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Fix: Computer Will Not Boot With USB Device Plugged In

There is nothing worse than a blank screen after pushing the power button on your computer. The heart stops, the shoulders sink and this feeling of utter despair and anxiety quickly overtake the body.

Why? Why is this happening right now! I have emails to check, orders to process, papers to submit.

It is inevitable a computer problem starts whenever you most need the computer.

A quick examination of the computer shows a flash drive sticking out of a USB port. Could this be the problem? Let me pull the USB out and restart my computer.

A few moments later you discover removing the flash drive did the trick, the computer boots up and starts, as expected. So what happened? Why will my computer not boot with a USB device plugged in?

In this scenario the explanation is very simple. When the USB is connected the operating system thinks it should boot from the flash drive, not the computer hard drive.

At one time in this USB’s life, the drive was made to be bootable and book-strap code was flashed to the device. Because the computer BIOS sees the drive and the boot code, the BIOS will instruct the computer hardware to reference the USB stick for the operating system.

This doesn’t mean any flash drive connected will force your computer to boot from a USB stick, only if the USB stick was made bootable at some point. Most flash drives are not bootable by default and have the boot-strap code to overtake the machine.

The other important point to consider,

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How To: Get Serial Number of USB Flash Drive

Using the CMD prompt in Windows 10 or 11, it is a one line request to get the serial number of a USB flash drive. The serial number in question is the device serial number which follows the device and will be the same serial number to identify the physical device. This serial number is written into read-only memory on the flash drive and cannot be duplicated or deleted or modified. This is different than the volume serial number which we talk about from a previous post.

Steps are very simple:

# Insert a flash drive (or multiple)

# Select a flash drive by clicking on the drive letter

# In the Explorer path field type cmd

usb flash drive, cmd prompt

This will open the Command Prompt

# Copy the text below and click Enter

wmic path Win32_USBControllerDevice get Dependent | find “USBSTOR”

This request is asking Windows to search the computer for any Mass Storage devices (flash drives) connected to the computer USB Host Controller on the motherboard.

How To Get Serial Number of USB Flash Drive

Serial Number of USB Flash Drive, multiple drives

You do need to parse some information out because more than a serial number is given.

The serial number of the USB flash drive is listed last and there is a &0 at the end which is not part of the serial number. The hardware serial number can range in length so we don’t have a guideline for how long it should be. Typically we see serial number lengths range from 8 to 30 alpha-numeric values.

Using a 3rd party program, you can see the serial number of the USB flash drive matches that of the cmd prompt request.

software to get serial number of USB drive

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Greyed Out USB Flash Drive (help)

If you have a greyed out USB flash drive this article should be able to help you resolve the issue.

The most common reason is the USB flash drive has a different file system and you simply need to format the drive. For example, Ext3, Ext4 or HFS are file systems for Linux and Mac. By formatting the USB drive it could restore the drive and it’s no longer greyed out.

please insert disk into USB drive

If this didn’t do the trick, then try the next suggestion ↓

It is possible the greyed out USB flash drive has a bad device driver. We can uninstall the drive and try re-installing the USB stick (reconnecting).

Do the following:

In the Search area type “Device Manager” and good chance Windows will auto-suggest before you are even done typing. Select Device Manager.

device manager, windows to find greyed out USB flash drive

Alternatively you can click the Windows key along with “X” and from the list select Device Manager

Win Key + X, windows to find greyed out USB flash drive

Device Manager lists things alphabetically so scroll towards the button and expand the carrot > for Universal Serial Bus controllers.

In the sub-listing you will see the Mass Storage Device and then right click that device and select Uninstall device

uninstall USB driver, greyed out USB stick

Now the device drive has been removed, please reconnect the device and see if the greyed out USB flash drive is still greyed out.

If this didn’t do the trick we have one last suggestion for you before declaring the USB stick most likely dead ↓

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Eject USB Flash Drive From Windows Command Prompt Any Version

Eject USB Flash Drive safely, Free Download

Microsoft does not provide ways to eject USB flash drives with a single click, or automatically. Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the #1 method for expanding storage in Windows, yet Microsoft makes ejecting a storage device such a manual process! Frustrating to many, like you, because you are here. {wink}

Today we cover how to eject a USB flash drive in Windows using the command prompt. In addition, this article also provides a software way to eject a USB flash drive with the single click of a button. Yes, that is right, a single click!

