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Industrial Control System USB Flash Drive Designed For ICS Security

Industrial Control System USB Flash Drive Designed For ICS Security

The fourth industrial revolution or “Industry 4.0” is a term used to categorize today’s trend with industrial control systems (ICS) and how these machines interact with each other and humans.

The fourth era of “industry” combines hardware, software and biology and emphasizes the advancements in communication and connectivity. When the term IoT (Internet of Things) is used, this is the type of example that would apply. Industrial Control System USB Flash Drives designed for ICS security are critical to industrial systems and how they are controlled by their owners. The key when a USB flash drive is introduced into a control system, is security. Without security, one could lose control of the industrial system and ultimately introduce risks into a population or region.

Before we look closer at Industry 4.0 and data storage, let us provide a short summary of the first three phases of the industrial revolution.

First Industrial Revolution

The first industrial revolution was marked by a transition from hand production methods to machines through the use of steam power and water power. The integration of these new technologies took a long time, and spans a period between 1760 and 1840 for Europe and the United States. The first phase had the greatest impact on virtual industrial channels such as textile manufacturing, iron production, agriculture and mining (in general).

Second Industrial Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, is the period between

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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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This USB Stick Can Backup Your Phone Pics

There are two popular methods to get large videos off your iPhone.

The most common problem is having a large video on your iPhone which you need on your computer. Email programs usually limit a file size at 20MBs, so if the file is larger, what can you do?

There are two popular options which come to mind: Use QuickTime or Use a USB flash drive.

Option #1

Use QuickTime. Macs already have QuickTime built into the OS, but Windows users must install it. Before deciding this as your best route to get large videos off your iPhone here is a list of things to consider:

  • You must backup your iPhone on QuickTime before you access the video
  • You need your computer (an authoized computer) to perform the backup
  • Windows user smust download and install QT
  • QuickTime is an invasive program which most Windows users will not like
  • Not a “portable” way to get the videos off your iPhone
  • However, this is a free solution!

Option #2

Use a flash drive.

Yes, you need to buy a specific flash drive, but after this investment it’s infinitely easier to get videos off your iPhone. Some advantages worth considering:

  • Get large videos off your phone without a PC
  • Share the videos immediately to another user’s PC
  • External storage device for backups of those videos

Point number one is really the value in all this {wink}.

Yes, you need to make a purchase of a product so you won’t be able to make the transfer ‘right now’ but will be able to once you have the USB device.

Specific USB drives have software which work with the iOS allowing the download of files from the phone to the drive. The one tested is the SanDisk iXpand flash drive at 128GB capacity and will cost about $40ish dollars.

The process is very straight forward.

  • Download the iXpand app from the Apple app store
  • Connect the flash drive to your iPhone
  • Select what file you want to transfer, that’s it
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How To: Check if My USB Flash Drive is Bootable?

The following article will explain how to check your USB flash drive for if it’s bootable. There is no software needed, no download, just a couple of simple commands in your Windows 10 operating system.

A master boot record (MBR) is a special type of boot sector at the very beginning of a partition storage device like a fixed disk (hard drive) or removable drive (USB thumb drive). The MBR contains executable code to function as a loader for the installed operating system. This loader turns over the functions of the hardware (mother board bios) and passes that loading responsibility off to the operating system (Windows).

This is how you check if your USB is bootable, or not:

First, please have only the one USB stick connected which you want to check if it’s bootable. It’s not required to do this, but will my the instructions below a bit easier to follow, that’s all.

Using the Windows search function copy and paste this into the search field and click Enter

compmgmt.msc

The screen shot below will pop up after you click Enter. Using the image as a reference, select “Disk Management” under the “Storage” folder“. In the middle of the dialogue box you will see the drive letter associated with your USB flash drive. In the middle of the box you will probably see the USB listed two different times. The top portion of the box, the USB will be listed along with other devices, like your hard drive and optical drive. The bottom portion of the box, the USB will be shown as “Removable

Once you’ve determined which drive letter is your USB drive, you may Right Click on the drive letter and select Properties.

