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Posts Tagged ‘usb’

10 Reasons for Dracal’s Environmental USB Monitoring System

The PTH200 from Dracal Tech has lots of benefits for tracking the environment and more. Here are 10 great things about using it:

1- Very Accurate The sensors are precise, calibrated, and compensate for temperature. This is important for monitoring exact environmental conditions.

2- Easy to Use The small size makes it simple to add to different systems, even in limited space. This is useful for many different uses.

3- Simple Software Dracal includes an easy-to-use interface and tools for managing the device without needing lots of technical knowledge.

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Get USB Flash Drive Serial Number with PowerShell or Command Line

Easily get the hard coded serial number of a USB flash drive with either the Command prompt in Windows or Powershell. Of the two, Powershell is easier. Below are the instructions. After the instructions there is a bit more information about the different types of serial numbers which can be found associated with a Mass Storage Device (USB flash drive) so be sure to read that part as well, so you get what you want!

In the Windows Search bar, type “powershell” and click Enter

The Powershell utility will run and simply copy and past the following:

Get-WmiObject Win32_DiskDrive | select Model, Name, InterfaceType, SerialNumber

The screen shot below shows the hard drive of the system and a USB flash drive. The command doesn’t clearly label each, so be a little aware of the devices connected compared to what is listed. It is suggested to have only one USB device connected while running Powershell so it is easy to identify the device.

get usb serial number using powershell

For the Command prompt, go to the USB flash drive itself. In the navigation field at the top (where you can type things) type in cmd. This will open the Command prompt for the USB flash drive itself. From here, copy and paste the following:

wmic path Win32_USBControllerDevice get Dependent | find “USBSTOR”

The screen shot below shows the same result as the Powershell command, BUT the string does have an extra &0 which is not part of the USB flash drive device. So a bit of parsing is required when looking at the number, or parsing of code if you plan to use the Command prompt to find the device serial number programmatically.

get usb serial number using command line

From the two above the Powershell solution is a bit more elegant.

However; may we suggest a third option? If you find yourself on this page, there is a high probability there are other features you can benefit from, like making an Image file of your USB stick, or speed benchmarking the performance of your flash drive.

If that is the case, then we recommend our free program, no installation required, standalone exe file that will fetch the serial number of a device as well as provide a tool to create image files or speed test your USB flash drive.

usb flash drive utility, image file, speed test, get serial number

You may download the free program here. Again, no installation required, this is a standalone exe file that can run from your flash drive or hard drive:

FREE DOWNLOAD: Nexcopy USBScrub

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IronKey USB Flash Drive – Hacks – $235M of BitCoin

IronKey is the bell-weather for encrypted flash drives. The company, owned by Kingston Digital, a Southern California based private company, uses hardware encryption chips with their USB flash drives which provide the highest level of security known to mass storage devices.

GetUSB.info came across an amazing story by Wired Magazine about how one of the authors at Wired sent an IronKey to a hacking company called Unciphered in Seattle Washington to see if they could access the drive. The did.

This is not an easy task to accomplish. IronKey uses encryption to safeguard important data with FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified, FIPS 197 certified and XTS-AES 256-bit encryption. The solution allows for 10 tries before the USB controller wipes the device clean of any data. So there is a big risk-reward for using the device and losing the password to the device.

However, Unciphered developed a method to allow more attempts than just 10. It is not entirely clear how many attempts Unciphered is able to apply, but it’s more than 10.

Why is this significant, other than the fact IronKey may now have a security issue on their hands? It is well known in early 2021, a report of just over 7,000 Bitcoin were stranded in an IronKey flash drive due to a forgotten password. The owner, Programmer Stefan Thomas, did not utilize the Enterprise Management Service for password recovery. The 7000 bitcoin is currently (as of Oct 2023) worth over $235 million dollars.

To give Wired Magazine their due credit, read the full story by Andy Greenberg.

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Solved: (Video) Windows Cannot Delete the System Volume on This Disk

Sometimes Windows cannot delete the system volume on the disk because the partition table is corrupt. The solution is very easy and all the tools required to solve this problem are pre-installed and ready to use on any Windows 10 (+) computer.

