Formatting a Flash Drive

Previous Nextcentered text

The PSR Tutorial Forum is a great place to get answers to questions not covered in these lessons. One such question dealt with formatting a USB flash drive, a question that many new users may have. Ted Nicoson provided a clear and informative answer to this question so I am reproducing his answer and some of the discussion that followed here.

Question: Formatting a Flash Drive

pianoteacher211 (28 May 2011)

I have been reading most posts about this and am confused. Huh I bought a 4 GB flash drive and formatted it on my PC. Is that a mistake? Should I have formatted it on the keyboard instead? Now, since it is formatted to the PC, can I unformat it (or do I have to forget using that particular flash drive on the PSR-3000 and start with a "new" flash drive?) if indeed it should have been formatted to the keyboard? I am very new to all this electronic technical stuff.

Anyhow, after formatting with my Vista PC, I go to the PSR-3000 with my "PC formatted flash drive," loaded with the correct music finder file MF and, when I try to download this file from the drive to the keyboard, I get the message "unformatted disk". Must format disk and all data will be erased. I format the drive on the keyboard, which erases the files on the drive. I go back to the pc and download the MF file to the disk and go thru the whole process (at least 5 times) again until I am too frustrated to go on.

Some of the posts said to use only max of 514 Mob drives on the PSR-3000; others said they used 2 GB and 4 GB drives and it worked fine. How can that be?

Others mentioned a particular version that might be contributing to the problem and I do not know what that means?

How do you check what version you have? And what one should you have? I know, lots of questions. But any one, or some, answered would be greatly appreciated.

Reply(s)

tnicoson (28 May 2011)

PT211,

Welcome to the 21st century, and more particularly, welcome to the world of electronic keyboards, and more particularly still, welcome to the world of ARRANGER keyboards. I think you are going to enjoy it here.

And . . . so . . . now . . . where to begin . . .

Prior to Windows-95 OSR2, the MS-DOS and Windows Operating Systems used a 16-bit File Allocation Table (FAT) formatting protocol capable of addressing up to 2 GB of drive space. At that time, hard drives larger than 2 GB had to be divided into logical drives no larger than 2 GB. So, a 6 GB hard drive had to be divided into three logical 2 GB drives before it could be formatted. The hard drive manufacturers provided software that would do this. The Windows-95 OSR2 Operating System introduced a 32-bit File Allocation Table (FAT-32) format protocol capable of addressing up to 2 or 4 terabytes (2000 or 4000 Gb) of drive space depending on the particular flavor of the format protocol used. Since that time, Windows offers format options of FAT or FAT-32. The default, unless you specify otherwise, is FAT-32. These format protocols have now been carried over to all types of mass storage media - floppy drives, hard drives, Smart Media Cards, Compact Flash Cards, SD RAM Cards, Flash Drives, etc. Manufacturers of the various hardware devices that use these mass storage media devices will normally specify what size of media device their particular unit(s) will support. In the days of 16-bit FAT that supported 2 Gb, many hardware devices would still only support 1 Gb, even though they used the FAT protocol.

The Yamaha PSR-3000 is one of the unusual "in between" devices when it comes to drive formatting protocols. Its hardware is capable of supporting FAT-32, but its original Operating System (and up thru OS Version 1.5) only supported the 16-bit FAT protocol, so was limited to 2 Gb drive sizes. OS Version 1.6 introduced the FAT-32 format protocol. So, what size drives your particular PSR-3000 can use depends upon its particular OS Version. Also, the particular OS Version determines how you go about upgrading the OS.

  • OS Versions prior to V1.7 must be upgraded from a Smart Media Card in the Smart Media Card slot.
  • Versions 1.7 and later can be upgraded from a USB Flash Drive.

The current OS Version is 1.8, and will most likely be the last.

As far as where to format your drives, every hardware manufacturer will tell you that if you intend to use a drive on their device, it must be formatted on their device, but think about it. If this were really true, you could NEVER use these drives for porting data from one device to another, which is essentially what they are all about. A format protocol is a format protocol and FAT is FAT and FAT-32 is FAT-32, no matter what device provides the formatting, much the same as red paint is red paint, no matter which brush or roller you use to spread it. So where you format your drive should not make any difference, so long as you adhere to the particular units' drive size limitations and format protocol requirements. Most FAT-32 systems will use either FAT or FAT-32 formatted devices, so long as the protocol matches the drive size - drive sizes 2 Gb and less can use either FAT or FAT-32, but drive sizes larger than 2 Gb must use FAT-32.

