Pen Drives = Rubbish

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by redarmy11, Jan 6, 2007.

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  1. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    Hello my knowledgeable, geeky friends - I have a problem.

    I bought one of these things - a 4GB USB flash drive - to back up my documents.

    If I put files on it, remove it and restart the computer, the files aren't there when I re-insert the drive. I have checked that they've been copied correctly before rebooting but, afterwards, they've disappeared.

    What's even stranger is that the diskspace statistics for the drive show that the files are taking up space - but, for some reason, Windows can't 'see' them.

    I tried to update the drivers for the drive but XP reports them as up to date. So what the hell's going on?

    Is it because of the high capacity? I've noticed that around 1GB of files have 'stuck' and are permanently and reliably available, but any new files I copy aren't. The drive was bought new in sealed manufacturer's packaging, so if someone's turbo-charged it to accept 4 x it's original capacity.. well, it seems like the manufacturer's to blame for this. Is this a possibility? It's a non-branded drive which I'm led to believe uses Samsung memory.

    Is it because of the file system (it uses Fat32 and won't let me reformat it to NTFS - worth a try, I thought)?

    Does anyone have much experience with these drives? I get the impression that they're very unreliable - that some brands work better with some computers than others. Can anyone recommend a reliable brand (that's available to UK users)? This particular drive will soon be winging its way back to the seller, so any advice on what brand to buy in its place would be most welcome.

    Any other help or info greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance..

    redarmy11.
     
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  3. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    I don't know much about it, but I'll try to help.

    Did you try your flash drive on other comp?

    Probably, it's not Windows that should be blamed, but if you don't have installed SP2, it could cause some problems with compatibility.

    FAT32 is one of possible causes for your trouble. Unfortunately, it's not possible to format flash drives in NTFS.

    My suggestion. In the future try to transfer files from PC to flash drive as .rar archive with Recovery record On.

    You could download some flash recovery programs and try to save your data. They're still on the flash drive.

    When you succeed to save your files, get rid of that flash drive. It is a rubbish.

    Kingston (Elite) or Corsair (Flash Voyager) flash drives are my recommendation. You could find them in UK.

    Also, Transcend and TwinMos are ok brands.
     
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  5. AntonK Technomage Registered Senior Member

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    Make sure that you are properly removing the Flashdrive. Windows needs to unmount the drive before you can properly remove it. I've had cases where I've corrupted or lost files because I removed the drive while Windows was writing to it. There is usually an icon in your task bar, in which you can request to remove the device. However, if any application is still using it, you will not be able to. So be sure to shut down anything that is actively using the Thumbdrive (such as Word, or another application that may have one of the files on the thumbdrive open).

    -AntonK
     
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  7. Zephyr Humans are ONE Registered Senior Member

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    Also, if you think it may have been corrupted, reformat it before testing again.
     
  8. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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  9. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    Ah, the cavalry.

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    AntonK: The drive flashes rapidly when data is being written and I was careful to remove it only when everything was closed down and the computer idle. There's no taskbar icon in this case (I know the kind of thing you mean, as some of my other USB devices have them). All I've done with the drive so far is copy some files to it to test it, examine the results... and that's when I noticed the problem. Thanks for your response anyway, with good advice for the over-zealous!

    Plazma Inferno: I've not tried the drive on another computer - this didn't occur to me. I don't have another PC but can try it on a friend's laptop. Like I said, the drive is going to be returned - a refund has already been arranged - but I'll try this out of curiosity. Even if it does work I'll return it anyway, as it certainly doesn't work reliably on my own PC.
    I have Windows XP with SP2 installed so no problems here.
    I know - seems like all the time spent messing about with Device Manager to enable the NTFS formatting option was wasted. The format failed right at the very end, so I reformatted to Fat32. Note that the problem was the same both before and after reformatting, so this isn't the cause of my troubles!
    I'm reluctant to use compressed archives as the intention is to use the drive to back up as I work, saving changed files regularly on a schedule. Using .rar or .zip would greatly slow down this process.
    I'm glad to say that I wasn't stupid enough to trust the drive with the only copies of my documents! The originals are quite safe and (thankfully) I took care to check the copies before doing anything rash! Let this be a warning to you all! Don't wait for digital armageddon - buy a worthless piece of crap like me, then come on here and cry about it!
    I'll give those a try. I bought the current one because it was relatively cheap. Now, price comes a poor second to reliability.

    One more thing: As mentioned above, I want to use the drive for scheduled backups. Initially I want to copy all my documents to the drive and, from then on, add any new or changed files. Can anyone recommend some software that can automate this? I'm using Second Copy but find it a bit fiddly and confusing. Can anyone recommend an alternative?
     
  10. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    I am tempted to try that Flash Recovery Tool just to see if it works - but, ultimately, I need to find a backup device that doesn't play hide and seek with my stuff. I'm at work right now so can't try it yet but may give it a go later. If so, I'll let you know whether it's effective.
     
