Author Archive

Mark McCrosky

Kicking around in technology since 2002. I like to write about technology products and ideas, but at the consumer level understanding. Some tech, but not too techie. Posting on Quora.com as well.

Did Aleratec Go Out of Business? 2022

From all accounts it appears Aleratec closed their doors and out of business from sometime starting in February, 2022.

GetUSB.info attempted several calls to the corporate office in search of comment, but received no response. Furthermore, it appears that Google has removed Aleratec from their search results because their domain www.aleratec.com has been inactive for more than 30 days. We are posting this information in case end-users are looking for company support or warranty information.

Aleratec, Inc. was a family-owned California-based company with two decades of experience designing, developing, and marketing high-performance, dependable, and easy-to-use products.

Greg Morris, CEO of Nexcopy Inc, a similar company profile and also based in Southern California commented today after request, “I’ve known about Perry Solomon, the CEO, well over twenty years and he was always a good person to speak with regarding industry trends and business practices. Extremely friendly and approachable. Perry was focused on bring a solution to the market which brought true value to the end-user. I wish him the best of luck with his next business adventure.”

Aeratec offered PC-based and standalone flash memory duplicators, as well as CD and DVD duplicators, hard drive duplicators, and hard drive demolishers. In addition, Aleratec provided a “charge and guard” cabinet for charging portable devices such as tablets. The charge and guard cabinet proved especially useful in schools.

Some products are still available online at the time of this posting, but the majority of models appear to be out of stock or on back order.

If Aleratec would like to comment or provide information for post sales support and parts, please reach out at: gmo @ getusb dot info and we can post the information in this article

aleratec out of business

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Encrypt USB Flash Drive on Mac and Windows

Encrypt USB Flash Drive For Both Mac and Windows

This article explains how to encrypt data which can be decrypted on both a Mac and Windows computer.

Microsoft Windows accounts for nearly 80% of desktop computers, with Apple OS accounting for about 18% of the market share; (as of Q3, 2021) with this in mind, it is very common for users to want encrypted data to be shared on both Mac and Windows computers. For example, at work, Microsoft Windows is used, while at home, the employee uses a Mac computer. It is not easy to share encrypted data between these two operating systems. There is no installed solution from Microsoft or Apple that provides cross-platform encryption and decryption.

There are two options for those who want to decrypt files on both a Microsoft Windows and an Apple Mac computer.

Individual users can purchase software that encrypts and decrypts software for both Mac and Windows computers as one solution.

The other solution is buying a physical drive which supports decryption on either operating system.

The second option is better suited to a business. This is true because the employee or individual is not required to purchase software.

This article explains how to encrypt data which can be decrypted on both a Mac and Windows computer by using a specific USB flash drive.

The only known solution that has the following three characteristics in a product by Nexcopy. This is a company which provides feature rich flash drive duplicator solutions, but also provides advanced functions to flash drive, such as cross-platform encryption.

This is how the Nexcopy USB flash drive encryption solution works:

  • PC based software is used to encrypt the data
  • Included with the encrypted data are two software utilities loaded onto the flash drive
  • The utilities run from the flash drive and decrypt the data when the correct password is entered
  • The applications do not require installation, they run directly from the flash drive
  • The PCViewer.exe is the Windows based utility – no admin rights required
  • The MacViewer.app is the mac based utility – no admin rights required
  • By launching the correct utility and entering correct password the files will be decrypted and displayed on the associated operating system

Please keep in mind there is a difference between the term “encryption” and the term “copy protection.” There is a difference.

The process of encoding information is known as encryption. This process converts the original representation of the information, for example, plaintext, into ciphertext. Only the authorized party who knows how to decipher the ciphertext back into plaintext can reorganize and piece it back together. The important thing to remember is that once the decipher is complete, the user can do whatever they want with the plaintext. That content can be copied, duplicated, shared, streamed, and screen captured by the user.

Copy protection includes the process of encoding; however, it adds an additional layer of security by prohibiting the user from doing anything other than viewing the content, such as copying, duplicating, sharing, streaming, and screen capture. To put it another way, the files can only be viewed and not modified.

Encryption is a valuable technology in situations where the content owner trusts the person with the password; however, security is required in the event that the USB flash drive is dropped, stolen, or misplaced. By encrypting the content, unauthorized users are prevented from accessing it.

Copy protection is a valuable technology for protecting content while allowing multiple users to view it. For example, a teacher may have valuable lessons that they want all students to see, but they do not want the lessons saved or shared with other classes. This is an excellent application for copy protection.

