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USB Stick Question

Posted on 2006-05-22
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Last Modified: 2010-04-12

Hi, I've got an 1GB Usb Flash Stick, made by Traxdata. I've noticed that if I keep it plugged in under Windows, it gets hot, while in Linux it doesn't. Can somebody explain me what's with the strange behaviour?
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Question by:Dragon_Krome
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by:jer2eydevil88
jer2eydevil88 earned 40 total points
ID: 16739920
Linux (depending on your flavor) is probably not mounting the device for use unless you open it in your GUI.  Linux needs to "mount" drives before they can be used by the OS.

Windows considers the flash drive is a USB drive and is forcing it to communicate with it all the time.
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 16740254
No, I didn't mention, but in Linux the stick is mounted too.
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by:rindi
ID: 16740277
Still, even if it is mounted, linux doesn't access the drive except if you are using it. Windows on the other hand tries to access it even if you aren't using it.
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by:jer2eydevil88
ID: 16740281
Could be that XP is searching for an Autorun file on the USB stick continually causing it to heat up.
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 16740289
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/windows/0,39020396,39252971,00.htm

Could this be related?

@jer2eydevil88 : hmmm, i don't think so, but i'll check that out too.
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by:mwnnj
ID: 16745875
there was a thread ,somewhere :),as the point of the discussion was how/whether windows tries to synchronize the data on the usb-stick,cuz on linux if you want to unmount ,whtever kind of device you need to follow these easy steps,adding commands in your bash:
##let's say your usb stick is mounted under /mnt,so:
$sync;sync
$umount /mnt
#should unmount your usb stick,before you want to plug it out of the usb socket
so (surely you must be logged as root to mount/unmount a device!) Linux makes this whole scenario in two steps,and as rindi it does not try to check out the status of your usb stick the whole time as it is plugged in...
The problem in Windows is the explorer.exe cuz it's :
1) loading the windows shell,stop the explorer.exe due the  task manager and you'll loose all your shell but the desktop picture(icons,menues and so on)
2)it's your file manager
3)it is a part of the access management to your devices,so everything in the Windows environment 'calls' the explorer.exe for somekind of jobs,so i assume,that in windows there is a way to prompt sequently a removable device if it's plugged in ,or synchronized and so on...so the system prompts every one and then the device regarding its status,that's why the device cannot really go in idle mode ,but it's responding the whole time with the system and it's actually working ,that's why it gets hot !
try to use this:
there is an icon in the system tray ,which gives the chance to remove safely the device/'unmount it' ,so as you're finished with your 'usb work',just use this unplugging/unmounting manager and 'unmount' the usb device off your Windows,the usb-stick can still reside in its socket but it should not be accessable through Windows and check out if the usb-stick will still get hot,as if you let it stay 'unmounted' in its socket over the night....

cu
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 16746101
Thanks for your reply. The thing that bothers me is that i have (sometimes) to work on files from the stick, so unmounting it is not an option. You gave me an idea, i'll try and see what happens if i optimize for fast access instead of quick removal. I'll post the results tomorrow or the day after, since i've gave the stick to a friend to transport some docs.
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by:mwnnj
ID: 16746148
Right, it should be not such as comfortable but if you 'unmount' it ,then you just need to replug(plug out ->plug in) it and the usb-stick will show up in your explorer menu.If you use the stick for an hour or two i don't think that it should be an issue to stay mounted,but if you think you have no work on it for about couple of hours then just 'unmount' it,this procedure will keep the live of your usb stick no matter you want to do with it,it's really bad issue just to plug out the usb stick,firstly use the manager and remove it safely out of your system and then plug it out....

good luck!
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 16778828
Ok, sorry for the long delay, just got my stick back.

So, the story goes like this: set windows to optimize for performance instead of quick removal, no difference, it's still getting hot. Watched all file i/o with filemon and there's no activity on it. Tried it in linux, mounted, editing a document from it and it's cold.

I don't get it :( so seems i'm back to square one. So, does anybody _knows_ why this is happening?