A Properties dialogue box appears giving you the option to select any one of the devices show in the previous window (the Disk Management window). From this dialogue box, click the Hardware tab and select the “Mass Storage USB Device” by a single click. Then click the Properties button at the bottom.

The last dialogue box are the Properties of your specific flash drive.

Click the Volumes tab at the top, you then must click “Populate” to get the device information. . The “Partition Style” will read either Master Boot Record (MBR) or the field will be empty.

If the above information isn’t detailed enough for the information you are looking for, the next step is to use a hex editor and check if the boot strap code is actually in the Master Boot Record. This is a bit more detail and the guys at Hakzone did a really good job of summarizing how this would be done using a hex editor program.

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What Is The Lifespan of a USB Flash Drive?

The lifespan of a USB flash drive relates to three factors. In general terms, a flash drive will last much longer than you think and here are some details to help you understand the answer.

The three factors related to the life span of a USB flash drive are:

  • How the drive is made
  • Wear leveling technology
  • How the drive is treated

Flash drives are a commodity product and (generally) driven by lowest price. With that in mind there are plenty of shortcuts a manufacturer can use to save time and money. What is important to understand, is knowing the quality of product you are going to use.

How the drive is made

A flash drive is made up of five primary components: The PCB (printed circuit board) the flash memory, the USB controller, the components and the soldering which holds everything together.

Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

Most promotional memory products (flash drives given away at trade shows) will use a two layer printed circuit board. Two layer boards are bad for use with any USB device, including a flash drive. The USB specification requires four layers for a product to be made to specification. A four layer board will include the, much needed, grounding plane of the PCB to insure transmission without interference from the trace lines. A two layer board is at a much greater risk of not performing as it should. If you received a USB at a trade show, don’t consider that device for “long term” or “important” storage options.

This is an image of a four layer USB flash drive by Nexcopy with Micron memory with write speeds of 12MB/s

USB flash drive PCB with NAND memory

Flash Memory

Flash memory used in the production of USB drives stems from a sea of unknown factors. Flash drives are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to NAND memory as part of the BOM (bill of material). All the good quality NAND memory is used for more expensive products like phones, set-top boxes, communications hardware, etc… and the manufacturer of USB flash drives, is typically, the last tier of manufacturing consumption. With that in mind, one trick the flash manufacturers use, is down-sizing the memory wafer (NAND chip). Let us provide an example: Toshiba is the world’s largest memory manufacturer, and after production of say a 64GB chip, they test it. If the quality of the silicon cells in the chip are below a certain percentage, the chip gets downgraded to a 32GB chip. They test it. If the memory is still failing QC, it gets downgraded again. The process continues. So if you are dealing with a 512MB USB stick, you are dealing with the worst part of NAND memory chip. Very unreliable. The quickest way to test the quality of flash memory is test the write speed. For USB 2.0 product, if you see a write speed of 9-10MB/second or better… its’ good quality. For USB 3.0 if you see a write speed of 18-20MB/second or better you are dealing with good quality. A slow write speed means the silicon of the chip is having a harder time making the phase change (positive or negative) to save data to the memory chip.

USB Controller

The USB controller is the chip on the flash drive with all the brains. The USB controller is the gate keeper between the host computer and the USB stick. The chip allows the host computer to read or write data to and from the flash memory on the flash drive. Because the USB controller is the brain of the flash drive, it’s important to have a controller that performs well and is reliable. One of the most important features of the USB controller is wear leveling. This is also one of the most important aspects for defining the lifespan of a USB flash drive. More about wear leveling in a bit. For now, the important point is understanding the compatibility of the USB controller to that of the flash memory. The NAND memory market is very fast pasted. New technology is always developing. For this reason, the firmware inside the USB controller is very important. The firmware “marries” the flash memory to the device and creates a usable flash drive. There are many flavors of firmware for a single controller and it all boils down to how often the USB manufacturer updates those firmware tools. It is very possible to load firmware that is not optimized for the NAND memory used in the production of the flash drive. It’s also very possible the firmware is set for a different objective, for example, the firmware was set to be optimized for capacity rather than read/write speeds. The amount of control the USB factory has with these firmware tools is mind-blowing. The firmware tools are used to configure the USB stick to exactly what they want. In summary, there is no real way to test the quality of the USB controller and it’s firmware other than having an intimate knowledge and relationship with the actual manufacturer of the USB flash drive. The point to explaining the function of a USB controller is to show what a large impact it has on the overall performance of the drive.

