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Question: Format a Flash Drive as exFAT or NTFS?

Most of the time formatting a flash drive is a very simple decision. There are only two situations where you should take consideration on what format to use. Here are the details:

Note: This article is focused towards Windows and Mac operating systems.

The file formats available for a flash drive are:

  • FAT (also called FAT16)
  • FAT32
  • exFAT
  • NTFS
  • HFS (Mac only)

Flash drive manufacturers format a drive as either FAT or FAT32. Any device of 2GBs or smaller will be formatted as FAT and any USB over 2GBs will be formatted as FAT32.

exFAT, USB

These two formats are the best file system for removable drives like flash drives because they support the quick disconnect function and chances are very slim you will destroy the device or files if you unplug the USB without using the Eject function (in Windows) or Un-mount function (in Mac).

The one huge limitation with FAT and FAT32 is the single file size limitation. If a single file is larger than 2GBs you need to have the device as FAT32. If you have a single file bigger than 4GBs then you must use NTFS or exFAT. Typically these large files are either video files or restore image files (for restoring a computer operating system from a single image file).

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Trained Dogs to Sniff Out SD Cards and USB Sticks

USB stick, dog

Police dogs have yet another smell they must detect. Tactical Detection K9 company now trains dogs to sniff out SD cards and USB sticks. The training is in response to better assisting law enforcement in child pornography investigations.

The percentage of a dog’s brain which is devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than humans. For example, humans can detect about 5 million scents and a German Shepherd can detect around 225 million smells.

In a recent investigation a dog was used in the FBI raid of the home of the former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle in Hancock County, Indiana.

What could take investigators hours to find an SD card or USB stick in a house would take a trained dog considerably less time, probably no more than 30 minutes.

According to Tactical Detection K9 it took scientists over four years to isolate the odor associated with memory devices. Now that a specific odor has been identified it takes 8-9 months for a dog to be trained in picking up that scent.

A dog which can sniff out SD and USB sticks can cost upwards of $9,000.

Source: IB Times and Dummies.com .

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How To: Make a USB Read Only

There are two ways to make a USB stick read only. One way is a universal solution and is 100% permanent, the other way is PC specific and a good deterrent. When we say 100% permanent, this means the USB stick is read only (write protected) on all computers, whether it be a Mac, PC, Linux, etc type computer, the USB is read only and the status cannot be changed. The other method flags a USB device to be read only in relationship to the PC it is connected to so that whenever that USB stick is connected to that computer, it makes the USB read only and blocks all write commands to the device.

Most times an IT manager or content owner wants the USB stick to be read only so the files cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive. Another reason for making a USB read only is for the original files to remain the same and blocks the ability for files to be changed or manipulated. Finally, it’s smart to have USBs read only so that virus’ don’t jump onto the drive and possibly spread to other computers.

Let us start with the less permanent way because it’s easier to do and doesn’t require any specific hardware. You will need a Windows7 machine or higher. The Windows7 machine will have DiskPart utility which allows us to perform all sorts of cool things to flash drives, like setting write protection.

  • Connect the USB to your Windows computer.
  • To begin, go to your Windows Start and in the Search Field type “cmd”

This will run your Command prompt.

  • Next, you will want to get to the C root of the Command prompt and if you are signed in as a user you can simply type cd\ this will get you back to the root of the C drive.
  • Type DISKPART
  • Type LIST DISK

Now you will need to find the USB stick connected to your PC. Most likely it’s DISK 1

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How Flash Memory Works

This is a great video that explains how flash memory works. Granted, the video is very technical but does work through the concept of reading and writing data to flash. So if you have the 17 minutes to use, I suggest giving this a watch. The video does cover SLC, MLC and TLC memory and how each of these technologies read and write with the different layers of a floating gate device like NAND. Source: YouTube. Continue Reading

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