Sunday, May 21, 2006

USB Drives and magnets

I've been wondering for a while if putting a USB flash drive too close to a magnet can cause a loss of data or even damage the drive itself.

I remember back in college, a teacher told us not to put our backpacks on the floor of the subway train. The electrical system that powers the trains creates a magnetic field that could damage the data on our big floppies. And those floppies usualy were in our backpacks.

I know the data storage system of a flash drive is different than a floppy. While floppies used magnetic dics, the flash drive uses some sort of gates that traps electrons (or at least that what I could understand from the Wikipedia entry). Can electrons be affected by magnetic fields? I was drawing Miss Dynamite comics during the class on atomic science during physics in high school... X-
It can be affected by static electricity, that I know. That's why USB drives are protected in a plastic case.

So, does anyone knows? I'm too scared to test mine.


Anonymous IKSrocks said...

There's nothing magnetic in most flash drives, so... No, you're not vulnerable.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Sirkowski said...


5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah. The static will harm the drive just because all that delicate circuitry doesn't like to be shocked by lots of electricity at once. A light magnetic field, like one from that bar magnet in your "case o' science crap" does not produce a strong enough field to even make the drive blink. However, a magnet like one at a auto-wrecking yard or a labrotory (one of those big ones), will kill it.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from what i understand of the subject, yes, a magnetic field can harm it. however, in order to pull the electrons out of the drive it self, that magnetic field would be so strong that it would also pull the iron out of your blood.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I placed my USB jump drive on my key ring 2 days ago and now it no longer works. I realised this may have been due to the magnetic security tag I also have on my key ring.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Sirkowski said...

I really doubt that's the cause.

4:26 PM  
Blogger DaGuyNamedSam said...

I think it takes a while for a magnet to destroy the drive. It destroyed mine. It was one of those magnet things on a magnet-pin thingy and the flash drive no longer works.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Prof.B said...

COMPLETELY NOTHING. Not a trace of a drive or data. Try it with an old drive that has been backed up. Those of you non-believers should not hesitate to USE A DRIVE THAT HOLDS YEARS OF NONBACKEDUPDATA. I dare you.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Sirkowski said...

That's an old post. Since then, I've called Leo Laporte on TechTV's Call for Help (cancelled by the evil G4TV since then). My call was aired on TV.

8:44 PM  

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