Windows Cannot Delete the System Volume on This Disk

In short, the Disk Management utility cannot delete the volume because there is corrupt data in the partition table of the device. This issue we are talking about is most likely associated with a USB flash drive and sometimes USB hard drives.

One of the reasons a user will get a corrupt partition table is from formatting the USB device over and over again. Sometimes computers just don’t do what they are supposed to do! Surprise!

A common reason a user would like to delete the volume of a flash drive is to start “clean” with a fresh device. The reason to start “clean” is because some other function or task is not working as expected. For example, a user trying to create an digital image file (.img) from a physical USB flash drive continues to create corrupt image files. Well, when you start with a corrupt partition table, you’ll end up with a corrupt image file.

Another reason could be a user is trying to make a two partition flash drive using Disk Management. However, you cannot make a two partition flash drive if you cannot delete the volume in the first place!

We did a great write up about “How to partition a USB flash drive in Windows” a while back. A good read if you have the time.

The below steps will show you exactly how to fix this problem. There is a video at the bottom of this post showing the steps.

  • Connect your flash drive
  • In the search field in Windows (bottom left white box that says “Type here to search”) type “Disk Management” and click ENTER on the keyboard. Disk Management should pop up.
  • In the search field in Windows type “diskpart” and click ENTER on the keyboard. DiskPart will either pop open, or a dialogue box will ask if you want to open it, click YES
  • In DiskPart type “list disk
  • From the list provided determine which disk number represents your USB flash drive or hard drive
  • In the screen shot below, our disk is #1
  • Type “select disk x*In this example we typed “select disk 1”
  • Type “clean
  • When that is complete, toggle over to the Disk Management utility
  • Right click the box which represents the USB flash drive and select “New Simple Volume
  • Follow the prompts in the wizard to complete the process

After completing the above steps the flash drive is now ready for use. In addition, if it is required to go back and delete the volume, say to make a two partition flash drive, you can now do this without the error message “This Request Is Not Supported”

Here is a video for the above process:

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What is USB Restricted Mode in macOS Ventura

USB Restricted Mode in macOS Ventura

Beginning with macOS Ventura, a new layer of protection offers some reassurance to enterprise IT against USB device-borne attacks.

Mac computers using the new Apple silicon will require USB and Thunderbolt accessories to be approved by the user before the accessory can communicate with macOS.

When a new USB or Thunderbolt device is connected to a Mac, the user will be prompted to approve the connection. The end user must unlock a locked Mac before the computer will recognize the accessory. This makes use of the allowUSBRestrictedMode restriction, which is new to the Mac. When your Mac is locked for more than an hour, the protection kicks in.

It does not apply to power adapters, displays, or connections to an approved hub, according to Apple, and devices will continue to charge even if you select Do Not Allow Use of a Connected Accessory. Energy flows, but data does not, according to the theory.

Where does USB Restricted Mode operate?

  • On Apple Silicon Macs, the protection is enabled by default.
  • The enabled protection is to Request New Accessories; other options include:
  • — Every time, inquire.
  • — When unlocked, this happens automatically.
  • — Always.
  • Requesting new accessories is the bare minimum of security, though highly secure enterprises will want to request permission each time.
  • You can disable / enable the setting by going to: System Settings>Security & Privacy>Security
  • Setting up an accessibility Switch Control configures the policy to allow accessory use at all times.
  • For up to three days, approved devices can connect to a locked Mac.

This is a new security setting and configuration Apple is planning to introduce from Ventura forward. More articles related to USB and Mac computers.

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Make USB Flash Drive Bootable in Anything

USB flash drive, bootable, in anything

Doing some research for why some HP computers do not boot from a USB flash drive, I came across Ventoy.

Ventoy is a software tool to create a USB flash drive bootable in anything and supports the most common image files.

We tried Ventoy to make a USB flash drive bootable, and it works like a champ. In fact, the software is so easy to use, it is worth commenting about a previous post we did. A while back we talked about how to check if your USB flash drive is bootable, and to be honest, rather than putting in the time and work to read the article and do the steps, your time is better used flashing your drive with Ventoy. The result is a bootable USB flash drive for any device.

Ventoy is an open source tool for creating bootable flash drives when using image files like ISO, IMG, WIM, VHD and EFI files. The project team tested over 900 image files which tested successfully on over 90% of the distro packages.