Let us start by covering how to eject a USB drive using the command prompt.

Like mentioned above, Microsoft does not make this easy. The user must get into DiskPart, List the volumes (drives) connected, select the specific volume (drive) then eject by typing “release.”

The above commands may be performed via the command prompt, but honestly it’s a pain in the a$$ because all the typing involved and manually selecting the device. This process needs to be automated. {hint}

If you are reading this article you want to make things quick to remove USB, easy and simple.

Nexcopy solved this problem with a free utility that doesn’t require installation, doesn’t require Admin rights, and doesn’t require you to select the drive. The tool is ultra-quick and ultra-easy. In addition, anyone can bundle the free exe file into their own software to automate the process.

The free software tool is called USB Eject Button

Here is the free download link to eject USB flash drives from Windows command prompt

Below is the command prompt using a single word to eject a USB flash drive. The command is “release”

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Solved: Can’t Mount IMG File in Windows 10

The first thing to understand is that image files are a messy business. There is plenty of cross-over information and functionality between image file extension types – it is easy to get confused!

Don’t be surprised if you can’t mount an .img file in Windows 10 with their default utility – it’s a common problem and this article will help.

Windows image mount utility

Windows, disc image file is corrupt

It is important to understand not all image files are the same. Heck, not all .img files are the same. Some basics: For the term “image files” you typically see .img files and .iso file extensions and they have similar functionality and conceptually accomplish the same goal. The goal is for an image file to hold digital content, in a single file, of a file system and a its set of data. If that sentence is confusing, then maybe think of an image file this way: a zip file (but without compression).

A very quick summary explaining the difference of .img and .iso image files. An optical disc holding data is configured differently than hard drive storage space. The optical disc has data written in a linear configuration and is a digital binary copy of the ISO 9660 standard or derivative UDF standard. The ISO file extension is a single file which contains all the digital information just described.

An .img file is a digital copy of the contents of a hard drive or flash drive. Technically you can have an .img of a CD or DVD as well, but most should associate the image of a disc as ISO. An .img file is a disk image which begins with a FAT sector which is used to identify the file system and files contained inside the image file. The image file of a disc (ISO) begins with a descriptor file which describes the layout of the disc.

That last sentence is important:

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How To: Check for Bad Sectors on USB Flash Drive

This how to tutorial describes a simple way to check for bad sectors on a USB flash drive. The instructions below will also fix any bad sectors, if possible, during the scanning process.

A bad sector on a flash drive is a portion of memory on the flash drive which cannot be accessed, written to, or read from and therefore cannot be used. A bad sector on a flash drive sounds easy enough to diagnose, but it’s important to know there are two types of bad sectors: hard and soft.

Physical damage to a USB flash drive will create a hard bad sector. A hard bad sector cannot be repaired or fixed and is typically induced from physical abuse. A good example: leaving a flash drive in your pocket and it went through the wash, or the device was dropped and hit the ground is such a way, physical damage happened to the memory.

A soft bad sector on a flash drive are memory logic problems. A soft bad sector can occur from a software or data error during the write process. In lower quality flash drives, it is possible the incorrect firmware was written into the USB controller ROM and thus creates instability via soft bad sectors.

Bad sectors cannot be repaired; however soft bad sectors can be repaired.

The soft bad sectors can be fixed by using the CHKDSK utility in the Windows operating system. This same utility will also flag any hard bad sectors not to be used again, and of course not repaired.

Some signs of a bad sector on a flash drive include:

  • Cannot read a file on the flash drive
  • A file location is no longer available
  • Unable to format the USB flash drive
  • A disk read error occurs during operation

In our opinion, run the check disk one time to see if your issue is resolved, but if subsequent scans are required, we recommend discarding the flash drive to avoid further issues.