The company offers USB duplicator solutions for mass production of USB encrypted flash drives. Nexcopy also offers large-scale USB duplicators for copy-protected flash drives. So, depending on the individual or company’s needs, there is a solution for those who require encryption for both Windows and Mac computers.

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NAND Memory Continues High Demand

Micron memory

Micron plans to close Shanghai DRAM operations and focus more on NAND memory market.

Micron Memory, a USB semiconductor company based out of Boise ID, is reportedly planning to close their Shanghai operations which uses technology resources to develop DRAM technology. I source not willing to comment indicates a lack of talent or “loss of technical know-how” is a primary reason for the closure.

Micron expects the Shanghai Design Center to be operational until December of 2022 at which time the facility will be close and employees will be redistributed to either a US or India Micron location. The Shanghai location employees nearly 150 engineers and technicians.

Although reluctant news for the DRAM market segment, this does point to increased demand and interest for NAND memory. The NAND memory market continues to grow as storage demands increase and storage capacities increase. A primary NAND memory market is the USB flash drive market with the highest volume of commodity products, a number which capsulates the mobile phone market.

Micron was founded in Boise, Idaho, in 1978 as a semiconductor design firm. In 1981, the company moved from consulting to manufacturing with the completion of its first wafer fabrication unit (“Fab 1”), producing 64K DRAM chips. Micron went public in 1984 under the ticker symbol MU.

Other articles from this website which mention Micron products and technology.
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Eject USB Flash Drive From Windows Command Line

Microsoft does not provide ways to eject USB flash drives with a single click, or automatically. Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the #1 method for expanding storage in Windows, yet Microsoft makes ejecting a storage device such a manual process! Frustrating to many, like you, because you are here. {wink}

Today we cover how to eject a USB flash drive in Windows in the command prompt. In addition, this article also provides a software way to eject a USB flash drive with the single click of a button. Yes, that is right, a single click!

Let us start by covering how to eject a USB drive using the command prompt.

Like mentioned above, Microsoft does not make this easy. The user must get into DiskPart, List the volumes (drives) connected, select the specific volume (drive) then eject by typing “release.”

The above commands may be performed via the command prompt, but honestly it’s a pain in the a$$ because all the typing involved and manually selecting the device. This process needs to be automated. {hint}

If you are reading this article you want to make things quick, easy and simple.

Nexcopy solved this problem with a free utility that doesn’t require installation, doesn’t require Admin rights, and doesn’t require you to select the drive. The tool is ultra-quick and ultra-easy. In addition, anyone can bundle the free exe file into their own software to automate the process.

The free software tool is called USB Eject Button

Here is the download link to eject USB flash drives from Windows command prompt

Below is the command prompt using a single word to eject a USB flash drive. The command is “release”

However, what if multiple USB flash drives are connected? Is it still just as easy to eject all the USB flash drives? The answer is yes. The USB Eject Button tool works by automatically selecting the last USB flash drive connected to be the first USB flash drive ejected.

Below is an example. We connected “Drive One” first, then “Drive Two” and finally “Drive Three”

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Check for Bad Sectors on USB Flash Drive

This how to tutorial describes a simple way to check for bad sectors on a USB flash drive. The instructions below will also fix any bad sectors, if possible, during the scanning process.

A bad sector on a flash drive is a portion of memory on the flash drive which cannot be accessed, written to, or read from and therefore cannot be used. A bad sector on a flash drive sounds easy enough to diagnose, but it’s important to know there are two types of bad sectors: hard and soft.

Physical damage to a USB flash drive will create a hard bad sector. A hard bad sector cannot be repaired or fixed and is typically induced from physical abuse. A good example: leaving a flash drive in your pocket and it went through the wash, or the device was dropped and hit the ground is such a way, physical damage happened to the memory.

A soft bad sector on a flash drive are memory logic problems. A soft bad sector can occur from a software or data error during the write process. In lower quality flash drives, it is possible the incorrect firmware was written into the USB controller ROM and thus creates instability via soft bad sectors.

Bad sectors cannot be repaired; however soft bad sectors can be repaired.

The soft bad sectors can be fixed by using the CHKDSK utility in the Windows operating system. This same utility will also flag any hard bad sectors not to be used again, and of course not repaired.

Some signs of a bad sector on a flash drive include:

  • Cannot read a file on the flash drive
  • A file location is no longer available
  • Unable to format the USB flash drive
  • A disk read error occurs during operation

In our opinion, run the check disk one time to see if your issue is resolved, but if subsequent scans are required, we recommend discarding the flash drive to avoid further issues.

