24 July 2013

"No File" = USB Stick Failure

Alpine Auto Stereo Error Message
Discussions periodically flare up about the lifetime of flash memory -- the sort of memory used in a  flash drive. A 2010 test by ZDNet was optimistic. Claims made by manufacturers were generally exceeded, though some areas for concern were noted. 

So it was with some surprise when -- in the middle of a song -- my Alpine CDE-102 car stereo stopped playing audio from a USB stick. The 16GB Sandisk SDC76016G was used almost exclusively as a write-once, play-many device. If my memory serves, there were only three distinct write sessions. In this scenario, the CDE-102 first threw an undocumented message that there was no USB attached. Then, when I removed the SDC76016G and reattached it, this message: "NO FILE."

Testing of the USB stick on a Windows 7 desktop showed that the stick had failed, as Windows could not recognize it, either. Thus, a reformat would not possible.

It's a small sample, but does give one pause about the long term reliability of USB Flash memory for backup purposes.

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