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USB Firewall For Connecting USB Devices

The average user inserts a USB stick into their computer from a trusted source. However, there are companies and situations who receive USB flash drives or USB hard drives and they are not certain if the device is infected.

Globotron is a company based in New Zealand who designed the product. The product is called Armadillo and is an open-source USB firewall.

Some research has shown, as many as 29 different types of USB attacks can happen from plugging in mass storage devices (like USB flash drives and USB hard drives) or also HID devices (human input devices like keyboards and mouse).

The USB stack which is the low level code used in the host computer, is very complex and over time researchers and hackers have discovered ways to compromise a computer system through these vulnerabilities.

The Armadillo is an open-source device which is a firewall between a USB device and computer. The firewall isolates the firmware of the USB device so as not to infect your PC if the device has been infected with malicious firmware. You just need to plug in Armadillo between your computer and the USB device using the provided micro-USB cable. Armadillo is an upgrade over USG, the original or first-generation USB hardware firewall device.

The Armadillo has bot detection. This means if the USB firewall device detects malicious codes are being entered via keyboard or mouse (HID devices) the device will block transmission and a red LED indicator light will turn on.

The Armadillo has the ability to temporarily make your USB read only. This is valuable if the computer is infected and you need pull information (recovery software) from the USB stick and want to insure virus’ do not infect the flash drive. The USB is read-only, but it is read/write when not connected to the Armadillo.

Note: If you need a USB stick that is always write protected at the controller level, yet need to temporarily turn off the write protection for data changes, the Lock License drive from Nexcopy is your solution.

This last point about the Armadillo is a bit strange, but we like it. The body is sealed with glitter epoxy so it is easy to identify if the box itself was tampered with. Very creative!

The Armadillo USB Firewall is available from Globotron for $150 USD and ships from New Zealand.

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Three Options For Recycling Flash Drives

The last two decades have ushered in an enormous number of electronics. Prices get lower, users upgrade, society reapes the benefits of these advancements. This explosive growth in electronics has led to an escalating burst for EOL (end-of-life) electronics and e-waste. When electronic devices are left in traditional landfills toxic materials can be released into the soil and environment.

With new cheap devices, society has reaped tremendous benefits. This explosive growth in the electronics industry, however, has led to a rapidly escalating issue of end-of-life (EOL) electronics or e-waste. In landfills or primitive recycling operations, toxic materials can be released from old electronic devices into the environment.

E-waste is growing, and with that surge comes the need for effective electronics recycling programs. As of 2018, e-waste is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, with an estimated waste stream of 48.5 million tonnes in 2018, valued at 62.5 billion US Dollars.

The amount of e-wast from USB flash drives is unknown from the above statistics, yet it’s not entirely necessary to make flash drives part of the e-waste equation. There are options for recycling USB flash drives.

Option One:

Run antivirus software from a USB flash drive.

If your computer is infected with malware, running an antivirus within Windows may not be enough to remove it. If your computer has a rootkit, the malware may be able to hide itself from the antivirus software. The only proven way to ride your system of a nasty virus would be starting your computer from outside the Windows environment and start the cleaning process from there.

This is where bootable antivirus solutions come in. They can clean malware from outside the infected Windows system, so the malware won’t be running and interfering with the clean-up process. The HowToGeek website did a nice write-up on this topic. If this is a tool you need, don’t e-waste your USB flash drive, rather make a bootable antivirus software stick.

