Etcher broke my USB stick … or did it?

Please use the thread below to discuss the related blog post:

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hello, i tried to clean the disk but i dont have access, do you know why?

Screenshot 2021-08-21 123340

Yeah…same exact error as “swifter.” Brand new 128GB SanDisk. Etcher is the first and the only thing to read/write from/to this brand spanking new SanDisk USB stick. Windows can’t recognize 127.99 GB out of 128 and EaseUS can’t do anything to it. Ya’all hijacked me 'lil stick thingy :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Windows+X and make sure to open powershell(admin) and not just normal pwershell

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Thanks @geeett … That is what I was just about to recommend, ha.

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thu@thu-lg:/$ umount /dev/sbd1
umount: /dev/sbd1: No such file or directory
thu@thu-lg:/$ umount /dev/sdb1
thu@thu-lg:/$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb1 bs=512 count=1 conv=notrunc
dd: failed to open ‘/dev/sdb1’: Permission denied

I tried in my Ubuntu 20.04, and it dont work @dtischler

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Try this one instead @vctqs1 : sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb1 bs=512 count=1 conv=notrunc

Perhaps you need the sudo permissions for it.

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Sorry, I copy wrong logs

thu@thu-lg:~$  umount /dev/sdb1
thu@thu-lg:~$ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb1 bs=512 count=1 conv=notrunc
[sudo] password for thu: 
Sorry, try again.
[sudo] password for thu: 
dd: failed to open '/dev/sdb1': Read-only file system

I still cannot work @dtischler

Strange. I wonder if your SD Card has gone into “write-protect” mode, indicating that the drive is dying and the drive is basically giving you an opportunity to back up your data.

Alternatively, you can try using this Utility to unset the read-only flag if it is present:
https://github.com/BertoldVdb/sdtool

However, using the same command, I get:

~$ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb1 bs=512 count=1 conv=notrunc
1+0 records in
1+0 records out
512 bytes copied, 0.0146526 s, 34.9 kB/s

Same problem as “swifter” on a very little-used SanDisk 128GB USB drive.
Very disappointed.
Any new ideas? The stick will not format & is not recognised by Windows Explorer.
OK - so purchased a new SanDisk Cruzer 32GB USB and tried again with the exact same result. As in - failure.

Very, very disappointed.

What image were you attempting to flash @FatDave?

I wonder if adding “clean” and a file system type might be necessary in your case, as shown here: How to use DiskPart to clean and format drive not working on Windows 10 | Windows Central

I can confirm there is a problem with your software balena team. I flashed a USB stick with Pop!_OS using Etcher which became unusable or repairable. I read through your above documentation regarding old or worn out memory so I tried it on a newer SD card which had the same result and is now also unusable. I tried your plus other’s recommendations regarding cleaning steps and only get errors on both usb stick and SD card. I tried using disk management tool in windows. Was able to create a new simple volume but when I go to format the disk in windows management it comes back with an error saying “the system cannot find the file specified”. Both my storage devices are now unusable after running Etcher (both were fine prior) If that’s not a definition of bricked what is?

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Thanks for the confirmation, I had exactly the same results after trying to flash Zorin-OS-16-Core-64-bit-r1.iso.
Not bothered trying again as both units appear to be beyond repair. Disappointed but I don’t have time to investigate further and will be trying other software to get me up and running with Linux.

I managed to save the drives FatDave! I download Rufus and use that to create a boot device. Rufus detected the damaged disks no problems. I selected the Pop_OS ISO (but you can use the Zorin one) and it restored the drive and created the boot ISO. Once that was done I was able to reformat the drives and they are good as new again. Give it a try!

Thanks - I’ll try it now.
Well done!

OK - Success!
Thanks so much for finding a solution to the problem.
I can now continue with my quest to rid myself of Windows by running Linux instead.:slightly_smiling_face:

My USB was wiped after trying to flash Ubuntu onto it

Sorry for the delayed reply @PVG and @FatDave – and glad to hear your drives are both recovered. So, that is interesting then in that Pop or Zorin must be altering the partition table, boot flags, or something else. Ok, the good news there is that Etcher did NOT kill your USB stick, exactly as I wrote in the blog post. It is physically incapable of doing so. However, the image those two distro’s are producing has something else being done, that is rendering my instructions for recovery invalid. I’ll have to investigate this. In any case, glad your USB sticks are saved, and, your Linux journey is begun.

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DISKPART> list disk

Disk ### Status Size Free Dyn Gpt


Disk 0 Online 953 GB 0 B *
Disk 1 Online 28 GB 28 GB

DISKPART> select disk 1

Disk 1 is now the selected disk.

DISKPART> create partition primary

DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.

DISKPART> select partition 1

Partition 1 is now the selected partition.

DISKPART> format quick

Virtual Disk Service error:
The operation is not supported on removable media.

“Yes, it actually DID broke the usb stick”.

I got two of my sticks broken one by one, but the old one somehow got recovered with diskpart. But the new one that has never been used before and was bought specifically to flash Linux Mint, died for good. I checked it before flashing, it was working fine.
I tried everything, but since they don’t let new users to upload more than one media in the post, I can show only one evidence:

  1. Diskpart doesn’t detect it most of the time.

  2. Sometimes Diskpart does detect it. But I can’t select it to recover anyway:

  3. Rufus doesn’t detect it as well.

I wonder why on the Earth Linux Mint team advices to use the utility that does nothing but eating USB sticks one by one?
I contacted them to hopefully help others who would try it instead of good old Rufus to get a working USB stick.

After few more attempts I was able to select the disk and format it, BUT now it takes forever to be read by the system and used. So it still can be considered as “dead” because it still useless with such performance.
Avoid this USB Eater at all cost guys, but I’m afraid if you are here, then it’s already too late.

Same for me. I can confirm that there is a REAL PROBLEM!

I used balena etcher on two USB sticks (not really cheap ones) two flash two different images. As installation medium the sticks worked allright. However, when I tried to repartiton them with the usual tools (win10 storage manager, diskpart, even gparted) the sticks both were not usuable any more. I was extremely annoyed.

What I did: I deleted the partitions manually, either in the storage manager or in diskpart, and then could not create new ones. The diskpart clean command did not work any more. Same message as swifter on Aug 21 above.

Even balena itself could not flash the sticks any more!

Apparently balena does somthing with the sticks to confuse everything which tries afterwards to access the sticks. I never had these problems with other tools.

In the end, after many trial and no success, the only way to recover the sticks was rufus - great tool! Many thanks @PVG for the hint!

Please Balena Team: Investiage immediately this problem. I see many users bricking their sticks. Many will throw their sticks away - so its also an environmental issue…

At least give the hint with Rufus to the other users, even if its the “competition”.

A suggestion for investigation: write an image (e.g. Zorin, this was mentioned above) to two similar sticks with balena and another tool. Then compare. This might give you some hints.

Hope that helps.

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