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Windows 10 Update, Hickup With Flash Drives

We have read on-line that Microsoft’s May 2019 update might not happen for those with connected USB sticks or SD cards. Microsoft claims the update will simply not happen if the OS detects these connected devices. The reason, Microsoft might re-assign drive letters to those connected devices.

On my first pass of reading this, the reassignment of drive letters doesn’t sound all that bad. Especially for a removable drive. However; Microsoft goes on to state that internal hard drives could also be affected by the drive letter shuffle.

There is your red flag!

The newly published Windows 10 support document reveals; those computers already having the April 2018 (version 1803) or October 2018 (version 1809) updates installed will receive this error message: “This PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10.”

The Microsoft documentation does not referrence internal hard drives getting reassigned drive letters when no USB or SD card is detected and for that reason we feel you are safe during the update process. This is why Microsoft is blocking the update all together when a USB or SD card is detected in your system. Microsoft understands the importance of mounted internal hard drives; thus their blocking of the update.

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How To: Delete and Keep “System Volume Information” Folder Off Flash Drives

If you have found this post, chances are you are trying to delete and keep the “System Volume Information” folder off your flash drive.

UPDATE: Thank you to a reader sending in additional information, we now have a solution that is universal to all PCs. You will never get the “There’s a problem with this drive. Scan the drive now to fix it” message. To get this universal fix, scroll to the bottom of this message and look for “Updated Solution.”

I will venture to say, there are probably five reasons why you are trying to remove this directory (probably more):

  • You have a SmartTV or stereo in your car and the device is showing this folder, and often times, is the default start location to resume play, so you want to remove it.
  • A binary verification utility is failing and it shows this folder as the source of inconsistency.
  • The “Disk needs to be scanned and repaired message” keeps popping up when you remove a drive without using the Eject function from Windows.  You are now going crazy and want to stop that message forever.
  • A virus software utility is indicating this folder has a potential problem  (smart hackers could stick their code in here)
  • You are performing some kind of USB duplication process and this folder continues to be a problem, therefore you want to remove it.

Go ahead and skim down this article if you want to get right to the instructions.  For now, I’m going to take some time to explain what this folder is.  Knowledge is power, and maybe the reason for why it’s there, will deter you from wanting to delete it.

For any disk or storage device connected to Windows will have the “System Volume Information” folder.  This is a hidden system file, so if you don’t see it, that is the reason why.  You can see this file when you turn on “See Hidden Files” in your view properties settings.

The System Volume Information folder contains two files.  The two files are meant for setting restore points and indexing for what is on the drive.  Windows is trying to help you if and when you need to search the device for data.

The two files are the IndexerVolumeGuid and WPSettings.dat file.  The indexer file assigns a unique identifier (GUID, Global Unique ID) to the drive.  The indexing service examines the files so when you connect the drive to the computer in the future, Windows checks the identifier and knows which search database to associate with the drive.

WPSettings.dat file is used for Windows Phone’s Storage settings.  If you are dealing with a hard drive, this could be a good thing, if dealing with a flash drive, you don’t need it.  I haven’t met a person yet who backed up their phone data to a USB stick.

If you are still on the fence about whether you should remove this folder or not, think about this:  If you are dealing with a hard drive with an operating system, don’t delete it.  If you are dealing with mass storage drives, like a USB flash drive, you can remove it with little fear something bad will happen.

So how do you remove this folder?

How do you keep from this folder coming back?

The solution is a two-step process.  The first step will be disabling the indexing and thus, ask Windows not to put the folder on the drive.

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Why is my USB name always CAPS?

Why is my USB name always CAPS?

The reason is fairly simple. You also have the option to make your USB name or USB volume name upper and lower case.

The all CAPS of a USB name is due to your flash drive being formatted as FAT or FAT32. Windows will not allow FAT or FAT32 devices to use lower case letters.

To use lower case letters, or upper and lower case letters, simply format the drive as exFAT or NTFS. Note; we do not recommend formatting a USB as NTFS … so better to stick with exFAT.

Here are some screen shots to help better understand exactly what to do.

# Right click your USB drive letter, select Format, and do as the images below show

USB name all CAPS

##

USB name upper lower case
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How To: Partition a USB Flash Drive in Windows

Using Windows 10, you can partition a USB flash drive into multiple partitions. The process is not difficult, you simply follow some easy steps. This tutorial will partition the drive so that your device is assigned multiple drive letters when connected to the computer.

This partition process is not done at the USB controller level; or said another way, done at the hardware level. This USB partition process, for a lack of better terms, is done at the software level. What does this mean for you? It means the partitions can be wiped off the drive and full capacity of the USB flash drive can be restored.

When a USB stick is partitioned at the controller level, or at the hardware level, there is no way to reverse the partition. The multi-partition drive is permanent. At the end of this tutorial is the solution for a hardware based partition solution.

So let’s get started.

How to partition a USB flash drive in Windows 10:

Connect the USB flash drive to your Windows 10 machine. Be sure there is nothing valuable on the USB as this process will remove all content from the drive.

Right Click the Windows icon and select Disk Management.

The Disk Management window will appear with all the connected devices. Select your USB flash drive by clicking one time. By selecting your flash drive, it will allow Windows to apply the partition to that device.

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Morse Code Beacon via USB Board

For those into home-brew programming projects, its easy to make a microcontroller spit out some Morse code with the post shown below. What makes [pavlin’s] take on this project interesting is that it resides on a tiny USB board with an ARM processor. The design for the board is available with single-sided artwork suitable for production using simple methods like toner transfer.

The STM device has a built-in USB bootloader. It can also act as a serial port, which makes the project very simple and a bit more flexible. The only external parts are a speaker and an opt-oisolator.

The program provides a command line interface over the serial port that you can use to program the message and set other options like speed and the delay between messages.

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Cannot Format a USB GPT Protective Partition

Sometimes you will connect a USB to the PC and get an error message saying the drive has a GPT Protective Partition and you cannot format the drive. Here is the fix to resolve the issue:

First, what is a GPT USB stick? The GUID Partition Table (GPT) is the successor to the Master Boot Record. The MBR was created by IBM back in the early 90s. The problem with MBR is the limitation to partition table sizes which is 2 Terabytes.

Since there are no 2T USB flash drives (at the time of this post), there is no need to use GPT as your partition table.

Removing the GPT Protected Partition can be accomplished through the Windows Diskpart program.

  • Determine the Disk Number for the USB GPT-protected drive. To do this, perform the following:
  1. Right-click on (My) Computer.
  2. Choose Manage.
  3. Select Disk Management (listed under Storage).
  4. Look for the drive that is identified as GPT and note the Disk number (such as Disk 1).
Format USB GPT Protected Partition
  • Now, open a Command Window. From the command prompt, type diskpart and press Enter.
  • The diskpart prompt will open.
  • From the diskpart prompt, type list disk and press Enter. A list of disks will appear in a text format. You will return to the diskpart prompt.
  • From the diskpart prompt, type select disk disknumber (in this example from the screen shot above, you would type select disk 1)and press Enter. A message appears saying that the disk is selected. You will return to the diskpart prompt.
  • From the diskpart prompt, type clean and press Enter. At this point the drive’s partition and signature a removed. You will return to the diskpart prompt.
  • From the diskpart prompt, type exit and press Enter. Type exit once more to close the Command Window.
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