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How To: Check for Bad Sectors on USB Flash Drive

This how to tutorial describes a simple way to check for bad sectors on a USB flash drive. The instructions below will also fix any bad sectors, if possible, during the scanning process.

A bad sector on a flash drive is a portion of memory on the flash drive which cannot be accessed, written to, or read from and therefore cannot be used. A bad sector on a flash drive sounds easy enough to diagnose, but it’s important to know there are two types of bad sectors: hard and soft.

Physical damage to a USB flash drive will create a hard bad sector. A hard bad sector cannot be repaired or fixed and is typically induced from physical abuse. A good example: leaving a flash drive in your pocket and it went through the wash, or the device was dropped and hit the ground is such a way, physical damage happened to the memory.

A soft bad sector on a flash drive are memory logic problems. A soft bad sector can occur from a software or data error during the write process. In lower quality flash drives, it is possible the incorrect firmware was written into the USB controller ROM and thus creates instability via soft bad sectors.

Bad sectors cannot be repaired; however soft bad sectors can be repaired.

The soft bad sectors can be fixed by using the CHKDSK utility in the Windows operating system. This same utility will also flag any hard bad sectors not to be used again, and of course not repaired.

Some signs of a bad sector on a flash drive include:

  • Cannot read a file on the flash drive
  • A file location is no longer available
  • Unable to format the USB flash drive
  • A disk read error occurs during operation

In our opinion, run the check disk one time to see if your issue is resolved, but if subsequent scans are required, we recommend discarding the flash drive to avoid further issues.

Running the chkdsk scan is really easy:

Insert flash drive to computer

Using Windows Explorer navigate to the drive letter

In the Explorer window type cmd and press enter

access usb flash drive cmd command

Once inside the command line utility type chkdsk d: /f /r /x and click Enter. NOTE: *The letter d represents the drive letter of the flash drive.

chkdsk commands for usb flash drive

  • The /f parameter tells CHKDSK to fix any errors it finds.
  • The /r parameter tells Windows to repair/restore bad sectors (if possible).
  • The /x parameter unmounts any “handles” to the drive or said another way, this step will not allow any other resource to access the flash drive during the scan.
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How To: Get USB Volume Serial Number and USB Device Serial Number

Using the command prompt (cmd) you can quickly and easily get the USB volume serial number and the USB device serial number. There is no computer experienced needed to perform these functions, simply type a couple letters and you will get the information!

To get the USB Volume Serial Number do the following:

Insert USB flash drive into the computer

Double click the drive letter associated with the USB flash drive (remember the drive letter as you will need this in a moment)

usb drive letter in windows explorer

In File Explorer type: cmd

cmd prompt in usb drive letter

From the command prompt type: vol d: and click Enter ( where “d” is the drive letter of the USB flash drive)

The command prompt window will return the results and look something like this:

The Volume in drive D is named “Nexcopy”

The Volume serial number is 3AAB-AA16

vol command for usb drive letter

After we explain how to get the USB device serial number we will explain the difference between the two.

To get the USB Device Serial Number do the following:

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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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40TB Expansion Solution – Not Much When Viewed Like This:

Seagate offers a 40TB expansion solution which is plug-n-play. At first glance, the 40TB solution might seem like a bit much, but when broken down to more specific user experiences and demands, it might not be all that much.

To make the point, we are going to use a family of 4. Two parents and two young kids, say 2 and 5 years old.

Having two children at this age means video recording is happening on a daily bases. If it isn’t, those parents are missing out on precious moments which could be caught on film.

Using an iPhone with a video setting of 4K at 24FPS (Frames Per Second) a one minute video will eat up about 270MBs of space. If the parent takes a 4 minute video once a day for a year, that is 360GBs of data. About 1/3 of a single Terabyte of storage.

Before we continue along with how a family can easily take up 40TBs of data, also consider the Seagate solution comes with software that will automatically sync your mobile devices with the storage device. These large videos are hard to get off your iPhone unless a streaming backup service is available. Seagate provides that. We also did an article about downloading them manually with a SanDisk USB iXpand product.

Given the age of these kids, a 4 minute video is probably a bit short for whatever crazy or funny thing the kids are doing. So rounding up to 10 minutes’ worth of video per day, per parent puts the data storage consumption at about 5.5GBs per day.

Of course you can reduce the resolution from 4K down to H264, but who wants to do that? You need to edit the higher resolution video or consider that 4K in like five years from now will be low resolution.

As the kids get older, they will start adding their video to the Seagate storage solution. The example could drag on and on, but the point is this: With technology getting better each year, the storage required to save the digital content we create will expand equally.

As a closing thought; keep in mind how difficult and time consuming the process is to move data from one storage device to another, newer storage device. The 40TB expansion is a big purchase now, but the upgrade to a bigger storage device will not happen for as quickly as needed if a smaller storage device is bought.

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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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Transfer Rates Faster Than USB

In the world of physics, heat represents resistance. Think of touching your car tire before you’ve driven it – cool. Think of touching your car tire after driving to the store – warm. Resistance.

Copper found in USB connectors and USB cables is the heat element which represents the resistance of faster speeds. The warmer copper gets, the slower the data transfer rates will be because the heat represents inefficiencies of the material.

Research presented at February’s IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference by lead author Jack Holloway and co-authors Ruonan Han and Georgios Dogiamis developed a data transfer system that can transmit information 10 times faster than a USB. The new link pairs high-frequency silicon chips with a polymer cable as thin a strand of hair.

Mr Holloway explains, “Copper wires, like those found in USB or HDMI cables, are power-hungry — especially when dealing with heavy data loads. There’s a fundamental tradeoff between the amount of energy burned and the rate of information exchanged.”

The most common alternative suggested to a copper wire would be an optical wire. Optical wires deal with photons and are extremely efficient but the problem are how the photons interact will silicon of a chip. Since photons don’t work well when talking to silicon, it means a direct connection from a fiber optic cable to a computer chip isn’t ideal.

The technology (by Holloway and team) is a plastic polymer material which works very well at sub-terahertz signals (very high signals) which translates to a competitive alternative to fiber optics.

Next, the team engineered a low-cost chip which pairs with the polymer conduit. Typically, silicon chips struggle to operate at sub-terahertz frequencies. Yet the team’s new chips generate those high-frequency signals with enough power to transmit data directly into the conduit. That clean connection from the silicon chips to the conduit means the overall system can be manufactured with standard, cost-effective methods.

The physical size of this plastic polymer is the same size as a human hair.

Resource: Fiber Optics.

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Universal USB Type A Connector – Doesn’t Matter What Side Is Plugged In

There are some USB articles floating around right now about the USB type A connector and how it takes three tries for a connection. Well, we do agree with them but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a universal USB connector for the Type A, it’s just not that readily available.

Would you buy this? Shoot us an email if interested {gmo [@] getusb [.] info}

Pictures first, here are three up-close pictures of the universal USB connector

universal USB connector

universal type A connector

picture of universal USB connector

Physically, a USB type-A connector appears to be symmetrical. It’s rectangular in shape with no clear marking of a top or bottom. I think most have figured out the seem on the USB is the bottom side, the smooth side would be the top. HDMI for example is very easy to distinguish top and bottom because each side is shaped a little differently. However, the type A connector is not symmetrical! Looking inside the connector one will see a slight position change of the internal USB connector. One side up – one side down.

It is unclear why this USB connector type has not gained more traction with vendors and manufactures. Our company received samples of this several years ago with the comment product would change to this connector type; however, that shift has never come to fruition.

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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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