USB in magnetic field

  1. I want to erase the data in a USB, without actually messing up the circuitry of the device, using magnets. What would be an ideal approach ??
  2. jcsd
  3. mfb

    Staff: Mentor

    USB is a connection, not a data storage. Do you mean a USB stick? They store data electrically, a magnet will not help. You can use your computer to overwrite data on the stick.
  4. @mfb
    Sorry for the typo, I meant a flash drive. I want to remove the data from the drive( which definitely could be done using a PC) using magnetic field, as I have read about magnetic fields destroying data stored in electronic devices.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
  5. mfb

    Staff: Mentor

    Magnetic fields are great for hard disk drives, as they store data in the orientation of magnetic fields - easy to erase with external magnetic fields.
  6. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    Magnetic fields do not affect flash memory chips. Why are you asking about this?
  7. I hate to disagree but, USB flash drives can be affected by magnetic fields. As far as erasing the data only, it is true that the data they hold is not affected in the traditional manner in which data stored on a disk drive is. You cannot use a magnet to just erase the data on a flash drive but by moving a magnet back and forth you can generate currents that will damage it enough to be unusable.

    A sufficiently strong, changing magnetic field can damage flash memory devices due to electrical currents produced through electromagnetic induction inside the circuitry that are strong enough to corrupt the device. I have a few USB flash drives that have been rendered unusable and unformatable due to the exposure to N52 neodymium magnets. The speed was relatively slow but repeated for several minutes as the magnets in one brief case slip past the flash drives directly adjacent to but in another soft sided brief case. The magnetic field itself is not the danger but the induced currents that can mess them up.
  8. davenn

    davenn 4,368
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    so why don't you just use the traditional way and use the PC to format the flash drive ??
    its effective and if you want to almost guarantee that old data cant be retrieved just fill the drive with random data an then format it again

    it is surprisingly difficult to erase data from memory chips with a magnetic field. I even tried a quite strong rare earth magnet

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