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I started the morning by trying to create a bootable usb using a 2gb stick and the startup disk creator. It seemed to run through the whole process just fine until it got to a screen that read something like "Creating memory partion" and which sat on 100% for about 45 minutes before I hit cancel and removed the usb stick.

Now the usb stick is not being detected as storage or...anything (even on my windows pc) though it does show up in the syslog.

Allow me to demonstrate. We start with the usb not plugged in:

[georgemauer@ubuntu:~]$ sudo fdisk -l                                     (04-04 16:01)

Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x994bdc0f

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1            2048    27650047    13824000   27  Hidden NTFS WinRE
/dev/sda2   *    27650048    27854847      102400    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda3        27854848   976771119   474458136    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT

I plug in the usb:

[georgemauer@ubuntu:~]$ tail -f /var/log/syslog         
                       ***Snip***

Apr  4 15:01:18 ubuntu wpa_supplicant[1136]: WPA: Group rekeying completed with 00:24:36:ad:e7:3f [GTK=TKIP]
Apr  4 15:02:29  wpa_supplicant[1136]: last message repeated 3 times
Apr  4 15:02:29 ubuntu kernel: [22122.788133] usb 2-1: new high speed USB device number 13 using ehci_hcd
Apr  4 15:02:29 ubuntu kernel: [22122.923873] scsi10 : usb-storage 2-1:1.0
Apr  4 15:02:29 ubuntu mtp-probe: checking bus 2, device 13: "/sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:13.2/usb2/2-1"
Apr  4 15:02:30 ubuntu mtp-probe: bus: 2, device: 13 was not an MTP device
Apr  4 15:02:30 ubuntu kernel: [22123.926154] scsi 10:0:0:0: Direct-Access     GENERIC  USB Mass Storage 1.00 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
Apr  4 15:02:30 ubuntu kernel: [22124.105118] sd 10:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 0
Apr  4 15:02:30 ubuntu kernel: [22124.108212] sd 10:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk

but then:

[georgemauer@ubuntu:~]$ ls /mnt -alF                                      (04-04 16:02)
total 8
drwxr-xr-x  2 root root 4096 2011-04-21 12:51 ./
drwxr-xr-x 26 root root 4096 2012-03-31 13:16 ../
[georgemauer@ubuntu:~]$ ls /media -alF                                    (04-04 16:03)
total 8
drwxr-xr-x  2 root root 4096 2012-04-04 12:18 ./
drwxr-xr-x 26 root root 4096 2012-03-31 13:16 ../

What could be going on and how do I recover my usb key?

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you should ls /media not mnt. and it may be an oddity with scsi as opposed to more normal usb adapters –  hbdgaf Apr 4 '12 at 22:38
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4 Answers

Probably the partition table has gone all wrong. Your device should be listed in /dev/disk/by-id as @usb-GENERIC (something that resembles the description in line with scsi 10:0:0:0...

Check the symblink it leads to (probably will be /dev/sr1). Then you can create a new partition table by:

sudo fstab /dev/sr1

Then proceed with creating new partition(s) using fstab commands.

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sudo lsusb is the first step. looking in /mnt or /media, or /anywherelse implies the hardware has been mounted. The hardware maybe plugged in but not mounted.

If you see the device listed, then you can look for the /dev/ assignment in dmesg here is dmesg output of when i just pluged a memory stick in my computer:

[10527.883515] sd 6:0:0:3: [sde] 126912 512-byte logical blocks: (64.9 MB/61.9 MiB)
[10527.884558] sd 6:0:0:3: [sde] Write Protect is on
[10527.884567] sd 6:0:0:3: [sde] Mode Sense: 03 00 80 00
[10527.885747] sd 6:0:0:3: [sde] No Caching mode page present
[10527.885755] sd 6:0:0:3: [sde] Assuming drive cache: write through
[10527.889253] sd 6:0:0:3: [sde] No Caching mode page present
[10527.889261] sd 6:0:0:3: [sde] Assuming drive cache: write through
[10527.892404]  sde: sde1

so then i would try mounting that filesystem at /dev/sde1 sudo mount /dev/sde1 /home/user/Desktop/foo where you mount your hardware, is somewhat trivial. /mnt /media /whocares it doesnt matter. (ignoring FHS, and assuming you wont try mounting in a place like root)

sudo fdisk -l will tell you the filesystem type and /dev/ assignment. fdisk -l however will not tell you anything, (strangely, it doesn't return "permission denied")

why use dmesg instead of fdisk? because using fdisk assumes your hardware is working. If your hardware fails, fdisk wont tell you. but dmesg will.

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http://superuser.com/questions/106094/can-not-mount-my-usb-disk-ubuntu-nor-windowsdmesg-including

It may not be your USB device, but your USB port may not be able to provide sufficient power for the device."

On my machine, most devices work fine, but I have one USB drive that only works when plugged into one of the rear ports, which are directly on the MB. Symptoms in this case are very similar to your results.

Options are to try a different port, or to get a powered USB hub.

In my case, it didn't work with any USB port. But while reading this answer I remembered that my HD adapter came with a double USB cable and everything worked pretty well when I used it.

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If you canceled it it might have ended in a state where its not recognized by the OS so it doesn't mount, try lsusb, should be there, also, you didn't post the fdisk -l of when you did plug in the usb

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fdisk -l returns the same, it does indeed appear under lsusb: Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0c76:0005 JMTek, LLC. Transcend Flash disk. Unfortunately I still have no idea how to fix the issue. What do I do now? –  George Mauer Apr 5 '12 at 16:49
    
if it is indeed in a state where it cant mount it, try gparted to format it, or use the startup disk creator again, it should show on it, just tell it for erase it. –  geermc4 Apr 5 '12 at 18:11
    
It's not showing up in the startup disk creator - as for gparted, what parameters should I use? –  George Mauer Apr 5 '12 at 18:20
    
well gparted has a GUI, the command line one is just parted, if you want to use the command line one here's all the options gnu.org/software/parted/manual/html_chapter/parted_2.html –  geermc4 Apr 5 '12 at 18:40
    
It does not show up in gparted. Only my two hard disks show up. –  George Mauer Apr 5 '12 at 19:36
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