What we like about this solution is no need to flash the drive with boot code using the source CD-ROM like so many tutorials out there (for Windows at least) because the Ventoy tool creates a second partition which all the boot code and the Ventoy utility flashes that partition with the boot code needed. You can see from the Disk Management screen shot below there are now two partitions on the tested flash drive.

usb flash drive, bootable, disk management, ventoy

You can tell there have been plenty of Ventoy updates and what is (also) very nice about their software tool is the display of Ventoy version on your device. Nice feature to cross reference if your device is current or needs an update. The update process is just as quick as the original creation of the bootable device.

usb bootable in anything, ventoy software screen

Considering the above, it goes without saying it is easier than ever to make a USB flash drive bootable in anything without having to re-do the work. This software eliminates the need to re-create a bootable image to USB and flash it over and over. Simply update the image file content, not the boot strap code.

The only thing even slightly annoying, which is easy enough to correct is the Volume name for the primary partition defaults to “Ventoy” Would be nice if an edit feature was in the software to customize this without the additional step of renaming the volume after-the-fact.

USB volume name, ventoy, for bootable flash drive

Here are a list of feature copied from the website. The project is open source and we suggest making a donation if you do in-fact use the code. It’s only fair, right!

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How To: Hide Files on a USB Flash Drive

close up picture of flash drive

There are two methods to hide a file on a flash drive. Both methods are free and one is better than the other.

The first method is very straight forward and easy for anyone to use and probably common to most computer users. That said, this first method is also easy to detect the file on the USB.

The second method is more obfuscated and harder to detect. Using the second method it is harder to find the hidden file unless you are specifically looking for it.

Both methods work well for hiding a file on a flash drive and free to use with a Windows computer; however, anyone with a bit of IT knowledge and experience can find the files – so this isn’t a bullet proof method for hiding a file from absolutely everyone.

If you are looking for a truly secure method to hid a file on a USB flash drive then a paid-for-product will be your better solution, you might want to check out some Secure Flash Drives by this company.

But in the meantime, if you need a quick solution, or you don’t want to spend money on a product, today’s article will work fine.

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How To: Create a Website Shortcut on a USB Drive

This article will show you how to create a website shortcut that works from a flash drive. The article includes the instructions, a video on the instructions and a template file one can download and tweak for their own use.

The reason for this topic of creating a website shortcut on a flash drive is because dragging and dropping your desktop shortcut to a flash drive doesn’t work.

The shortcut on a desktop is a relative path of the computer to the website. Which means the shortcut doesn’t transfer well to a flash drive for others to use. Rather than a working shortcut, the shortcut either errors off or takes you to a generic page within the browser.

Creating a shortcut that works on a USB flash drive is very easy. Like, crazy easy.

  • Open Notepad (type notepad in search and click Enter)
  • Type: [InternetShortcut]
  • Type website landing page: URL=https://www.getusb.info
  • Now Save As the file to your USB flash drive with .URL extension.

You have now successfully made a website shortcut on your USB flash drive.

This link can be used on any flash drive or hard drive or desktop location. The shortcut is truly a universal file that will work from any location.

Here is the text file which you can use as a template if the above instructions are too complicated or you simply don’t want to perform the steps.

Here is the video: How To: Create a Website Shortcut on a USB Drive

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Why do I have to Eject my USB Flash Drive?

Why do I have to Eject my USB Flash Drive

Do I have to eject my USB flash drive?

The short answer: No.

The technical answer: Yes.

If the technical answer is yes, the why do I have to Eject my USB Flash Drive?

The difference boils down to the type of file system being used. If the USB is FAT, FAT32 or exFAT you do NOT need to eject the USB flash drive before pulling it out of a computer.

If the USB drive is NTFS, then yes, eject the flash drive before pulling it out of the computer.

So why eject when the USB flash drive is formatted as NTFS?

The NTFS (New Technology File System) is a journaling file system system.

A journaling file system is one that keeps track of changes which have not yet been committed to the main part of the file system by recording the goal of such changes in a data structure known as a “journal,” which is typically a circular log. In the event of a system crash or power outage, such file systems can be restored more quickly and with a lower risk of corruption.

Depending on how it is implemented, a journaling file system may only keep track of stored metadata, resulting in improved performance at the expense of increased data corruption risk. A journaling file system, on the other hand, may track both stored data and related metadata, with some implementations allowing for user-selectable behavior in this regard.

