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Is possible to erase a flash drive

Posted on 2012-03-22
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Last Modified: 2012-03-23
I know that with floppy disks you can get them around a magnet and you will actually erase the contents of the floppy disk.  I am wondering if it is possible to do something similar with a flash drive.  I often keep one in my pocket but I wonder, for example, if I keep it near a cell phone and it rings, putting out a magnetic charge, if it is possible that I might unintentionally erase it?
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Question by:WoodrowA
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10 Comments
 
LVL 96

Accepted Solution

by:
Lee W, MVP earned 600 total points
ID: 37755773
You should be fine.  And you would need a REALLY powerful magnet for most data storage devices affected by magnets (have you ever opened up a dead hard drive - the magnets in that thing are POWERFUL and they are encased with the disk... so your typical refrigerator magnet or cell phone is not going to have any effect on those devices.

That said, I've had flash drives go bad for no apparent reason... DO NOT rely on them as permanent data storage.  ALWAYS have backups of the data somewhere else.
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LVL 75

Assisted Solution

by:käµfm³d 👽
käµfm³d   👽 earned 400 total points
ID: 37755797
The reason magnets affect floppy disks is because the disks themselves are a magnetic media. Flash drives are not magnetic media; they store their data in a flash memory chip.
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LVL 14

Assisted Solution

by:Rob Miners
Rob Miners earned 400 total points
ID: 37755811
Data stored on flash drives is impervious to mechanical shock, magnetic fields, scratches and dust. These properties make them suitable for transporting data from place to place and keeping the data readily at hand.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_flash_drive

I've had a few go through the washing with no ill effect, but as suggested don't rely on them for permanent Data Storage.
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LVL 44

Assisted Solution

by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 400 total points
ID: 37755812
I agree. They don't work on the same principles as magnetic tape and floppy media.

They're a type of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM).

Though they didn't invent it, Intel actually trademarked the name "Flash" to put on some of their NVRAM memory chips.

> That said, I've had flash drives go bad for no apparent reason
SD and microSD cards, too! (which, now that I think of it are a type of flash memory, also.)
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LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 600 total points
ID: 37756084
I confess, I didn't clearly answer the question to begin with - my point was that MAYBE floppy disks were more susceptible, but media today is pretty much impervious to all but the strongest magnets - and that's assuming the media (such as a mechanical hard drive) is susceptible at all.

Further, think about it - MOST cell phones have storage of some kind - if these technologies were that sensitive, you could never program them or store data!
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LVL 93

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 200 total points
ID: 37756402
most data loss on flash disks is caused by ESD imo - but that does not erase the data, but rather destroys the device
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Author Comment

by:WoodrowA
ID: 37756928
Thank you to all.  Very informative.

Nobus!

Does ESD stand for Electro Static Discharge?.  If so, how is that avoided?
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:Darr247
ID: 37757207
> If so, how is that avoided?
Touch bare metal on the computer to equalize potential before plugging in or removing the device.

Also,  keep the cap on when you're not using it, or buy the type with retractable plugs if you're prone to losing the caps. :)
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LVL 93

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37757813
>>   Does ESD stand for Electro Static Discharge?.   <<  yes that's it
>>    If so, how is that avoided?   << as Darr says, touch the PC case, or ground, to have your potential equalised to ground level
if you work in an ESD sensitive environment (DRY AIR eg) you can use a wrist band to ground yourself
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Author Closing Comment

by:WoodrowA
ID: 37757879
Thank you all
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