Category Archives: USB Tips

Review: Windows 10 Computer Stick bu Intel

In 2015 Intel introduced the Computer Stick and for some reason called it the “compute stick” – the product has been available ever since. The idea is simple and elegant and they wanted to create an HDMI dongle computer which can run Windows 10.

Our suspicion is that Intel wanted a ultra-cheap and portable solution to run Windows for embedded applications like set-top boxes (DVRs) and other IoT (Internet of Things) products. They wanted the device to run directly from a TV so portable displays could be used in a variety of situations. We would even guess, this “compute stick” was a maturity of some hack Microsoft did for a trade show where by they needed a portable way to run presentations. If our assumption is correct, it’s a wonderful product and is a great solution for its intended purpose.

PCWorld did a technical review of the compute stick back in 2016, and the link can be found at the bottom of this article. The PC World review outlined the specifications and performance levels of the Intel based product, and they are not bad at all given the small size of the stick. We will let that article do the heavy lifting for the tech people out there, but today we want to talk about the applications one might have for a computer stick.

For only $120 (ish) off Amazon, this is an excellent solution to run Windows 10 for a host of specific applications.

computer stick

Some key bullet points to get an idea of the hardware we are dealing with:

Continue reading


How To Tips: Transition from CD Services to USB Duplication Services

USB drives are in high demand because the optical drive is no longer sold with computers. Supplementary tools and equipment such as USB flash drive duplicators are additionally increasing in popularity. USB duplicators come with an array of features, they are practical options for quick, accurate flash drive duplication. This article will expand on these ideas to better inform you of what equipment is out there, and which features are most helpful.

A USB duplicator machines are an innovative tool that make it easy to replicate information from a master USB flash drive to blank flash drives (or simply USB drives), called targets. The duplication equipment is specifically design for use of binary replication from one master to many targets. One of the most valuable features is asynchronous duplication where all target USB flash drives are copied at any time which they become available to the duplicator. Meaning, the binary copy process will begin the moment a USB drive is connected, and as more USB targets are connected the binary copy process starts independent of the devices connected. The goal is for each USB port of the USB duplicator to have maximum efficiency. However; some could find this confusing and synchronous duplication is also available. Synchronous duplication means the binary copy process is not started until all USB target drives are connected and the user presses a button to begin the binary copy process. The asynchronous USB duplication method is the single most efficient and beneficial feature of the copier equipment.

The USB duplicator by Nexcopy is a crucial digital gadget for production of USB flash drives which hold information. This type of equipment has ended up being the norm when transferring data from one master device to other target devices. Versatile and easy to use, the USB duplicator has become preferred method for saving and moving essential records from a primary location to a secondary location or group of secondary devices. Likewise, the USB duplicator has become the essential tool for distributing promotional information materials on give-away promotion items like trade show flash drives. USB’s are the preferred method for the high tech world to transfer data from one point to another.

The USB drive, also called thumb drive, consists of flash NAND memory integrated with a printed circuit board or PCB and a controller chip that controls the flow of data transmission. Using a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port, the thumb drive may be connected to a computer system, or any other digital device with USB ports, such as today’s HD LCD Televisions, car stereos and hand held portable devices. USB drives are well suited to store data as well as exchange data, as the preferred medium for data distribution over optical drives. Flash drives are naturally a portable device because of their small size and durable case and comes with the added benefit of being rewritable. The USB flash drive is rewritable and will not deteriorate or drop in durability which is a significant advantage over competing mediums like floppy disks (if you can still get them) or CD and DVD discs. Flash drives operate very quickly and have great access and seek times which searching for specific files or data on them. This is another significant advantage the USB thumb drive has over optical media. In addition to all these great benefits, the USB flash drive comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Making them more customizable to your branding requirements then a standard size CD or DVD disc. The only way to personalize or brand an optical disc is printing on the top surface.

