Life expentancy of USB memory sticks

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by skeg, Jan 8, 2004.

  1. skeg

    skeg Member

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    Ive just lost my second USB key in 3 months to sudden but fatal failures, and for such an incredibly useful little device, its a pain in the arse losing all that data when they go belly up. Is it just me and maybe the environment I work in, or are they all failing rather fast for no apparent reason?

    I plug them in and both devices powers Ok (Well the LED is on) but no data transfer is possible. One can even be mounted and unmounted with no problems, but I cant read from or write to either drive.

    The first key wouldnt have been used 50 times, the second lasting a little longer, maybe 200 times. Just long enough to become totally dependant on it and a little lax with the backups :(
     
  2. phoen8x

    phoen8x Member

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    I don't know what brand you use but my usb key has lasted for a while. I read somewhere that they are only good for a few thousand write cycles. So if you use it to boot windows which uses swap space then it will fail rather quickly.
    They are also quite fragile. Been called usb keys doesn't mean you really put it on key chains as this will destroy it quickly.
     
  3. fergo

    fergo Member

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    Fragile? Not my experience.

    I've sold a fair few of these (20-30) & see what people do to them. Leave them in the sun in a hot car for 2 days; put through the washing machine (personal experience too); swimming; repeated bashing..... No one has RMA'd one yet!

    Perhaps it's the brand? I've used USB Bar, Tiny Disk & Apacer.

    Sure, they're not invincible, but compare them to almost any other data storage device and decide if they're fragile. As for data corruption, you need to be careful about unmounting them etc.

    RE: thread starter's drives, can they be formatted with the manufacturer's utilities? Some of them need to be run under Windows 98 but have rescued the one drive that wasn't responding for me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2004
  4. chainbolt

    chainbolt Member

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    1000 years? That's "solid state" material, no mechanics, almost no heat.
     
  5. Anarki

    Anarki Member

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    No, 1000 write cycles...
     
  6. kr0k

    kr0k Member

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    well it is flash memory, some bios chips are rated for 100 write cycles, so 1000 for USB flash memory might not be out of the question
     
  7. flores741

    flores741 Member

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    try using the safely remove hardware thingy in XP, its safer when removing it.
     
  8. Shinglor

    Shinglor Member

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    LOL. What "safely remove device" does is finish writing all the data that's been queued up with the write-behind caching feature.
     
  9. timace

    timace Member

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    ... and that blasted 'safely remove device' function is just a pain, especially at tafe, where it doesnt work, and i have to log off or reboot the machine to take it off to avoid losing the data, which has happened on a couple of occasions.

    i used it several times daily for 5 or 6 months straight, and it has been nearly flawless. :)
     
  10. Shinglor

    Shinglor Member

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    Can't you just disable write-behind caching on your USB drive?
     
  11. SpaceFrog

    SpaceFrog Member

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    My memory stick didnt last a day :(

    something smelt like smoke.. and yeah a little internal burning/melting bubbling throught the surface.
     
  12. blitz_syd

    blitz_syd Member

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    i had a cheap USB stick which had the same problem as you.

    when it was plugged in i copied files to it successfully ... when i unplugged and plugged into another computer and files aren't there anymore.

    i took it back and got a new one. and that was fine :)
    i was told that some have that problem and just needs to be replaced
     
  13. phoen8x

    phoen8x Member

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    When I say fragile I mean, try to crush it with a pocket full of keys and apply a bit of pressure. The memory chip inside is fragile if its bent or twisted.
    Heat is not the biggest problem. I have seen a some keys fail because my colleague thinks they are called usb KEYS so he puts them on key rings along with coins etc. didn't last long. Now he understands that silicon chips are brital.
     
  14. methodMAN

    methodMAN Member

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    I would have though being of a solid state memory, they should be perfectly fine to be written to X amount of times.

    Fair enough it fails after being thrashed around.

    I had a 64Mb one at my old work and i use to wear it around my neck with my ID card and 2 door keys, it was constantly copping severe whacks numerous times a day, never played up once for me.

    methodMAN
     
  15. HeXa

    HeXa Member

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    my 64MB Cyclone branded USB key gets the same rought treatment..... only jsut yesterday i dropped it outside my office and couldn't be bothered picking it up, so I just kicked it in the general direction of the office chair :p

    I must admit my 512MB one gets treated much more gently though...... too much important stuff on that, even if it is backed up on the network and notebook.

    - HeXa
     
  16. Flash!

    Flash! Member

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    If it powers up, but windows doesn't acknowledge that the hardware is found, then its not connecting its brain to the computer.

    I had this happen after tilting my laptop up with a memory key plugged into USB port at back.

    Solder contact point broken on one of the data lines.

    Light on - but no drive.

    30 secs with a soldering iron all fixed.

    Maybe your issue - maybe not?

    Try moving it around gently with it in the drive, eg pull up a bit, push down a bit, if windows starts to find drive hold it in that position.
     
  17. azn_antman

    azn_antman Member

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    Safely Remove Hardware

    I've got a USB 256mb drive and my MP3 player connected to USB ports. The "Safely Remove Hardware" thing always pops up after placing one of the drives in a port, and when not properly removing them, the Windows prompt sound warns of that action. It doesn't sound when I actually do it properly by clicking and stopping it manually. Has anyone actually got a screwed drive or lost information by just unplugging it?
     
  18. Shinglor

    Shinglor Member

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    Disable write-behind caching if you want to do that. With it turned on any data not yet written to the drive will lost if it is unplugged.
     
  19. Dr freedom

    Dr freedom Member

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    My DSE usb 2.0 prodrive died on me yesterday.

    Windows XP says its not recognized & in the properties it says that the driver is not installed. Wtf.. XP is the driver unless I use 98, ME, I have a driver on a disk. Sure I tried them, although no go.
    I have been using it for 6 months without failure.

    This time when I buy one im going to get a decent branded one, I thought that the DSE brand would be ok, maybe so, although im not going that way again.
    I did however find a list on Microsofts website of usb keys they give their approval to. I will find the link again at home tonight & post it.
     
  20. azn_antman

    azn_antman Member

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    ye that would be good to know that list Mr Freedom...

    & thanks for the tip Shinglor.

    The USB drives at DSE are quite cheaper than others on the market at the moment, and so it proves why.

    Has anyone seen this?

    Pocket Internet / Digital USB Camera for $21 at DSE
     

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