Running the chkdsk scan is really easy:

Insert flash drive to computer

Using Windows Explorer navigate to the drive letter

In the Explorer window type cmd and press enter

access usb flash drive cmd command

Once inside the command line utility type chkdsk d: /f /r /x and click Enter. NOTE: *The letter d represents the drive letter of the flash drive.

chkdsk commands for usb flash drive

  • The /f parameter tells CHKDSK to fix any errors it finds.
  • The /r parameter tells Windows to repair/restore bad sectors (if possible).
  • The /x parameter unmounts any “handles” to the drive or said another way, this step will not allow any other resource to access the flash drive during the scan.
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Silicon Motion (SMI) Gains Over 580% In Valuation

silicon motion website logo

Silicon Motion, or SMI, is a publicly traded company under the ticker symbol SIMO

Founded in 1995, Silicon Motion Technology Corporation is a leading developer of microcontroller ICs for NAND flash storage devices. The semiconductor company also designs, develops and markets high-performance, low-power semiconductor solutions for original equipment manufacturers (“OEM”) such as Nexcopy Incorporated, a Southern California technology company focused on flash memory storage products.

Silicon Motion currently holds 1,522 patents, with 1,302 of those patents pending for final approval. The company has a revenue of $540 million dollars, annually.

A $1000 investment made in August 2011 would be worth $6,831.87, or a gain of 583.19%, as of August 23, 2021, according to NASDAQ calculations. This return excludes dividends but includes price appreciation.

Source: NASDAQ

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Does Rufus Make USB CD-ROM Drive?

With in a few minutes of downloading Rufus one can determine the software does not make a USB CD-ROM flash drive.

We confirmed this with another article we found on the web from GetUSB.info and they explained how to burn ISO to USB. What they concluded, and so did we, is that Rufus will extract the content of an ISO file and copy those files to the USB flash drive, but the Rufus software doesn’t change the configuration of the device, to that of a CD-ROM.

What started this quest was not wanting to make a bootable Windows flash drive, but rather, find a way to make a USB read-only so the data on the flash drive would not be removed or deleted.

In addition to having the USB read-only for the content, it also makes things impossible for a virus to jump onto the flash drive and spread. Given (my day job) my company doesn’t want a flash drive with our content and logo to be able to spread a virus, so the only solution we found was making sure the USB stick was read-only in the first place.

GetUSB.info article explains what Rufus does and also how to make a USB CD-ROM flash drive, the right way.

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Make a USB Flash Drive Appear as CD-ROM Drive – Hardware Solution

PRESS RELEASE

Lake Forest, CA – July 19, 2021 – Nexcopy Inc., a leading manufacturer of advanced flash memory solutions, introduces Disc License CD-ROM flash drives.

Disc License flash drives provide a migration path for those who depend on optical media such as CD and DVD but can no longer offer the product because optical drives are nearly gone in standard laptop and desktop computers.

The Disc License product is a USB flash drive which appears as a CD-ROM device when connected to a host computer. This is a hardware solution which emulates a CD-ROM and is read-only (write protected) meaning data on the drive cannot be changed, manipulated, deleted or formatted off the drive. This is the best method to create a USB CD-ROM flash drive.

“Think of a Disc License drive as a blank CD or DVD,” states Greg Morris, President of Nexcopy. “The blank CD-ROM will have the capacity of whatever the Gigabyte capacity the customer orders. Simply point our software to any ISO file and the data will be written with the resultant drive being that of a CD-ROM.”

Morris continues, “What is so elegant about this solution is being able to re-write an ISO file to the device at any time. In an abstract sense, you could say this is a CD-RW solution, but in the shape of a USB flash drive.”

With the optical drive quickly going away, users are seeking alternate solutions to provide data as a CD-ROM device. There are many advantages to CD-ROM discs which have served the technology sector for many years. The auto-run function of CD-ROM is key to many software suppliers who depend on a quick and simple installation process. The CD is a read-only device by definition so the added benefit of a virus or malware not jumping onto the flash drive is an inherent benefit.

