Flash Drives

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Unable to Copy Files >4GB

Problem: The USB Flash Drive appears to have more than enough free space, but you get a "disk is full" error when you try to copy a file >4GB.

Cause: Most flash drives are formatted by default using FAT or FAT32. These formats only allow files that are smaller than 4GB. This is typically done to allow flash drives to be removed quickly with less risk of data loss

Solution: Reformat the entire drive using NTFS rather than FAT ofr FAT32. Note that this will erase any and all data on the drive. To do so:

First try and see if it will let you reformat the drive as NTFS:

  1. Right click on my computer and click manage
  2. On the left hand side, under Storage, click on Disk Management
  3. Select the disk in the upper portion of the screen
  4. In the lower portion of the screen right click on the partition on that disk and select format (make sure this is the right disk and the right partition or you could lose all the data on whatever drive you accidentally format)
  5. Where it says File System: see what formats are there. If NTFS is there you can select and use it.

If not, you can do the following to enable NTFS:

  1. Right click on My Computer and select manage
  2. From the menu on the left, select the device manager
  3. Under disk drives, find the name of the Flash drive, right click on it, and select properties
  4. In the policies tab, select Optimize for performance and click ok.

After you do this, unlike for most devices, you will need to be sure to use the eject feature in windows before removing the drive. Using the optimize for performance setting significantly increases the risk of data loss if the drive is removed without first being ejected.

You will then need to repeat the first set of steps to format the drive. When you do so, NTFS should appear as an option.

My Flash Drive Doesn't Appear

Problem: The USB Flash Drive (also known as pendrive, thumbdrive, usb stick) does not appear in the list of drives.

Cause: Most likely, a mapped network drive is conflicting with the USB Flash Drive. (Technically speaking, a script automatically connects to network servers, mapping them to certain drive letters, in most cases the drive-letter "F:\", that the USB Flash Drive sees as "taken" and thus cannot use them)

Solution: From the Desktop (or the Start menu) open the item with the name "My Computer" (in public labs, this icon appears with the title "your-username on name-of-computer".

From the list of drives, right-click the (F:) drive and select Disconnect. Your USB Flash Drive shoud appear in the list after a 5-second delay. If this didn't work, try disconnecting the other drive letters, try another computer or contact the Helpdesk.

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