Techchips

Fight Fake Capacity Flash Memory

Acronis Disk Director Not Reading Kingston DT150 DT200 DT300 DT400 USB Flash Drives

Posted by techchips on January 2, 2010

If a Kingston USB Flash Drive is Genuine, you should have no difficultly reading it with Acronis Disk Director or any other partitioning software.

So what are the circumstances that lead to problems reading a Kingston DT150 DT200 DT300 DT400 USB Flash Drive?

When a usb flash drive has been reprogrammed to lie about it’s real size, the usb controller flash chip and the flash storage chip have been altered.

If you are having issues reading a Kingston DT150 DT200 DT300 DT400 USB Flash Drive, you should test it immediately to examine it’s real capacity. This is NOT done by relying on what an operating system reports, use H2testw instead.

Reprogramming (making a fake) reserves a small space on the storage chip to hold information about surplus files – files that will not be written to the storage chip (no real space). This reserved space is used to write information about the file, for example: the file name, folder location, size and date. This particular reprogramming technique is especially dangerous to the flash chip. Why? Wear leveling, a small area is continuously overwritten, repeatedly. It reduces the lifespan of the flash chip.

Partitioning tools such as Acronis Disk Director, rely on information stored in the usb controller flash chip for the geometry of the storage chip (the one used for data). As this information is incorrect, Acronis will become confused. This is true for Kingston fakes and also many generics.

Tests have revealed three outcomes when trying to repair a false capacity Kingston usb flash drive and others.

1) Removing the partition succeeds, resizing afterwards to the real size determined by H2testw 1.4 works, but leaves unused space (not partitioned afterwards).

2) Removing the partition fails, it refuses to be removed.

3) Removing the partition succeeds, resizing works, but after that the drive is no longer readable and is no longer recognized by an operating system, or will not format at all.

In all three cases, Acronis like HP Tools, is unable to address the real issue – the incorrect information that has been programmed into the usb flash controller chip.

In #1, Acronis can put up a fence surrounding the real size. This makes the usb flash drive usable, but there is always a danger that someone some day will try to partition the unused portion reported to an operating system. If someone does this, your fake is back and data loss will occur. Only consider this if you can not find a proper low level tool and if you make sure to label the usb flash drive shell exterior with a warning of repaired fake size.

In #2, Acronis is unable to recognize or deal with the manipulated usb controller chip, or flash drive storage chip or both. This is not necessarily bad. You still have the chance to repair with the right low level formatting tool.

In #3 Acronis, attempted to repair the fake and in doing so removed the reserved space to write information on the surplus files. It did not succeed. In about half the cases the usb flash drive is now permanently destroyed. In the other half (seen by an operating system, but will not format), if the right low level tool is found, it can be repaired.

SOSFakeFlash has received many reports of Kingston fakes failing after first or second usage (in reprogammed fake size). They usually behave like #3 and from that point onward, nothing anyone tries restores the item works.

Emphasis on Kingston fakes is appearance. To look like a Kingston usb flash drive, from packaging, serial information on the back sleeve, the outer shell casing. Inside are the lowest chips in terms of quality (grade D) and size.

The new Kingston 32GB 64GB 128GB and 256GB counterfeits command high prices. Most have the smallest real capacity (256MB to 4GB in real size) and test results show the worst quality – rejected chips. They are the most difficult to repair and have the highest failure rate in repair attempts.

The FrankenFlash Project does not recommend you spend effort in attempting to repair them. Instead you should report to your local Kingston Technologies website (tech support). Include the source of acquisition (internet site, eBay), the seller involved with as much detail as you can provide. If you bought on eBay, request an email confirming you purchased a fake to support your PayPal claim.

Partitioning tools such as Acronis have a higher success rate with generic usb flash drives, especially for the very old fakes generation. Usually Acronis can build a fence to surround the usable or safe space (make sure you confirm with a second H2testw test). Acronis is very unlikely to be able to remove the false information in the usb controller chip, it will only work on the storage chip. It will also create an unused partition (the fake space) – something you need to remember to stay away from!

The best method to repair a fake usb flash drive is not by using partitioning tools, as a rule. It is by using the correct low level formatting tool for the usb controller chip involved. Visit InspectorTech’s Fix Fake Flash site to learn more. Make sure you read the FAQ.

If you are wondering why Acronis or HP Tools or other partitioning tools usually can’t repair a fake, it is because they can not clear or reset information in the usb flash drive’s controller chip – instead they work directly on the flash drive storage chip. It is one of the reasons fakes often return to fake size when reformatted by the operating system. To repair successfully, you must use a low level reformatting tool for the usb controller chip on your usb flash drive.

Do not try to repair a Kingston fake unless you are willing to risk and have lots of time to invest in the challenge, your probability of failure is currently estimated at 75%.

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2 Responses to “Acronis Disk Director Not Reading Kingston DT150 DT200 DT300 DT400 USB Flash Drives”

  1. [...] Acronis Disk Director Not Reading Kingston DT150 DT200 DT300 DT400 USB Flash Drives [...]

  2. ITguy said

    Sometime partition managers have problems with the “invalid” partition table that is created during the manufacture of fake / oversized / upgraded flash drives.

    There are some tools that can zero out the partition table. However, I don’t recommend people use these tools as if you make a typing error you can delete all the data on your hard drive.

    Another option to try is RMPrepUSB and RMPartUSB. These tools may be able to partition these drives.

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