Questions about "write/erase cycles" on a flash drive (USB Stick)

alucard10

Baseband Member
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usa
I don't exactly know what constitutes a (write/erase cycles), but after erasing about 700 mp3 songs from a "usb flash drive" some strange things happened.

After I erased all those mp3 songs I went to erase another folder and halfway through the process it stopped erasing and said something like "file pathway name file" or something like that I can't remember for sure? Then the flash drive went blank and I had to unplug it and put it back in to get it to work.

After that I tried putting about 350 megabytes of mp4 and mp3 files on to the flashdrive and it messed up and said the message again. Then I just unpluged it gave up and put the files on a different usb flash drive.

My main question is. Will erasing 700 mp3 songs put a dent in a usb flash drives "write/erase cycles"?
Could I have corrupted the flash drive or was it all a coincidence?

This concerns me because I routinely erase hundreds of Files at a time from some of my usb sticks and I don't want to risk corrupting important files that I put on the usb stick. Im not sure If this is a wise practice?
 

AMD_man

Fully Optimized
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Erasing something should not be a problem. Flash storage uses cells with a limited amount of erases that you can do. This means you can empty the electrical charge of a cell a limited number of times. However, erasing is not what you think. Deleting a file using Windows doesn't actually empty the cell, it simply removes the file from the filesystem. The file is still there, the file manager simply can't find it.

That being said, deleting a file should not cause any issues at all, because it doesn't actually do anything to the hardware. My guess is that you have a defective, or simply poorly designed, unit.

Next time, if you are going to ask for help, at least take notes of the error messages that appear, that way we actually have something to work with. Try recreating the problem and write down what happens.
 

alucard10

Baseband Member
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89
Location
usa
Thank You for your response , when I see the error messages again I will post it.

@ AMD_man
You said "The file is still there, the file manager simply can't find it."

Does this mean if I delete all the content of a flash drive it is still there?and if I lose the empty flash drive at the park, a computer savvy individual could somehow recover my private files? (That's disconcerting.)

I deleted the 700 mp3 files to make room how could they still be there? Isn't that the whole point of deleting files? so that there not there any more and space is freed up?
 

pete.i

Daemon Poster
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Yep that is correct the files, or at least the important content, is still there and can be recovered, for a while, if needed until that set of 1 and 0 is overwritten by different ones and zeros. Deleting files only deletes the file headers so that the computer doesn't see it as a valid set of information. |That information is recoverable with the right software. Once the computer has overwritten that information with new info that stuff is not accessable. Drive wipers do a series of continual writes and deletes to storage media to make what is on that media as un-accessable as possible. But even then it isn't guaranteed that nothing of the old content isn't available. After the file headers have been removed that area of storage ia available to have new information written to it. So to all intents and purposes the file has gone. When I dispose of any storage media I don't just bin it I physically destroy it. That IS the only sure way of any information on that media not being accessable.
 

Celery

Golden Master
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Large amount of writing/erasing creates heat. That can be a factor but most likely it's a cheap or defective product.

Since they are SSDs they have limited read/write cycles.
 

AMD_man

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@ AMD_man
You said "The file is still there, the file manager simply can't find it."

Does this mean if I delete all the content of a flash drive it is still there?and if I lose the empty flash drive at the park, a computer savvy individual could somehow recover my private files? (That's disconcerting.)

I deleted the 700 mp3 files to make room how could they still be there? Isn't that the whole point of deleting files? so that there not there any more and space is freed up?
Yes, it can be recovered, unless you put new files on top of them. Actually deleting a file is slow, so the file manager won't do it.

About the space conundrum: when you "delete" a file, the file manager simply makes the space available again, not actually erasing its contents. So when you write something new in that space, then it is actually gone.
 

root

Site Team
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It's not always entirely that simple with flash drives...
Mechanical drives, tried as much as space would allow to write sequentially.
So when drives were erased (file location descriptors deleted) you'd still have a bunch of files that could be read, scan the disk and you end up with whole files sat there in order.
Flash drives rearrange data all the time (wear levelling.) meaning there is less likely to be the contiguous blocks, instead you get random chunks all over the place...
 

AMD_man

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It's not always entirely that simple with flash drives...
Mechanical drives, tried as much as space would allow to write sequentially.
So when drives were erased (file location descriptors deleted) you'd still have a bunch of files that could be read, scan the disk and you end up with whole files sat there in order.
Flash drives rearrange data all the time (wear levelling.) meaning there is less likely to be the contiguous blocks, instead you get random chunks all over the place...
What do you mean by rearrange? As far as I know, wear leveling works by writing on blocks that have been used the least in the past, and that's why the more you use it the messier the real distribution of data becomes.

It doesn't change the fact that if you don't overwrite the data it can still be recovered. It does make it less likely that you will overwrite old data by writing new data and not completely filling the drive or partition.
 

steve.d

Beta member
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Location
USA
I was wondering the same, it happened to me before but I didn't bother to look for an answer and after a couple of weeks my usb stick not working. I have 32gb 5 yrs old and did a lot of formatting in the past.
 

Celery

Golden Master
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It's simply wear and tear. They don't last forever so you should copy over to new devices for redundancy.
 
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