My 16 gigs Corsair Flash Voyager GT has died…

Hi folks.

My 16 gigs Corsair Flash Voyager GT has died… No biggie. I am not writing this to complain or cry out. It’s gonna be a happy ending story.

Sometime ago my other 16 gigs pendrive died on me too. It was long time after its warranty has expired. It was old. I had a spare one. No biggie. Why am I even mentioning it then? I am mentioning it simply because I want to mention the behavioral pattern. So the story is… It started few weeks before thumbdrive died completely. I had a video from a friends wedding copied onto the pendrive. I was watching it. All of the sudden SMPlayer closed – no errors – clean exit. I thought “What the hell…” and tried to play the video again. Well… No video to be played. And then I have noticed something far worse then missing video… “Holly crap where’s my pendrive…”. Yes. The dongle was not recognized by the system. I unplugged it and plugged it back in and everything worked fine again. I thought it was a USB port that was to blame. Maybe a software glitch. I remember thinking that maybe a motherboard of that lappy is going bad… Few days later I was watching some other video from this pendrive on another machine. Smplayer died again twice within 10 minutes… “Uhuh… that is not the usb / mobo problem…” I thought and I have copied all the data from the memory stick to he HDD on my main machine. I sensed the reaper coming after my old friend. After a while system was “loosing” the drive way to often – it became unreliable. I tried many things to recover it – nothing worked.

Last night I was watching a talk from the Voyager and the SMPlayer closed. It closed again 20 minutes later… I know what’s going on and just finished copying data from the flash drive. I hear that Corsair has a great confidence in their products and they give long term warranty… 5 years or sometimes even lifetime… This pendrive is with me shorter then that… I went to the manufacturers site and reported a dying pendrive. I was told to send the Voyager to the Netherlands to be replaced. BUT… but… but… what about all my pr0n documents… I don’t want some curious dude at Corsair to be able to recover all my notes and photos and so on… How would I overwrite the drive with some useless random data that would make it harder or almost impossible to recover?

After a while of searching I have combined few commands for my convnience. Here they are:

Run these commands:


Now give it root’s password

Then run:

fdisk -l

That’s fdisk space dash lower case L.

This command will list all the hard drives available in Your system. Example:

[root@icsserver andrzejl]# fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 40.0 GB, 40007761920 bytes
240 heads, 63 sectors/track, 5168 cylinders, total 78140160 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xef08263a

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 63 73392479 36696208+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda2 73392480 78140159 2373840 5 Extended
/dev/sda5 73392543 75479039 1043248+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda6 75479103 78140159 1330528+ 83 Linux
[root@icsserver andrzejl]#

This machine for example has only one HDD /dev/sda and it’s 40 gigs.

Now once You have found the correct drive run this:

dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sdx & pid=$!

Remember to replace x with a correct drive letter… DO NOT MAKE A MISTAKE. DD does not ask. DD writes. If You make as mistake of writing random strings to a wrong drive You are the only one to blame…

In my case it’s /dev/sde drive that I want to “randomize” ;).

[root@wishmacer andrzejl]# dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sde & pid=$!
[1] 20951
[root@wishmacer andrzejl]#

It gives me a process id and then runs in a background. You can then check the progress by issuing command:

kill -USR1 $pid

The result will look somewhat like this:

[root@wishmacer andrzejl]# kill -USR1 $pid
[root@wishmacer andrzejl]# 10171578+0 records in
10171577+0 records out
5207847424 bytes (5.2 GB) copied, 2710.78 s, 1.9 MB/s
[root@wishmacer andrzejl]#

It spits out a pretty useful info.

Sometimes it may not give You a prompt. It will look like it froze. Don’t worry. Punch enter. Prompt is back ;).

It will take a longer while but once it’s done You will see something like this:

[root@wishmacer andrzejl]# dd: writing to `/dev/sde‘: No space left on device
31719425+0 records in
31719424+0 records out
16240345088 bytes (16 GB) copied, 8522.4 s, 1.9 MB/s

This means that the process has finished. This should be sufficient – data on Your HDD has been overwritten with “random” gibberish. IF You are paranoid and You want to make the recovery process even more difficult – run the dd command few times. You don’t have to format the disk or anything. Just re-run the command in the terminal. 5 – 10 times should do it.