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General Software Discussion Got a problem with an application? This is the place for all your software and tweaking questions.

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Old Apr 20, 2007, 07:50 AM   #1
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USB Write Protect Software

Here's the deal: I have a ton of software that I use daily for fixing machines, and frankly, it's getting to the point where carrying around a binder with God knows how many CDs is starting to piss me off. Now, yes, I could dump the stuff to a DVD, but not everyone has a DVD reader (and I'd still need to carry around a binder for those DVDs.. since there'd be more than one), and as such it's just not a viable solution unless I'm archiving these tools/apps. The obvious choice was to get a USB pen drive (for the quick and dirty apps), or USB external 2.5" hard drive (so I can store EVRATING!). There is one little glitch: While I have no fear of running some of these tools on machines that are infected with viruses since CDs and DVDs are write protected (like, duh), USB drives, however, are not UNLESS I get one that has a physical switch to write protect them.

This leads me to a question: are there any software write protect programs for USB drives that you guys can recommend? I've been searching around for a bit, but all I can find are tools for password protecting or encrypting files/folders on drives. This is great for protecting the data on the drives initially, but once I unprotect a folder in order to read it.. well.. then that folder or drive is wide open to be read to. I've also seen apps that tie a USB drive to a single machine (so it can't be used on another one without formating it), but again, that defeats my plans.

Anyways, as I said, I could just go out and pickup a USB pen drive that has a physical write protect switch on it, and I may very well have to, but if I wanted to go with a USB hard drive (so that I could go nuts and dump terrabtyes of apps on it), or with a pen drive that is very large (in which case most don't have a write protect switch), I'd be right back to trying to find something that would give me write protection for the drive, but still allow me to read from it... on any machine.

Any suggestions?

Edit: BTW, if someone can point me to a 2.5" external box that has a write protect switch on it, by all means, please let me know.
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Old Apr 20, 2007, 08:31 AM   #2
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Call me naive, but, can't you just change the properties of the files to write protect them? And make sure that you do not copy any files to the drive.
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Old Apr 20, 2007, 11:35 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueMak View Post
Call me naive, but, can't you just change the properties of the files to write protect them? And make sure that you do not copy any files to the drive.
I wish it were that easy. I had thought of that one too, but 2 problems cropped up in the idea:

The first is that some programs will not install/run if set to read only. The only way to maintain the original file, yet still be able to use it would be to copy that file off to the local hard drive, and remove the read only status. The only problem is that by doing so that app or file is primed to be infected by whatever virus is on the system.

The other problem is that it's not that hard for virus' and trojans to effect the read/write status of files, so even if they are read only they can still be changed just as easily as it was for me to change the status in the first place. However, that aside, making the files read only still leaves the drive itself open to attack. Since the drive would be attached to the system, and since only the files are read only, the partition, and even the master boot record of the USB drive could get infected by a virus. And man, if that happened, I would be so screwed the minute I plugged that drive into another system (which would probably be my own personal machine).

This is where a USB flash drive that has a physical write protect switch comes in handy. The switch doesn't make the files read only, but only makes the drive write protected. Thath means not only are the files unchanged and usable right off the drive, but the drive is completly safe from attacks.
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Old Apr 20, 2007, 12:35 PM   #4
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sorry i don't know any program that can do that currently.
however i think you will do better with a Windows/Bart Preinstalled Environment CD. as i have experimented with it a few times myself, i can run a lot of software programs and do all kinds of computer maintenance tasks with it. however it has a bit of learning curve at first, when start creating and using it, but once you know more about it which should not take that much time at all, you should then be able to add almost any type of utility program to the CD.
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Old Apr 20, 2007, 02:59 PM   #5
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What about using a linux live cd? Is there an antivirus that works from linux and is able to detect and kill windows' virus?
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The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others(Bertrand Russell)"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil,You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." - Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis
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Old Apr 20, 2007, 04:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueMak View Post
What about using a linux live cd? Is there an antivirus that works from linux and is able to detect and kill windows' virus?
i would think that Windows-based programs are in most cases easy to use by (Windows) user, and therefor, Bart's PE CD is far more suitable for (Windows) users than any Linux-based Live CD. however, all too often we see a troubleshooting approach where some people still suggest using Linux-based Live CD to a noob who's probably never had any Linux knowledge yet,
as you may understand that it's not that easy to make a Linux learning curve as simple and as easy for these people.
i also understand that people will need to spend time knowing how to have and use the Bart's PE CD, but it will be far better off in the long run.
however, this is only my opinion. it will comes down to what is your preference and the choices you have made.
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Old Apr 20, 2007, 10:52 PM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #7
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Actually, I'm glad you mentioned the BartPE thing, Panging. The Ultimate BootCD I have includes a USB driver, so I can access and run apps off it with no problem... well... almost no problems. There are still 3 hurdles I can't get over. There are still some apps I can't run from within a Bart environment, such as programs that might require Dot Net. Plus, for it to work I have to have the USB device plugged in before I bootup the system, so changing things on the fly is a no go. And lastly, if I primarily use the disc for storing apps I'm stuck whenever I want to add or remove a piece of software I have to recreate the CD each time. Space also becomes an issue as I can't put everything I want on one CD. I do have a DVD version, but as I mentioned before, not everyone has a DVD drive, so it becomes a very limited usage disc.

