I just bought two 8 GB USB flash drives, SanDisk Cruzer Fit (http://www.sandisk.com/products/usb/drives/cruzer-fit/), they are exactly the same. Since I planned using them as Mac OS X install drives, during a Mac OS X installation (booted from DVD) I erased and formatted them.

After erase and format, one of the drives has an orange/yellowish icon and the other a white icon. Even after I restart my Mac and boot into the installation again and format them again(in different or same order), one(the same one) always gets this orange icon. And that one with the orange icon also has a peculiar issue when I click on the eject button. It does not eject. The partition gets unmounted but that is it. It just stays grayed out and never disappears from disk utility menu. The one with the white icon ejects normally.

I've tested the same drive(orange one) under Windows and it behaves perfectly normal. Safe removal works as expected. I've run some tests and everything appears to function as it should. So it only bothers me why is this difference on the mac. What does this orange icon represent anyway? Does it mean something?

Here are two photo-screenshots i snapped from one and then from the other drive: The white one

The orange one


Accidentally I found out that I've kept the packings from these drives. And only now I see that the graphic design on the front is actually different. Which would indicate that these are from different series. I don't know which one is from which drive though! Anyhow, everything else seems pretty much the same. Here are some photos(the drive on the right is the "orange" drive. As for the packing, as I said, I don't know):

sticks1 sticks2 package1 package2

  • Not really relevant, but for your convenience: here it's explained how you can take a real screenshot on a mac, without using an external camera. – Saaru Lindestøkke Mar 4 '14 at 21:15
  • 1
    I know that, the thing is I was inside a Mac OS X install booted from DVD. Screenshots work there too. But I suppose they are saved into some temporary folder or something. Since I was continuing with the installation I did not want to investigate screenshot functionality at that moment, I just snapped two photos... And now I'm writing from a Windows machine while Mac OS X installs :) – Ivan Kovacevic Mar 4 '14 at 21:20
  • I don't know why it is doing this, but I do know what the different icons are. The orange icon means that OSX "knows" the drive is plugged in through USB (note the USB logo on the top). The white icon is a generic hard drive icon. I am not sure why a USB drive would be identified with this icon unless either the drive or the USB circuitry (port, internal hub, and/or controller) is defective. – Moshe Katz Mar 11 '14 at 0:02
  • The funny thing is, I have all sorts of USB sticks and drives, some show as this white one and some with the orange icon and USB symbol. I even picked the white one from these two to store my Mavericks install. I've checked the drive with multiple dd reads/writes checksumming the created images. Works perfectly. I also have a Kingston 16 GB stick that I use on daily basis which shows the white icon. No issues. Orange drives disappear from Mac desktop when you choose the eject option but remain in Disk Utility. White drives are removed from both places during eject. I'm clueless! – Ivan Kovacevic Mar 11 '14 at 19:41
  • I usually get orange drives when my Mac cannot write on those drives (it can only read them) because of formatting troubles (e.g. wrong format type). Are you sure that both your drives are formatted with the same format types? – Andrea Gottardi Mar 13 '14 at 22:36
  • The Orange Icon indicates a "removable" disk.
  • The White icon inidicates a "fixed" disk.

Both can be mounted andunmounted and will function almost identically.

As far as Mac OS and other Unix-like OSes are concerned, the difference is cosmetic except when trying to create bootable devices. Both are equally fast, both can still be unmounted or ejected.

Unfortunately there is no driver or utility that can fake those flags or change the controller on the drive to indicate that it is a fixed disk or removable disk, it is hard coded into the device's controller by the manufacturer.

Why did Sandisk and others do this? To expand on what @chirality stated:

If your flash drive was created after 2012, there is a high likelihood that it is a Windows 8 certified flash drive, which (according to this) means that it is listed as a "Fixed disk" in disk management, and that write caching is disabled by default. Windows 8 certified flash drives are designed to allow removal at ANY time without damage to the drive's contents. this was designed to support Windows-to-go's "resiliency and unintended removal feature":

The resiliency and unintended removal feature of Windows To Go automatically froze my computer screen upon removal of the drive, giving me 60 seconds to re-insert. If the Windows To Go drive is reinserted into the same port it was removed from, Windows will resume at the point where the drive was removed – without the loss of in process work or data. If the USB drive is not reinserted, or is reinserted into a different port, the host computer will turn off after 60 seconds.

Even more information is available in this Technet FAQ and this Microsoft blog post.

  • I think you might be right! And I've added some details now to my original question that goes in favour to your(and chirality) theory. – Ivan Kovacevic Mar 15 '14 at 14:01
  • Why did you say "except when trying to create bootable devices."? Can you elaborate a bit further on that? Btw, I've created a bootable Mac OS X (10.9.2) install on the white one and a full blown bootable Linux Debian installation on the orange one. Both work perfectly. – Ivan Kovacevic Mar 15 '14 at 14:21
  • Ivan, Please open a new question! – G Koe Mar 18 '14 at 17:05
  • OK I can. But to be honest I'm having trouble figuring out what would the question be. Basically it seems to me that it would be a question where I'm asking an explanation of a claim you made in your answer here, or? That's why I believe it would be more suitable to just add this info into this existing answer. I do not want to sound ungrateful, I would always like to give more points to people.Hell I even wanted to give a bounty on this one but it seems I have too little reputation points for that :(Honestly I will open a new question but please give me some suggestions so that it makes sense – Ivan Kovacevic Mar 19 '14 at 0:18
  • The fixed vs removable status of the drive does not affect OSX/Linux, but it does make it harder to create a bootable windows USB drive. See this post on how the USB DVD download tool from microsoft will not work with "fixed" drives superuser.com/questions/699417/… – G Koe Mar 19 '14 at 13:30

In mid-2013, SanDisk started producing their flash drives with some hardware/firmware flags that tell operating systems that they are, in fact, fixed or permanently-installed drives rather than removable drives. In Windows, this means that I cannot eject one of my Cruzer Fit drives.

I don't currently have a solution, but it would be fantastic if there was a driver that would just fake those couple of flags.

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