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I am looking for:

Software that will let me protect the files that I have loaded onto the drives from being deleted.

I'm not sure whether this is something that can be handled on the software end, or whether it requires a hardware-based solution, but here goes....

I deliver products to customers on USB pen drives. The nature of the product is basic digital audio and video files--most often, .mp3 and .mp4 files.

The end user is not generally the person who has purchased the product, so even if we tell them the USB sticks are not for personal use, they end up using it as their personal device. Invariably someone deletes some of our files by accident and then says that we have given them an incomplete product.

Some conditions:

  1. The drive cannot be made system-dependent. Ultimately, the majority of my customers use the USB sticks to play the songs and videos on TVs which support USB input. This cannot be compromised.
  2. I don't really care if they use the free space to store their files or not--I just care that the files that I have put there do not end up getting deleted.
  3. I have many different customized versions of the product with different collections of files. As such, I cannot approach a bulk custom USB drive supplier and have them preload the content for me in a delete-protected partition.

I'm looking for something that I can apply using Windows or Linux and which can be used in making a commercial product. Paid solutions are acceptable.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

(Pretty close to) impossible, if the file system must be accessible directly from the customer devices, and all kind of operating systems need to be supported as well. I'm 99.9% sure there's no matching software solution (or it's a quite expensive, hardware-integrated one). Might be easier to find some sticks with WORM character, so once your data is written you can make them (irreversibly) read-only.

Looks like I've just linked your solution, please check that Wikipedia article:

A version of the Secure Digital flash memory card exists in which the internal microprocessor does not allow rewrites of any block of the memory.

Wouldn't that be a good match? Once your files are written, they cannot be written (changed, deleted) again. Not sure, though, what happens if someone creates a second file with the same name, might act like a CD-RW. But that's far beyond the scope of this site.

And even better:

The Memory Vault product of SanDisk is a thumbdrive-like consumer device that functions as a WORM device, by not providing the capability of deleting any file previously written to it.2

(emphasis mine). Now, that's your perfect match.

So as I initially assumed: This cannot be done by software alone (on your conditions). The both examples I've quoted have software embedded into the "memory chip" in form of a special microprocessor. I still doubt there's a stand-alone software solution to fit your needs.

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Aargh. I was hoping that it wouldn't be something like this. Considering the price of a Memory Vault drive, it might make more sense for me to go with a custom USB manufacturer and have lots of extra copies of my different product variants lying around. Thanks for helping identify the terminology (WORM) I would need to know. –  Ananda Mahto May 10 at 3:26
    
I'd loved to present you an Open-Source software-only solution, but I'm afraid that's technically impossible. The protecting element must be implemented in the drive (as you cannot guarantee it will run on all those different systems reliably), and thus requires hardware support. You could possibly build something alike on your own (Raspberry Pi based, for example), but again that would be beyond the scope of this site. // Good luck for your project, and hopefully the term WORM might bring you closer to your goal. –  Izzy May 10 at 11:51
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