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Main article: Usb flash drive

All topics: 9

Gnarbox 2.0 backup SSD is a photographer’s best friend in the field and at home

18:06 | 9 October

Working photographers, and enthusiasts who just love taking plenty of pictures, know that even the biggest SD cards can sometimes fill up, especially when you’re working with large file sizes, shooting both JPG and RAW, and shooting 4K video. The solution? A good mobile backup drive. There are a number of options out there that fit the bill, but the newly released Gnarbox 2.0 might be the best of them all, because it works like a miniature independent photo computer in addition to packing speedy SSD storage onboard.

This is the second generation of Gnarbox’s backup solution, and while I used the original, HDD-based version to great effect for a long time, the 2.0 version adds a ton of useful features, including super-fast SSD storage ranging from 256GB to 1TB in capacity, a new OLED display that makes it even easier to use in the field, and a removable battery that means you can pack spares to stay powered up and ready.

Simple, no fuss backup

It’s not the fanciest feature that the Gnarbox 2.0 offers, but it might be the one you use most: Quick and painless backup of SD cards. There’s an SD port on the device itself that can transfer at speeds up of to 75MB/s, and it has USB-C ports that can transfer direct from cameras or from card readers at up to 350MB/s depending on their transfer capabilities. When you plug in an SD card or camera, you get an option on the screen to totally back up the contents of the attached drive with one click, which makes it incredibly easy to dump and delete and clear up space to keep shooting.

Gnarbox 2.0 6

During a 9-day trip that included two events and a vacation to shoot, I made frequent use of this feature. Shooting with the new Sony A7R IV in both RAW and JPG, even my 128GB SD + 64GB SD backup cards filled up pretty quickly, but I would just slide one of the cards into the Gnarbox’s slot and hit the backup button before changing venues and it’d be fully backed up within a few minutes.

In my experience, this process has been rock-solid reliable, and gives me effectively 10x the space for a shoot vs. just relying on my cards alone (I don’t typically have a similar sized backup SD card on the road, let alone 10). By default, the Gnarbox 2.0 stores all your media in backup folders organized by capture date, too, which makes them super easy to sort through once you get back to base.

A mobile review and rating machine

Once all that great capture content is on your Gnarbox 2.0, you can also very easily connect to the drive using Gnarbox’s mobile apps to either review what you’ve got, or go through and rate your photos quickly to make the process of working through them once you’re installed at your workstation easier.

There are two apps from Gnarbox available right now, including Gnarbox Safekeep and Gnarbox Selects. Safekeep gives you access to all your device’s settings and can also act as a file browser for shuttling photos between apps. But Selects is probably what you’re going to be using most – it not only offers fast RAW previews (compatible with every major camera’s RAW formats) but also lets you quickly add ratings, keyboard tags and more to make sure your collection is primed for edit when you get back to your desktop.

With Selects, you can review either files on the Gnarbox SSD itself, or on attached memory cards or storage media (so yes, you can use this with something like a Samsung T5 if you’re already using that as a backup solution). All this info will then show up in applications like Adobe Lightroom to expedite your workflow.

This can shave hours off the process of organizing your photos, since it means you can do the rating and reviewing up front without having to wait for everything to import and then trying to recall what you were going for with the shoot in the field after the fact.

Easy sharing from the field

Speaking of saving time, the Gnarbox 2.0 also helps you move more quickly from capture to sharing, which is incredibly useful if you’re working on a live event or doing photojournalism of something happening in the moment. The device supports Lightroom mobile out of the box, meaning you can navigate to it as a source for a new collection and move files over directly when connected to your phone or tablet. This makes it awesome for adding quick edits to RAW files, exporting finished JPGs and sharing directly to social apps and websites.

With Apple’s new iOS 13 filesystem changes, the Gnarbox 2.0 can also be addressed as a mass storage device, so you should be pretty wide open in terms of options for working with various editing software. This is also great for mobile video workflows, since Gnarbox 2.0 works just as well for storing video capture as well as photos.

Home workstation companion

Gnarbox 2.0 3The Gnarbox 2.0 is great on the go, but it’s also perfect for plugging in as a home work drive once you’re back from the shoot. I’m reviewing the 1TB version, so the amount of available on board storage is a big advantage here, since it can essentially provide all the space you need to give you all of your working files in one place.

As mentioned, it supports high-speed USB-C transfer, which makes working with the files directly from the drive on your main workstation much more pleasant. That also means you don’t necessarily have to move things over local to get to work, which saves you a step and spares your computer’s disk space.

Gnarbox 2.0 switches to USB Mass Storage mode pretty easily, using the onboard OLED menu system. You do need to make this switch manually however, because by default the USB-C port that it uses to make the computer connection is used for charging the Gnarbox’s battery. Once you’re in that mode, however, it’s as easy as connecting Gnarbox 2.0 to your computer and then navigating to it as you would any other connected mass storage device.

Photos on the drive are organized by capture date, as mentioned (you can customize how it creates its folder structure if you want) and you can also select it as an import target in any photo editing software, like Lightroom or Capture One.

