Scanning and testing a usb key for defects

Last Modified: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 03:58:00 +0000 ; Created: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 03:58:00 +0000

I was using one of my 1GB USB keys to install some software one day when I started to get strange errors. Since the key wasn't very old I didn't suspect it at first.

I reformatted the device from Windows with no errors appearing on it. I even ran "chkdsk D: /R" to scan for bad sectors. Furthermore I used HDTune to run an error check on the device. No errors came up so I figured all was okay.

After getting the exact same problems again even after a format I decided to run Linux's badblocks tool on it.

I did "badblocks -s -v -w /dev/sdd" which did a data destructive read-write test on the device. Sure enough after an hour the scan came up with bad sectors on the device.

This goes to show that chkdsk /R and even HDTune surface scans don't do enough checks on the newer flash memory to catch all errors. If one wants to really check the integrity of a flash device they will have to do a read/write test.

The key is only 7 months old, but it was from some cheap shop anyway. Goes to show that non-generic usb keys probably hold up better.