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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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How To: Add USB Flash Drive to Roku TV Getting Pause and Rewind Features

It is not difficult to get some premium functionality from Roku TV like pause and rewind by simply adding a USB flash drive to your setup

You will need to configure the Roku TV and the flash drive to work together, but it’s not hard to do.

To get close to 90 minutes of pause or rewind time you will want to use a 16GB or larger flash drive. So using something small like a 2GB or 4GB USB drive, probably isn’t worth the effort.

The other caveat is that the pause function is only available on the live TV input, limiting you to whatever’s coming over your antenna or cable connection.

So if the above sounds like something worth trying, let us show you the way:

What you’ll need:

  • Roku Smart TV (not the dongle or box). Said another way, a Smart TV with the Roku app.
  • Live TV input (usually either antenna or cable)
  • Roku TV remote control (standard with Roku purchase)
  • A 16GB or larger flash drive. Can be either USB 2.0 or USB 3.0

Once you’ve selected your flash drive be sure nothing is on the USB stick. This process will format the drive and remove any files you have on the drive.

Getting Started

Locate a USB port on your Smart TV. Any port will work. These will be found on the back side of your Smart TV. Connect the flash drive to a USB port.

Going to your Roku home screen and move the cursor until you are highlighting the LIVE TV option. This will be a tile on the home screen.

Don’t click LIVE TV, but rather get into the Options menu of Roku. You can either click the Gear button on the Roku remote, or you can press the Home button on the remote five times.

roku tv remote with gear, setting, button

In the Options menu select the “Set up Live TV Pause” and follow the on-screen instructions. Part of those instructions will include formatting a USB flash drive so Roku can sync with the flash memory for pause and rewind features.

Roku software will ask you to confirm the formatting process via a pin. This is only to make sure you think before you format because once you format the drive, any old data on the USB stick will be gone!

roku tv format usb flash drive

Done

Once live TV pause is enabled, you will be able to pause live television using the play/pause button on the Roku remote. You can also rewind up to (about) 90 minutes of live TV. This gives you plenty of time to have a nice family dinner while the Roku is on pause… then come back to finish the show.

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A Quadrillion+ Swivel USB Flash Drives Fit Inside the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building stands at a total height of 1,454 feet, with an inside space of 37 million cubic feet.

Taking the swivel USB flash drive, the #1 selling body style in the world, at a size of 57 x 19 x 10 mm in dimensions it is theoretically possible to fit 17,760,000,000,000,000 Quadrillion flash drives inside the Empire State Building.

Would this be a good conversation starter at a cocktail party?

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A USB Flash Drive Which Cannot Get a Virus

A computer virus is something we all strive to avoid because we understand the consequences and the amount of time and energy required to restore a computer to its original condition. In a recent poll by GetUSB.info when asking users to name the top three ways a computer can get a virus, they responded with:

  • Link from an email
  • Link from an unsecure website
  • USB flash drive

However, if Nexcopy has anything to do with the last answer, a computer virus which spreads by USB flash drive will be a thing of the past.

Nexcopy is a US company based in Southern California who specializes in flash memory duplication equipment, printers, FDA compliant flash drives, copy protection and now a road-blocking malware on flash drives.

USB drive cannot get a virus

A virus will spread via a USB stick because the device is writable. In fact, any device that is connected to a computer which is writeable could spread a virus; other devices such as external hard drives, SD cards, microSD cards, etc. all have the same potential for harm.

But what happens when you turn these storage devices on their head and not allow them to be writable in the first place? This simple yet obvious solution is a gigantic step in the right direction for controlling the spread of a virus via USB.

The Lock License flash drive designed and manufactured by Nexcopy is exactly that. The Lock License drive is a USB stick which is always write protected. The device doesn’t care what it’s plugged into, or when, or how, the Lock License drive will always be read-only.

A virus will spread in a very specific way. A virus is designed to scan newly connected devices and ping them to see if they can spread (if the device is writable). A new device is defined by any computer system when “power” is assigned upon connection, which, coincidentally is the same time the virus will try and spread.