Bottom line

Gnarbox 2.0 5Gnarbox has taken their time to create a thoughtful and thorough successor to their original product with the Gnarbox 2.0. It’s a unique blend of field photo server and mini computer, made more versatile with clever touches like the removable battery packs and dust/splash resistance. Ultimately, there really isn’t anything in the market that can compete with the Gnarbox 2.0 on everything it provides, though devices like WD’s My Passport Wireless Pro and the LaCie Rugged Boss SSD can offer some key parts at lower prices depending on your needs.

At $899 for the 1TB version I reviewed, ($499 and $599 for the 256 and 512GB versions, respectively), the Gnarbox 2.0 clearly isn’t for everyone. It’s a professional tool for a professional workflow, and it’s priced as such. That said, the value it provides for busy photographers who need a companion storage solution with utmost flexibility for working both at home and on the road is definitely going to make it worth the cost of admission for some.

 


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Microsoft wants to bring exFAT to the Linux kernel

20:30 | 28 August

ExFAT, the Extended File Allocation Table, is Microsoft’s file system for flash drives and SD cards, which launched in 2006. Because it was proprietary, mounting these drives and cards on Linux machines generally involved installing additional software. Today, however, Microsoft announced that it is supporting the addition of exFAT to the Linux kernel and publishing the technical specifications for exFAT.

“It’s important to us that the Linux community can make use of exFAT included in the Linux kernel with confidence. To this end, we will be making Microsoft’s technical specification for exFAT publicly available
to facilitate development of conformant, interoperable implementations.”

In addition to wanting it to become part of the Linux kernel, Microsoft also says that it hopes that the exFAT specs will become part of the Open Invention Network’s  Linux definition. Once accepted, the code would benefit “from the defensive patent commitments of OIN’s 3040+ members and licensees,” the company notes.

Microsoft and Linux used to be mortal enemies — and some in the Linux community definitely still think of Microsoft as anti-open source. These days, though, Microsoft has clearly embraced open source and Linux, which is now the most popular operating system on Azure and, optionally, part of Windows 10, thanks to its Windows Subsystem for Linux. It’ll still be interesting to see how the community will react to this proposal. The aftertaste of Microsoft’s strategy of  “embrace, extend and extinguish” still lingers in the community, after all, and not too long ago, this move would’ve been interpreted as yet another example of this.

 


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‘Unhackable’ encrypted flash drive eyeDisk is, as it happens, hackable

17:33 | 10 May

In security, nothing is “unhackable.” When it’s claimed, security researchers see nothing more than a challenge.

Enter the latest findings from Pen Test Partners, a U.K.-based cybersecurity firm. Their latest project was ripping apart the “unhackable” eyeDisk, an allegedly secure USB flash drive that uses iris recognition to unlock and decrypt the device.

eyeDisk raised over $21,000 in its Kickstarter campaign last year and began shipping devices in March.

There’s just one problem: it’s anything but “unhackable.”

Pen Test Partners researcher David Lodge found the device’s backup password — to access data in the event of device failure or a sudden eye-gouging accident — could be easily obtained using a software tool able to sniff USB device traffic.

The secret password — “SecretPass” — can be seen in plaintext. (Image: Pen Test Partners)

“That string in red, that’s the password I set on the device. In the clear. Across an easy to sniff bus,” he said in a blog post detailing his findings. The password is

Worse, he said, the device’s real password can be picked up even when the wrong password has been entered. Lodge explained this as the device revealing its password first, then validating it against whatever password the user submitted before the unlock password is sent.

Lodge said anyone using one of these devices should use additional encryption on the device.

The researcher disclosed the flaw to eyeDisk, which promised a fix, but has yet to release it. eyeDisk did not return a request for comment.

 


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Donated devices are doxing your data, says new research

14:00 | 19 March

In the space of six months, one security researcher found thousands of files from dozens of computers, phones and flash drives — most of which contained personal information.

All the researcher did was scour the second-hand stores for donated and refurbished tech.

New research published by security firm Rapid7 revealed how problematic discarded technology can be. For his research, Josh Frantz bought 85 devices for $650, and found over 366,300 files, including images and documents.

After an analysis of each device, Frantz found email addresses, dates of birth, Social Security and credit card numbers, driver’s license data and passport numbers.

Only two devices were properly wiped, he said.

Shy of going into a forensic-level search, the researcher suggested he could have rinsed even more data from his cache of refurbished devices.

Although the responsibility arguably rests with the person who donates their device, Frantz said his research revealed many businesses also don’t wipe data from the devices people turn over — despite promises and guarantees to the contrary.

Discovering data from discarded drives seems only to be getting worse.

A similar experiment done in 2012 found half of the devices obtained still contained personal information. A recent study by the University of Hertfordshire reported two-thirds of the 200 USB drives bought from eBay had private and sensitive files — including wage slips, job applications, and even nude photos in some cases.

Worse, discarded devices can open people up to hacking. Researchers recently revealed that throwing away cheap Internet of Things devices can be recovered to obtain wireless network passwords, allowing an attacker to gain a foothold into a network.

