Samstag, 1. November 2014

The dangers of gift usb pen-drives

I've seen quite a few (~5) usb pen drives dying the last months, usually after what I would consider as light useage. They did not go read-only, but instead lost all content and dropped dead.
All those pen drives had in common, they were/had:
  • very small (1-4 GB) 
  • free / gifts
  • Alcor Micro controllers

The reason they all have small capacity stems from the fact that junk flash is used, where only a small portion is functional.
The image below shows an open Digikey 1GB pen-drive (I got two of these, both died with < 5GB written). The flash is unlabelled, only marked with what appears crayon.  Using ChipGenius to read the flash configuration, it turns out the chip is actually an 8GB Sandisk part.

The shown part is from digikey, but I've head the same stuff from Freescale and other companies, all were highly unreliable. I've had gift pen-drivers which looked exactly the same and were fine (but didn't have "junk flash"), so I guess some manufacturer has started building that stuff in high volume.

Bottom line: Those pen drives are gutter crap. If your data/time is valueable, don't use them. In don't understand why companies like Digikey or Freescale destroy their reputation with crap like this - better no gifts than stuff like this.

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