Given that USB drives are so prevalent, it is not shocking to see USB duplicator systems with a wide variety of features and functions to address every type of need a user might have. There is not one USB duplicator system that is perfect for everyone. Both PC based duplicators and standalone duplicators have their advantages. These USB copiers make use of current USB technology to maximize speed and reliability, including raised data transfer rates with USB 3.1 and USB copy protection attributes to safeguard content put onto the USB flash drive. When it concerns data distribution to flash memory, the USB duplicator is an invaluable asset. Nexcopy USB duplicator machines are one of the most reliable and dependable methods of copying binary data to USB thumb drives.

USB duplicators include copy and verify functions that can be done in one simple step, this is why they are gaining popularity in the business sector. Standalone USB copiers can transfer data as quickly as 33MB per second. This ultra-fast copy speed significantly cuts down manufacturing times when comparing production times with their counter part such as CD-R and DVD-R optical media. Nexcopy USB duplicators can be found in 4, 15, 20, 40 and 60 target systems.

Today’s USB duplicators are easy to use and friendly to operate. Standalone units generally include an LCD screen, a front control board and little keypad to make the USB duplicator technology as easy-as-possible to operate. Another version of US duplicator would be a PC based system where a host computer runs software that controls the binary copy process. The PC based duplicators can copy data to all different digital capacities of flash drives, which is important to understand when dealing with a collection of different GB sized flash drives. The standalone USB duplicators do not care about USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 flash drives because the USB copiers will simply copy as quickly as the device memory will allow. There are no barrier speeds with standalone duplicators. With PC based USB duplicators you can copy to USB 1.0 and USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives will full support of the USB specification. Both systems, standalone and PC based, offer the copy and compare function to produce the most accurate copies possible. The biggest advantage with PC based USB duplicators would be with the advanced functions a flash drive offers, such as making the USB read-only or also said another way, write protected. Write protection a USB flash drive means the data cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive. The data is permanently on the USB stick, muck like a CD or DVD disc.

Other features which come with these USB duplicators would include ways to test or benchmark the USB flash drive. Meaning, there are features to test the read and write speed of a device. Having this capability means the user can check the quality of product before the product is put into use for production or mass USB duplication. One other feature which many corporate IT managers like to know is the ability to erase the data on a flash drive. These USB duplicator systems come with features to erase data on the flash drive. Meaning, the USB will be written with random binary code to all the memory so that no data could be recovered. Even the most sophisticated data recovery tools could not restore lost data after a USB erase cycle by a Nexcopy USB duplicator.

USB duplicators are really beneficial both in the business world and the educational sector. The duplicators make it easy for data to circulate to others through the flash drive device. These USB copiers may be purchased through online e-tailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart. Learn more about USB duplicators here.


Inexpensive and Economical iPhone Charge Cable Solution

Are you looking for an inexpensive iPhone cable? This is a common search on Google because those cables go missing, get taken by your kids or co-workers, or possible break. It is as-though we need an endless supply of them. I don’t recall the last cable I had which lasted more than four months. There is an article out there, somewhere, that claims for each iPhone made, the user will need at least three cables for charging it. The link to that article escapes me, but I do believe it speaks the truth. From personal experience there is one needed for the car to charge while driving. One needed at work to charge while working, need that TV back-ground noise {wink}, and one needed at home for charging overnight.

iPhone cables or lightening cables are expensive. Go to Amazon and you will find a decent six foot cable costing nearly $20. Couple that cost with our observation about needing three cables, we are now looking at a $60 dollar expense. No thanks! We want an inexpensive iPhone charging cable.

This cable problem actually gets worse, not better, here is why:

You need microUSB cables to charge your portable battery packs. Okay, so we have our three cables for charging an iPhone. The work one, the car one and the home one. Of course we all have portable batteries to charge our phone, when away from said places. How do you charge those portable batteries? With a microUSB cable. At least those are cheaper than an iPhone lightening cable. Never-the-less it’s still another corded cable.