I have to tell ya, it's getting frustrating. My only options are to get a USB pen drive that has a write protect switch (however these are getting harder to find, and the ones that have them are from expensive brands), get a USB SD dongle/reader where I can plug an SD card into it (almost all SD cards have a write protect switch on it.. and a better, less fragile one compared to the USB pen drive ones, and I've got pleeenty of SD cards lying around), or stick with the way I'm doing things now.

What a ride this is turning out to be.
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Old Apr 20, 2007, 11:14 PM   #8
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Well, for like a decade now most cdrom drives also read CDRW discs, that might help?
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The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others(Bertrand Russell)"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil,You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." - Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis
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Old Apr 21, 2007, 05:53 AM   #9
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well i guess i don't really know what type of tools and how many of them, and that they need to be available at all time in order for you to fix or maintain a computer... i was thinking that some good virus removal tools, a few disk/partition tools,
networks, file explorer, compare, transfer, recovery tools, registry tools, something like these should be enough, and it's plenty of room to store these type of tools on a CD. but i guess not.
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Old Apr 21, 2007, 10:04 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #10
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The idea, really, is to get away from having to carry around a binder of all these CDs. Beside me right now is a binder of about 20 CDs, and they include everything from troubleshooting/cleaning tools to everyday apps (free ones, and ones I own), to OS discs, to really hard to find and expensive ones. If I can get all that onto a portable 2.5" external drive, or at the very least 1 or 2 flash pen drives it would make moving them around much easier. Also, it would help to overcome some slight obstacles: drives that don't want to read a burned CD (yet work fine on pressed originals), constantly having to redo CDs just to update one piece of software, such as a virus definition (CDRWs are a great idea, BlueMak, but among other things, not all readers will read them, especially older drives), and drives that have a tendency to swallow CDs whole (or that like to scratch them to hell... or implode them). The last of which has cost me dearly on a number of occasions.

The biggest issue for me right now is that if I need a tool or an app right then and there (say, something that just happens to clean 1 particular brand spanking new rootkit) I have to burn a CD just to get that app over to the infected computer. Using a USB flash drive is perfect for just this type of situation, but I'd rather not risk doing so to an unprotected USB drive. It's not that I don't mind going out to buy a USB drive with a write protect switch, it's more that I know from experience that those types of drives tend to screw up eventually, and part of that screw up is that they switch to a permanent write protect... which is something I can't afford to happen on a regular basis, especially on a bigger (4-8GB), more expensive USB pen drive.

Right now I think my best choice would be to pickup one of those SD/MMC USB readers (ones that are just a little bit bigger than a pen drive, like the Kingston TravelLite). That way I can use the plethora of SD cards I have already (a few of which that are as big as 8GB), and it'd only cost me about $10 or so. Since all of these SD cards have write protect switches on them (and I've yet to have one of these switches fail) they pretty much should do the job nicely for me.

'Course, the apparent reasons against such an idea: I'd need to make sure the reader supports all the current USB standards (those being 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0), cuz if it doesn't then I can't use it on a PC that is using a USB 1.0 port. Also, if I have an SD card that is blazing fast, the reader could slow things down to a snails pace whenever I want to read or write to the SD card (in my case I have one that is a 133x, or 20MB/s write card, but with something like the TravelLite it'd only run at 6MB/s). And lastly, in the case of some of at least 1 of my cards it's an SD High Capacity card... which some readers won't read (again in the case of the TravelLite).
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Old Apr 21, 2007, 10:11 AM   #11
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I have an idea.
You are going to need about a 20GB or less of an external drive, right? How about you go ahead with this, make a back up or clone image of the external drive, then use the external drive as you wish. When you finish just do a quick format of it and copy everything back to it. No virus, and it will only take you a few min each time.
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The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others(Bertrand Russell)"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil,You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." - Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis
This is slavery, not to speak one's thought. [Euripides-The Phoenician Women (c.411-409 B.C.)] http://www.macedonia.info/FALLACIESANDFACTS.htm
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Old Apr 21, 2007, 10:19 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueMak View Post
I have an idea.
You are going to need about a 20GB or less of an external drive, right? How about you go ahead with this, make a back up or clone image of the external drive, then use the external drive as you wish. When you finish just do a quick format of it and copy everything back to it. No virus, and it will only take you a few min each time.
Hmm... that would actually work. For safety reasons I would probably need to use it just the one time, and then follow your suggestion. This would be something to consider for using within the shop itself as I'd be able to easily clone it back and fourth, however outside of the shop, onsite, I'd still have to come up with something.

