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Mac files copied onto dual use USB Drives

Posted on 2011-03-14
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
Hello Experts,

I work for a company that primarily sells promotional USB drives. These are drives that are purchased in bulk, stamped, engraved, or painted with a company logo, and preloaded with company data. These drives then serve as a great promotional item. They are cheap enough to purchase in bulk, and very useful to the person they are given to as that person will likely not throw it out. Marketing money well spent.

Here's my question, in the last few months our requests to load data that is compatible with both MAC and PC have risen, and seems that our RMAs for such drives went through the roof.

Here's the process we use.
1. customer submits po requesting that preloaded data works on both PC and MAC (all data is supplied by customer them selves)
2. customer uploads their preload data on our FTP server (often not compressed in a zip/rar)
3. our factories in china download the preload from our FTP server to their main PC (read NON MAC)
4. our factories in china use PC's to load data onto the USB drives that customer purchased.

This seems to cause problems for MAC data. seems to me that once it hits a PC from the FTP server it somehow gets corrupt. I've ran a few tests where i take the same FTP data, copy it to a MAC, load it to a USB drive and all is well. Taking the same data, copying to a PC then to a USB drive, MAC files no longer work.

Can someone shine some light on this. Why is this happening? and are we basically stuck loading anything that has to work on a MAC from a MAC only?

I am a MAC DUMMY :)
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Question by:iPromoExpert
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by:strung
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Several possibilities. In the first place, Macs can't read NTFS drives without third party software, so you have to make sure dual use USB drives are FAT 32.

Second, you have to make sure the three digit suffix identifying the creator software is maintained.

That should solve most problems, but certain types of Mac data also have something called "resource forks". Here is the long explanation of resource forks and the compatibility problems they cause:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_fork
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by:strung
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by:gmbaxter
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What types of files are being loaded onto the dual purpose drives?

Does zipping the files up help?

Does changing the permissions of the mac files make a difference, eg chmod 755 - everyone read only access or chmod 777 - everyone read write help ?
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by:strung
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by:iPromoExpert
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All drives we use are formatted to FAT32. Preload files are often Flash presentations or power point presentations. Zipping files only helps if the files are unzipped on a MAC, as soon as they are unzipped on a pc and then loaded onto the usb drives the applications fail. I can't force my factories in China to purchase more MACs to preload massive amounts of USB drives so the do it on one, which hinders production severely.
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by:gmbaxter
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Could you unzip using Linux instead ? A lot cheaper than a mac.

Have you tried the chmod options?
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by:iPromoExpert
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I highly doubt anyone at our china factories are capable of using Linux :) . The FTP server is on a linux box and default permissions are 766
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by:mccrick
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It sounds to me like the bottom line is that your company in the US has to convert these to ZIP files before the are distributed to China Manufacturing. Then DO NOT LET THE DATA COPIERS OPEN OR CHANGE THE FILES IN ANYWAY; just move the data from the FTP server to their copiers and onto the disks.

If you have any data that is actually Mac specific, then use a Macintosh to "compress" or "package" these files:

Save the files into folders. Convert the folders into DMG files or ZIP files and don't let the manufacturer in China open or change these files. Just have them move the file from your server to their PC and then onto the disk. If they can't do that, then they need some new PCs.

DMG would probably be better. Creating a DMG can be done quickly and easily by launching the Disk Utility app included with every current Macintosh. Alternatively, you could try converting the folders into ZIP files from the Finder of any current Mac. Either way, once you have the files bundled into this format, the PC can't really mess with it.

Any of your clients who are producing Mac content should be able to submit their data to you in this format. If not, you can do it. If you don't have a Mac then buy one, even if it is a $300 iMac G5 off of craigslist.

Powerpoint and Word files shouldn't need to be special Mac files, but not everyone has those apps on a Mac or PC. It may be safest to distribute the data as PDFs to reach the most people.
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mccrick earned 500 total points
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Step 1B: package all files into Zip for final distribution.
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by:iPromoExpert
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We have tried the ZIP/RAR/DMG method. The files have to be uncompressed before they hit the USB drive. What happens is that as soon as those files are uncompressed on a PC all MAC data gets corrupt and stops working. Taking the same ZIP/DMG uncompressing it on a MAC causes no issues. It would seem pretty unbelievable to think that we have to use MACS to preload any data that has to work with a MAC. There has to be another way around this.
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by:mccrick
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why can't the mac files be distributed as dmg?
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by:iPromoExpert
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Because they have to be usable on the USB drive by the end user without having to decompress the contents. These are promotional USB drives, so most end users are not computer savvy.
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by:mccrick
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Ok, I won't argue about how you want the final product to look. But since you claim to be a "mac dummy," I will just point out that If you have a file that is a DMG on the Disk that says Mac on it, ALL Macs can open that with a simple double-click, no differently than if it was a folder. There is no need for special decompression software. It's built into the OS for at least the past 7 years.

Mac users like simple, elegant design, but that doesn't mean that they are incompetent.

Workarounds aside, it seems the problem is likely to be with your FTP server. I would talk to whomever set it up or is hosting it. It is very easy to setup an FTP server. You might try either setting up another FTP server or, even better, just use a free web based file sharing system like Dropbox.
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by:iPromoExpert
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We can't use web based sharing as some of the files being preloaded are confidential information and clients don't want anyone else potentially having access to it. FTP accounts are created per customer with a unique login/password pair. FTP server runs on a dedicated Rackspace machine. Set up by Rackspace Engineers whom I have full confidence in. What settings would you suggest for the FTP server?
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by:mccrick
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Sorry, I would call Rackspace.
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