Running the chkdsk scan is really easy:

Insert flash drive to computer

Using Windows Explorer navigate to the drive letter

In the Explorer window type cmd and press enter

access usb flash drive cmd command

Once inside the command line utility type chkdsk d: /f /r /x and click Enter. NOTE: *The letter d represents the drive letter of the flash drive.

chkdsk commands for usb flash drive

  • The /f parameter tells CHKDSK to fix any errors it finds.
  • The /r parameter tells Windows to repair/restore bad sectors (if possible).
  • The /x parameter unmounts any “handles” to the drive or said another way, this step will not allow any other resource to access the flash drive during the scan.
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How To: Get USB Volume Serial Number and USB Device Serial Number

Using the command prompt (cmd) you can quickly and easily get the USB volume serial number and the USB device serial number. There is no computer experienced needed to perform these functions, simply type a couple letters and you will get the information!

To get the USB Volume Serial Number do the following:

Insert USB flash drive into the computer

Double click the drive letter associated with the USB flash drive (remember the drive letter as you will need this in a moment)

usb drive letter in windows explorer

In File Explorer type: cmd

cmd prompt in usb drive letter

From the command prompt type: vol d: and click Enter ( where “d” is the drive letter of the USB flash drive)

The command prompt window will return the results and look something like this:

The Volume in drive D is named “Nexcopy”

The Volume serial number is 3AAB-AA16

vol command for usb drive letter

After we explain how to get the USB device serial number we will explain the difference between the two.

To get the USB Device Serial Number do the following:

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Review: Rufus The Big Misconception With ISO Files

If anyone searches for “burn ISO to USB” they will get pages and pages of Rufus links. However, there is a big misconception with Rufus… it doesn’t create USB CD-ROM drives!

The only thing Rufus does is take a bootable ISO file and write the data to a USB stick. Basically Rufus will extra the data on an ISO file and write it to the flash drive. You can do the same thing with WinRAR.

There is nothing magical about Rufus when it comes to “making a CD” because Rufus doesn’t make a “CD.”

If you need to make a USB CD-ROM flash drive the best solution found so far, is the Disc License drive. The Disc License drive is a blank USB CD-ROM flash drive. Using their Drive Wizard software (free), easily write ISO files to USB. The resultant drive will be a USB CD-ROM flash drive.

Before we get into Disc License technology, we do need to clear up some points about WinRAR and Rufus software. WinRAR will extract all the files contained in an ISO file and write them to your USB flash drive; however, if the ISO is bootable, WinRAR won’t write the boot code. This is where Rufus does shine. The Rufus software will write all the files contained in an ISO file along with the boot code to make your device bootable. With that said, there is a clear advantage for using Rufus over WinRAR.

Does Rufus burn any ISO file to USB? NO.

Does Rufus make your USB flash drive read-only, like a CD? NO.

If the ISO file isn’t bootable, there isn’t much [more] Rufus can offer. A non-bootable image will display an error message saying “This image is either non-bootable, or it uses a boot or compression method that is not supported by Rufus.”

rufus does not support iso file

Rufus is truly designed for one thing:

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Hold USB Flash Drive In DVD Case – Brilliant Solution – Inexpensive

Hold USB Flash Drive In DVD Case

This is a brilliant solution which after viewing the video you will say: “this should have come out years ago!”

This is the least expensive, yet most secure way to hold a USB flash drive in a DVD case.

The era of CD and DVD is coming to a close with USB flash drives taking its place. Yet many CD and DVD duplication facilities have shelves and shelves of DVD jewel cases which they need to put to good use. This DVD-to-USB-Insert card is the quick, easy and cheap solution. The insert allows users to keep their DVD case and related jewel case artwork to remain the same, but now secure a USB flash drive inside the DVD case, rather than an optical disc.

So many businesses enjoy the DVD case because the DVD case is a great storage box. The case is a good size with a thick spin to print what the contents in the DVD case are.

Continue this same “library” methodology with the DVD-to-USB-Insert card.

