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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 04:53 AM   #1
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Unhappy USB key -reset?

I have a GXT Mobile Disk USB 2.0 2gig flash drive (aka USB Key, Memory Stick, etc.)

It has begun to act rather odd. It will only mount with the read/write switch in "read only" mode. Plugging it in with the switch in Read/Write mode results in no mounted disk, although the Disk Utility does see it, but can't eject it. The System Profiler does see it.

Other USB flash drives are recognized instantly (tried two others, different brands).

Steps taken to attempt a fix:

- reboot in safe mode
- uninstall recently-installed Logitech mouse driver
- Activity Monitor: Kill USB server. Kill "Translated"
- permissions repair
- switch to virgin "test" account
- a little jig to the Gods of Small Things

This thing is acting like my first-generation Shuffle!

Any suggestions for making this disk usable again? How does one "reset" a solid-state device like this?

TIA,
M
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Last edited by CubaMark; Feb 11th, 2007 at 11:06 PM.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 08:59 AM   #2
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Format it via Disk Utility. You will lose all data on the drive.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 11:51 AM   #3
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Ah, I knew I forgot to mention something.

Disk Utility is a no-go.

When connected in Read-Only mode, the drive is recognized but you cannot repair or erase the drive.

When connected in Read/Write mode, the drive does not appear in the Disk Utility Volumes window. Removing the drive, oddly enough, results in an appearance of the drive in the Volumes column, but naturally that's of no use, since the drive is now disconnected. Reconnecting the drive in R/W mode results in no accessibility. Reconnecting in Read-Only mode created a second entry in the Volumes window, still unable to erase or repair.

Care to try again?

M
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 01:20 PM   #4
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It may be time to get a new flash drive. How old is it? The company who makes it may replace it for free.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 01:49 PM   #5
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Flash Drives are very susceptible to data corruption.

Typically, it happens if you take advantage of such things as erasing the drive from an application (iPhoto, for example) or have hard restarts, application crashes, or fail to eject it before removing it (the one Apple warns you about afterward).

Static electricity is hard on them too; you can find winter plays havoc on them due to all the static electricity (the colder the temp, the less moisture air can hold; winter air is always dryer than summer). Just pulling them out of a purse or pocket can cause problems, as can walking on carpet in socks.

If you take a moment to think about it, a Flash drive sets it's bits to 0 or 1 with ... well, something pretty much identical to static electricity.

Sometimes it happens for no apparent reason. And, like all memory, strange things like UV light and the various invisible rays from the sun and the rest of the cosmos eventually play havoc with them. Sounds strange, but that's how regular RAM goes bad over time.

If you have formatted it from the Mac or a PC as a data drive, that's fine. But, if it belongs in a camera or other device, always erase from the camera, not from the computer. Better yet, don't erase anything; reformat from the camera instead.

It helps to copy the data off the drive to your Mac or PC from time to time, and then reformat the flash drive. The partition map is just as susceptible to corruption as any other part, and so you may as well reformat it every once in a while, and pop your files back onto the freshly created volume.

Sometimes using it with a number of different computers causes grief as well. Try to limit how many different computers it sees, and if you do run it by a lot of different hardware because of what you need it for, reformat it from time to time.

If you buy one of the better flash drives it will come with a CD that has a data recovery program on it. With SanDisk, for example, the Extreme series of high speed Flash Memory comes with their RescuePRO program while the regular kind often does not. Running those apps can help pull data off in many cases. Then you can reformat (with the same utility) and copy the data back.

I'm pretty sure it will reformat anything; it sees every mounted partition on my HDs and every unmounted one, the HFS+ ones, ext3 Linux partitions, all the invisible ones, etc. It even sees my RAMDisk. Of course, it's going to want to reformat as FAT32, which isn't so hot for my Mac disks, but that's OK for Flash Drives because they all are FAT32 anyway.

If you like, I can pop a copy of SanDisk's utility on my iDisk. PM me for the url/password; it's 10 MB.

Last edited by gordguide; Nov 18th, 2006 at 02:12 PM.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 02:05 PM   #6
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It's a standard memory stick-type USB drive. I bought it in July, and this model because (apart from the limited selection), it is very compact. Picked it up at Staples - and just checked the online catalogue, which seems to indicate this brand is no longer available. I was looking for a SanDisk Cruzer, but this was all that was in stock.

Climate isn't a problem - I'm in Mexico! It's always kept in my Laptop Armor hardcase. I *always* eject it properly before removal, and I don't believe it's been connected during any hard-crash (can't remember the last time I had one of those).

Essentially -- one day it worked, the next, it didn't.

Since this thing is nothing more than 2-gigs of flash RAM and a USB controller chip, no moving parts, etc., shouldn't there be an easy way to reset it? I mean, solid-state memory... if it mounts as read-only, then it's obviously not dead, just confused.

An opportunity for a clever programmer?

And - damned if I can find the manufacturer's website....

M
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 02:23 PM   #7
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 04:47 PM   #8
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Many thanks to GordGuide for suggesting SanDisk's "RescuePro".

While it does work fine for rescuing files from the device (the last time I used the Flash Drive, I had deleted everything, but RescuePro dug up almost 2-gigs of deleted files!), which is useful.

However - it does not solve the mounting problem. RescuePro launches OS X's own Disk Utility, which just locks up if the Flash Drive is inserted in Read/Write mode (note: DU will not even show the internal SATA hard drive when the flash drive is plugged in!)

Anybody have any UNIX mojo that could reformat this disk? Other ideas?

EDIT: Just tried the command-line "eraseDisk" and "eraseVolume" to no success.

M
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Last edited by CubaMark; Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:33 PM.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 05:58 AM   #9
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Invest in a replacement flash drive.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #10
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Red face

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars
Invest in a replacement flash drive.
..no-one would ever accuse me of being overly thrifty but I hate the thought of tossing away a 2-gig drive which almost works... My brain simply can't conceive of a situation where something with no moving parts can "break" and not be reset.

Grrrr.

I mean, I waited long enough -didn't throw away my old iPod Shuffle - and Apple did finally release a fix (which I haven't tried as yet - it's in Canada, I'm not).

M
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Last edited by CubaMark; Feb 11th, 2007 at 11:07 PM.
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