USB Drives: am I just unlucky or what?

FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
USB drives are breaking on me for some reason! Do these things tend to break or am I just really unlucky?

A few months back I bought a 2GB drive. I think it lasted about 2 months before it started giving me errors whenever I tried to copy things on it. It was from a crappy brand (something like Nexxtech I think) so I figured maybe that's why it didn't last very long.

Then I bought another one, same size. But this time it's a "Crucial" brand and it's one of those really flat drives that doesn't have the usual USB casing around it. I've had it for less than 3 months and now it just won't be detected at all by either my PC or my Xbox360.

It's really useful to me but I really don't feel like buying a new one every few months. Any tips on selecting a good one that will last me? Are there things that I should do/ should not do to make sure it keeps working for a long time?

PSN: PatParadize
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Posts

  • wunderbarwunderbar What Have I Done? Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    um, this has to be asked, but what do you do to them on a daily basis? I've used 3 flash drives, ever. I have a 256MB drive that still works today that's about 5 years old. I had a 1GB drive that died after it's 5th trip through the washer(over 2 years).

    I have a 4GB drive right now that is a year old and still works like the day I got it. It spends 99% of it's time either on my desk, in a pocket, or in a USB port.

    Don't put them on keychains, try not to put them into a spot where they get banged around a lot(i.e. loose in a backpack).

    assuming you take care of a drive, it should last at least a couple years, some will last a long time even if you don't take very good care of them. my 1GB drive went through the washing machine 4 times and came out fine.

    If if you have taken care of your drives.....it may well be bad luck.

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  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Both of them have pretty much most of the time been either: Resting on my computer desk, plugged in my pc, plugged in my 360.

    I know in Windows you can "Eject" the drive, but I haven't really been doing that. Do people tend to do this?

    Fireflash on
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  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I always safely remove, but I always wondered each time I did it if it really mattered.

    KungFu on
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  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2008
    KungFu wrote: »
    I always safely remove, but I always wondered each time I did it if it really mattered.

    It doesn't unless you're writing a file on the drive once you yank it. I've never corrupted a drive by just unplugging it.

    Satan. on
  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Does your place have a problem with excessive static electricity? Have any other electronics failed inexplicably for you in the last few years? (well, except when it comes to the 360, although "inexplicably" doesn't apply to that.)

    Another thing I can think of is maybe either your computer or 360 is somehow damaging the drives by sending the wrong voltage to them, but I don't know how resilient such devices are spec'd out to be.

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  • RhakyrRhakyr Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I've corrupted my drive once by removing it without safely removing but it was just after some files finished copying and its entirely possible it was still writing to it.

    Before that I was removing unsafely 4-5 times per day, 5 times per week for about 4 months with no problem; and after formatting it since it got corrupted haven't had a problem since.

    Rhakyr on
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  • ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I've seen problems where if you leave them plugged in for long periods of time they overheat and can burn out some of the components. How long do you let them sit in your computer? I generally plug in - copy something over - unplug. I have Vista, but I don't use Readyboost at all. My USB drive is basically my new always-available floppy disk. I don't really use it much for important storage.

    ArcSyn on
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  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Removing a drive without properly unmounting it can fuck up any delayed writes on the queue, but it can't cause permanent damage to the device. In the absolute worst case it's nothing a reformat won't fix.

    Daedalus on
  • FristleFristle Registered User
    edited April 2008
    KungFu wrote: »
    I always safely remove, but I always wondered each time I did it if it really mattered.

    If they are formatted as FAT or FAT32, which most flash drives are, then this is perfectly safe for your data and for the device. Vista will still bitch at you for doing it though.

    Now if you yank a storage device using NTFS, this is risky for the data but the device will be fine.

    Fristle on
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  • yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I always eject, just to be sure the drive isn't being written to.

    yalborap on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Fristle wrote: »
    KungFu wrote: »
    I always safely remove, but I always wondered each time I did it if it really mattered.