The Nexcopy Disc License CD-ROM USB flash drive has the following features:

  • Default state of drive is read-only, a.k.a write protected
  • Use any ISO file to create a CD-ROM USB flash drive
  • Includes bootable ISO files
  • Device appears as a CD-ROM drive in any device
  • Free data-load software to produce CD-ROMs
  • Re-write a new ISO file to the drive at any time
  • This is a hardware solution so cannot be hacked or manipulated
  • Available in USB 2.0 and 3.0 technology and ranging from 2GB through 128GB capacities

Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments,

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USB Flash Drive for Industrial Control Systems

Honeywell recently released a cybersecurity report claiming that 37% of threats were specifically designed to utilize removable media, such as USB flash drives, which almost doubled from 19% in 2020. This number could be drastically reduced when the proper media and solution are used.

The report by Honeywell is an attempt to redirect attention to their “Honeywell Forge” product which is a software based solution which monitors connected devices and reports back cyber-security risks detected. Ref:1

Isn’t there a difference between monitoring devices and actually preventing security breaches?

EverythingUSB.com posted an article today about a USB drive that is ideally suited for Industrial Control Systems and solves the problem which Honeywell reports.

Industrial Control Systems are (most often) air-gapped solutions. Meaning the computer systems which run them have never been on the internet. With that in mind, the only way to update such a system is through portable storage media, like a USB flash drive. Taking this a step further, if one can guarantee a USB drive which has system updates is clean and write protected (locked as a read-only drive) then malware is unlikely to be introduced to the control system through removeable media.

As the EverythingUSB article points out, there are “basic” ways to make a USB read-only, but don’t let that fool you because cyber-criminals can easily get around them. Basic methods such as changing read-only attribute with DISKPART through command utility as well as manually setting drive security rights from Windows registry values.

The Lock License flash drive by Nexcopy is a device which is always write protected. The write protection is controlled at the hardware level of the chip, so it’s more durable against hacking because machine code of a chip is way more difficult to hack than software running from an operating system.

The Lock License drive can become writable. The user enters some code to temporarily remove the write protection and allow the device to become writable. This gives the creator of the content 100% control on the computer environment to determine if things are safe before putting data on the drive. Said another way, it gives the content owner a guaranteed way to securely create a flash drive with data which is then locked as a read-only device so no further manipulation of the device can happen.

It’s like… why didn’t flash drives simply be created this way in the first place? Source link above in article.

Reference 1

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Free USB Speed Test Utility

Did you know Windows 10 has a speed test feature you can easily run from the CMD prompt?

This feature is what many USB flash drive speed test applications call upon during their operation. Rather than download some software utility off the internet, which only god knows what virus could be lurking inside, just use the Windows tool.

In addition to avoiding the possibility of a virus from a internet download, this tool is a standardized feature everyone has. In the event you are having performance issues you are trying to report to a flash drive manufacturer, this tool gives you both the same code to perform USB flash drive speed tests without having different applications giving varied results.

Every flash drive manufacturer claims a particular read and write speed of their flash drive and this is a great tool to verify what you purchased is what you received. It’s been said manufacturers will manipulate their computer environment to optimize the performance and use those optimized results as their marketing material. This could be true when a manufacturer is trying to determine the maximum performance, so let’s take a look now at benchmarking a standard environment.

The read and write speed of a flash drive will depend on the USB port one is using during the test. You will see a performance difference between a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 device that is connected to a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 socket on your computer. So take note about what you are doing!

After you’ve connected the USB drive to your USB port, take note of which technology they are, and be sure no data is on your drive. Although this Windows utility did not remove our data during testing, one can never be too sure.

In Windows type CMD into the search field.

Please be sure to use the Ctrl + Shift keys when you click the Enter key. This will run the command prompt at the Administrator level. You want to run this at the Admin level because if you don’t, a separate window will pop up during the testing process and immediately disappear with the process is done… taking the speed test results with it!

Once you’ve opened the command prompt at the Admin level, type the following:

winsat disk -drive d (where d is drive letter)

Windows will perform it’s task and should take about one minute to complete. The results will be printed out in the console window once everything is complete. Take note from our example below. This is a 64GB drive which we connected to both a USB 2.0 socket and a USB 3.0 socket. You can see the performance difference.

The information you want are:

  • > Disk Sequential 64.0 Read
  • > Disk Sequential 64.0 Write

Nice feature, right? Free and immediately available.

For those who don’t want to go this far, you could always take a large file, say 100MBs or larger and drag-and-drop this to your USB flash drive for speed testing. Just look at the copy process window and you’ll get a fairly good idea of device speed.

It’s important to remember flash drive media does not copy at sustained transfer speeds. The speed process does move around during the copy process; however, the read process is more stable and should happen at a more sustained transfer speed. We’ve seen drives drop down to 1MB/second for a short bit, before jumping back up to 30+MB/second write speed.

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