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USB HDD how to protect from "sys tray removal" ???

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Mr Red, Jan 11, 2011.

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  1. Mr Red

    Mr Red Thread Starter

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    We are a community radio station and want a simple upgrade to archive old shows.
    Sticking a USB HDD on the playout machine is a nice solution with many benefits (not the least cost).

    However - any external device can be "removed safely" from the sys tray unless there is a specific mechanism preventing it. I assume I could (by looking in the right place) assign it to (say) drive Z:
    but:

    There are a lot of volunteers who don't think, and a few who know what they know and couldn't possibly be expected to know that they don't know as much as they think they do! If you see what I mean.

    Any ideas on preventing "safe removal"?

    TIA

    Mr Red http://cresby.com
    on behalf of http://www.stroudfm.co.uk
     
  2. pip22

    pip22

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    Putting it more simply -- you want some method to stop the hard drive being unplugged, right?
    I can't see how assigning the letter 'Z' to the drive is relevant to your needs?

    All I can think of is to fit a PCI-USB card inside the PC, one which has an internal usb port on the PCB section of the card instead of on the backplate (they do exist, Belkin make them with 5 USB ports (4 external + 1 internal on the PCB).

    Remove a spare slot backplate from the PC, put the external hard drive's USB cable through the open slot and plug it into the internal usb port. Plug the other end of this cable into the external hard drive. With the computer case screwed shut, one end of the usb cable is now inaccessible.
     
  3. prunejuice

    prunejuice

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    NO volunteer should be touching the archiving machine, or any device attached to it.
    This should strictly be the purview of the computer administrator/program director/station manager.

    If you need a second computer, do that. For archiving audio, you won't need anything too intensive.
     
  4. calvin-c

    calvin-c Banned

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    I don't think Pip's idea will work as it can still be 'removed' from the SysTray which would disable it even though it might still be physically connected. In fact I don't see any way except prunejuice's to prevent that, although it might be possible with policies & restricted accounts.

    My suggestion though is to mount the drive as a folder. It could still be removed/disabled from the SysTray but if it doesn't appear as a drive then maybe the users wouldn't be as likely to even try removing it? You might also be able to restrict access to it if it's mounted as a folder. That might protect the contents as well as the drive.
     
  5. Mr Red

    Mr Red Thread Starter

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    Physical removal is the domain of the screw and the bolt. And a metal mesh. And is part of the master plan. "Sorted" as we say in the UK.
    BUT
    The sys tray is available to all. Unless I can hide one USB mass storage device from the sys tray the idea is not perfect. People load programmes from memory stick, that they might have made on their own equipment. That has to be in the sys tray.

    Community radio is about community and I don't make the policy. But I do get to advise and this is an attempt to find solutions, based on people propensity to know better than me (and they may know things I don't which emboldens them).

    we already have a machine with a CD writer configured as a USB mass storage device and it does get a bit messy at times. That machine can be reset without too much hassle.
     
  6. calvin-c

    calvin-c Banned

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    We'll see what others say but I don't know of any way to hide one USB device from the Safely Remove Hardware function while still allowing it to handle other USB devices. (As far as that goes I don't *know* of a way to disable it at all, but I assume that could be done if you wanted to. But that would cause problems for users who loaded programs via USB sticks.)

    What's the OS, by the way? I'm wondering if you could exclude an entire USB hub from Safely Remove Hardware's control. Then Pip's suggestion of adding a PCI card (i.e. adding another hub) might work. Of course even if I knew the OS I don't know that this could be done, but it seems a possibility.
     
  7. calvin-c

    calvin-c Banned

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    I also found a workaround that *might* work for you. http://www.killertechtips.com/2008/04/12/disable-safely-remove-hardware-notification-popup-balloon-warning/ explains how to entirely hide the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the system tray. This will require 'retraining' of users who load programs from a USB drive but if you post instructions by the PC it might work OK. Basically to remove a USB drive without using the icon you'd right-click on the drive in Computer/Windows Explorer & choose Eject.

    If your archive drive is mounted as a folder there would be little chance of the user mistaking it for their USB stick which, I believe, would always be mounted as a root drive. So I think this might work and it's about as close as I think I can come to solving your original problem.
     
