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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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How To Get Large Videos Off iPhone

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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ASUS Tinker Board 2 With Four USB 3.0 Ports

ASUS unveiled the Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S, its most powerful single-board computer or (SBC) and was designed to challenge the Raspberry Pi. The Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S have a Rockchip RK3399 processor, and up to 4 GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM in addition to more USB connectivity than before with one USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C socket and three USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A sockets.

The only thing distinguishing the Tinker Board 2S from the Tinker Board 2 is its 16 GB of eMMC flash storage. The latter relies on a microSD card reader instead, which the Tinker Board 2S also has. All other specifications are identical, though.

Underpinning both SBCs is a Rockchip RK3399 processor that includes two ARM Cortex-A72 cores, four ARM Cortex-A53 cores and an ARM Mali-T860 MP4 GPU. There is also 2 GB or 4 GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM.

Here is a list of the I/Os:

  • 1x HDMI 2.0
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (OTG & DisplayPort 1.2)
  • 3x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
  • 1x 22-pin MIPI DSI
  • 1x 15-pin MIPI CSI-2
  • 1x RJ-45 Gigabit LAN
  • 1x Wi-fI 802.11 ac & Bluetooth 5.0
  • 1x 40-pin GPIO header
  • 1x DC fan header
  • 1x RTC battery header
  • 1x Power and recovery headers
  • 1x 12 V – 19 V DC-in barrel connector

Now heres the real question; will ASUS have the same problem with nearly zero support for the board? The thing that keeps the Pi above everyone else, is the support/community behind it.

Asus Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S

Small at 85 mm x 56 mm supports Debian 9, while ASUS plans to deliver Android 10 by Q1 2021. So it’s heard, the Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S will offer up to 1.5x the performance of the original Tinker Board. It is unknown when ASUS plans to release either board though, or how much they will cost. However, we expect them to arrive by Q1 2021, going off ASUS’ commitment to delivering Android 10 in that quarter.

Although the Tinker Board 2 isn’t available as of this post (Nov 2020) you can click this Tinker Board 2 link at any time to search it’s availability on Amazon.

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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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Press Release: Nexcopy Introduces Default State USB Write Protection Flash Drive – Lock License

“The fundamental change towards how our flash drive works should draw attention for those looking for read-only USB flash drives” says Greg Morris, CEO of Nexcopy Inc.

What is unique about the Lock License approach is whenever power is cut to the device, for example disconnection, the USB is automatically write protected. This is the strongest first line defense against malicious software or virus jumping onto a flash drive without the user knowing. It is impossible to infect a USB drive if the device is write protected.

Lock License flash drives require a password upon first use. This password is used to unlock the write protection and make the USB a read/write device. This feature provides a personalized solution for each business which uses the Lock License technology. There is no need to set the write protection after being unlocked because simply cutting power to the device will put the USB into its default state: A read-only device.

The Nexcopy Lock License USB flash drive has the following features:

  • Default state of drive is read-only, a.k.a write protected
  • User assigned password to remove write protection
  • No password is required to read from the drive, acts as normal WORM device
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI) to set password and remove write protection
  • Command line utility for custom integration to remove write protection
  • No back door password or feature from Nexcopy to unlock the drive
  • Available in USB 2.0 and 3.0 technology and ranging from 2GB through 128GB capacities

Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “System Control manufacturers for waterworks, electrical utility and petroleum companies need a solution like this. The ability to load software or firmware to a hardware based USB read-only device gives system control companies an incredible amount of security for in-field deployment via USB. More importantly, the command line utility gives the manufacturers a secure way to unlock the drive and update the content remotely without the worry of the drive remaining read/write. It’s simply impossible for the drive to remain writable.” McCrosky concludes.

The Lock License USB flash drive is simple to implement. Steps include:

  • Connect USB to a Windows computer
  • Open either GUI or command line utility to remove write protection
  • Assign a password to be used when removing the write protection
  • Data load the drive as needed
  • Eject drive from computer once copy process is complete
  • At this point the USB is write protected at the hardware controller level
  • The Lock License drive can be read (used) by any device on any platform
  • Password not required to read data from the drive
  • Password is only used when removing write protection to make the USB read/write

Nexcopy Lock License media is available in USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 technology and range it capacity from 2GB through 128GB. Nexcopy offers six body styles for the Lock License media with a wide range of body colors available for each stye, all available for custom branding. The six body styles include Oxford; a capless swivel style drive. Newport; a classic rectangular shape with cap. Lexington; a classic rectangular style with rounded edges and cap. Augusta; a shorter style drive with large lanyard loop. Huntington and Geneva which uses an aluminum body for more durability and also better suited for laser etch branding.

