Your users probably use flash memory in everything from digital cameras to handheld computers. So when it doesn’t work properly and they call to ask you to fix it fast, a set of quick troubleshooting steps just might come in handy. In this Daily Feature, I’ll identify some common flash memory problems and how to correct them. I will also how explain how flash memory can be configured to troubleshoot your Windows 2000 Professional computer.

Troubleshooting flash memory
Troubleshooting flash memory can usually be classified as problems with the following:

  • ·        The flash card or memory stick
  • ·        The reader or FlashPath adapter
  • ·        Drivers
  • ·        USB
  • ·        Antivirus software

Faulty or damaged media
In many instances, faulty or damaged flash cards are the root of the problems. It’s important to note that some flash memory readers can damage the cards if the card is removed from the reader during a write operation. Users should always wait until the operation is complete before removing the card.

If the user complains of an error message indicating the card cannot be read or written to, you might want to remove and reinsert the card to make sure it’s inserted properly in the reader. Also, try using a different card or stick to determine whether the media is damaged and in need of being replaced.


If you’re using a FlashPath device, ensure that the card is inserted with the gold side down and facing away from the metal part of the FlashPath device.

Faulty hardware
Check the Windows 2000 hardware compatibility list to determine whether your hardware has been tested with Windows 2000. In some cases, you may need to upgrade the card reader’s firmware to use it with Windows 2000.

Driver problems
If a user is unable to use the card reader after installation, make sure the correct driver software is installed. Although a welcome addition to Windows 2000, Plug and Play is not perfect, so you may need to install drivers manually. This driver problem can occur with other operating systems too. For example, the Datafab USB card reader has a known issue with Windows Me; if you select Choose A Suitable Driver For My Device, the Windows 2000 driver will be found and installed, and the reader will not work. You must manually install the Windows 98 driver.

Check with your hardware manufacturer for known issues. If you’re unable to get the device working with the software that comes with it, try downloading the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s Web site.

USB problems
If you’re installing a USB card reader and you haven’t used USB devices on your computer before, you may need to enable USB support in the computer’s BIOS before the device will be recognized.

Also, some systems may have USB ports that don’t provide sufficient power for the reader, and it will not work. The best solution is to buy a USB hub with its own power supply. Then, you can plug the reader into the hub rather than directly into the computer’s USB port.

Antivirus problems when using FlashPath
If the user has installed a FlashPath device to read his or her flash memory card, he or she may receive virus alert messages if Norton or McAfee antivirus programs are installed. This is because the antivirus program sees the device as being larger than a normal 1.44-MB floppy disk, which is a characteristic of a virus called Bloodhound. You’ll need to disable your antivirus software when installing the FlashPath drivers and/or using the FlashPath device.

The FlashPath device works only in a standard floppy drive to read flash memory cards or sticks; it doesn’t work with a superdisk or removable floppy drive.

You can use a flash disk as a Win2K troubleshooting device

In addition to storing data files on a flash disk, you can use flash memory as a startup device to run the Recovery Console for troubleshooting and diagnostic purposes in Windows 2000. For instructions on how to do this, click here.


When flash memory fails, it’s important that you to know how to fix the problem quickly and efficiently so your users can get back to work. In this Daily Feature, I’ve provided tips on how to handle some flash memory problems and detailed a method to troubleshoot Windows 2000 using a flash disk. I recommend adding these helpful tips to your bag of troubleshooting tricks.