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Thread: Can't write to USB drives

  1. #1
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    Can't write to USB drives

    After using my external hard drive for three or more years, I'm now getting a message telling me that I can't write to it. Same with my USB flash sticks.
    They are all formatted in vfat.
    I recently upgraded to 10.10. Would this have something to do with it?
    • Why would write permissions change on their own?

    • How do I get them back?

    This is seriously affecting my ability to work with Ubuntu and I'd rather not revert to Windows.
    Thanks for any help
    "Named must your fear be before banish it you can."

  2. #2
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    You can use chmod to change permissions if that is the problem. Does ubuntu see the usb devices when they are plugged in?
    Code:
    lsusb
    are the usb devices mounting properly?
    with the devices plugged in type
    Code:
    mount
    to see if they are mounted
    Perseverance will succeed (usually)
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  3. #3
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    Yes, I can see and read all the USB devices. (For some reason my USB hard drive is listed twice). Just can't write to any of them. And I can't change the permissions as they are owned by "root". I can't seem to change the ownership of any USB device either.
    "Named must your fear be before banish it you can."

  4. #4
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    you should be able to use your password to become root for a time using sudo
    ie
    Code:
    sudo chmod rw /path/to/usb
    Though I'm no longer sure it's a permissions thing. Can you post the output of lsub and we can have a look whats going on
    Perseverance will succeed (usually)
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  5. #5
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    As a quick fix (if you need to get something on it fast), you can always mount it manually with option umask=0.

    E.g.: you check the location manually by running:

    Code:
    sudo fdisk -l
    Than if you find your usb disk (for example) to be /dev/sdc1 (and /home/something an arbitrary empty folder where you can mount your usb disk), you run:

    Code:
    sudo mount /dev/sdc1 -t vfat, umask=0 /home/something
    It was always my impression that this issue (which I have experienced as well occasionally) may be related to something going wrong with permissions when using an usb stick on multiple linux or osx systems. I'm not sure about this, though, and I don't know how to fix it.
    Last edited by stefangr1; November 17th, 2010 at 10:29 AM.

  6. #6
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Hippytaff View Post
    you should be able to use your password to become root for a time using sudo
    ie
    Code:
    sudo chmod rw /path/to/usb
    Though I'm no longer sure it's a permissions thing. Can you post the output of lsub and we can have a look whats going on
    pbhill@Acer-Ubuntu:~$ lsub
    No command 'lsub' found, did you mean:
    Command 'lsusb' from package 'usbutils' (main)
    Command 'qsub' from package 'gridengine-client' (universe)
    Command 'qsub' from package 'torque-client' (multiverse)
    Command 'qsub' from package 'torque-client-x11' (universe)
    lsub: command not found
    pbhill@Acer-Ubuntu:~$ lsusb
    Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
    Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
    Bus 003 Device 006: ID 03f0:8704 Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 5940
    Bus 003 Device 003: ID 0529:0001 Aladdin Knowledge Systems HASP v0.06
    Bus 003 Device 002: ID 0451:2046 Texas Instruments, Inc. TUSB2046 Hub
    Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
    Bus 002 Device 002: ID 046d:c52f Logitech, Inc. Wireless Mouse M305
    Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
    Bus 001 Device 009: ID 1058:0901 Western Digital Technologies, Inc. MyBook External HDD
    Bus 001 Device 005: ID 046d:0892 Logitech, Inc. OrbiCam
    Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
    pbhill@Acer-Ubuntu:~$
    "Named must your fear be before banish it you can."

  7. #7
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    I would tend to agree with stefang1 - manually mount if for the time being and look into resolving permissions issues
    Perseverance will succeed (usually)
    ubuntu user -32597 - linux user - 526569
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  8. #8
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    I've solved the problem for the time being. After searching the web and Googling this problem for two weeks, I still hadn't found a good answer to the problem.
    My solution, and I hope it's temporary, is to install Windows in VirtualBox. Windows has no problem reading and writing to these USB drives! At least now I can bring work home again. I guess this shows why Ubuntu just isn't ready for "prime time".
    "Named must your fear be before banish it you can."

  9. #9
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    Quote Originally Posted by pbhill View Post
    I've solved the problem for the time being. After searching the web and Googling this problem for two weeks, I still hadn't found a good answer to the problem.
    My solution, and I hope it's temporary, is to install Windows in VirtualBox. Windows has no problem reading and writing to these USB drives! At least now I can bring work home again. I guess this shows why Ubuntu just isn't ready for "prime time".
    When you boot from the LiveCD, pop the USB flash drive in and see if it mounts? If so, you can copy the mount files from the CD to your HDD. Push comes to shove, I can send you all of my mount files.
    Microsoft is a company. Linux is a community.
    - In Tux We Trust


  10. #10
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    Re: Can't write to USB drives

    I had a similar problem and I used Gparted to format my USB sticks to fat32 and ubuntu 10.10 now reads them just fine

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