Thanks for that idea, Blue.
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Old Apr 21, 2007, 10:30 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #13
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I'm suddenly realizing how complicated I'm turning this this whole thing into. I could just keep on doing what I'm doing.. but noooo.... I gotta mess with things, make them complicated, and totally drive myself nuts trying to figure something out.

My insanity should wear off sometime after the weekend, so I appreaciate your... patience, guys.
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Old Apr 21, 2007, 10:23 PM   #14
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you will get it sorted out alright one way or the other i'm sure, Tips. keep us posted anyway if you invented new way.
if you want to save the money, use the old way/stuff to get the job done, you just need to get over with all that.
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Old Apr 22, 2007, 11:36 AM   #15
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Well, you could always use one of the smaller 'write protected' pen drives with just enough software on it to 'clean up' a suspect system, and then when you are sure it's safe go to your large drive.
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Old Apr 23, 2007, 11:12 PM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #16
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Well, you could always use one of the smaller 'write protected' pen drives with just enough software on it to 'clean up' a suspect system, and then when you are sure it's safe go to your large drive.
Pretty much what I'm doing now, actually, but with write protected SD cards via a fast card reader. Seems to be doing ok so far. However, I'd still like to get that "larger" drive protected.. just incase the system isn't 100% clean.
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Old Apr 24, 2007, 02:58 AM   #17
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http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/pro...pocket_drives/

Software write-protect... max of 8 GB though, so I don't know if it would be any better than the SD card solution you have already.
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Old Apr 24, 2007, 06:17 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #18
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http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/pro...pocket_drives/

Software write-protect... max of 8 GB though, so I don't know if it would be any better than the SD card solution you have already.
Funny you should mention it, Zelig. My LG USB pen drives come with the very same kind of software, and infact this is exactly what prompted me to look for some sort of software write protection. I mean, if they could do software security for a pen drive, why not software write protection, right? So far... it's been a long frustrating nightmare trying to find something.

In this case though, it's software security.. or rather encryption. What you do is parition the drive to have a secured zone, one that you can only access via a password (you can even setup the whole thing as one big password protected drive if you like), and anything in that zone is encrypted. Some use basic encryption (a simple password protection), while others use a more advanced form such as either 128bit or 256bit AES based encryption. The problem though is that while the data can't be "technically" infected just by placing the drive into the system, once you input your password to get access, the whole drive is wide open.

Good idea, though.

BTW, I appreciate all the ideas, guys. I know I keep shooting them down, but it does help me figure things out, so please, keep'em coming.
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Old Apr 24, 2007, 09:20 AM   #19
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I don't know if this is even possible but here is an idea:

have an external drive and create an image (like an ISO or whatever, don't know much about images) of all the programs you need, if it is possible to have more than 8GBs (double layer dvdr) on such an image then that is great. You can use a program to access the image without making the image accessible to write to it (does this make sense?).
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Old Apr 24, 2007, 10:31 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #20
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I don't know if this is even possible but here is an idea:

have an external drive and create an image (like an ISO or whatever, don't know much about images) of all the programs you need, if it is possible to have more than 8GBs (double layer dvdr) on such an image then that is great. You can use a program to access the image without making the image accessible to write to it (does this make sense?).
Yep, it does, actually. You can do something similar with Symantec Ghost. When you run the Windows version of Ghost you can open up, and then export stuff from images. Also, WinRAR can open up some ISO images, however it can also write to them too, but then again, not to all of them (it depends on what standard of ISO was used). The trick would be to find something that would allow me to open images AND run a program from within it. I could make an image, and then mount it using Daemon Tools or MagicISO. 'Course, there's still the problem of how to make that image transportable, yet still protect the medium being used to do so.

Intriguing idea. Thanks, Blue.
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Old Apr 24, 2007, 02:47 PM   #21
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In this case though, it's software security.. or rather encryption. What you do is parition the drive to have a secured zone, one that you can only access via a password (you can even setup the whole thing as one big password protected drive if you like), and anything in that zone is encrypted. Some use basic encryption (a simple password protection), while others use a more advanced form such as either 128bit or 256bit AES based encryption. The problem though is that while the data can't be "technically" infected just by placing the drive into the system, once you input your password to get access, the whole drive is wide open.
Are you sure about that? I haven't used the drive or software myself, but from this, it looks like it has full write protect.
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Old Apr 27, 2007, 05:49 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #22
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Are you sure about that? I haven't used the drive or software myself, but from this, it looks like it has full write protect.
Oh, snap! I looked at the drive numerous times, and totally missed that. Seagate damn well needs to put that right on the first page where they list the drive, and not bury it somewhere on their site <Stupid SOBs>. As soon as I saw not one mention of write protection I dismissed it imediately.

