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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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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

Question: CRC Verse Checksum Verification for USB Flash Drives?

Is Checksum or CRC better for checking data written to USB flash drives?

This post is to give the general user an idea of what verification method is better for writing data to a flash drive.  There are reference links at the bottom of this post which dive much deeper into the two methods of verification if this simple overview is not enough.

The short answer is Cyclical Redundancy Check or CRC is the best method for checking data written to a USB flash drive.

Many believe a checksum is the best method to verify data written to a flash drive (most popular is MD5).  I believe this is favored because it is easier to understand how the verification works, and also easier to implement.  However, there are flaws in checksum verification and therefore not suitable for verification of data written to a flash drive.

What is the difference between Checksum and CRC verification?  The checksum method uses addition in its math calculations to check whether all data was written correctly.  CRC uses long division in its math calculations to check whether all data was written correctly.  It is worth noting I am talking about binary long division, not the school-yard long division you so fondly remember.

Checksum methods will calculate the total bits in a packet of data and include that total checksum amount when the data is sent over communication lines.  The receiver will then look at the packet, read the checksum value and then perform the same calculation to make sure everything adds up.  If the calculation on the receiver’s end matches the value passed in the packet, all is good.  The problem is a high probability that somewhere between the sender and receiver the bits of data are changed, corrupted or swapped yet still turn a correct checksum value after calculation on the receiving end.

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How To: Minecraft on USB Stick

Minecraft has taken on a life of it’s own. From 5 year old kids being obsessed with Minecraft to adults making movie trailers it’s a strange little obsession for digital lego’s that look like CAD drawings. Either way, you might find this post useful for how to make a portable Minecraft USB stick. With a portable version of Minecraft you can now play the game anywhere, school, library, work, you name it. This is how you do it: (Download Portable Minecaft rar now)
  1. Download portabal_minecraft.rar
  2. Extract Minecraft folder to Memory stick  *Need program to extract .rar file, just Google “extract rar”
  3. Open the Run.exe
  4. Log into your Minecraft account and let it update for you
  5. That’s it!
The resultant USB will have several items in the root of the USB.
  • .minecraft folder with all your assets
  • Minecraft exe file which is the program
  • Start.bin file, which generates Minecaft when you start
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Tech Hack: Alesis IO Dock with USB Hub

The Alesis IO Dock is a great product for iPad musicians – this small hack makes it even greater. It overcomes one limitation of the IO Dock: You can’t simply hook it to a USB hub. So I decided to build in an additional hub – which allows me to hook up additional class-compliant interfaces like my M-Audio Axiom master keyboard, and power them via the hub. Yes, it works. No, it hasn’t been thoroughly tested yet. So try at your own risk. Full Tutorial (nice) Continue Reading

3D Printed Web Camera Controller

Instructables member TLevis posted a cool tutorial on making a webcam controller from a 3D printer.  Since 3D printers are all the rage right now, lets spread the word.  It’s a cool design, but overlooks the ability to move the camera up and down…as it only rotates left and right. Read up on the tutorial via Instructables. Continue Reading

How To: Make Mountain Lion Installer on USB

I read a great article on The Unofficial Apple Weblog [TUAW] about making a Mountain Lion installer on USB. To make an installer version of Mountain Lion on USB you’ll obviously need a copy of the OSX Mountain Lion installer. Next, go to your applications folder and find the actual installer…should be called Mac OS X Mount Lion. Rich click that bad boy and select the Show Package Contents form the pop-up. Navigate to Contents > SharedSupport and then start looking for the InstallESD.dmg.  This is the image file for the installer. Now we need to launch the DiskUtility so open a new folder with Command N. Continue Reading

How To: Read CID on SD card

How To Read CID on SD card

If you are looking to read the CID number of an SD card, or extract the CID off an SD card then you’ve find this article very helpful.  Some also call this “reading the PSN off the SD card” or reading the product serial number off the SD card.

Most phones and much of the software on phones will lock in to the CID number of a SD card.  The CID number is a unique card identifier number that is unique to the card itself.  The CID number is valuable because software developers and hardware developers can lock software to the unique number of the device thus eliminating the ability to pass along licensed software.

Reading the CID number from an SD card is not an easy task.  It requires specific access codes to the index table of the memory card, and unless you know how to use the SD chipset of your card reader, chances are you wont get the number…or least the correct and accurate number.

What is the CID number of an SD card?

The CID register is 16 bytes long and contains a unique card identification number. It is programmed during card manufacturing and cannot be changed by SD Card hosts.  The CID number is a compilation of information about the card, such as manufacturer, date manufactured, checksum total, GB size and more.  Below is a table outlining all the items which make up the SD CID number.

So with all this said, how do you read the CID number from an SD card?  As we’ve mentioned it isn’t easy and it’s [more or less] hardware based.  If you do enough searching on the internet you’ll find some home-brew code to read the CID numbers, but that’s only if you have the SD card or microSD card connected via an IDE bus to your host computer.  This isn’t easy for everyone.  There is clear evidence that using a USB to SD card reader will not get you the information you require, or at least accurate and correct information.  Meaning most times the CID number generated is actually the serial number of the card reader itself, not the CID number of a specific SD card.

In addition, what if you are required to read the CID number off SD media in bulk?  A single, one-at-a-time solution is not practical.

In my search to read the CID number from SD media, I cam across Nexcopy – a manufacturer of USB duplicator equipment and other flash memory equipment.  Several models they carry are SD duplicators and microSD duplicators.  With the secure digital duplicators part of their feature set includes reading CID numbers from SD media.  The equipment can ready 20 cards at a time, 40 cards at a time, or 60 cards at a time, depending on the model.  The duplicators will read the CID number and exported to a .csv file for import into other business functions.  This configuration makes it quick and easy to obtain the CID number.  Granted, the equipment is not designed for single use operation, but rather reading the CID of SD media in bulk quantity.  Here is a screenshot of Nexcopy’s software reading 20 CID numbers:

I didn’t contact Nexcopy Incorporated for pricing of the equipment, but doing a quick search for the equipment shows me a price of about $1k for the smallest 20 target system and $3k for the largest, 60 target system.

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How To: Make a USB Bracelet

Here is a simple way to make a stylish USB bracelet.  The project is very simple and requires no technical skills, but will take some time.  The largest amount of time you will spend is making the bracelet, so be sure to have your home-making skills fired up and ready to go.

Items you will need:

The first step is cutting up the cardboard to make the back-bone of the bracelet. Using tape to secure the lead start of the yarn, start wrapping Continue Reading

DIY: USB Slingshot for Angry Birds

Angry Birds is a great game for the first couple weeks.  New levels, new designs, new challenges.  However, the game gets a little stail for the 30+.  Today, we came across something which might re-kindle the fire for the 30-somethings who got burned out after a couple weeks. How about taking the slingshot in the game and making it real life?  This is exactly what this DIY hacker did. Over at MBed, the DIY tutorial for a USB slingshot gives step by step instructions, source code, design schematics and more for you to successfully remake a USB slingshot. Source:  MBed. Continue Reading

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