I completely hosed a few SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB 2.0 2 GB Flash Drives at work when I deleted the original contents of the drives, installed the CruzerPro software that had shipped with some older Cruzer Professional drives, and then used the CruzerPro application to password protect the drives. This process rendered the drives completely unusable and unable to be formatted.
Clicking the drive letter in Windows Explorer returns the following error message:
Please insert a disk into drive X:.
Attempting to format the drive returns the warning:
There is no disk in drive X.
Insert a disk, and then try again.
This is what the drives looked like once I’d thoroughly broken them.
The drive properties show:
Type: Removable Disk
File system: Unknown
Used space 0 bytes
Free space 0 bytes
Capacity 0 bytes
The Volumes tab shows:
Status: No Media
Partition style: Not Applicable
Capacity: 0 MB
Unallocated space: 0 MB
Reserved space: 0 MB
Opening the Disk Management component of the Computer Management console shows that the drive is connected, but there is no unallocated space to partition or format.
Other things about the disk look normal. It shows up in the Device Manager as working correctly, without any warnings, for example.
I Googled around and found that many, many people were running into this problem where the drive starts reporting 0 bytes capacity and can not be formatted. Of the dozens of pages that I read, no one found a fix for the problem. The most common solution offered was to return the drive to the manufacturer for replacement. Well, I wasn’t going to publicize my mistake and return the drives, I was going to repair them.
Software that didn’t help
Feel free to skip this part if you’re not interested in reading about the many dead-ends I explored.
I knew of one nifty program that had helped me out a few times before, so I tried running the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool v2.1.8, but attempting to format the drive with this utility returned the following error message:
There is no media in the specified device.
Someone suggested using this thing called “Apacer Repair v22.214.171.124” to reformat the drive, so I tried that, but the software only reported “USB Flash Disk not found!” when I ran it.
Someone else recommended FreeCommander, but that failed to open the drive, too.
I tried the free trial of the utility from http://www.flashmemorytoolkit.com/, but it reported the same information as Windows XP – that the device contained a disk with 0 bytes capacity. Maybe the full version could have done more, but I put that on the back burner.
A number of people suggested attacking it with partitioning software, which I wasn’t looking forward to doing, but was willing to try.
Another last resort was going to be using the Windows XP Recovery Console’s fixboot and fixmbr commands, which got me out of a pinch when I screwed up a partition.
What I should have tried to begin with
Then I had an idea. I had a clean drive that had escaped my earlier bungling. I plugged it in, copied the contents to my desktop and tried to run the U3 LaunchPad software. Nothing happened, so I started looking more closely at the files. One of the files was called SanDiskFormatExtension.dll, which sounded promising. Now I just needed to figure out how to run the SanDisk installer to reformat the drive. I tried all of the .exe’s and .msi’s that shipped with the drive, but nothing wanted to run from the folder on my desktop.
Just as I was running out of options, I opened the autorun.inf file and found a very interesting entry:
So, with nothing to lose, I pasted http://u3.sandisk.com/download/lp_installer.asp?custom=126.96.36.199&brand=PelicanBFG into Internet Explorer, thinking that it would at least get me some new files that might allow me to reformat the drive. I followed a few prompts and lo, the U3 Launchpad Installer software launched and restored the drive to its factory settings of 2 GB capacity formatted as FAT. It even replaced the original U3 files, making it truly good-as-new.
I’m astonished that this information isn’t more widely available, particularly on the SanDisk support site and forums, as this 0 capacity problem seems to affect a good number of drives and there are many threads where this issue remains unresolved.
Note that the page at http://u3.sandisk.com/download/lp_installer.asp?custom=188.8.131.52&brand=PelicanBFG requires you to install an ActiveX component, so you must use Internet Explorer.
Otherwise, you can download the latest version of the U3 Launchpad Installer executable from the Sandisk KB.
Of course, if you’re not using a SanDisk drive, it’s rather unlikely that this software will fix your drive, but maybe your device’s manufacturer has something similar. There are also a number of good ideas in the comments below, so definitely read through them for more options.
If you’re trying to restore the drive’s contents or recover files, the all of the methods described on this page will format (erase) the drive and are not for you. Good luck.