For those who say you should limit drive sizes to a few megabytes (128, 256, 512, etc), the limitation is more in their understanding of these systems than in the systems themselves. Some say that it makes a difference in access speed, but most of us do not have brains that can detect the few milliseconds difference in access times. Access speed may be a concern on digital cameras and musical sampling devices where individual file sizes can be very large, but the files for your PSR-3000 are quite small and should not present an access speed problem. As far as choosing a device size based on economics, it is getting very difficult to find devices sized less than 2 Gb, and most of these can now be had locally for between $5 and $8 USD.

In addition to format protocols, you need to be aware of proper file directory structure in order to use your storage device to maximum efficiency. If you just "dump" all of your data (files) into your storage device's "root" directory, you will be limited to about 176 files. This is a FILE COUNT limitation, and has nothing to do with file sizes or drive sizes. You will need to learn to divide your drive into Windows-type subdirectories and to file your data in them in order to get the best use of your drive. For instance, on my USB drives for my PSR-3000, I divide them into directories for the type of data - Voices, Styles, Registrations, Multi-Pads, Songs, etc. Then, under Voices, I have sub-directories for Pianos, E Pianos, Clavis, Synths, Organs, Guitars, Brass, Strings, and so on and so forth. The exact directory structure is a matter of personal choice and should be designed and arranged by what makes the most sense to you. Think of it as your own personal electronic file-cabinet/file-folder system, and nothing is ever cast in concrete. You can always change it to something more suitable in the future as your experience and needs change.

Now, for your particular problem at the moment. It sounds as though you are trying to use a 4 Gb drive on a PSR-3000 with an outdated OS Version that is looking for a 2 Gb FAT formatted drive. The best thing to do is to get the OS brought up to the current Version 1.8, but I suspect that you will need a Smart Media Card to do so. Unless you already have one, I suggest trying to borrow one, as they are rather difficult and expensive to come by these days. In the meantime, I recommend obtaining a 2 Gb flash drive and formatting it on the PSR-3000, so that you are sure it gets formatted as FAT and NOT FAT-32. That alone should give you more storage than you will ever need for the 3000 and may preclude any immediate need to upgrade the OS. Other than support for larger drives and the ability to upgrade via USB drive, I am not sure what all was included in the later OS versions.

To determine you current OS Version on the PSR-3000, power it on and press the [FUNCTION] button over toward the right end of the keyboard. Then press the [I] button on the right side of the display for UTILITY. Now use the arrow buttons at the upper right corner of the display to tab over to OWNER. Now, again, press AND HOLD the [I] button on the right side of the display until the OS Version window pops up. Press the [G] button to close the pop-up window and press the [EXIT] button to return to the main screen.

Good luck!
Regards,
Ted

tomtomsf (30 May 2011)

One more very important thing about USB flash drives and Yamaha keyboards. Your flash drive MUST NOT contain any "U3" software, or other special software that the flash drive manufacturer put on it. These are often touted as a benefit but they are not compatible with Yamaha keyboards. If it is present on your flash drive, it must be completely removed from it before you ever plug the drive into your Yamaha. You can not simply delete U3 on your computer. It hides in a hidden partition. You must google "remove U3" and follow the links and directions for your manufacturer to remove it (such as SanDisk). That's the only way.

Tom G.

tnicoson (30 May 2011)

Tom,

Thanks for the U3 reminder.  I think that because of all the problems it caused, none to the manufacturers are putting the U3 type programs on their devices anymore, but it still needs to be said.  There are still a lot of 1 and 2 Gb units on the sales shelves out there that still have it on them.

Regards,
Ted

kwbmusic (10 July 2011)

As well as FAT and FAT32 protocols there is NTFS. This I believe is utilized in Vista and Windows 7 and can be used in Windows XP. However I do not think keyboards can cope with NTFS.

