Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My memory stick has recently become partially corrupt and has slowly been getting worse. About a week ago or so I unzipped a Windows .rar archive and placed the contents unto the flash drive, I believe this to have caused the problem.

Basically, at first I had simple I/O problems that were easily overcome. Over time though I was unable to access certain areas and now I am unable to access past the first 2GB of my 8GB drive.

In gparted it says only 2GB is in use. Nautilus shows the folders are there but they're empty and on Windows, performing chkdsk /f on it chucks up an error in the same place. I don't want to have to format it unless I have to.

share|improve this question
Is there any reason to think the memory stick hasn't just failed? They do that. Formatting probably won't help — it's time to replace it. – mattdm May 9 '12 at 10:46
Yeah. Unless windows uses "I/O error" to refer to filesystem issues, this is a hardware-level issue. Formatting won't fix it. You could partition in a way that avoids the errors, but if the stick is already showing errors, chances are it will get worse. – njsg Jun 8 '12 at 10:40
Is there still warranty on the stick? At least you could get a replacement from the manufacturer. And for you next stick: Only use it with encrypted data, like a truecrypt container. – ott-- Jan 4 '13 at 14:06

In my experience, hard disks that start showing problems have a few hours of (somewhat) useful life left. Turn it off, get a replacement and pray to assorted $DEITIES that the data can be saved.

I haven't had hand-on experience with failing memory sticks, but the discussions I've seen point in the same direction: If it starts showing problems, it is drawing its last breaths.

In any case: Safest course is just to replace the &%$# thing (luckily, they aren't as expensive as they used to be).

share|improve this answer

I think the safest way would be to backup the files you have on the stick to your hard drive, formatting it and copying the backed up files to the memory stick again. This should be a pretty simple and relatively fast operation and it would guarantee the stick to be in a pristine state.

For large portable disks (say a few hundred GB) this may not be an option if you don't have the space to back it all up, but for something as small as 8GB I believe this is the best way.

share|improve this answer
I can't take anything off. Linux says it is read-only, dd stops 2GB in and Windows just gives up. – AltF4ToWin Apr 9 '12 at 12:03
By default, dd stops on input/output errors. You want to run it with the conv=noerror,sync parameters to skip errors and put zeros there instead. Have a look at ddrescue too. This will help you getting a backup of the contents. You could then write back that same image, but it won't help fixing a bad memory stick. – njsg Jun 8 '12 at 10:42

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.