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I have an assortment of USB thumbdrives, which I use often on a few different Windows 7 machines. Occasionally, when I insert one or the other of them, Windows will completely mis-identify it--I'll insert a Sandisk Ultra, say, and Windows will act as though it's a Kingston DataTraveler. Typically when this happens, Windows will also pop up the dialog box telling me I need to format the drive before I can use it. Canceling this dialog (of course!) and ejecting/reinserting the thumbdrive typically then results in Windows identifying it correctly and giving me normal access to the files on it.

After my heart rate settled out the first time it happened, I came to the conclusion that I'd inserted the thumbdrive in some odd fashion that led to Windows reading the device ID wrong from the firmware. It occurred to me just now, though, that perhaps it's a symptom of some sort of impending failure. The particular thumbdrive for which it happened most recently is only about six months old, though I use it daily.

So: Could this sort of mis-identification of a thumbdrive be an indication of impending failure?

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Does it do it on other computers? If no, it's probably an issue with either your USB reader in your computer or with the install of windows you have.

If yes, it might mean it's about to fail. It also might mean that the USB just has some weird data on it that's confusing windows. If you have data on it you don't want to lose, you should back it up, just in case. A general rule of thumb is that all important data should be in three locations: on your computer and on two physical backups. That way if it breaks/you lose it/etc you're covered.

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