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Thread: Formatting memory sticks...

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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    Formatting memory sticks...

    I learned the hard way today that my memory stick doesn't take kindly to being formatted. It got what seemed to me to be a virus of sorts because there were files that I could see in XP but not in WinCrap 7. WinNC would see them in W7 but Explorer wouldn't. So I tried to format the device on the W7 machine and nothing much happened. I then formatted the device on the XP machine and it went splat. When I insert the stick it comes up as a USB MEMORY BAR device. Ok, so off to Google to figure this lot out. Seems the silly thing allowed its own firmware (which probably lives on the main NV memory of the stick) to get wiped by the format. It looks like there are tools available to replace the controller firmware and get the silly thing running again. Some R & D for another day. The bottom line to this lot is that lots of memory sticks are probably discarded because their controller firmware gets tossed....
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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    What make are the drives... I never had that happen to me before. Do you safety remove your drives before pulling them out? I know the firmware doesn't like the read write pins to be active so pulling them out while still active can have a negative effect on the memory. Also make sure that your win7 doesn't take "owner ship" of the files that can cause XP to deliberately miss files when you plug it in.

    Also when formatting to FAT32 or NTFS make use you leave the settings to default. sometimes it helps to do a standard or "long format" quick format is nice and fast but it can mess around and your drive will appear to be able to take "less info" or take longer to read. I don't know if it have changed but you get 3 types or rather main types of "cells"

    Single Layer Cell AKA SLC can hold only one bit of data per single cell. It has a lower power demand. Higher read write speeds and is robust can handle a lot of abuse so it is good for sensitive information.

    Multi Layer Cell AKA MLC funny enough holds two bits of data per single cell. Obviously it can hold twice the amount of data. They are cheaper to manufacture and chances are that you own a few. Crap is they don't last as long have a slightly higher demand for power thus "warmer" to the touch thanks to the heat they don't last as long and after formatting them a few hundred times they become e-scrap.

    Triple Layer Cell AKA TLC As the name suggest it holds three bits per of data per single cell. It is the cheapest to manufacture but is supper supper slow! Seriously don't use them to load portable software they are truly crap! Also they are famous for poping because of heat and for the same reason they lose data or corrupt very easily.

    So keep this in mind when you buy your next flash drive.
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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    Ag nee ou broer, go read on da net about USB BAR MEMORY DEVICE

    The drive should NOT be formatted because doing so results in it losing its firmware.
    How easily someone is offended is directly proportional to how stupid they are.
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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrianh View Post
    Ag nee ou broer, go read on da net about USB BAR MEMORY DEVICE

    The drive should NOT be formatted because doing so results in it losing its firmware.
    Really? Funny thing I own many flash drives some of them about 9 years old and is still working... Come to think of it I haven't lost one due to firmware ever... A few got stolen... So I think realistically you got those drives from your local stop street dealer for R50 and now you are angry because it end up being a bad deal. Tell you what...

    kry vir jou...
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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    If anyone is interested there is a default stetting that is sometimes not set on default. Firstly connect the USB right click it got to properties select your USB drive on the list click on Properties click on Policies.

    There you will find two options the first being "Quick removal (default) " the second would be "Better performance" Now the second option needs the safety Remove Hardware facility at all times "As it is obviously stated" If that one is selected and you just remove your flash drive then the partition will corrupt the end.

    However it is worth noting that NTFS demands that you safety remove your drive and access permissions can be a bother but it supports larger files and is more robust when it comes to file recovery.

    That said according to the above I am just an idiot so don't listen to me... So please Google all information provided and check it out yourself. In short drives will not last forever so back-up to a second medium whenever possible. Formatting "in my opinion only" for most drives isn't a problem unless you use a special tool that access the firmware base and then it will get messed up. But it is your call to format your drive or not.

    If you feel formatting your drive is a risk you can always just "Shift + delete" the data and it will be clean enough. Always do a virus scan before use the drive and after you use the drive.

    Never ever remove your drive while it is still being accessed by the PC this will mess it up.

