Storage

Arggg: I corrupted my USB flash key


I am learning this lesson the hard way as I removed my 4GB USB stick for the last time. I corrupted the USB stick and rendered it useless. Do you find yourself just pulling out your flash keys or other USB devices? We all know that we should use the Safely Remove Hardware feature, but who has time. I recently downloaded USB Safely Remove, and I find it very useful.

You can remove devices with one click, as shown in Figure A, and even configure global keyboard shortcuts.

Figure A

 

Click on the device you want to remove.

By using the Windows key + S, you can bring up the remove device menu and remove your device simply with no hassle. You never have to use the mouse if you prefer keyboard commands.

I guess I learned this the hard way. Have you had a similar experience? I had some good LEGAL music on that flash key. Dang it!

25 comments
joeblotnik49
joeblotnik49

I recently was given a corrupted 6GB drive that would not read/write or be recognized by a PC. Did a little search on Google and found you can resurrect them easily with a few clicks. Just right click on 'My Computer' 'Manage', 'Disk Management' and off you go... The 6GB works like a dream thanks someone somewhere who did it first.

imajaypathak
imajaypathak

really good tips for users like me. this will save my 80 usb drive :)

tryonQc
tryonQc

Here's the part that's missing: how to prevent this from happening. (without any "safely remove prompt") I have a dozen read/write devices connected and I've never had a problem like this one. (I use prevention) Flash Drives have the option to select 2 different modes of operation! (rough translation my os is in French) 1: continuous synchronization aka "optimized for quick deletion" (which would have prevented this problem by disabling the cache on the device) 2: non-synchronous aka "optimized for performance" (like the one on most linux distros). We often have to select one or the other manually (from the same prompt used to safely remove hardware) as Windows doesn't always prompt the dialog box to do so. If you change your computer, by default it's not in continuous synchro, you have to change it each time! Am I missing something ? Because by using the continuous sync I never had any problem while removing hot devices or even when files were still transferring form/to them. (And from different brand of USB devices on xp/vista both falsh and hard drive) I never used safely removed more than 2 times in my entire life.

Canuckster
Canuckster

I've had clients with similar issues and no-one wants to spend the money on a recovery program. Putting them in other machines doesn't work. Free-to-try programs tell you that the files are there on the drive but you have to pay to get them recovered. Does any one out there know of a good and free recovery program for these drives?

j-mart
j-mart

The fastest way to accomplish a task is to do it properly. The time spent getting data back from a corrupt USB Stick will be longer than avoiding the problem by removing it properly in the first place.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Usually the vendor has support that will retrieve information from unusable flash drives. I had a client that used SanDisk flash drives and for a small fee was able to get all of his data restored.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I had a drive go (file names became ascii crap) and formatted only to find a third of the space gone. The drive never registered the original disk size and free space again. To make things more interesting, it would report free space while claiming to be too full for new small files or directory names. If it works, be sure to confirm your drive size then watch it. I've also defragged flashdrives a bit until learning of the limited lifespan of the media. The result is that all that read/write during defrag simply consumes the chips. In that case, I mention it so other's can learn.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

I have been using Recuva (http://www.recuva.com) for file recovery - it's freeware and has worked very well for me, both for recovering data from formatted and corrupted CompactFlash cards and for securely deleting images from the cards.

jarah.1111
jarah.1111

RECOVERY MY FILES - Free Version google it woo me

aathey
aathey

I've had the same frustrations with those "try-to-buys" taunting you with recoverable files, so last time I was in that position I looked around for open source options. I found that a standard Knoppix CD (think Linux booting from a disk) contains some decent recovery tools, if you don't mind getting your fingers dirty on the command line. I've had success using the program "dd_rescue", which does a bit-by-bit copy of all data. I'd make a temporary directory, dd_rescue all files from the flaky drive, then run a file system repair tool on it and see what data I could retrieve. I've since used it with success on a couple dying drives.

jc@dshs
jc@dshs

I agree with you entirely - do it right the first time. Why load yet another program on your pc, with yet another icon to clutter up your taskbar or systray? Why not just do the left click on the freely provided and automatically generated USB symbol in systray and then left click on the "safely remove" bubble that comes up? How hard is it to do that?