In case you can’t see, or didn’t see, the video posted above the solution will hold two USB flash drives in a DVD case. The DVD-to-USB-Insert is a thick 0.65mm clear plastic which is the same diameter as a DVD. However, the clear plastic has two rectangles which are inverted to hold just about any sized USB flash drive. This solution will fit two USB flash drives into a single DVD case. The two rectangles are the same size and as said, will fit darn nearly all USB sticks with a size that is 3″ long by 3/4″ wide and a depth of 3/8″ ( for you metric folks, that is 76mm long, 21mm wide and 9.5mm deep).

The clear plastic has a hole in the center the same size as a DVD disc and will snap into the “holder” of the DVD case. Using any DVD case on the market you can easily hold a USB flash drive inside a DVD case. The video shows how secure the USB flash drive is when inside the DVD case. The flash drive will not fall out during shipping or transit.

To be clear, the DVD-to-USB-Insert is only the clear plastic that holds the USB flash drive using the nipple snap that holds the DVD. The DVD case itself is not sold with this solution because the assumption is you (the user) already have stock or inventory of the DVD case itself.

This solution to hold a USB flash drive in a DVD case does not infringe on any patents from other manufacturers who use alternate solutions to secure a flash drive inside a DVD type case.

Please contact USB Copier for more details. This is a USB duplication service company.

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USB Flash Drive Speed Test – Built Free in Windows

Did you know Windows 10 has a speed test feature you can easily run from the CMD prompt?

This feature is what many USB flash drive speed test applications call upon during their operation. Rather than download some software utility off the internet, which only god knows what virus could be lurking inside, just use the Windows tool.

In addition to avoiding the possibility of a virus from a internet download, this tool is a standardized feature everyone has. In the event you are having performance issues you are trying to report to a flash drive manufacturer, this tool gives you both the same code to perform USB flash drive speed tests without having different applications giving varied results.

Every flash drive manufacturer claims a particular read and write speed of their flash drive and this is a great tool to verify what you purchased is what you received. It’s been said manufacturers will manipulate their computer environment to optimize the performance and use those optimized results as their marketing material. This could be true when a manufacturer is trying to determine the maximum performance, so let’s take a look now at benchmarking a standard environment.

The read and write speed of a flash drive will depend on the USB port one is using during the test. You will see a performance difference between a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 device that is connected to a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 socket on your computer. So take note about what you are doing!

After you’ve connected the USB drive to your USB port, take note of which technology they are, and be sure no data is on your drive. Although this Windows utility did not remove our data during testing, one can never be too sure.

In Windows type CMD into the search field.

Please be sure to use the Ctrl + Shift keys when you click the Enter key. This will run the command prompt at the Administrator level. You want to run this at the Admin level because if you don’t, a separate window will pop up during the testing process and immediately disappear with the process is done… taking the speed test results with it!

Once you’ve opened the command prompt at the Admin level, type the following:

winsat disk -drive d (where d is drive letter)

Windows will perform it’s task and should take about one minute to complete. The results will be printed out in the console window once everything is complete. Take note from our example below. This is a 64GB drive which we connected to both a USB 2.0 socket and a USB 3.0 socket. You can see the performance difference.

The information you want are:

  • > Disk Sequential 64.0 Read
  • > Disk Sequential 64.0 Write

Nice feature, right? Free and immediately available.

For those who don’t want to go this far, you could always take a large file, say 100MBs or larger and drag-and-drop this to your USB flash drive for speed testing. Just look at the copy process window and you’ll get a fairly good idea of device speed.

It’s important to remember flash drive media does not copy at sustained transfer speeds. The speed process does move around during the copy process; however, the read process is more stable and should happen at a more sustained transfer speed. We’ve seen drives drop down to 1MB/second for a short bit, before jumping back up to 30+MB/second write speed.

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Quickly Eject USB Flash Drive in Windows

It seems the Microsoft updates are endless for Windows 10. Most users don’t bother with reading the notes about what has changed or been updated, myself included.

Today we noticed the eject feature in the Windows toolbar for quickly unmounting USB flash drives.

This isn’t breaking news. Simply a post about a feature you might not have noticed.

How to quickly eject a USB flash drive in Windows:

Click the access arrow in your tool bar

Hover over the USB icon and click

Your list of connected devices will show up. Hover over the USB flash drive device you want to Eject and click it.

That’s it. Your USB flash drive is now ejected.

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