    If they are formatted as FAT or FAT32, which most flash drives are, then this is perfectly safe for your data and for the device. Vista will still bitch at you for doing it though.

    Now if you yank a storage device using NTFS, this is risky for the data but the device will be fine.

    Um. Windows uses delayed writes for FAT32 as well. In fact, since NTFS is journaled and FAT32 is not, yanking out a FAT32 drive without properly unmounting it is potentially more dangerous. The reason most flash drives are pre-formatted FAT32 is because NTFS has low support on non-Windows platforms and other journaled file systems are not recognized by Windows, not because FAT32 is somehow "better".

    Daedalus on
  • Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    KungFu wrote: »
    I always safely remove, but I always wondered each time I did it if it really mattered.

    If you have at any point written a file to the disk then it does matter. The Windows file system can buffer writes so there is no guarantee that info you have written to the stick has actually totally gone there and been finalised.

    Most of the time it does go through instantly and is fine but eventually you'll be bitten on the arse and the USB stick filesystem will get corrupted. Mostly windows can fix it on bootup but sometimes you'll be entering reformatville, population you.

    Alistair Hutton on
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  • FristleFristle Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Um. Windows uses delayed writes for FAT32 as well. In fact, since NTFS is journaled and FAT32 is not, yanking out a FAT32 drive without properly unmounting it is potentially more dangerous. The reason most flash drives are pre-formatted FAT32 is because NTFS has low support on non-Windows platforms and other journaled file systems are not recognized by Windows, not because FAT32 is somehow "better".

    Yes, FAT32 can use delayed writes. But on USB Mass Storage Devices (flash or otherwise) the default setting is that they are disabled. For example in Windows XP: insert your USB flash drive, open Device Manager, go to the drive, open Properties, and find the Policies tab. There are two settings, and the default is "Optimize for quick removal: This setting disables write caching on the disk and in Windows, so you can disconnect this device without using the Safe Removal icon." Click the "Restore Defaults" button underneath that if you want, you'll see that this is the default setting.

    Fristle on
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  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Fristle wrote: »
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Um. Windows uses delayed writes for FAT32 as well. In fact, since NTFS is journaled and FAT32 is not, yanking out a FAT32 drive without properly unmounting it is potentially more dangerous. The reason most flash drives are pre-formatted FAT32 is because NTFS has low support on non-Windows platforms and other journaled file systems are not recognized by Windows, not because FAT32 is somehow "better".

    Yes, FAT32 can use delayed writes. But on USB Mass Storage Devices (flash or otherwise) the default setting is that they are disabled. For example in Windows XP: insert your USB flash drive, open Device Manager, go to the drive, open Properties, and find the Policies tab. There are two settings, and the default is "Optimize for quick removal: This setting disables write caching on the disk and in Windows, so you can disconnect this device without using the Safe Removal icon." Click the "Restore Defaults" button underneath that if you want, you'll see that this is the default setting.

    Nonetheless, the fact that FAT32 is not journaled means that if you accidentally yank out the disk while it's in the middle of a write, you're pretty much guaranteed to leave the filesystem in an inconsistent state, whereas with NTFS (or ext3, or HFS+, or any of the other journaled file systems out there) you'll only damage the file you're writing.

    Daedalus on
  • FristleFristle Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Fristle wrote: »
    Yes, FAT32 can use delayed writes. But on USB Mass Storage Devices (flash or otherwise) the default setting is that they are disabled. For example in Windows XP: insert your USB flash drive, open Device Manager, go to the drive, open Properties, and find the Policies tab. There are two settings, and the default is "Optimize for quick removal: This setting disables write caching on the disk and in Windows, so you can disconnect this device without using the Safe Removal icon." Click the "Restore Defaults" button underneath that if you want, you'll see that this is the default setting.

    Nonetheless, the fact that FAT32 is not journaled means that if you accidentally yank out the disk while it's in the middle of a write, you're pretty much guaranteed to leave the filesystem in an inconsistent state, whereas with NTFS (or ext3, or HFS+, or any of the other journaled file systems out there) you'll only damage the file you're writing.

