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#4625454 - 01/05/18 10:18 PM USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41768
Loc: New Jersey
I started to have a scare in my 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid... When running my USB stick in the cold weather (say 15F and below), the last MP3 file it was playing would be forgotten, not pick up again when the car was restarted. It would always revert to folder 1, track 1. This was not typical.

My first thought was battery - starting to be substantiated when I measured low voltages. I thought maybe it was causing things to get reset, though the clock, odometer, radio presets, etc. were all maintained.

Battery checked out fine after charging, both on my tester and at the Dealer on the Midtronics, yet this keeps happening in the cold, so...

Finally realized that when its too cold, just turning the radio off then back on, with the vehicle powered on, causes this same thing to happen. I can be on any of thousands MP3 tracks, say Im in folder 5, track 231... Turn off the radio, turn it back on, its back at folder 1, track 1.

Seems to get better when its warmed up. Will work through some power on/off cycles of the radio, even some power on/off of the car...

Stick is a Sandisk. https://www.sandisk.com/home/usb-flash/ultra-fit-usb

So, is this normal for cold weather on flash memory? I didnt note a temperature rating, and am not sure if performance is expected to degrade with temperature. Or, is this a sign of permanent damage (has been permanently installed in the vehicle since July, 2015 or so) on the flash memory?

Thanks!

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#4625460 - 01/05/18 10:31 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
danez_yoda Offline


Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 462
Loc: texas
Sticks are cheap. Try a different brand. Also check the cold temperature range of the stick. Some might be 0c which is 32f. Pretty easy to get below freezing this time of the year,

You couls also test it. By warming only the stick. It might be the radio.

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#4625462 - 01/05/18 10:33 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
PeterPolyol Offline


Registered: 03/06/16
Posts: 1345
Loc: toronto
That is strange. Is the drive somehow being dismounted? Same thing on other types of USB drives?

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#4625466 - 01/05/18 10:36 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
emg Offline


Registered: 09/02/14
Posts: 300
Loc: Canada
We leave them in the car all winter at temperatures that can go below -40C, with no problems.

Sadly, the same can't be said of my dashcam, which doesn't like temperatures much below -20 or so.

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#4625467 - 01/05/18 10:36 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13466
Loc: Chicago, IL
Flash memory is pretty resilient to low temperatures but it isn't impervious. The cheaper memory is probably more susceptible than some of these more commercial/industrial grade ones. I would start with another drive and see if you can reproduce the issue.

I know for a fact that the older nav systems in cars that relied on hard drives were using server-grade drives because they were more reliable and rated for a broader temperature range. Some BMW guys I know even tried swapping the [server grade] HDDs for cheap consumer SSDs in the hopes it would make the nav/audio system faster; it did, but the drives failed really fast because of how warm they got jammed up in the dashboard.
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#4625470 - 01/05/18 10:42 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 36428
Loc: Ontario, Canada
It might be normal for that stick but I don't consider it "normal". My Lexar cheapo works fine when it's -30C shrug
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#4625486 - 01/05/18 11:16 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
djb Offline


Registered: 01/16/06
Posts: 724
Loc: Los Gatos CA
Is this a USB flash drive plugged into the car's audio system?

If so, it's the radio that remembers the playback position. It's not stored on the flash drive.
The flash drive might still be to blame by reporting a different UUID (unique ID) when very cold, causing the radio thinks that it has been swapped with a different drive, but I would suspect capacitors in the radio first.

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#4625493 - 01/05/18 11:31 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: djb]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41768
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By: djb
Is this a USB flash drive plugged into the car's audio system?

If so, it's the radio that remembers the playback position. It's not stored on the flash drive.
The flash drive might still be to blame by reporting a different UUID (unique ID) when very cold, causing the radio thinks that it has been swapped with a different drive, but I would suspect capacitors in the radio first.



The USB is plugged into a USB slot in the dash that goes to the audio system. I forget what it says when I power it down then back up, but it's something that gives me the impression that it's re-mounting the drive.

Capacitors in the radio don't make sense to me because this happens when the car's power is on, so any supplemental 12v is still present. It also happens if I just swap between, say, USB and fm or Bluetooth, so not even powering the radio down.



It is my intent to try another USB. It's just a time commitment, and this isn't the worlds largest issue...

Too bad sandisk doesn't seem to provide the temperature rating of the drive. Ive tended to have poor luck with Sandisk USB drives, fwiw.

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#4625632 - 01/06/18 08:26 AM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
alarmguy Offline


Registered: 07/10/12
Posts: 2147
Loc: South Carolina
hmmm .. I bet its the car not the stick but only way to know is try the stick in another car.
Of course, different brands may perform better or worse in different products.
I would guess a voltage issue with your radio.


Edited by alarmguy (01/06/18 08:27 AM)
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#4625764 - 01/06/18 10:36 AM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
JC1 Offline


Registered: 11/29/08
Posts: 3001
Loc: Oshawa, Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: JHZR2
Originally Posted By: djb
Is this a USB flash drive plugged into the car's audio system?

