Is my flash drive dead?
September 27, 2008 2:59 AM   Subscribe

Has my flash drive kicked the can? Windows Vista can't read it.

I have a 1GB PNY USB drive with many files on it (I have backups, no worries there.) The entire drive is NOT encrypted, but there is a container file on it which is encrypted with TrueCrypt, and the default auto-run option is set to TrueCrypt. It's been running fine up until today.

When I insert my flash drive, Vista (Home Basic) tells me I need to format it. I tried a program called TestDisk and it found nothing on my drive. Right-clicking the drive in My Computer says it's completely full (it's not). I decided to try to format the drive since I have backups - I tried a quick format and Vista says it was unable to complete the format almost instantly. Then I tried a regular (i.e. not quick) and got the same message.

I've never had a flash drive die before, although I am aware they do eventually expire. Is mine dead or is this some problem with Windows?
posted by IndigoRain to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
I wouldn't trust Vista. Even beyond my (admittedly somewhat superstitious) distrust, I've heard from friends that it doesn't handle some USB drivers well.

This is a simple check. Have you tried plugging your flash drive into a computer with a different OS? Say, an XP computer or a Mac?
posted by koeselitz at 3:50 AM on September 27, 2008

I should say more specifically: the experience I've heard about is Vista demanding drivers for flash drives when they're plugged in (which is a little silly) and misassigning or neglecting to assign drive letters. You might have luck checking into the Disk Management dialogue and making sure letters are assigned or formatting or partitioning from there.
posted by koeselitz at 3:54 AM on September 27, 2008

I see dead flash drives all the time, often for no apparent reason. As they've got (a lot) cheaper, their survivability has gone way down. If testdisk and formatting can't fix it on a previously happy host pc, it's dead.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:54 AM on September 27, 2008

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