[Strange mystery] Flash/thumb drive only works in OS X?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by ravenvii, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    I got this weird issue with my 4 GB flash/thumb drive.

    Basically, in OS X it seems to work perfectly fine. I formatted it to HFS+ and transferred files to it, ejected it, then put it back in, the file is still there, I transferred it back to the computer, and it opens fine.

    However, when I put it in any machine running Windows, it'll only recognize 48 MB or something. It refuses to format the whole 4 GB.

    When I plug it into an Ubuntu machine, it would recognize a "4 GB filesystem", but would throw up errors anytime I try to interact with it. And when I tried to format it with Ubuntu, it would invariably fail.

    From Windows and Ubuntu's views, the flash drive is no good. But then why does it *seem* to work fine in OS X?

    Yes, I have formatted the drive with MS-DOS (FAT) in OS X, same results in Windows and Ubuntu.

    Anyone have an explanation to this mystery?
  2. BlueRevolution macrumors 603


    Jul 26, 2004
    Montreal, QC
    Have you actually filled the drive up? I remember reading an article on eBay a while ago about how some flash drives up for auction are cheap knock-offs designed to report a larger capacity than the flash chip can actually accommodate. They say 32 GB (or whatever) on the drive and on the computer, but if you try to copy anything larger than the flash chip can physically accommodate, it'll fail or corrupt.

    That's the only thing that comes to mind for me, anyway, if the OSes are reporting different things. Hopefully somebody else has some more useful suggestions.
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I don't think this is the problem, but just out of curiosity, what partition format did you use when formatting it FAT? Depending on the version of Windows, it's at least possible that it won't properly read a FAT volume if the drive uses APM (maybe even GUID). Not sure how Linux would react to that.

    You'd still expect said OSes to be able to do a full reformat, though, so it's probably something else going on.

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