With an NTFS formatted flash drive it is very possible there are journal entries going on in the background which the user is not away of, so if the drive is unexpectedly pulled out of the computer that physical action could corrupt the data on the drive.

Why do people format flash drives as NTFS?

Two common reasons people (wrongfully) format a flash drive as NTFS include:

  1. The user would like to take advantage of security settings which NTFS does offer
  2. The user has large single files and isn’t aware exFAT solves the same problem

NTFS allows an Administrator to assign privileges’ to files and folders and those security settings will remain for said files on the NTFS formatted flash drive. This is probably the ONLY legitimate reason a flash drive should be formatted as NTFS.

FAT and FAT32 have a single file limit of 4GBs so any single file larger than 4GBs will not be copied to a FAT or FAT32 flash drive. To get around this problem, Users will format the drive as NTFS. They select NTFS because it’s the same file system as their host computer… and since it works there… might as well format the flash drive the same way. However, what the users don’t understand is exFAT solves the same problem while at the same time providing a more stable file system – one that isn’t a journaling file system – so a flash drive can be pulled out without ejecting.

Good News – Free USB Eject Software Tool

GetUSB.info reported on this earlier; Eject USB Flash Drive safely, Free Download. The software is free to download, free to distribute and free to embed into other programs.

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What replaces write protect switch on USB flash drive?

physical write protect switch, USB

A “write protect switch” for a USB drive is meant to turn on and off the ability to write data to the drive. When the USB is locked (read-only) content cannot be added, changed, altered, manipulated, formatted or deleted off the drive. What is the point of a physical write protect switch if anyone can turn the write protection on or off? Doesn’t add up…

Yes, a write protect switch keeps the honest people honest, however the USB write protect switch doesn’t apply in all situations.

So what replaces a write protect switch for a USB flash drive?

How about programmable firmware for turning ON and OFF the USB write protection?

Better yet, how about a required password before turning ON and OFF the USB write protection?

We can relax because the Lock License USB flash drive addresses both these issues of
#1) Replacing the USB write protect switch with a more secure method
#2)
Provides the feature of assigning a password to turn on and off the USB write protection.

The Lock License drive is a hardware based ( at the chip level ) write protection solution and through a specific vendor software command the write protection can be removed to make the USB stick writable. The function to write protect the media can be done through a provided GUI software application, can use a command line to change the write protect status, or use the command line to build your own custom method for how the USB write protection can work.

The write protection is configured on the USB controller of the flash drive. This means the write protection is done at the device level and will follow the USB stick. The result is a Lock License drive which is truly read-only when connected to anything… such as a Windows computer, Mac computer, Linux box, Smart TV, car stereo, anything!

The Lock License drive comes with a software method to unlock the drive and make it writable. This special software requires a password to be assigned for the unlocking. The password is required because the manufacturer, Nexcopy, didn’t want a universal way to unlock the drive.

Kanguru manufactures a USB flash drive with a physical write protect switch. The write protection itself is as secure as the Lock License solution, the difference is a Lock License drive adds one additional layer of security. The additional layer of security, the password requirement to make the stick ‘writable’ is an important step for ensuring the device is as secure as possible. To be clear, the Lock License drive is always readable. This product seems a great solution for those who want a USB write protected without the ability for users to turn the write protection off with a flip of a switch.

Another interesting fact about the Lock License drive is the default state of the USB stick being read-only, or write protected. This means it is impossible for a user to accidently leave the Lock License drive unlocked.

The “locking” or write protection is done when power is cut from the device. Even if a user forgets to lock the drive, the locking happens automatically when the USB is disconnected from the computer. This is a major issue with those using a USB write protect switch; if a user forgets to set the write protect switch, well not much security at that point.

It is worth noting there is no universal way to write protect any flash drive, this is why you cannot buy some software solution to do the feature. Write protection is a hardware based solution, not software.

From our on-line research, the Lock License drive is manufactured by Nexcopy Inc who is based out of Southern California. The product is available in USB 2.0 for the smaller 2GB and 4GB and any GB capacity higher (8GB and above) is USB 3.0 technology. The maximum size as of this posting is 256GB media.

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