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Old 19. Dec 2010, 05:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default ... makes the USB flash drive completely unusable unless you know the password

I used a USB flash drive at university and lost it, I couldn't find it in a month and now bought a new one. I think that if it's completely unusable I have a higher chance of the student who found it giving it to the university's lost and found.
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Old 19. Dec 2010, 06:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have never heard of such a software solution. While encryption protects your data,it can't write protect the drive to prevent a reformat.

There are of course biometric (finger scanner) usb drives that might work that way. I think some of them at least will prevent a format, but that won't help you with your current one.

I have in the back of my mind a hack that someone could possibly figure out. It seems like some partitions with file systems created by Linux are so unrecognizable to Windows, that Windows cannot even tell that the partition exists. I think it would be feasible to create some program that would act as a filter driver that could help windows read and write to the drive. This program would be quite small so it could fit on a very small partition. Say 1MB or even just a few kilobytes. Then when an average Windows user picks it up and they will think it is basically unusable and they might be more prone to return it.
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Old 20. Dec 2010, 08:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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only thing I can think of is a hardware thing
http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/t...-storage/99f1/

nothing software can do this I think...
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Old 20. Dec 2010, 10:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Since we are throwing things out there....

If you open up a usb stick, you will see four leads from the circuit board that are connected to the connector pins. It would be quite simple to unsolder one of those leads, add in a couple of thin wires, and solder in a tiny magnetic switch. (You can get a magnetic reed switch that is only a couple of millimeters in size for a dollar or two.) Then you could put a small magnet in the plastic connector cover and when the magnet is placed over the switch the drive would be readable and writable. Without a magnet it would be useless. Find a electronics student around the campus and he could put it together in a few minutes.
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Old 21. Dec 2010, 06:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I think you should just encrypt the device with TrueCrypt and keep two regular backups (daily) elsewhere. That way if you loose the USB its data is inaccessible, you've got your backups but if someone hands in the USB then that's a bonus.
On the USB you could put an unencrypted word doc asking finder to hand it in to Uni lost and found in exchange for a coffee from the grateful owner if they want!!
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Old 21. Dec 2010, 09:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I think he is not worried about the data the stick contains as much as the stick itself. If you put a small note on the stick saying "if found return to..." Too often in today's world they will just scratch that off and use the stick for themselves. Maybe if you put a five dollar reward notice people would do it if they found that the drive seemed broken or unusable.
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