The Oxford style swivel drive is the in stock media Nexcopy carries for same day printing and shipping. Nexcopy inventories USB 2.0 media of 2GB and 4GB capacity and in stock USB 3.0 media of 8GB, 16GB, 32Gb, 64GB and 128GB capacities. The in stock Oxford media is a black body with white swivel clip with full color printing via the Nexcopy Logo-EZ USB flash drive printer.

The Lock License utility is available for download off the Nexcopy support page. The utility requires a Nexcopy licensed USB flash drive. The Lock License USB write protection is not a universal solution for any thumb drive, a Nexcopy drive is required in order to take advantage of the increased security the technology offers.

Official press release:

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5 (legit) Reasons a USB Flash Drive Disconnects and Reconnects in Windows

Roll Play Scenario:

  • Windows: Sound of connected a USB flash drive to Windows…
  • User: Ah yes… let’s get to work!
  • Windows: The Windows sound of a disconnected USB device…
  • User: Oh no, what’s happening?

A quick Google search and here we are… let’s take a look:

Here are five legitimate reasons your USB drive might be disconnecting from your Windows computer.

1. Running on Battery

Windows OS is set at default to power down USB ports when running from a battery. The power down process usually doesn’t happen until 10-15 into a stalled USB port, but maybe your setting is different. So worth checking… but first… plug in your laptop and see if the problem is resolved.

To check your USB power setting do this:

Search for Control Panel and click Enter

control panel

In the Control Panel click the Hardware and Sound link

hardware and sound

From here (might be slightly different for everyone) click the Change battery settings and further click Change plan settings and then you’ll see an Change advanced power settings option. Click the Change advanced power settings you can scroll around to find the USB devices and adjust your power there.

USB power setting

2. Faulty USB Port

The number one reason for why a USB device doesn’t work is the physical USB port on the host computer. A laptop generally has only 3 or 4 ports and those ports get a lot of action. With a tower PC, the front USB ports on the bezel also get most the action. Question: When you insert the USB device can you wiggle it around? Was there very little tension or pressure when connecting the USB device? If the device wiggles, or extremely easy to insert… you might have a physically bad USB socket.

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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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The Swiss Army Knife of USB-C Hubs

Did you buy one of those ultra-thin laptops and fall in love with the light weight, sleek size and powerful processor? Yet, sit there not be able to use all its power because you don’t have the ports to connect what you want? The 9 in 1 USB-C hub will solve your problems. You can do almost anything with it, just like your desktop.

The USB-C hub allows you to connect a monitor, speakers, headphones, SD card and 10BseT network cable at home (very useful). The hardwired Ethernet cable connection is clutch, but the other thing which is valuable to me is connecting a spare VGA monitor for a second screen.

USB-C hub

The 9 in 1 hub is compact, lightweight (like my laptop) and well built. The hub consists of wedged shaped aluminum tube with the taller side featuring the video ports. A circuit board is suspended inside by plastic inserts that also serve to align and cover the gaps in each port. The two end caps are press fitted into the tube without any additional adhesive. I doubt the device will fall apart if dropped, but if it does, easy enough to snap back together.

USB-C hub 9-in-1

Understanding the quality of a product requires one to take it apart and see how it’s manufacturer. The hub disassembles easily by popping off the plastic cap over the Ethernet port. The board inside then slides out without effort. The cap on the cable end can be removed to complete disassembly but is not required to full access the board. The USB-C cable is wired to the board through some form of displacement connector and secured with adhesive. The shielding on the cable is also ungrounded thus add minimal functional. Fortunately the cable is short enough it should have minimal effect on signal reliability.

All major components, other than the DAC, are older but from recognized manufacturers. The hub is wired with 2 of the 4 USB-C high speed lanes assigned to USB and the remaining lanes assigned to Display Port. This means USB operates without compromise while DP is limited to 2 lanes. This means higher bandwidth operation such as 4K 60Hz is not possible. The on-board 3A DC converter should supply ample power to all components. There should be no issues operating all ports simultaneously assuming low power USB devices are used.

USB-C hub internal pcb

  • The USB hub supports 2.4A fast charging; thus charging a single device quickly maybe possible. However, the hub itself is limited to 3A so charging multiple devices at high speeds will not work.
  • The HDMI output is limited to HDMI 1.4. But all non-3D HDMI display modes within the spec should be supported.
  • VGA output works in both widescreen (16:9) 1080p and 4:3 UXGA
  • Card reader functions simultaneously with both Micro SD and full size
  • 2-Ch DAC functions requires output from HDMI. It converts HDMI audio to analog 2-ch output.
  • Ethernet uses both link detection and EEE to conserve power both when idle and while operating. Shorter Ethernet cables/connection should result in less heat generated. Ethernet also supports various wake functions.

When compared to the OEM Microsoft branded Surface dock that sits around $200.00, there really isn’t a choice for most users. This dock is certainly worth it’s money at $30 (time of this post).

View all articles related to USB hub products posted by GetUSB.info.

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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.

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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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