USB pen drive suddenly became read-only


Kingston DTSE9 16 Gb USB pen drive (genuine one) suddenly becomes read-only. It has been used in a car, permanently plugged in into the USB socket as music collection for approx 6 months. It was barely written to, 5 times max. It could have been exposed to extremely low temperatures (-2 degree Celcius, Manchester, UK).

Any attempt to format or partition fails. I have searched internet. I have tried OSX, Windows and Ubuntu. I can afford to throw it away and buy 10 new ones (wasted much more time already trying to format it) – but it's a matter of principle, right?

My guts telling me it is possible to mount it manually in Unix/Linux in a special way – but I'm not strong in that. Any suggestions from a unix command line gurus who appreciate matter of principle? Or is it the time when machines are beating human yet? I know this site is the best on the internet, so if no-one here can help then no point fighting it further.

Oh. There is no physical write protection switch on the drive

Image on the pen drive: no physical switch

Attempt to partition pen drive using OS X

Best Answer

  • You can try booting into a Linux system, and remounting it as read-write.

    First, boot up your computer to any Linux. Then, plug your usb drive into your computer. (assuming the drive isn't dead from driving)

    In this case, I will assume your drive is called

    You can check this by doing fdisk -l when the drive is not plugged in, and doing it again when it is. Then compare the results.

    Once you have found out what it is called, you can try remounting it as read-write.

    sudo mount -o remount,rw /dev/sdb

    At this point, it may complain that it is write-protected. In that case, you may also have to run sudo hdparm -r0 /dev/sdb

    Then try remounting read-write again.

    You should then be able to format it. You can do this with:

    sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb

    Be careful with this command, a mistype with dd can format your HDD.

    If you want to work on a specific partition, you will have to specify a number after the drive name. (eg.

    is your drive, partition 1)

    If none of this works, can you try posting dmesg | tail after plugging it in?

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