Requirements for users sending us data on USB drives

[Alison W - review and keep]

This page gives details about the what users should be doing when sending data to us on USB drives. Please note that this page might need editing before sending out to end-users as some of the information it contains is intended only for internal viewing/use.


  • Users should send the complete drive in the original packaging with all cables, power adapter and driver disks as provided by the manufacturer. (This means that we don't have to go looking on the manufacturer's website for manuals and drives or trying to find a power adapter that will work with the drive.)
  • Users should not attempt to re-format the drive with a new filesystem unless they absolutely have to. Most USB drives are able to work on Windows systems using NTFS as standard from manufacturers. Most Linux systems are easily capable of reading NTFS formatted drives.
  • The power adapter should be a UK three-pin plug.
  • As a minimum the drive should support USB 2.0. Anything else faster is a bonus for us.

Useful things for us to have

If users send us a list of MD5 checksums (from their source system) we can check this against corresponding MD5 checksums on the files in their destination directory. One Linux the md5sum utility. On windows the following tool is recommended:

The following is a listing for md5sum.bat

REM See also:

FOR /R %1 %%f IN (*) DO md5 -l "%%f%"

TODO: put *.bat and bash scripts on this page, suitable for distributing to end users to automate this process.

Devices known to work

The following drives has been successfully used in the past (without many problems):

  • Western Digital Passport 500 GB
  • LACIE (design by F.A.PORSCHE) (formatted with ext3 filesystem) 500 GB

Troubleshooting Lacie Big Disks

The following pages have been useful in the past to help troubleshoot mounting problems on Linux:

Virus Protection and Policy

Following a discussion with Paul from SPBU IT Helpdesk a safe way to transfer files from USB drives (or at least those formatted with FAT32 or NTFS) is to plug it into R25 1.117 (the machine that used to be used by Belinda). Assuming this machine is kept on to allow security updates to be applied Sophos should do a good job of protecting against most Windows viruses. To perform the actual transfer a WinSCP client can be used and the whole process should be monitored via Remote Desktop.

Where disks are formatted with ext3, Reiser, XFS, &c., these can be done using any linux workstation that can access the archive. Paul did not think that viruses for linux boxes were as problematic as for windows boxes.

Discussions with SDDCS are in the pipeline.


We have several 1 and 2 TB Lacie Disks available that can be sent out for data transfer purposes.

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