Tag Archives: usb

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

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.

Format

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.

Clean

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