Intermittent USB Pen Drive Argh!
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Thread: Intermittent USB Pen Drive Argh!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
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    Intermittent USB Pen Drive Argh!

    Hi all.

    My daugther has been using a 256k usb pen drive as a back up for documents at school on her Dell laptop. It's been working perfectly. However, just recently, the drive can not be read by the computer. It reports to her that it's not formatted and won't allow her to get into her data. Other times it reports that it's not a recognized drive and nothing shows at all. However, sometimes it will work fine. Just yesterday, however, it once again has failed. She's taken her computer and the drive to the Dell IT department at Dartmouth where they have a support center just for her system. They agree that the pen drive is not being cooperative with her computer and there is nothing wrong with her system. It would appear that the drive is just not working properly. IF they can get it to read, they told her that they could run a diagnostic program on it to retrieve her documents. However, they can't figure out why it would be intermittant.

    Has anyone else out there experienced this? I, too, have had some similar issues with my 512 drive. Sometimes it opens perfectly but lately, it's been balky and I'm not going to use it again because of that.

    These things were supposed to be bullet proof but for some reason, I believe the FAT is being lost and that's locking out the data. She's tried that drive on three different computers with the same results, too. She's taken care of this unit, too, not beating it up or letting it get dirty.

    Any suggestions as to why this is happening will be appreciated. Maybe these little devices are not as reliable as we're being led to believe.

    Rome

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
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    My Memorex USB 2.0 256MB thumbdrive recently died on me after less than 2 years of use. I had the same problems as the ones you described leading up to its failure. If you can get it in a readable state, get the contents off and destroy it. It won't be usable for much longer. The drive just died, even beyond a corrupt filesystem.

    Tips for your next thumb drive:
    1.) Format it using the NTFS file system, unless you know the drive will be plugged into a Windows 98/ME computer at some point. NTFS is a much better filesystem for these drives because it doesn't become corrupted nearly as easily as FAT32 formatted pendrives. Your suspicions about the filesystem becoming corrupt are most likely accurate which is probably due to my next tip.

    2.) Always use the 'Safely Remove Hardware' icon in the system tray before removing the drive. Even if you're sure there is no data transfer activity on the drive, or the files you moved to or from it have long since transferred, you should always remove it the safe way. On a FAT32 filesystem, removing the pendrive without using that utility will eventually lead to the total destruction of the filesystem. If the drive is formatted to NTFS, the filesystem will stay intact, but you will intermittently lose the data that you had moved to the drive, or in the case of moving data from the drive, it will still be there when you plug it back in. Using the 'Safely Remove Hardware' icon commits any buffers that still have data in them to be written to the pen drive.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks!

    You've confirmed my suspicions. I think that this is something that most computer users should be aware of. My daughter will be using 2 pen drives and swapping them back and forth as backup. Still, I'm going to have her burn cds once a week, also.

    I appreciate the info and will follow up. Hopefully, her drive will work one more time allowing us to pull the data off.

    Rome

  4. #4
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    Dont wanna be a smart as_s, but really, USB sticks are not meant for backup, their role is quick transfer of files you can re-copy if need be and nothing more.
    If you daughter has DVD-ram capable DVD recorder (all LGs fall into this category), then Id suggest using DVD-ram. It basically acts as 2nd hard drive and unlike DVD-RW/CD-RW disk, its meant for constant file transfer and is really safe as a backup, as long as its done by stable, problem free, hw/sw. Alternatively RW disks will do just as well, but make sure you dont reuse them too much. Id bin them every 100/200th time, for example. RW disk can be made run as 2nd hard disk as well, just like DVD-ram, using software like InCD. InCD usually comes with original version of Nero, which is usually bundled with retail CD/DVD recorders.
    BTW DVD-ram on LG recorders is best used with original BHA driver, I think its from Panasonic.
    Last edited by F_A_L_C_O_N; November 7th, 2005 at 02:58 PM.

  5. #5
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    Falcon, you're not being a smart *** at all. The pen drive wasn't being used for backup, actually, but for a quick file transfer. My daughter did not follow protocal, however, and didn't have a second copy of the files on her hard drive. Fortunately, she did have a hard copy of everything so the worst thing that will happen is that she'll have to type a lot or use OCR.

    Interestingly enough, the literature I received with one of the pen drives clearly leads one to believe that these little pens are indestructable and also designed for long-term storage. It even goes so far to say that data would last well over 50 years on a pen!! The truth, however, is that I believe they are clearly shorter term storage devices used for large file transfers between computers but certainly not backup.

    I wonder how many pen-drive owners know this? I'll bet, like me, they feel that the pen drives are permanent, secure, and reliable. Silly me.

    Rome

  6. #6
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    Its funny how you sometimes pull out 10 year old floppy and it still works, I wonder how much of the modern media will be able to pull the same feat

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by F_A_L_C_O_N
    Its funny how you sometimes pull out 10 year old floppy and it still works, I wonder how much of the modern media will be able to pull the same feat
    Agreed. There is just not very much in the way of longer-term results to look at as to the pen drives or the smart cards.

  8. #8
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    Still no resolution

    My pen drives will still not work in my Asus P4P800 machine running XP. I've read many dozens of posts elsewhere about pen drives just not running on many machines but no one seems to know why this is happening.

    I've tried virtually everything. These PNY drives will work on all my other computers and laptops and used to run perfectly on my desktop but now, nothing. I've tried dumping the host controller and letting windows reinstall but that has not helped at all.

    So, if anyone out there can shed some light on this situation I'd really appreciate it!

    Rome

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