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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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How To: Watch Video, Play Music on PS5 from USB Flash Drive

Like the PS4, the Sony PS5 lets you play music and video from a USB flash drive through the console. The process is easy enough and some reminders on “how to” might speed up the process of getting things to work smoothy.

The PS5 will play MP3 audio and MP4 video from a USB flash drive. Unfortunately the Sony PS5 doesn’t play back all audio format types or video format types, so if you stick with the most common and most universal, which is MP3 for audio and MP4 for video, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Please take note: The PS5 supports all of the same formats as the PS4 family and supports video in max resolutions of 3840 x 2160. Unfortunately, trying 8K videos doesn’t work because the SP5 doesn’t support an 8K output (right now).

Pro tip: Make sure your MP3 audio and MP4 video are organized in folders because the PS5 will make a play list order from the content found within those folders. It’s a manual process, but it’s best if you want to have somewhat of an organized playlist. Maybe make different folders from different artists to play MP3 audio from a USB flash drive on your PS5.

To play back video and audio from a USB stick you’ll have navigate to separate sections.

Don’t go to the Media section. That section is only for streaming content you purchased from the PS Store.

To watch video, long-press the PS Button and select Media Gallery from the main list. Then click USB on the far right. You can only access video this way.

ps5 media gallery usb screen shot

Navigation looks something like this:

PS5 Home -> Media Gallery -> USB

Remember, the files stored in the folder are arranged like a playlist with the PS5 console is indexing the content. You can press R1 or L1 to skip back and forth. Press right and left on the D-Pad to skip ahead in small chapter-style skips.

To play audio, simply press the PS Button once to open up the Control Center quick bar. Then select the Music icon. It’s pretty bare-bones right now, but it’s functional.

Music can be played in the background as you do other things/play games. Once music is playing, you can pause it and change tracks right from the Command Center.

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Disk Signature Collision While Cloning

Microsoft Windows has been sending out updates which have created some problems for those cloning mass storage devices like USB flash drives and USB hard drives. This article should help you resolve those issues.

The Disk Signature is a unique ID Windows will assign to a device inside the Master Boot Record or MBR. The disk signature is 6 bytes long and sits in the first sector of the mass storage device. The disk signature becomes a problem for those cloning flash drives or hard drives with either a software utility or a large duplication equipment like a USB duplicator. The disk signature compounds itself if a multi-partition device is being cloned.

Many times a multi-partition device is created in Linux and at the time of create only one disk signature is assigned to the physical device. However, if multiple units of those copies are put in a Windows computer, Windows will try and assign a disk signature to each partition. This will cause a collision.

There are different situations one could have a disk signature collision, so this is only one example.

GetUSB.info did a write up about this a couple months back, here is the full blog post:
https://www.getusb.info/only-1-usb-drive-can-be-use-others-are-ignored/

In addition, we found the following website which does a fantastic job about how one would edit the disk signature using a hex editor:
http://www.multibooters.com/tutorials/view-and-change-disk-signature-in-mbr.html

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How To – View Linux Files on USB Flash Drive

This article will help you view Linux files on a flash drive when connected to a Windows 10 computer. This is a more common problem than you might think. In 2020, the percentage of computer users who use Linux is just above 25% of all computer users? This implies you will eventually receive a USB flash drive which was formatted and used in Linux to save files. If you are a Windows user and currently in this situation, here is your help.

Linux may use FAT32 or exFAT to format a flash drive, but the default would be either ext2, ext3 or ext4.

In Windows, when a USB is formatted as the ext type, Windows will ask to format the drive. Do not do this if there is data on the drive you are trying to access. (Previous article on best way to format USB drives)

The solution to resolve the Windows request to format the drive, and see the Linux files on the drive is do the following:

This first tip might not be “required” but it is highly recommended.

In the Search field of Windows type Control Panel and click Enter

This will take you to the Control Panel.

Click Programs and then click Turn Windows features on and off

In the dialog box which pops up, you’ll need to scroll down most of the way when locking for

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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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