  8. Mr Red

    Mr Red Thread Starter

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    THanx 4 posts.

    I was told about this http://forums.techguy.org/hardware/973994-usb-hdd-how-protect-sys.html
    But it is a global hide and that would preclude memory stick users from doing the "normal thing". And they could still try and remove the wrong one via Win Explorer.

    I did think that by running an app or something from the USB HDD I could make it very difficult to remove the wrong USB device - except that people assume and "KNOW" anyway. But this looks to be the best possiblity.

    If I could re-assign the drive letter for the USB HDD as (say) X or Z the memory stick would be a low letter like "E" - more normal for the hard of thinking.
     
  9. Mr Red

    Mr Red Thread Starter

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    I know it is a long shot but is there any mileage in trying to go through an API from VB6 (say). Or even VBA and Keyboard hits?
     
  10. calvin-c

    calvin-c Banned

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    Assuming your protected drive was mounted as a folder rather than with a drive letter I doubt that a user would mistake it for their memory stick, which would use a drive letter. What user other than one who knew what (s)he was doing would try to dismount C:\Archive?

    Sure, if you put enough work into it you can write a VB program that would trap attempts to dismount the protected drive-but I think it'd be pretty difficult, particularly to cover all the bases. I don't think VBA would work as it doesn't run as a stand-alone program. VBS might, but I don't know if that can handle the API.

    Part of the difficulty is the approach. The program would need to run, in background, as a service to monitor all the keyboard & mouse input. An easier approach would be to hide the Safely Remove Hardware icon & put the VB program's icon on the desktop, naming it similarly. The users would then run the program to remove their memory sticks. The program could then enumerate the removable drives (maybe just the USB drives but I'm not certain it can distinguish that while I know it can distinguish removable vs non-removable) and just not list the protected drive(s). I'm not sure off the top of my head how you'd invoke the Eject function for the selected drive, but I'd bet that you can if you dig down deeply enough.
     
  11. Mr Red

    Mr Red Thread Starter

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    1) the C: drive already exists so the USB drive would be additional and mostly used to archive shows that are (say) older than a month.

    2) The archive drive would have a write protected file in a hidden folder with names so obscure they would not be mistaken, and highly unlikely to have duplicates on any memory stick. Looking for the file gaurrantees the archive drive is found. The real problem of an app is getting to the "fully de-bugged" stage without serious mishap. Timers would be involved (methinks) always a source of grief.

    I will have to see how to mount as a drive without showing it as a USB. But it sounds like plugging it in does that.
     
  12. calvin-c

    calvin-c Banned

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    Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but my understanding is that the USB drive will (or should) be permanently mounted. If that's the case then, after plugging it in you go into Computer Management, Disk Management, right-click on the drive & choose Change Drive Letter & Paths. click on Change & select Mount in the following empty NTFS folder, then specify the folder. This would be a sub-folder of the existing C: drive. The USB drive might have to be formatted as NTFS for this-I don't remember for sure. The C: drive will definitely need to be NTFS so if it isn't then maybe this won't work. (Probably too much trouble to reformat the C: drive.)

    Just so you know, I don't think this hides the device from Safely Remove Hardware which is why I recommend hiding that & telling users to 'Eject' their drives instead. It does 'hide' it as a drive in Computer, where the users will now go to Eject their drives.

    One thing I want to be clear on is that I'm not trying to 'push' this solution if it's not what you want-I'm just trying to make sure that you do understand what it does before deciding against it.
     
  13. Mr Red

    Mr Red Thread Starter

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    Thanx
    I do understand enough to go look, but knowing people as I do (and they all think differently) there is the outside chance someone will try to remove (eject) via the systray &/or WinExplorer. So the thinking is to try and make it obviously not wanted and preferrably impossible for a casual user to remove the drive.

    Now I had a look at Device Mgr (Control Panel > System properties) and I find against the memory stick I have loaded, all sorts of properties (> details tab) that look for all the world like registry entries. Most telling are "Ejection Relations" and "Removal Relations" which would appear to have no value, and no way of affecting them from this route. I could try at home.

    Any Ideas anyone?

    BTW WinXP SP3. Networked. SAMS Broadcaster and Notepad the only apps running - occasionally WinExplorer.
     
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