Thanks, Zelig. Nice find.

Edit: LOL.. stupid Seagate. You should see the price listings for this drive. They have 4 drives: 2.5GB ($100), 5GB (which they no longer sell), 6GB ($110)(and you have to wonder why I buy the 2.5GB for $10 less?), and 8GB ($150).

OH, something else I found out. There are 2 revisions of these drives, and apparently I have to get the rev.2 units to get the units that have write protection. They also, apparently, use Microdrives, which I"m none too fond of (most times they are slow.. like.. 3600rpms, which means an average of 6MB/s transfer speeds). I'll have to call Seagate tomorrow to confirm things.
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Old Apr 27, 2007, 10:15 AM   #23
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I saw that but didn't think you would be interested since it has small capacity. Their largest drive is like a double layer DVDR.
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Old Apr 29, 2007, 05:40 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #24
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I saw that but didn't think you would be interested since it has small capacity. Their largest drive is like a double layer DVDR.
Capacity isn't an issue though... well.. not really. Most people either don't have DVD drives, or those that do, won't read dual layered discs, which is really the reason why I haven't gone that route. They should, however, all have a USB port of some type, and as long as the drive I get has USB 1.1 support, true 1.1 support, then I should be fine.

Just an update to this little adventure:

I've been running things using a fast card reader, and a couple SDHC cards I have (which have the write protect switch on them), and so far so good. A couple apps complain that they can't write to the drive, however I'm not too worried about that as the ones that are complaining are the ones that backup information before they do their changes. I've also been able to get most of my apps to install perfectly fine off of the drives, which at first wasn't easy (some just don't like being installed off anything except the CD they came on... or a copy of it).

I also got the chance to talk with Seagate, and sure enough, my concerns were confirmed. The Pocket Drive uses a Microdrive, so transfering data to it will be slow, to say the least. Still, even with a one year warranty, and slow speeds, having one of these around would be very usefull. Now all I have to do is wait for my supplier to actually have one in stock before I can do any testing with it.
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Old Apr 29, 2007, 03:24 PM   #25
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I guess an external slimi USB dvd drive will not be a good solution.
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Old Apr 30, 2007, 12:02 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #26
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I guess an external slimi USB dvd drive will not be a good solution.
You know, I never thought of that one. It still means I'd have to carry a binder... even a small one for the DVDs (carrying the disc in the drive would eventually either destory the disc, or the drives lens), which is what I'm trying to avoid, but as a backup.. it would work in pinch, wouldn't it?

Thanks for that idea, Blue.
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Old May 2, 2007, 04:30 AM   #27
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The best idea, and what I've found to work in your situation (which I find myself in constantly), is to carry around a 1GB USB drive formatted as NTFS (my solution for fixing 98 machines is to use something else other than 98 haha) with everything I find myself using in more than 50% of the time. I simply set the permissions on the volume for SYSTEM and EVERYONE as Read only, list directory. No write or full control. Then on my system at home (or my 'control' system) I set my user account to have full permission which superceedes the Everyone and SYSTEM having ro permissions. Then if there's anything else I might need to take along, a 2.5" USB hard drive set up in a similar fashion works quite well, being able to store everything and also handy as a backup drive for cloning smaller stuff (an empty FAT32 partition serves well for that, nothing to corrupt and keeps the tools separate from the work space).
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Old May 3, 2007, 04:53 AM Threadstarter Thread Starter   #28
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Nice idea, H3X. I'll have to give that a try tomorrow.

I've been using some of my spare 4GB SD cards, and so far they've worked out rather well. So well infact that if I didn't have that write protection on I would have been screwed a number of times already, cuz in 4 instances a virus tried to infect the cards. I only found out because of a program that I have actively running whenever I insert the card into a system told me a virus was up to no good.

I might also skip getting one of the Seagate Pocket Drives though. Right now the 8GB SDHC cards are pretty damn cheap... as low as $90 Canadian, which is about 1/2 of what it'd cost me for the Pocket Drive (as well as being way faster read/write wise). However, I may still get one to see how it runs (and if I don't like it I'll give it away to someone).

Thanks for all your help guys. You defiantly have given me some ideas to think about, and it's been much appreciated.
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Old May 15, 2007, 08:44 PM   #29
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Did you actually try my idea for the NTFS thing? I'd be interested to see how well it works for someone else
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Old May 21, 2007, 04:02 PM   #30
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Why do you need to set Everyone with readonly permission and then set your permissions manualy ?
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