It’s the latest reminder to dispose of devices properly after they’re no longer used. Data can reside on discarded computers and drives for years — often withstanding the elements. Even erasing a device to factory reset isn’t always enough to prevent data recovery.

Frantz listed among the favorite: a hammer, industrial shredding — or, for the extreme cases, thermite.

It’s not to say you shouldn’t donate. Just, maybe keep your hands the hard drive.

 


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Elon Musk says Tesla vehicles will soon get a ‘Sentry Mode’

03:01 | 23 January

Tesla owners may soon have a way to see (and record) damage that happens to their vehicles when they’re unattended.

Tesla will roll out “Tesla Sentry Mode” for all cars with Enhanced Autopilot, CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet Tuesday. Musk didn’t provide anymore information about when this feature might be available and how it might work.

TechCrunch has reached out to Tesla for more details.

The name suggests that this feature would stand guard, so to speak by either keeping the dash cam on while parked or having it automatically turn on if the car is hit or being tampered with. It could operate similar to aftermarket product Owl security camera; although, again, details are scant except that “regulators just approved.”

Tesla Sentry Mode coming soon for all cars with Enhanced Autopilot https://t.co/x2buQWiABX

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

Almost ready to roll out. Regulators just approved.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

In October, Tesla released version 9.0 of its software, which featured a number of updates including a new UI on the center display and the ability to the use the built-in forward-facing cameras as a dash cam. The dash cam feature is available only in Tesla vehicles built after August 2017.

The dash cam feature currently lets owners record and store video footage captured by their car’s forward-facing camera onto a USB flash drive. Owners first must configure a USB flash drive in Windows or MS-DOS file architecture and add a base-level folder in the flash drive called TeslaCam. The configured USB flash drive can then be inserted into either one of the USB ports in the front row of the vehicle. When properly configured, the Dash cam icon pops up on the status bar with a red dot indicating that it is recording.

Owners can tap the icon to save a 10-minute video clip or press and hold to pause recording. Recordings that aren’t downloaded are automatically deleted.

 


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A digitizing David takes on photo-scanning Goliath

19:53 | 29 December

 Mitch Goldstone loves photo scanning. His business, ScanMyPhotos, does what it says on the tin: you send photos to the company and, using high speed scanners and special software, his team digitizes your photos, sticks them onto a USB key or online, and sends them back. He is proud of his business. Thanks to his scanners he’s helped users save their photos from tornadoes, floods, and theft. Read More

 


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The Netgear ReadyNAS 524X is a data hoarder’s delight

22:14 | 3 October

 As a member of the Data Generation, I’ve found that my photos, videos, and documents quickly expand to fill their containers. A standard USB drive is quickly replaced by another, larger one while home network file servers fall by the wayside as they get full, old, and dangerously lossy. In short, it’s time for the big guns. That’s why I was pleased to try out the Netgear… Read More

 


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CrashPlan shuts down its popular cloud backup service to focus on business customers

21:16 | 22 August

Code42, the company behind CrashPlan, just announced that it would stop selling home subscriptions in order to focus on business and education clients. CrashPlan has been a popular cloud backup service for years. Customers have a little bit more than a year to find an alternative.

Chances are you’re already backing up your computer to an external hard drive using Apple’s Time Machine, Windows Backup and Restore or another app. While this is great, it doesn’t really help you if your house burns down.

That’s why many people also rely on an online backup service. Companies like CrashPlan, Backblaze and Carbonite have made this easy. After subscribing, you just have to install a background app and forget about it. These services usually back up your data continuously in the background.

CrashPlan has been one of the leading services in this space, but it turns out that you can make more money by focusing on bigger customers. That’s why Code42 is giving its customers a lot of time to move away from CrashPlan. It can take a while to upload an entire hard drive, after all.

Code42’s enterprise offering helps IT service backup a fleet of computers. It also can be useful to protect your employees against ransomware attacks, spy on them to see if they’re uploading sensitive files to their personal cloud storage and more.

The Wirecutter has already updated its online cloud backup service guide. It now recommends Backblaze instead of CrashPlan. I’ve been using Backblaze and the service works fine. It doesn’t slow down your computer and it offers plenty of options to restore your files.

If you have a good connection, you can download a ZIP file with your selection of files. If you need everything as quickly as possible, the company can send you a USB flash drive or even an external hard drive for an additional fee.

Alternatively, if you feel a bit adventurous, you can install an app like Arq Backup and use an online service, such as Amazon S3, Backblaze B2 or Wasabi, or consumer services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

Don’t forget that you’re basically sending the content of your hard drive to some random server. You should turn on two-factor authentication to access the online service you’re using and encrypt your backup using a passphrase.

Featured Image: Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images

 


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This USB Drive Can Nuke A Computer

18:24 | 12 March

xe604786e44.jpg.pagespeed.ic.GciaedlUDL Do not ever use a random USB flash drive. There are plenty software exploits that can ruin your computer or life. And with this flash drive, it can physically destroy your computer by blasting a load of voltage to the USB controller with negative voltage. Think Wile E. Coyote and an ACME Human Cannon. BOOM! Read More

 


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