Option Two:

Run Linux from a USB flash drive.

As of 2020 the percentage of Windows computer users is still an impressive 88%. Mac users are 10% and Linux users are the remaining 2%. Have you ever used Linux? It’s actually a fantastic operating system and at least something to play around with if you have spare USB media. Rather than e-cycling your USB stick, you can download a Linux operating system and give it a run. The process is not difficult and (nearly) any non-technical person can download and install Linux on a flash drive.

Slax is a well know Linux package. The instructions for download and installation are straight forward and simple. It is highly recommended to try this version of Linux as your first exposure to the operating system.

Several benefits of running Linux from a USB include trying the operating system without investing money in new hardware, or making changes to your current Windows operating system.

Learning to run Linux from a flash drive will give you an advantage in the event of a computer failure. For example, a computer gets bogged down with a nasty virus and you need to access some files quickly. There is no time for a lengthy cleaning process (scanning a hard drive can take hours). Booting into Linux from a USB stick will give you access to the memory of the hard drive to access the files you need.

Option Three:

Recycle USB drives for a good cause. “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.”

Isn’t that how the saying goes? Said another way, you can donate your USB drives to an organization who can re-purpose those drives and provide them to others in need. Pivoting from option number two, a non-profit organization called SugarLabs.org puts a Linux based operating system on a flash drive. The operating system is a special version of Linux and is designed to teach young kids how computers work. The not for profit organization sends these donated drives all over the world. SugarLabs is based in Boston Massachusetts and founded by Walter Bender a graduate of Harvard and technology researcher from MIT Media Labs.

Part of the SugarLabs process is insuring each USB drive is clean from any personal data or potentially harmful malware. RecycleUSB.com is a website and business which manages the sanitizing and cleaning of the donated USB flash drives before sending to Walter and his team at SugarLabs. The recycle USB website lists the “how to” steps on donating media, contact information for any questions someone might have and sanitizing steps used to clear data from the flash drives. The partnership between RecycleUSB and SugarLabs started back in December of 2009 when flash drives began having the storage capacity to hold a portable operating system (about 2GBs).

After reading the above options for recycling USB flash memory and you find yourself still wanting to e-waste the flash drives, be sure to check your community or city about e-waste programs. In nearly all cities and counties it is not recommended to throw away electronics into the standard garbage service. Be sure to enlist the use of recyclers who are certified through either of the voluntary certification programs that have been established to ensure responsible recycling, including R2/RIOS and e-stewards.

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Single Atom Transistor Recipe Sets The Stage For Quantum Computers

Some really smart researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and some of their colleagues at the University of Maryland developed a step-by-step recipe to produce the atomic-scale devices. Atomic scaled devices is the heart of quantum computing. Said in a very simple way; “quantum” is the Latin word for “amount” and is the smallest possible physical unit which has energy (or matter).

These really smart scientists demonstrated they could precisely control the flow of electrons through a really small physical gap or electrical barrier, known as a transistor. The hard thing is controlling the flow of energey (electrons) through stuff that is really, really small, like an atom. What the team came up with, is a reciepe to create atoms that could be controlled with electrons.

In really simple terms, this is the recipe:

The team used a known technique in which a silicon chip is covered with a layer of hydrogen atoms, which readily bind to silicon.

Used a fine tip, like really fine tip, scanning microscope and removed hydrogen atoms at selected parts of the silicon.

What was left is a hydrogen barrier with only certain parts removed from the scanning device (above).

Next, the team directed some phosphine gas at the silicone and the gas covered the hydrogen atoms but leaked through where hydrogen atoms had been removed.

As the last step, the smart guys heated the silicone which created a reaction. The reaction created a foundation of a series of highly stable, single atom devices that act like a quibit… or bit.

This is all a bit overwhelming to understand so the below video will help. The exciting thing is a repeatable process has been defined to make a single quantum unit programmable. Translated into day-to-day applications, there is great hope we will all get computers 100x more powerful than today’s in about the size of an Apple watch.

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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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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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