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Jul 21 2005
USB Thumb-drive Hell Print E-mail
Written by Paul Winkeler   
Thursday, 21 July 2005

With USB thumb-drives, pen-drives, diskonkey drives becoming as ubiquitous and cheap as they have, the general solution to one of them "dying" is beginning to follow that all too familiar consumer-society pattern of "throw away and replace". How many of these little, vendor-logo emblazoned gizmos do you have lying around that at some point just stopped working? Earlier today, in the midst of trying to rescue some data from an otherwise corrupted Windows XP install yet another of my thumb-drives failed:

  • Windows XP claimed the drive was no longer formatted but when I gave it the OK to re-format, it proceeded to claim the drive was write-protected thus preventing me from doing anything useful with the device.
  • Linux similarly was of no help in that it entered a never-ending loop trying to talk to the device only to give the error message:
    USB device not accepting new address
    all the while proudly showing off its ability to follow a strictly monotonically increasing series of addresses.
This time though I refused to give up on my 256MB piece of Hewlett-Packard swag...

Much Google-ing and slogging through endless litanies of people complaining ultimately led me to Andy Tran's post on the Hardware Analysis forum which referred to a small low-level format utility from Apacer's website's download section which had straightened out his thumb-drive. I downloaded this zip file, ran the pen2pref.exe binary which found my no-name thumb-drive without a hitch. After about a 5 minute light-show, the light stopped flashing just as the readme file predicted. Un-plugging and subsequently plugging the thumb-drive back in yielded a perfectly formatted virgin device, ready for use!

Thanks Andy and thanks Apacer for finally doing some about this knee-jerk disposable solution attitude. And as for the rest of you thumb-drive manufacturers: shame on you for not making a low-level format utility available on your websites! (Of course, if anyone knows of an other vendor's tool, especially if this one doesn't work, please let me know and I will add it to this article.)

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