there be non-technical people running the equipment, or will a more hands-on approach be required? Is the IT department looking to restrict user access to the equipment or restrict access to the data content during the duplication process?
Much of the above depends on how the data is received before copied to the USB flash drive. For example, a duplication company might receive a physical master from a client; where-as a fulfillment house may get content delivered from a server from an on-line order submission process.
Will the organization require multiple USB duplicators located in different parts of the world? Said another way, many global companies standardize on one manufacturer so the user experience is the same across multiple locations. This also makes production easier as both support and experience can be shared between divisions to streamline processes on a global scale.
Knowing the production crew, their capabilities and responsibilities will help narrow the search for the right piece of equipment.
Read-Only or Read-Write
The third category worth investigating is asking the state of what the USB should be once sent delivered. Is the organization looking to ship out a read-only flash drive? By default all flash drives are read-write. Because of this, many organizations fear a virus could jump onto the drive and spreading to other computers. With that fear in mind, most companies are looking for a USB duplicator which creates a read-only drive product. This means the USB drive is locked, or write protected. The files cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive, and more importantly, files cannot jump onto the drive.
Nexcopy is world leader in read-only flash drive duplicators and therefore used as an example of a duplicator system worth considering.
The Gatling gun is one of the earliest known rapid-fire, hand cranked weapons. The Gatling design is a forerunner of the modern machine gun and rotary cannon. Invented by Richard Gatling, it saw occasional use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s.
Megan Kening at Etsy has taken this concept and made a steampunk USB flash drive. The Gatling gun USB has incredible detail, impressive color LED during operation and a rotating cannon when power up.
Megan’s collection includes the Gatling gun and a ball-point pen in a nice wooden case. Both devices are 100% hand made from a collection of materials that include copper, brass, glass tubing, USB and motorized engine with gears.
Mr. Kening has been mentioned before on GetUSB and his work continues to impress. With a near perfect, five star rating, we are confident to say any purchase from Megan is worth the money. Additional pictures after the break…
Satechi, a company based in San Diego California unveils a new USB hub for the 2018 iPad Pro.
Designed specifically for 2018 iPad Pro to conveniently access peripheral devices while on the go.
Featuring stunning 4K 30Hz HDMI display (2K 60Hz limitation for iPad Pro), USB-C PD 3.0 charging, USB 3.0 (up to 5 Gb/s) and 3.5mm headphone jack, all over a single USB-C connection. The USB 3.0 socket is the only USB port which transmits data, the USB-C socket sends only power. It’s worth noting the power features USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 charging, so it will deliver optimal power to the connected device while your iPad is churning through 4K video on some other application.
The hub is well designed an in-line with Apple’s design standards. This isn’t a chunking add on to your new iPad.
Satechi is offering the USB hub at $59 and you have the option of two colors while ordering: Silver or Space Grey.
It could be said the top five topics for CES 2018 were robots, driverless cars, virtual reality, internet of things and drones; however, we should keep our eye on less flashy topics like our beloved USB.
We learned at CES the USB Implementer Forum is looking at the capability to increase data transfer rates up to 40Gbits/second. Translated into a more common term, that is about 5,000 MB/second.
It was reported Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum, was said this is a real possibility and the wiring currently used, is capable of such speeds.
Those who favor Thunderbolt because itâ€™s speed capability will no longer have a debatable advantage over USB, because once this new specification is released the speed between USB 3.x and Thunderbolt would be the same, maxing out at 40Gbps.
Itâ€™s always nice to appreciate our past before looking into the future. With that said, here is a chart of the USB ports currently available:
While all pre-built desktops and laptops come with a hard drive, it’s not uncommon for users to look for a more mobile way to store their data rather than carrying their entire machine with them to all destinations. External hard drives have been the answer to this lack of mobility ever since the ingenuity of a floppy disk met with the carrying capacity of standard disk or optical memory and while many users have their needs met by existing externals, the paradigm of “bigger, faster, and cheaper” in the tech industry rings true as Seagate unveils the Innov8.
The Seagate Innov8 is first in its class in a variety of ways. Its 8TB capacity is something rarely seen in externals and the reason for this is transfer speed. External hard drives usually connect to a machine through a USB cable and with the standard transfer rates of USB 2.0 and even USB 3.0, uploading and accessing such a massive quantity of data was not feasible. Seagate has solved this by being the first and only pioneer to not only use USB Type-C connections to access data, but also for power needs. The Innov8 reduces the additional power cord required for external hard drives of this size by making it energy efficient enough that just one Type-C connector can power the device. Additionally, with the recent release of USB 3.1, an 8TB drive is no longer some overwhelming beast of a data load to sift through when armed with speeds up to 10Gbps.
With the single USB-C port of the new MacBook laptop we knew a power station and/or dock station was right behind. Here is a Kickstarter compaign to address the single port computer and connecting all your peripheral gadgets to your new computer.
The ultimate dock station will power and charge your system using USB’s new Power Delivery specification, while providing an additional alternate mode video output up to 4K resolution, gigabit Ethernet, audio input/output, and 4 USB ports. The tall slender design of the dock station packs a number of sockets to support any type of peripheral you need to connect.
In addition, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification supports a feature called “VESA Alternate Mode” which works with the built-in graphics processor on supported systems to provide video output at resolutions up to 4K. This is particularly important given the up-tick in TVs and monitors which are being released with a 4K specification. The other two display outputs in the Ultimate Dock are enabled by the DisplayLink DL-3900 graphics processor, which can support two additional 1080P displays at 60Hz. The DisplayLink driver is still in development, but the Kickstarter campaign claims the driver will have a final release by the time the dock station hits full production.
The Plugable Ultimate USB-C Universal Docking Station supports:
It is all over the internet, the universal USB connector; however, it is difficult to find the physical design or look of the connector.Â Most websites are posting old style 2.0 or 3.0 connectors.Â From reading through the USB.org documentation, we have the following physical design specs.
From the notes in the document, these designs could change, but at least we have an idea.