Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Memory stick weirdness

Like most people I have one of these USB memory sticks/thumb drives/flash storage/pen drives/whatever you call them, which I use for storing useful stuff. It’s not a big or clever one, but it works.

But for some reason, the university student cluster machines have a hard time with it. I’ve tried it on 4 different machines, and every time I do, it shows me the contents of a network drive instead of my memory stick. So instead of 64 MB of useful stuff, I get several gigabytes of, well, random stuff.

It works on my Mac and on other, similarly configured Windows machines, so I’m at a loss as to why this is happening. It’s quite annoying when there’s some files on your stick that you want to print and all you can find is a bunch of DLLs for some random maths program.


  1. Thats probably because disk manager has been set to make the next usb drive E (for example) but E is already mapped to the network and because the network is typically connected before you put the drive in, that takes precedence. The only way around that is do delete the network drive (net use e: /d) or right click my computer, manage, drive manager and set a different/free drive letter. Note that you’ll need admin access to access drive manager (which I hope you don’t have in a uni environment)

  2. He’s right. This happens when there is no free drive letters between your physical drives (hard drive, dvd drives, memory card readers, etc.) and the mapped network drives. It is one of those weird quirks that Windows is famous for.
    What I usually do is just disconnect the first mapped drive, use the usb flash drive, then remap the drive (if necessary).

  3. I was going to say what Andy said – you’ll need to use Disk Manager to set a new drive letter for your USB stick.
    I get the same issue at work. It’s one of those little bugs that really should have been fixed by now. Surely it’s not that difficult?

  4. FYI: the “on this day” section to the right of the front page is broken.

  5. Indeed it is. I installed the latest beta of the OnThisDay plugin and it screwed everything up, but haven’t had chance to update it to anything new.