  11. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not too versed with Pen Drives as unfortunately I haven't had the desposible income to test loads of gadgets. (I usually only see peoples toys when they are having problems with them)

    You might want to check your Pen Drives USB speed, is it attempting to transfer at USB 2.0 speeds with USB 1.1 hardware?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2007
  12. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    Heh. Did you erm... oh, never mind [whistles, feigns ignorance..].

    Well it's a USB 2.0 drive with 2.0 ports and drivers.. but maybe there's some kind of bottleneck somewhere. Any way I could check this?
     
  13. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Well the Microsoft website has a little info on the drivers: http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/bus/USB/USB2support.mspx

    However for you to know the USB version you'd have to check with the specs for your Motherboard and/or USB PCI card (If the USB ports aren't integrated with your MB) and also check the Specs for the Pen Drive.

    I'm guessing the Pen drive will meet both the 1.1 and 2.0 standards, it's really just the potential that your motherboard might be an older USB version.
     
  14. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

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    Lordy, and you people call yourself 'geeks'? Shame on you (AntonK excluded as he was on the right track

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    ).

    redarmy11,

    When any USB storage device is active, a huge chunk of what is stored on it is actually stored on your hard drive in some cache folder or in memory. When the storage device is pulled out, the cached contents are are not committed to the device.

    To remedy this problem when you are ready to unplug the USB storage device, right click on the green arrow image in your system tray and choose 'Safely Remove Hardware' from the popup menu. A dialog will appear and will show you which USB storage devices are available. Select the one you want to remove and then click the 'Stop' button. This will commit the contents of the cache to the USB storage device. You can then remove it.
     
  15. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

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    For flashdrives that don't have a safely remove icon on the taskbar, go to My Computer, right click on the flashdrive icon and left click "eject". Not sure that is your problem but worth a try. At least it sounds like a buffer not flushing problem.

    >>edit Crunchy Cat beat me to it.

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    Anyway, we're both saying the same thing, more or less. If possible use his method. But there are some drives that don't show up in safely remove and you have to do what I said.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2007
  16. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    CRUNCHY CAT: U WINZ TEH INTERNETS!!!!!!!!!!

    I copied some files to the drive; checked that they'd been copied correctly; Safely Removed the Hardware (ie clicked that green icon thingy); removed the drive; re-inserted it; checked the contents... and BINGO!!!!!!

    They weren't there anymore.

    But.. at least I know what the problem is now. The buffer contents aren't being written correctly. Whatever that means (I'm joking, I know, I know - sort of).

    So the question is now: why aren't the contents being written? Is it because pen drives are rubbish? This particular (unbranded) one is being returned and a new (branded) one has already been ordered, so it's all sort-of-immaterial now. But let's finish this - we've come so far.

    AntonK: profound apologies. You were indeed on the right track. I'm blushing.

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    kevinalm: you also. Ejecting from 'My Computer' was similarly able to make my documents disappear into thin air. In this instance I didn't need to remove the drive at all! One second they were there, the next - poof! - they were gone! So well done for that.

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  17. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

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    Sounds like the old Pen drive was just defective. If not it could be something more insidious like mismatched USB device to USB port versions... ex. a 2.0 device in a 1.0 port. If a special driver was installed from the vendor then that may have been defective as well.

    All in all, I've gone through about 6 USB storage devices and they all worked fine

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  18. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    Ooh. Scary. And here's the thing. My ports are deffo USB 2.0 - I suffered 1.0 speeds for a while when I had driver problems and the difference when I finally managed to update them was incredible.

    However: I got the pen drive off a shady eBay dealer. It was advertised as USB 2.0 but... upon examining the packaging closely... it lists the write speed as "up to" 800kb/s.

    Yes, that's right: "up to" 800kb/s. Suspiciously low for a USB 2.0 drive, no?

    It came sealed, as I said, but is an unbranded drive with no manufacturer's name on the packaging, instead reading simply 'USB Flash Disk'. Catchy.

    So: I think it may be a 1.0 drive that's been.. mucked about with. The writes seem fast enough - 60MB in about 10 seconds - but I'm beginning to wonder whether this drive is a lowly 1.0 drive with ideas above its station. Does this sound likely?
    I'm using XP so no extra drivers installed.
     
  19. John99 Banned Banned

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    Throw it out, sounds like a piece of junk you bought. There is no reason to format flash drives as ntfs, it can be done but serves no purpose. however, the fact you cannot format the drive is a problem.

    Insert the drive wait fo a popup window, look in tray if you dont see drive this is no good. open explorer see if drive is listed if it is create a text file directly7 on the drive and save it. if the text file cannot be accessed put drive in a drawer and keep it there for a few years before you throw it out.

    sounds to me these drives ended up on ebay 'cause thats where they belong.
     
  20. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

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    Hmm... wonder if the new driver is functioning properly.

    Its a possibility.
     
  21. DNA100 Registered Senior Member

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    Are u sure that it's not a user problem?

    Well i am not that much of an expert.i don't thnk i will be able to help u.

    But i think pen drives will become an awesome technology in the furure if only it can a get a little cheaper.
     
  22. redarmy11 Registered Senior Member

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    What are you implying, DNA100?
     
  23. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

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    He's calling you stupid.
    Stab him in the neck with that pen drive.
    Do it!!
     
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