We all need the portable battery for charging – don’t think otherwise! Kids baseball game could stretch to three hours. Girls softball games are usually 1.4 hours and a couple per day. A golf round with your friends, typically 4.5 hours. The point, many times we find ourselves away from the car, home and work place and have the need for charging.

How do we solve this problem of finding an inexpensive iPhone charging cable? The answer is with a combination of products. The combination will not only charge your iPhone, but also charge the portable battery packs.

Going to Amazon you can find a pack of five microUSB cables for under $10. Be sure to check the length you want. It is easy to make the mistake of buying a shorter cable because the price is a bit lower, only to find out the length is too short.

The other item you need is a microUSB to Lightening adapter. This are little adapters that sit at the end of your microUSB connector and transfor the connection to a Lightening connection for your iPhone. A pack of four can be found on Amazon for less than $10.

Its important to note, these adapters only supply power to your iPhone. The adapters do not allow data transmission to your iPhone. Which is fine, when is the last time you connected your iPhone to the computer anyway for sync’ing? It’s all done wirelessly.

So with our $20 you just spent at Amazone you have three Lightening cables to charge your iPhone and you have three microUSB cables to charge your portable power pack. This is a very inexpensive iPhone charge cable solution. It would amaze me on why anyone would purchase something different, don’t you?


What Comes After the Dead Optical Drive?

Let’s face it, optical discs are large and bulky. At nearly five inches in diameter, the discs are big when compared to the size of modern laptops and now tablets. Even though the optical drives has been greatly reduced in size, more and more laptops have dropped the technology to conserve on space and power.

If you are not talking about the size of the mobile computer, the space used up by an optical drive can be used for more practical things. That space could be better used for the battery which can extend the overall running time of the system. If the system is designed for performance, it could store a better or bigger solid state drive in addition to a hard drive for added performance. Maybe the computer could use a better graphics solution for graphic design or gaming.

When CD-R drives first came into the market, they offered a huge storage capacity that rivaled traditional magnetic media of the day. After all, 650 megabytes of storage was well beyond what most hard drives were at the time. DVD expanded this capacity even further with 4.7 gigabytes of storage on the recordable formats.

While the growth rate of optical media was good, it is nowhere near the exponential growth that hard drives and USB sticks have seen. Optical storage is still stuck in the gigabytes while most hard drives are pushing even more terabytes. Using the CD, DVD and Blu-ray for storing data is just not worth it anymore. The write time is too slow and the seek time to find your data is equally as slow. The hard drive and it’s portable version, USB flash drive have found the main stream masses.

Keeping these points in mind, you can see why optical media is all but dead. Sure, the CD-R and DVD-R will last another year, probably another five, but it’s USB and hard drives which have taken over. The next step in the logical progression, is how to data load USB media? With optical media you had CD and DVD tower duplicators. There are many systems with robotics and printers so duplicate to the optical media and also print a label. But those systems are getting harder and harder to find.

The equipment most companies and organizations are seeking now are USB duplicators. These are flash memory copier systems which can data load content to USB flash drives at ultra-fast speeds. CD and DVD duplicators went through some phases of supported formats like discs being finalized or disc-at-once over track-at-once. Well, USB duplicators have a similar issue to resolve. There is file copy and binary copy and duplication from an ISO file or an IMG file. There are many ways to copy the data from the source to the target USB media.

It’s important to have a USB duplicator which supports all these functions. There are some duplicators with as many as six copy modes. A system like this makes it extremely versatile for the user to move data around. There is file copy, copy add, unique data streaming, copy from a physical device, copy from an IMG file, copy from an ISO file. These are all great resources to have if you are not sure how the content is being given to you.

Continue reading

Did You Know These Six Copy Modes for a USB Duplicator?

Flash drives have become a ubiquitous product which really deserves a bit more attention, at least for those who depend on flash drives as part of an overall solution, and today we are diving in deeper to copy modes of a USB duplicator. For the trade show guys who give away flash drives, this article is a bit overkill, but for the IT professional or product manager, this is right up your alley.