    Ok, that is logical and that may be true. Why, though, would Microsoft make two settings, one which invites us to remove the devices whenever we please but only allows us to format them as FAT, and another which warns us to always use the Safe Removal action but which is what allows us to format them as NTFS? Seems like they are implying it is safe to yank FAT volumes and not safe to yank NTFS ones. My theory is that journaling or no, it's the write caching feature setting that matters, and if you can only use NTFS when write caching is enabled, then it will always be more safe to yank a FAT volume than an NTFS one.

    There's other reasons for manufacturers (and users) not to use NTFS on flash drives. One is that due to the journaling, more frequent writes happen when using NTFS than with FAT. So even though NTFS is faster, the frequent accesses might reduce the lifespan of flash media. Secondly if you create files as a user on one Windows domain and then take the drive to another domain, you might get file permissions issues.

    Fristle on
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  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2008
    Moral of the way-to-long thread:

    Don't pull the drive out if you're writing to a file. You are unlucky and your god is a cruel god.

    Satan. on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Satan. wrote: »
    Moral of the way-to-long thread:

    Don't pull the drive out if you're writing to a file. You are unlucky and your god is a cruel god.

    But it will only destroy data and not hardware, was my original point.

    Daedalus on
  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Satan. wrote: »
    Moral of the way-to-long thread:

    Don't pull the drive out if you're writing to a file. You are unlucky and your god is a cruel god.

    But it will only destroy data and not hardware, was my original point.

    Or we can go on

    BeatDeadHorse.gif

    Satan. on
  • JarthJarth Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Get yourself one of these: cruzer-titanium-8gb-130.jpg
    or the black plastic version. I have one of each (everyone in my department gets them for common drivers/software/backup) and they're both tanks. I managed to corrupt one of them ONCE, but that was the PCs fault (it had faulty voltage and completely fried another usb drive we used in it, I was lucky mine only got corrupted).

    The U3 software is a bit of a pain and takes about a minute to be usable on older machines, but you can remove it and make the drive a standard old usb drive.

    Jarth on
  • Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2008
    As far as brands go yeah, Cruzer Titaniums are awesome. I have one that's 512MB from three or so years ago and it still works fine.

    Satan. on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Oh good lord, U3 is some annoying obnoxious bullshit.

    Daedalus on
  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Well last night I needed one so I bought another one. Kingston this time. This brand has been reliable to me in the past so hopefully everything will be fine with this one.

    Fireflash on
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  • freakish lightfreakish light Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Oh good lord, U3 is some annoying obnoxious bullshit.

    Also, be wary of putting strange USB drives - especially Cruzers - in your machine. You can write some pretty evil stuff into the U3 autorun function.

    freakish light on
  • jackaljackal Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I have one of those cruzer drives. I bought the 2GB version right before a huge drop in flash prices. It stopped working about six months ago. I have a coworker who had the same drive, and his failed as well. The funny thing is that we both also have 128MB cruzers that work like a charm to this day. I tend to avoid Sandisk because of that, but your mileage may vary, and the plural of anecdote is not evidence. We both may have just been unlucky.

    jackal on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Oh good lord, U3 is some annoying obnoxious bullshit.

    Also, be wary of putting strange USB drives - especially Cruzers - in your machine. You can write some pretty evil stuff into the U3 autorun function.

    Really you should have autorun disabled entirely: you can run some pretty evil stuff from the autorun files on a CD-R just as easily.

    Daedalus on
  • jackaljackal Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Oh good lord, U3 is some annoying obnoxious bullshit.

    Also, be wary of putting strange USB drives - especially Cruzers - in your machine. You can write some pretty evil stuff into the U3 autorun function.

    Really you should have autorun disabled entirely: you can run some pretty evil stuff from the autorun files on a CD-R just as easily.

    That is very true. Even retail audio CDs have the potential to have evil stuff (thanks Sony) on autorun, but I hope no company is ballsy enough to pull that type of shit again.

    jackal on
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