jueves, 17 de marzo de 2011

Sorry, we don't sell flash drives anymore

A rather curious phenomenon has been occurring near campus lately: vendors are refusing to distribute USB flash drives, those handy devices for storing data. The first time I got a "NO, we don't have USB sticks" as an answer, I thought that the vendor had simply ran out of stock. However, time passed by and flash drives were not available. Not even one. What was going on?

This responded to the wrong "my-hardware-is-defective" assumption that is so common in a Windows monoculture. I have seen flash drives "fail" countless times. The most common problems are:
  1. Missing folders
  2. Missing files
  3. Impossibility to record data
  4. Failure to erase some folders
  5. Inexplicable virus alerts (with the subsequent affirmation "I scanned it with my anti-virus!")

I saw a young woman return her memory stick to a vendor that offered a warranty. She described some of the problems mentioned above. Of course, as Windows users never blame their OS, they have to blame this strange behavior on something and the poor hardware is the one that gets all the kicks. So they complain to vendors.

The vendor, inadvertently, falls into the trap. So, s/he either returns the money or replaces a USB drive that is perfect with a new one. This becomes a truly lousy business that, given the quantity of repetitions, was enough to show red numbers. Hence, the vendor decided not to sell that kind of hardware anymore.

With Linux, I have been able to show many USB flash drive owners that the memory stick is perfect and that the problems listed above are the consequence of virus infections. These infections happen thanks to the weak security of Windows and the ignorance of the user. To get rid of the problem, all you have to do is remove the pesky hidden files...which you achieve with two clicks in Linux. In Windows, well, you need to disable system restore, go to the registry, apply patches, reboot (can't do anything without rebooting, you know?)... You might also need a great deal of good luck and all the charms you can get.

I have a question. What will vendors do once that viruses become more common in, say, memory cards? Of course those will not be perceived as OS problems, either. Are those storage devices going to be banned as well? No wonder why Microsoft could come up with the stupid idea of banning infected computers from the Web...

3 comentarios:

  1. The worst is that many will follow along with the "let's ban infected computers from the Web" stupidity instead of turning their eyes to the real problem: a defective OS with poor security features.

  2. I know a lot of people that sayd to me that usb flash drivers are not secure, loss of data, and others "problems". I have showed to such persons how to really deal with such devices and, of course, show linux to them. Some of them try out linux, and all of them now know how to work properly with such devices.

    I completely agree with that:

    "These infections happen thanks to the weak security of Windows and the ignorance of the user."

  3. ZOMG, why they don't just reformat the darn thing??!! I do it all the time after being a little careless with where I put it in. I takes 5 seconds!

    In my experience there is always virii going on when there's a problem with a flash drive, software that sticks to it without notice and hides making it impossible or rather difficult for the normal windows user to detect. they wont know there is something wrong until they get the "Open with" option when trying to open the drive. I you don't want to lose your data you'll have to find the way around it, otherwise just reformat the drive.

    My fix on windows is as follows:

    To access the files right click on the drive's icon in My Computer and Explore it. If lucky you will be capable of seeing them, giving you chance to back up what you need.

    Unhide hidden files with Folder Options and you'll see the virus. Unfortunately it will come back after deleting unless you delete the whole thing. To find it you'll have to also uncheck in Folder Options "hide protected operating system files".

    Now you will be able to see the whole thing, and delete it. You might also want to check your C drive and see if anything that resembles the virus is there, but always think twice before deleting something.

    I usually sort C by modification date because the true system files that look complex for to know what they do tend to maintain unmodified, so if something moves to the top I look out what it is.

    Of course, in linux you can see from the start all the files and delete the ones you know that doesn't belong to you. Linux is such a safety sandbox =3 <3 =D



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