Steven Warren
Steven Warren

I am sure you have pulled a flash key out before without using the proper procedure. It is so easy to judge, isn't it?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I just had my second Kingmax Superstick rott; folders and filenames become ascii garbage and data is unreadable. I keep a mirror backup of my flashdrives so I simply tossed it and carried on with a fresh one. I've had a 4 gig and a 1 gig both chew there data this same way; static damage from subway rides maybe? Yet, I have another 1 gig in my machine at home that's been rock solid. The worste issues I've had where with Sandisk Titaniums. You'd think a "tough" flashdrive with titanium casing and retractable plug would have a bit better chip inside it. I had three die in within a week of warrentee; leading to the mirroring backup habbit now practiced. ;) My flashdrive now is an SDHC 8gig (physical write protect switch) and small Sandisk SDHC reader (dust and static protection). It's not as convenient as a USB the size of piece of gum but it should be a little more robust for data retention and I have the physical "read only" for untrusted machines.

JimInNM
JimInNM

Had the same thing happen to me, used shareware TESTDISK at www.cgsecurity.org and recovered everything.

bboyd
bboyd

Never should have been an issue. But manufacturing has allow devices without proper power filtering and USB allows its power to vary in a huge range. Its to bad USB won the war for most used device bus. Its connector is hard to insert and fragile. Still that flash should not be that fragile, nice to know brands that are. I've recovered a corrupted flash by simply putting it in a different machine. Transfer off the files, format and put files back.

L-Mo
L-Mo

Can it be treated like another "storage device"? If you use a boot CD (UBCD4win, Hirens, etc.), can you then use the recovery software from that CD to recover files on that device? Just another thought... :)

Canuckster
Canuckster

I will have an opportunity to give it a try in the very near future. I appreciate the help.

Steven Warren
Steven Warren

I just spent the last week watching everyone and anyone who used a flash key and nobody does it that way. We all know it is the correct way but I saw 100 percent of the people doing it wrong and you are just jumping on a bandwagon. I am sure you just pulled out your flash key 10 minutes ago the exact way I did.

j-mart
j-mart

"take a shortcut" when the pressure is on only to find often the correct way is the fastest in the end. Those in technical positions who develop the skill of not getting flusted under pressure and work their way through a problem calmly and correctly will always fix a problem the fastest. If you screw up your equipment doing things the wrong aren't you better to get in the habit of doing things the correct way.

craigkra
craigkra

There is also the FREE programme "USB Disk Ejector 1.1.2" which is simpler but does the eject part very efficiently. It's at

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

if you drive it like this, you will probably break it and others. This is your technology, if you treat it like this, you will probably break it and others (group work ;) ). I know, I know,.. regular people are not interested in the details of there technology. Sometimes I just gotta vent a little though.

jc@dshs
jc@dshs

I work in a high school. I can't count the number of times some kid has come to my office with his dead USB stick asking if I can help. Invariably the kid just yanked it out of the machine at home and then wonders why it doesn't work anymore and his assignment is on it and it is due today and he will fail if he doesn't hand it in.....sob, sob, sob. Tough lesson to learn, kid.

jc@dshs
jc@dshs

I ALWAYS remove my USB stick the correct way. Why? An IT friend told me how he always used to pull his expensive 1GB (remember when they first came out and cost an arm and a leg) sticks straight out of the computer - until he "did" for 4 of them in one week and decided he couldn't afford to keep replacing them on a daily basis. The ONLY time I don't do it properly is if the computer crashes and then I wait until the pc has powered down before removal. Just because "EVERYBODY" does it the other way deosn't make it right.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The only time I don't unmount the usb flashdrive is when Windows locks up and I think that removing the UFD will help the reboot. In that cause, it's usually removed after the power is off. Once or twice, I've had windows just decide it wasn't going to unmount where I didn't have time to wait for a shutdown but those cases are rare. It's not so far fetched to imagine that other people value there data and hardware this much too.