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I've run into a strange situation where I can't share files between Windows 98 and Windows 2000 using a USB flash drive. Files I put on the Win98 machine can be read by that machine, but not by the Win2k machine. And likewise, I can add and read files on that drive from the Win2k machine, but those files don't appear on the drive when accessed from the Win98 machine.

Anyone have ideas as to what could be the cause of this?

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Windows... 98?! Wow. – Sam152 Apr 28 '10 at 14:04
Whoa, has it been that long? :) – Ken Pespisa May 19 '10 at 20:57
Only 12 years ;) – Emory Bell Jun 14 '10 at 5:49

Best guess: you have partitioned your USB drive strangely, so that for example there is a FAT filesystem in a partition overlapped by a NTFS filesystem on the whole drive. As both operating systems will check both options, but Win98 cannot read NTFS, they will detect different filesystems. That will still mean that both filesystems will be somehow "corrupted" (having information where it does not belong) but if your drive is large and there are only a few files on it, it might not appear for a long time.

Check Disk Management on Win2000 and fdisk on Win98 and compare their output. Or boot from a Linux live CD and check what files you see there and how the partitioning is like with cfdisk.

To clean this up, save all files you still need elsewhere, and fill all sectors of the drive (or only the first few megabytes) with zeroes, then partition and format your drive again (this time in a format that all your operating systems can read :))

And if any of your machines asks if they should re-format the drive, always say "no" (without cleaning the first sectors first), because that can in some obscure cases lead to such problems.

(It could also be a firmware/driver bug so that one of your OSes does not see some part of the drive, but if other USB drives work fine, this is not the real issue.)

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