November 30, 2010

Format a USB Drive as NTFS in Windows XP

Windows XP only: Today's USB flash drives are huge, but they come formatted with the FAT32 limit of 4GB files—if you want to format them as NTFS under Windows XP you'll need a little trick.

Windows XP does have the ability to format drives with the NTFS file system, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the format dialog—normally the option is disabled. To enable it, open up Device Manager and find your viagra best prices USB drive, go to the Properties -> Policies tab and then choose "Optimize for performance". Once you've done this, you'll see the NTFS option in the format dialog.

Readers should be warned, however, that once you've enabled write caching you will need to use the Safely Remove Hardware dialog to avoid losing data—though once you format the drive as NTFS you can switch the write caching back off.

The choice between NTFS and FAT32 isn't cut-and-dry—while NTFS does allow larger file sizes, encryption, compression, and permissions, there's a lot more overhead to using it—and more importantly it won't really work on non-Windows systems. Hit the link for the full walk-through and more information about the pros and cons.

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April 16, 2010

USB 3.0 – It’s About Time!

Techtips 259
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USB 3.0 – It's About Time!

by Ryan Morse – March 14, 2010

It's been almost a decade since USB 2.0, also known as Hi-Speed USB, came into our lives, providing a low-cost, high-bandwidth, and hot-pluggable interface that has become the standard for just about every device you can imagine. It's made using inexpensive components, gives a high-bandwidth connection while providing adequate power and can support up to 127 devices at once. In geek time, a decade may as well be a century, technology has advanced tremendously in that span of time. Files and media libraries have increased in size, high-definition video has become a mainstream standard, and cheap cellphones have basically become miniature computers; not to mention the wide array of storage devices that have emerged to keep backups of the data on all those devices. The need for higher bandwidth is an ever-growing one for all these things, and the USB Implementers Forum has come to our rescue yet again. Finalizing the USB 3.0 specification in November of 2008, they've given the green light to hardware manufacturers to begin rolling out the gadgets. Now that we are starting to see products using this new technology come to market, it's time to get familiar with the technology itself.

What's New?

The biggest feature of USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, is undoubtedly its higher bandwidth. The new specification has a signal rate of 5 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Compare that to the previous 2.0 specification, which was 480 Megabits per second (Mbps), and you're looking at a potential tenfold increase in performance. In Megabytes (MB), that's a jump from 60 per second to 625 per second! This means faster sync times for your mobile multimedia devices, flash drives, and other data-related peripherals. Another beneficial feature is optimized power efficiency. The previous specification allowed for up to five 100 mA unit loads, for a total of 500 mA, but the unit load values and totals have been increased to six unit loads of up 150 mA each. This can provide faster charging times for your mobile devices like portable DVD players.

Is It Compatible With What I Have?

If you're worried about replacing all your old devices, fear not; SuperSpeed USB will be backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices. New USB 3.0 hosts will recognize USB 2.0 devices and new 3.0 devices will still connect to 2.0 controllers. The old connectors and cables were wired using four wires, one for power, one for ground, and two in a twisted pair for data transfers. The new specification builds off this design, using the standard power, ground, and two data wires, but add four more wires for SuperSpeed data. To accommodate the extra pins for this, USB 3.0 standard A connectors and ports will be longer and deeper than their predecessors, preventing older devices from ever coming into contact with the new pins. SuperSpeed standard B connectors will be built on top of the existing form factor. The only drawback is, while SuperSpeed standard A plugs will fit into USB 2.0 standard A ports, SuperSpeed standard B plugs will not fit into Hi-Speed standard B ports. For that, a new cable must be used to connect a SuperSpeed device to your existing USB 2.0 port, but cannot be used to connect old devices to your new 3.0 port. For the most part, you should be able to recognize USB 3.0/SuperSpeed ports and cables because they are color-coded blue.

When Can I Get It?

The best part of all these exciting new features is that they are available right now! Chip makers have already released chips to motherboard and add-on card manufacturers, so you can buy a new motherboard with USB 3.0 already integrated or install an add-on card to an available PCI Express x4 slot for desktop systems or ExpressCard 2.0 slot for notebooks. A PCI Express x4 slot must be used because a x1 slot would limit the effective bandwidth to 250 Megabytes per second or about 2 Gigabits per second. The same is true for ExpressCard slots that are not ExpressCard 2.0 compliant. External hard drives, case enclosures, and notebook computers are already available using the technology, and with many more on the way, it's only a matter of time before you're spending less of it watching progress bars as you sync and charge. 

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August 18, 2008

Permanently set your flash drive’s default AutoPlay action

  • Date: July 16th, 2008
  • Author: Greg Shultz

Save some time and frustration by configuring Windows XP to bypass AutoPlay and automatically launch Windows Explorer when you insert your flash drive.


If you have a USB flash drive holding various Microsoft Windows XP files, you may want to configure the drive to automatically open Windows Explorer rather than display the AutoPlay dialog box.

You can select the Open Folder To View Files In Windows Explorer and select the Always Do The Selected Action check box but that only configures the flash drive for one file type. Here’s how to configure your flash drive to open Windows Explorer for all file types at the same time:

  1. Insert your flash drive into the USB port.
  2. When you see the AutoPlay dialog box, click Cancel.
  3. Open My Computer, right-click your flash drive icon, and select Properties.
  4. In the Properties dialog box, select the AutoPlay tab.
  5. Perform the following steps for each item in the Content Type drop-down list:
    1. Select an item in the Content Type drop-down list.
    2. Choose Select An Action To Perform in the Actions panel.
    3. Select the Open Folder To View Files In Windows Explorer action.
    4. Click the Apply button.
  6. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

Now use the Safely Remove Hardware feature to remove your flash drive — wait a moment and plug it back in. You’ll see the AutoPlay progress appear momentarily, and then you should see Windows Explorer open to show the contents of the flash drive.

Note: This propecia for baldness tip is for both Windows XP Home and Professional.

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August 13, 2008

Understand and exploit USB topology in Windows XP

  • Date: July 9th, 2008
  • Author: Greg Shultz

The number of USB devices you can connect to a PC running Microsoft Windows XP is likely more than you could use in any practical manner.


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As long as you have enough power, attaching many USB devices to your Microsoft Windows XP system can’t cause degradation in performance — even if you attach as many as 127 USB devices at one time.

While it’s unlikely for that many devices to be connected at a time, that number is made possible by Windows XP’s seven-tiered USB topology. The top, or tier number one, consists of the host controller or root hub, which is the USB hub built in to the computer’s motherboard. Tiers two through six are equipped to consist of a series of USB hubs (two or more at each tier) daisy chained together. Tier seven consists of any devices attached to the USB hub(s) at tier six.

While USB hubs can draw power from the root hub, the amount of power is limited to 100 milliamperes per port, and the hub can have only four ports. However, most USB hubs have their own external AC adapter and can provide up to 500 milliamperes of power per port on more than four ports.

Follow these steps to learn more about the root hub and the USB hubs attached to your system in Device Manager:

  1. Go to Start, right-click My Computer, and select Manage.
  2. Click Device Manager in the left pane.
  3. Click Universal Serial Bus Controllers in Device Manager. (Figure A)
  4. Double-click each root and USB hub and check the information on the tabs. (Figure B)

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional.

Figure A

Universal Serial Bus Controllers in Device Manager

Figure B

USB hub
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