Keith

tnicoson (10 July 2011)

If your keyboard's OS version can handle FAT-32, then it can also handle FAT, but if it  IS FAT, then the drive can not be over 2 Gb, while FAT-32 can handle drives of any size up to 2 or 4 terabytes.

NTFS is a high performance file system that started with Windows NT (hence the name), and exacts a fair amount of file space overhead for its log files compared to FAT and FAT-32.  Also, even though flash drives have no moving parts, they do have a finite life expectancy based upon the number of read/write cycles before they begin to lose their reliability. NTFS also has a higher overhead in read/write cycles compared to FAT and FAT-32 in order to maintain its log files.  So, even though a flash drive can be formatted to NTFS, doing so could shorten its life expectancy, if it sees a lot of use.

To my knowledge, their are no musical keyboards at this time that can read an NTFS formatted drive.

Regards,
Ted

Ron (17 December 2011)

I have a 2.5 HDD salvaged from my laptop. It is now in a USB caddie and I had hoped to use it with my T3 as an external HDD.

No matter how I format it i.e. PC or KB, my T3 will not read any files from the USB HDD. I can copy files to it from the T3 but not the other way round. Anyway to get this HDD working to loads files to the T3?  PC is running Windows 7 which uses NTFS.

Regards,
Ron

tnicoson (17 December 2011)

Ron

Connect the hard drive to your PC and check the format.  If it is NTFS, then that is your problem and you need to reformat it to FAT-32 - IN THE PC - NOT THE KEYBOARD.  Even if it shows that it is already formatted to FAT-32, reformat it anyway - IN THE PC.  The reason I say this is that if, at some point, you formatted it to NTFS in the computer and then reformatted it to FAT-32 in the keyboard, you may have a corrupted format that will give you unpredictable results.  Many non-NTFS systems will report that they have successfully reformatted an NTFS drive to FAT-32, when they really have not.  Computers don't seem to have this problem, but non-computer devices - cameras, keyboards, etc - do.  It is as if they do not really understand how to undo an NTFS format and overwrite it with a FAT-32 format, so you kind of end up with a mixture of the two that does not work predictably.

Also, is your hard drive 2.5 Gb or 250 Gb?  If it is 2.5 Gb, then it has to be a fairly old drive, by technological standards.  If that is the case, I wonder if its data interface (IDE, EIDE, etc.) is compatible with the interface in your caddie.  A drive that old could very well be an IDE drive, while a fairly new caddie would most likely be EIDE.  Some (many ? / most ?)  EIDE systems use the same physical connectors as IDE but some (many ? / most ?)  IDE drives will not work with an EIDE protocol.  Check the manual that came with your caddie.  You may be able to set it up to accept either type of drive. Good luck !

Regards,
Ted

Ron (18 December 2011)

Ted,

Thanks for the input. My USB HDD is 450 GB and my PC will only allow me NTFS.  I think that MS FAT-32 will only work with disks below ?35GB. I could possibly use Partition Magic to attempt a FAT-32 format, but I am not convinced that it would work or solve the problem. Looks like I may have to abandon my perhaps overly ambitious project.

Regards,
Ron

tnicoson (18 December 2011)

Ron

Yes, NTFS is your problem.  Your keyboard can not use an NTFS formatted drive.  Its operating system does not understand how to use that format.  With FAT-32, you are limited to a 32 Gb partition.  You could use Win-7's Disk Management Tool to partition it up into (14) 32 Gb FAT-32 partitions or (1) 32 Gb FAT-32 partition and (1) 418 Gb NTFS partition for use in your laptop, or some other combination of the two formats.  That way, you end up still doing what you set out to do in the first place.  Once a drive is formatted, it is the format itself, and not the operating system, that determines how the drive is written to.  That is, when Windows sees a FAT partition, it writes to it as FAT, when it sees a FAT-32 partition, it writes to it as FAT-32, and when it sees an NTFS partition, it writes to it as NTFS.  So, Windows will correctly write to any of the three formats, once the drive is properly formatted.  But, sorry to say, your keyboard does not have this flexibility, it only recognizes FAT and FAT-32.

Good luck !
Ted

Bill Grosse (18 December 2011)

Ron,

This type external hard drive is not recommended for use with any of the arranger keyboards by Yamaha because the keyboard really does not have enough power for this kind of drive and it can take down the entire OS of the keyboard. Also, Ted has hit the nail squarely on the head about the size and formatting problem....