Today, I want to spend some time and review the different copy methods one can use to data load your flash drive. Each method has its advantage, and each method could be a slightly better fit, than your previous duplication method.

So let’s talk about the six copy methods a PC base USB duplicator has. After some product reviews and searching on-line, in this article we will use the Nexcopy brad product as their PC based duplicator had the most copy options for us to review.

USB Duplicator

The six copy modes are:

  1. File Copy
  2. Copy Add
  3. Unique Data Streaming
  4. Short Device Copy
  5. Full Device Copy
  6. Image File Copy

The above information is pulled from a different article from TechSling and for the full description of the above six copy methods, head over to that site. It’s a great read and each copy mode has it’s own value for what and when to use it.

Continue reading

Erase USB or Clean USB or Format USB?

We’ve seen these terms floating around in forums and How To’s for years when someone is explaining what to do with USB flash drives. I think most people glaze over the definitions of Clean, Erase and Format simply because they believe the terms are interchangeable, or they aren’t planning on doing the task mentioned in the post.

I hope the following information will clear up some terms and definitions so we can all better understand what people are talking about when passing along information about flash drives and the Clean, Erase and Format function.

All of these functions can be performed in your Windows 10 computer, or higher. I will start with the least complicated definition and task, and move along from there.


This function is what 98% of Windows computer operators will use. This is the graphical interface inside Windows when you right click a drive letter and ask the operating system to format the drive. What is this function really doing?

Format is the least complicated of the tasks, and this function is removing the File Allocation Table of the USB and creating a new one. Said a simpler way… this function takes away the list of files sitting on the drive so it then appears blank with no data.

It’s important to note, the files are still on the drive, just not listed in an easy, organized manor which you can see through windows explorer (clicking on the drive letter to see the list of files).

Using the most basic file recovery software tools, like the one we wrote about several months back, you can recover all the files sitting on the drive.

Maybe a picture will help. Looking at the image below you can see the “data” is light grey. Meaning the data is still there, just not easily accessible. This data is what recovery software will look for, find, and list back on your drive. Also notice the boot code of the USB (if you want to load an operating system on your USB stick) isn’t touched either.

format usb flash drive

You might have questions if a USB flash drive should be formatted as FAT, FAT32, exFAT or NTFS and we did a great post about that a bit earlier as well.


The Clean function is a bit more in-depth than the format function. This function applies directly to the Master Boot Record (MBR) or boot code mentioned just above.

The Clean function will clear out boot code and will remove any partition on the flash drive. The partition of a flash drive is the information which tells a host computer how big the drive is, and if the partition should be bootable in the event you are trying to start the computer from a flash drive.

The Clean function is not accessible through the GUI of Windows, for example you cannot right click on a drive letter and find the Clean function. The Clean function is only accessible through the Windows utility called DiskPart.

Continue reading

Solution: Windows Does Not Assign Drive Letter to Flash Drive

Problem Issue:

This is happening on Win8 and Windows 10.

When I remove a USB drive and reconnect it, Windows will not assign a drive letter. Clearly this is a problem as every other computer I use assigns a drive letter.

There are three solutions. All of which will work.

      1) You can go into Disk Management and select the device and assing a drive letter. This is a manual process and not ideal for each time you plug in a flash drive.
      2) Good chance the driver or registry entry for that device is rogue or corrupt. Use this USBScrub tool to remove the registry entry. Chances are this will fix the problem. USBScrub link
      3) Use ‘diskpart’ and enable the automount feature.

  • Open Command Prompt as Administrator (search for Command Prompt in the Start Menu, right click, Run as Administrator)
  • Type ‘diskpart’ and hit Enter.
  • Once in the ‘diskpart’ command prompt type ‘automount enable’ and hit Enter.
  • Type ‘exit’ and click Enter

For solution number one from above, Disk Management is really the GUI version for diskpart, but a GUI (Graphical User Interface) which has scaled down functions from what all the things diskpart can really do.

Diskpart has 37 commands that you can do very cool things with. The 38th command is Continue reading