Flash Drives and You: Troubleshooting USB Storage Devices on Mac Mini
written by: Austin•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 6/5/2011
Transferring files from one computer to another is easier than ever thanks to the invention of USB flash drives, but all technology advancements fail sometimes. Here's what you can try if your USB flash drives aren't working with your Mac Mini.
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Troubleshooting a USB Flash Drive
So, your flash drive isn't working. Just yesterday you used it to transfer those lovely photos of you and your friends to another flash drive, yet today when you plugged it in either the icon didn't come up or the files just won't transfer. Disappointed, you turn to the Internet, and thankfully BrightHub is here to cover your bases when it comes to troubleshooting.
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1) Make Sure It's the Flash Drive Not the Computer
Most people have multiple computers or access to multiple computers in their house or close by, so the first thing you'll want to do with your flash drive is take it to another computer and try it there. After plugging it in, take note of a few things:
- Does the computer recognize it?
- Can you open it?
- Can you add/remove files to/from it?
If the answer to these is "Yes", then eject and move it back to you other computer to try again. If you still have no luck, then you know the issue is something with your computer, not the drive itself.
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2) Remove and Reset
If you completed all the things in step 1, you're already part of the way to completing step 2. If not, all this requires is to properly eject your external flash drive (drag the icon to the recycle bin) and shut down your computer. Most people would say that you can simply start it back up right away, but I'd recommend waiting a few minutes and letting your computer cool or take a bit of a break. Afterwards, start it back up and re-plugin your flash drive to see if it had any effect. If not, try step 3.
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3) Format Your Flash Drive
This one doesn't work so well if you had a Mac Mini copy failure to your USB flash drive because the flash drive won't even show up on your desktop, but if the issue is elsewhere, it's a great idea to reformat the device. To do this, insert the flash drive firmly into the port, open up "Disk Utility" and highlight your flash drive. If you look in the upper middle, you'll see an "Erase" tab. Click this, change the formatting option to "MS-DOS (FAT)", and then select "Erase". It should take just a few seconds (maybe up to a minute) to do this, and then you should be clear to go.
Note: Formatting your USB flash drive will destroy all data on the drive.
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4) Go Buy a New Flash Drive
At the end of the day, even if your flash drive is totally and completely ruined, they really don't cost all that much money. Most of them can be found in the 1-4GB size range at your local tech store for less then $15, so ultimately it's probably not even worth it to call customer support and try and get things sorted out. If, however, this is your second or third flash drive you've been having issues with, and they've all been from the same company, it's probably in your best interest to either get your money back or have them sort out the issues for you.