If so, it's the radio that remembers the playback position. It's not stored on the flash drive.
The flash drive might still be to blame by reporting a different UUID (unique ID) when very cold, causing the radio thinks that it has been swapped with a different drive, but I would suspect capacitors in the radio first.



The USB is plugged into a USB slot in the dash that goes to the audio system. I forget what it says when I power it down then back up, but it's something that gives me the impression that it's re-mounting the drive.

Capacitors in the radio don't make sense to me because this happens when the car's power is on, so any supplemental 12v is still present. It also happens if I just swap between, say, USB and fm or Bluetooth, so not even powering the radio down.



It is my intent to try another USB. It's just a time commitment, and this isn't the worlds largest issue...

Too bad sandisk doesn't seem to provide the temperature rating of the drive. Ive tended to have poor luck with Sandisk USB drives, fwiw.


Time to invent the USB Stick heater with your own infomercial and make Billions.
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#4625801 - 01/06/18 11:11 AM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41768
Loc: New Jersey
I'm starting to get somewhere in determining what the issue is.

I brought the SanDisk Drive indoors and copied a few of the folders in the directory structure with all of their MP3 files to a second USB disk; this time it was a Samsung. I plugged in the SanDisk original drive when I turned the car on. It worked just fine. After driving the car for a short while, I parked it and it was 15 inside. Both The SanDisk Drive and the Samsung Drive were exposed to the same cold soak sitting out in the car.

When I got back to the car, I turn the radio on (SanDisk drive still plugged in), and the first thing that pops up under the USB screen is that it says no device connected. Then it reverts to playing folder 1, track 1 again as usual. Flip through some tracks, turn the radio on and off again, and it keeps on reverting back to the same deal of remount and start at folder 1, track 1, every time. The cold soak seemed to have an effect.

Then I quickly swap in the Samsung drive. It immediately mounts and goes to folder 1, track 1 as would be expected. Turn the radio off and on and it remembers its place. Turn the car off and on and it remembers its place. Swap the SanDisk back in and it continues its bad behaviors.

Let the San disk Drive warm up a bit by turning on the cars heat and it works fine and remembers it's last place again; and seems to stay mounted.

So apparently SanDisk USB drives are indeed sensitive to the very cold weather and are more sensitive than other brands. Whether this is due to have the drives age since I've had it in the car since 2015 we're due to something else I cannot say...

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#4625814 - 01/06/18 11:24 AM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: dparm]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 41768
Loc: New Jersey
Originally Posted By: dparm
Flash memory is pretty resilient to low temperatures but it isn't impervious. The cheaper memory is probably more susceptible than some of these more commercial/industrial grade ones. I would start with another drive and see if you can reproduce the issue.

I know for a fact that the older nav systems in cars that relied on hard drives were using server-grade drives because they were more reliable and rated for a broader temperature range. Some BMW guys I know even tried swapping the [server grade] HDDs for cheap consumer SSDs in the hopes it would make the nav/audio system faster; it did, but the drives failed really fast because of how warm they got jammed up in the dashboard.


The flash memory itself must be; SanDisk themselves have a website that shows that their SD cards, including micro versions are tested and suitable for very cold temperatures. I guess it must be the USB controller that turns the flash memory into a memory stick.

If you read SanDisk's USB Drive section I've seen no such claims for cold temperature performance.

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#4625855 - 01/06/18 12:00 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: JHZR2]
wkcars Offline


Registered: 07/06/11
Posts: 754
Loc: MO
Yeah it depends on the drive, i've seen this happen on an old basic usb drive that i was using in the car for music as well, the newer one i'm using now hasn't had any problems. Some usb drives have features to make it more durable and reliable under harsh conditions such as extreme temps or vibration or even water.

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#4627476 - 01/07/18 08:42 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: emg]
Garak Offline


Registered: 12/05/09
Posts: 24574
Loc: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: emg
Sadly, the same can't be said of my dashcam, which doesn't like temperatures much below -20 or so.

That's unfortunate. What's it doing? The one I just got seemed to be fine below -35.
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#4628647 - 01/08/18 07:55 PM Re: USB Flash Memory and Cold Temperatures [Re: djb]
PandaBear Offline


Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 14211
Loc: Silicon Valley
First of all, flash memories are not all created equal, and they do get affected by temperature.

Typically, the voltage stored inside the cell read back different value than what you wrote if it is on a different temperature. Its effect is more severe on the newer, smaller size cell (aka. those newer higher capacity cards). The more expensive SLC memory from the old days are more tolerant of these than the newer stuff.

What I think you are noticing, if it works after the first power on, is that it took too long to boot up in cold weather, or the read to the file storing "the last play location" took too long and make the radio unhappy. If I were you, I'd swap that card out for another one that's faster, and repurpose this card for indoor use, or request a warranty replacement.

USB drive isn't made the way they used to. I heard many of them were only designed to be written the entire drive volume 50x (i.e. you can only write 5120GB to your 12GB drives) and typically people write no more than 10x (i.e. you only write 50 GB to your 10GB drive in its life).
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