    One last thing when it comes to NTFS it does shorten the life of your drive a bit because it has extra read write activities.
    peace is a state of mind
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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    I'm just going to bite my tongue and let this conversation slide. Hey tec, whatever you say, I am happy for you.
    How easily someone is offended is directly proportional to how stupid they are.
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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrianh View Post
    I'm just going to bite my tongue and let this conversation slide. Hey tec, whatever you say, I am happy for you.
    It is good to be nice to people, tell you what set up a link so that we can see where it was stated that formatting is bad. Maybe there is something there that I don't know about. I did do a search on it and all I found is instructions on how to format your drive with CMD stuff like that. Feel free to copy and paste any info provided above into your search engine to double check my post. I was actually trying to help you.
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    Gold Member irneb's Avatar
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    The "Better performance" option simply turns on in-RAM caching for the drive. So writes are first "saved" into a portion of your RAM and then periodically written onto the device. That's why you need to "Safely Remove Hardware" - it flushes the cache so everything is written properly.

    In addition to that (even if you turned on "Quick Removal") Windows generates a file-lock-handle each time you open a file. On FAT systems this handle is stored in RAM, so removing the disc & plugging it into another PC shouldn't have any effect. But file systems like NTFS tend to save some data about file access and ownership on the disc itself, so if all files aren't properly closed it might cause hassles when you plug the disc into another PC (i.e. stuff like not accessible, read-only, etc.). It's usually saved in a hidden directory called "System Volume Information".

    What I've found is that XP tends to do less of these checks - as if it doesn't fully go through all of NTFS's security settings. W7 however is a lot more comprehensive in that respect, but does all this in the background so the user doesn't have access to it. You can turn off these hiding of things in W7 as well:
    1. Open an explorer window
    2. Click Organize --> Folder and search options
    3. On General tab
      1. Turn on "Show all folders"

    4. On View Tab
      1. Turn off "Hide protected operating system files"
      2. Change "Hidden files and folders" to "Show hidden files, folders and drives"

    5. Click "Apply to Folders" (so these settings occur for all drives/folders) and OK to close.
    6. You should now be able to view those other folders and files, though some of them will still not allow any access - if you want access to them you'd need to be logged in as Administrator under Safe mode. Or better yet as a command-line only boot-up.


    I usually tend to open the disc inside Linux rather. It allows me to do whatever I want with that NTFS formatted disc, including being able to wipe off even those system folders so the disc is "truly" cleaned. If you don't want to install a full Linux just for such purpose, you can always use a LiveCD version which boots direct from CD/DVD and leaves your Windows installation as it was.

    To me, I hate the fact that I am stuck with NTFS/FAT32. Both those file systems are rather problematic, NTFS because of it's security corruption and tendency toward fragmentation, FAT due to its extreme tendency towards fragmentation and stupid size limitations. Unfortunately I can't go with a more robust and fast system due to Windows, if it wasn't for that I'd have formatted all USB sticks / memory cards / external hard drives to something like ext4/reiserFS instead. My only other option is UDF: http://duncanlock.net/blog/2013/05/1...-flash-drives/

    As for firmware being deleted on a format, that sounds strange. I've never had that happen to me before. Must be specific to some manufacturers. Perhaps they've added such into a separate partition on the disc, but even then a normal format shouldn't remove partitions (only if you did this through FDisc or the Disc Management app in the Computer Management program).
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    Gold Member irneb's Avatar
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    Actually, a bit of research helps in showing another issue with formatting NAND type devices (USB sticks, memory cards & solid state discs): http://wiki.laptop.org/go/How_to_Dam...Storage_Device

    But that shouldn't cause the disc to become non-usable. It should at worst aversely affect performance and longevity.
    Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves. - Norm Franz
    And central banks are the slave clearing houses

  11. Thanks given for this post:

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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    Let me explain what happened very carefully again:

    I put the stick in the W7 machine and see 2 files.
    I put the stick in the XP machine and see 5 files and 2 hidden directories containing 50 files.
    THE STICK IS FINE OTHERWISE.
    I reformat the stick on the XP machine to FAT32
    The stick now has a ZERO size and the access led of the stick slowly lighting and dimming on and off.
    I pull the stick from the XP machine and put it back in the XP machine: It now enumerates as a: USB MEMORY BAR USB DEVICE
    I put the stick in the W7 machine and it also enumerates as a: USB MEMORY BAR USB DEVICE

    I will go through the process described in the link later today to resolve the problem:

    I have already run ChipGenius and found the specs off the drive, I will do the rest after 5pm and I am sure that I will be able to revive the device.

    http://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/r...sb-flash-drive
    How easily someone is offended is directly proportional to how stupid they are.
    ~GS Elevator

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