In the mean while, i'm gonna try some usb monitors in both windows and linux, to see what's going on.
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by:mwnnj
ID: 16813664
so ,i made the tests for you -i just wanted to be sure that after i safely removed the usb-stick out of my windows system i should not get hot over the night and yes:
i went with my usb stick for about 18 hours plugged into my usb hub under windows xp sp2 and after the successful 'unattaching' of the usb-stick under windows using the system tray icon for removable devices it happened just as i expected-18 hours cool usb-stick under windows ,so i admit that my proposals are right ,see the manual on how to safely remove your usb-stick,then you can let it plugged in in the usb-socket ,but it won't get hot:
http://www.studentworkplace.leidenuniv.nl/index.php3?c=9

Cheers!
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 16813933
mwnnj, thanks for your trouble, but it seems one of us has misunderstood something. I agree that if you unattach it, it won't get hot - but it's also unusable! I need to actively work with the stick, editing documents, charts, photos from it for larger amounts of time - hours (i'm in the middle of a project and i want to be able to work on any computer, that's why i use my stick - don't like to copy back and forth to the hdd either),  so unattaching the stick is _not_ allright; I usually save after modifying one open document, and because of this, think how frustrating will be for me to re-plug the stick each time i want to save - and deattach it afterwards! :)
really thanks, but this is not ok.  
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by:mwnnj
ID: 16813965
Ok,you can just unplugg it and the put it back you got the connection to your usb stick:
as you actively work on it ,just stay attached if you go out for more that half an hour,then unattach it and after you come back just replugg your usb stick and you'll renew your connection ,so you can work furthur....
or,is there something more?

Nice time!
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mwnnj earned 106 total points
ID: 16813971
or the best suggestion: just stay with linux and forget the stupid windoze ;)
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by:rindi
rindi earned 104 total points
ID: 16813979
that would have been my suggestion too, but he has to move around and use what is in front of him, you can't allways choose what's best, and have to take what costs most and is lowest quality!
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 16814000
hahahhaha,  yes, i'm using linux at work and at home, but the problem is that i need that damn windows software and wine isn't going to do it in a million years :))

to sum things up, i haven't found out why in windows is getting hotter than in linux. I wish i did, not especially to save the stick from trouble ;), but for my personal knowledge.

I've probed the theories you guys (or girls :P) gave me and they don't seem to be true. This solution of sticking the stick in and out for each save would be most annoying and i think in that case i'll rather keep it in while i work :P

I'd like to wait for a couple more days to see if any other answer pops up, before giving the points.
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by:mwnnj
ID: 16814022
;) OK,you must though know that if you want to plug out your usb stick ,you must firstly use 'the safely removing' system tray manage ,cuz if you don't do it :
-the 'life 'of your usb stick gets shorter;
-in some very rare cases it could damage the stick

Nice time!
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by:rindi
ID: 16814102
There might also be another explanation. Windows generally has more disk activity, and it often uses up more system resources too. This will cause the hardware in general to work more and therefore getting hotter. In linux that often isn't so much the case. If your cardreader is located close to some other component inside the PC which happens to warm up more when using windows than linux, the heat would be picked up by the cardreader, and thus the card too (without that actually being involved). Another thing that might explain it too, is that windows generally has somewhat better ACPI support than linux, so windows would probably not run the fans at top speed at all times. This would cause the system to get warmer, but as long as the thresholds aren't reached that wouldn't be a problem. Linux doesn't finetune the fans as much, so they might be running faster, keeping the whole system cooler. Both of these theories you'd have to test by using an external card reader which can't be heated up by the PC itself.
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 16814133
well, it's an extrernal stick plugged into an usb port, i don't see how that would apply. I'm suspecting some sort of intense "ping"-like activity with the device, but it's not done at file level - filemon doesn't show anything. i found out about some usb monitor tools, i'll try those too.
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by:rindi
ID: 16814287
I thought it was a memory card which needs a memory card reader, like a SD card used in cameras etc. Being USB my above theories wouldn't apply.
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by:Dragon_Krome
ID: 17023407
Sorry it took me so long to answer this, i've been extremely busy. thanks for your help
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