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Compact Flash appears as Local Disk instead Removable Device

Posted on 2014-01-25
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I have an old CF that depending of the adapter used is recognized by windows 7 or xp as Local Disk instead Removable Device...

How I can prevent windows be doing that?
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Question by:moralesrd
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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CF cards (and other removable media like SD and USB drives) have a flag set in the media descriptor that tell Windows that it is a removable storage device.  When plugged into the PC Windows quizzes the new media and allocates it according to this flag.

Because it's useful sometimes to have "removable" media treated as "fixed" - to allow partitioning, adding a boot sector or other actions that Windows prevents removable media doing - it is possible to change that setting - some adapters simply report to Windows that they are fixed and hide the status of the memory attached.

Alternatively it can be because the flag on your media is corrupt - but from your description about different adapter behaviours I'd guess it's the first.

Incidentally Microsoft's new standard setting for Windows 8 means we'll increasingly see USB drives that report they are fixed rather than removable devices.  SanDisk are already supplying their new drives with this change.

Prevention means using adapters that don't hide the status of your CF media.
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by:moralesrd
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Is there any way to tell Windows XP or 7, when the USB Mass Storage Device is connected handle it as "Removable Device"?.

I'm using several old CF cards (32MB) with PCMCIA adapters, these PCMCIA adapters used to be connected directly in the laptops ports (or with an expansion PCMCIA adapter), when are used in that way with Windows XP or Windows 7, they CF are recognized as "Removable Device" without any problem.

The situation comes that now I have to use new laptops and USB-->PCMCIA adapter, which make some CF be recognized as removable device and others as local disk, which is causing problems.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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If the hardware is telling Windows that it is a fixed drive I don't think you can alter that.
You could try a different USB 2.0 CF reader and see if that passes through the CF cards removable media flag correctly.  AFAIK most USB 3.0 readers will appear as fixed SATA drives to Windows.
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by:moralesrd
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The adapter that I'm using is an Addonics USB2.0
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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Yes, Addonics adapters set whaterver CF card is attached to look like a fixed SATA drive
See Q9 of their FAQ here http://www.addonics.com/faq/cf_adapter.php

Q9. My Removable type Compact Flash is detected as a fixed disk in Disk Management when connected through SATA. Is this correct?
A. Yes, the ADSACF will recognize a compact flash as a fixed fisk through Disk Management, no matter what type of CF card is inserted. This means compact flash connected through the ADSACF can be formatted with NTFS, and with multiple paritions on a single CF card.


Just to be clear I'm not saying USB 3.0 make CF cards appear fixed and USB 2.0 don't. There are adapters in both groups that do this - its just more likely in USB 3.0.
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by:moralesrd
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well, I saw that, but that's not true... because I have several others CF that are recognized as Removable Device without problem using the same device, even I do have different Sandisk 32MB that are recognized as Removable Device, the thing is that for certain models the Addonics device seems like is interpreting and/or assigning a different type values (that without using the device are ok)
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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So just to be clear:

With PCMCIA all the cards appeared as removable

With the Addonics USB reader some cards are fixed and some removable but that appearance is consistent (so if you plug in a card you know in advance how it will behave).

Is there any pattern (manufacturer/age of card/CF Type) to the behaviour?
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by:moralesrd
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Yes, with PCMCIA all the cards appears as "Removable Device"...

Well, the particular one that's failing (appearing as Local Disk) is the SDP3B-32 (32MB), and for instance the SDCFJ-32 (32MB) appears as Removable Device...
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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The obvious difference will be the SDP3B-32 is one of SanDisks industrial ATA cards so a modern adapter should mark that as fixed.  Possibly your PCMCIA adapters on the old system wouldn't have been able to make the most of them.

The SDCFJ-32 is an old CF Type I card so IDE supported not really ATA aware working on PIO 4

My guess at this point is what you're seeing is a combination of card/adapter.

Older adapter/Older (IDE) card - removable
Newer adapter/Older (IDE) card - removable
Older adapter/Newer (ATA) card - removable
Newer Adapter/Newer (ATA) card - fixed

I'll have a dig into the stuff I've got on CF ATA and see if I can get some confirmation.  In the meantime does this fit with what you are seeing or do you have exceptions?

(I agree though it looks like the information on the Addonics site is wrong - unless they are ignoring older CF standards)
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by:moralesrd
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What you're saying makes sense, however I been using other SanDisk cards 16MB,256MB and 512MB, Extreme II 1 and 2GB, RiData 128MB, 1GB, 4GB.... bigger than 4GB yes, appears as Local Disk... which is ok...

In my case I only need to find out how make the 32MB appears as Removable Device, due is for a dedicated purpose, so I can change registry or anything in the OS to make it work...
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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If it can be fixed it would be changing the media information on the CF card itself - there aren't any changes in Windows that will alter the card's behviour.  There are a few utilities that will do this but I suspect that the bit flag is already set correctly and the adapter is the culprit.

'Lexar BootIt' should be able to change the flag - or at least check if the card itself is the culprit.
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by:moralesrd
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well, I don't know if I being doing that wrong... but, I tried already cloning the good CF with WinImage and AllImage, and nothing, I also tried with format program from HP, Lexar, RMPrepUSB and RUFUS... and nothing....

the only thing that I could think is that I should format the CF in an old computer and try in the one with the Addonics, because I was trying formatting the CF with the Addonics and doesn't work in that way... I will try that, but if you have another option would be good too.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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I guess if the Addonics adapter prevents Windows seeing the CF card as removable it's also going to prevent any other application seeing the bit-flag to change it - yes, trying to change it in another adapter is a good plan.
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by:moralesrd
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Well, is interesting... I did try cloning the good CF with Winimage, but there is an error trying to write the image in the other CF, then when I tried with the Lexar program (Bootit), the program crash clearing the FAT....

I can still format the CF using Windows XP... but not using those programs... any ideas?
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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No :(

I've been reading around this on the SanDisk forums and it looks like you can't change the fixed drive bit on their "Industrial" at least with any of the utilities that are currently available.  It seems they've made the media descriptor read-only and this is their new default standard.

Pragmatically it look like the only current solution is to get an older CF card to replace this one :(
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mmmmm... that option is not easy... I think that better try another PCMCIA -->USB or CardExpress adapter....
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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OK - waiting to hear how it goes ...
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