Bill G

tnicoson (18 December 2011)

Ron, Bill,

I just realized, we may well be looking at the leading edge of what may be becoming a real problem for arranger and synth workstation owners, particularly those that can handle samples.  Due to the size of the samples, the user soon outgrows the 2 or 4 or 8 Gb flash drive, so where in today's market, do they find a FAT-32 forgettable hard drive of 32 Gb or less.  The smallest thing my local Walmart handles is 1 terabyte, and I would dare say, you would be hard pressed to find one that small at Best Buy.  I am reminded of some years ago, when my Roland G-1000 came on the market with its SCSI interface that would address a 1 Gb drive.  The smallest thing being sold at the time was 10 Gb, and they cost a small fortune. So you paid thru the nose for it, used the first 1 Gb and wasted the other 9.  We are already seeing the same thing with the PSR-3000.  Where do you find a Smart Media Card at a reasonable price these days?  I am also seeing the same problem on the Casio Forums.  Their arrangers (don't know about the new WK-7500) use SD Ram Cards limited to 1 Gb.  Try to find one these days less than 2 Gb.  I have a Digitech guitar effects pedal that uses a 1 Gb Compact Flash Card.  I sure hope the one I have doesn't go bad.  The smallest thing I can find anymore is 2 Gb.  I know there is always online, but the idea of buying a used hard drive or memory card off of eBay always left me cold.  So did the idea of mail ordering a hard drive and have it bounced all over the place in the mail getting to me.  I always liked the idea of local purchases on this kind of stuff, so that when I got it home and it went ZZZPHTTT, I could take it back and tell the guy Hey, this thing went ZZZPHTTT and get a new one.

Perhaps it is time for the musical instrument manufacturers to realize that if they want to hybridize their instruments with computer-like capabilities, then they are going to have to upgrade their operating systems to handle the latest computer hardware.

Just a thought.
Regards,
Ted

Postscript

After reading this message thread, I asked Ted's permission to include his write-up somewhere in the Lessons section. I also asked a question of my own:

By the way, in that message thread you mentioned a 176 file naming limit for files in the root directory. Does that limit apply to sub folders as well. I was thinking the folders could hold something like 250 files before the keyboard could not handle it.

Ted's reply:

I would think that my write-up on the FAT/FAT-32 file systems would best fit under the "Start Here" section, but as long as you and the moderators and older members know where it is, we can always direct newer members to it. I expect the need for this info should begin to drop off as the number of older keyboards decreases thru attrition.

As far as file limits, the root directory limit of 176 files, I took from several threads posted by Gary Diamond and several other members in the very early days of the PSR-3000. I believe that this was based more on their actual real life experience, rather than any published info. The 250 file limit you mention, I have never heard of. So, I decided to nail it down a little better, but it turned out to be more like, as the title of the book said, "Trying to Nail Jello to a Tree". I did a lot of searches and reading and came up with a lot of disparate info, but here is the most accurate I could come up with, to the best of my knowledge.

One source listed a root directory limit of 128 files, but it appears this applied only to the old, original MS-DOS (pre-Windows) FAT-12 file system. I don't think we even want to go there.

The FAT (actually FAT-16) file system had a root directory entry (file or sub-folder) limit of 512, with a maximum of 65,536 (2^16) files/folders in the entire volume.

FAT-32 has a limit of 65,534 entries (files or sub-folders) in any folder, and appears to apply to the root directory as well, with a maximum number of 4,177,920 (2^32) files/folders in the entire volume.

One additional limitation to both of the above (FAT-16 and FAT-32) is that use of "long file names" (in excess of 8 characters plus 3 character extension), which the Yamaha OS DOES support, can significantly reduce the allowable number of files and folders. However, since the limitations we have noted are considerably less than these, I would assume this to be either a Yamaha hardware or a Yamaha OS limitation, and would expect that owners of the newer boards (710/910/T3/T4) would not experience them. This could also explain why different users report different limitations. The longer file/folder names you use, the fewer file/folders you will be allowed.

Good luck with the USB drive project. I think that sounds like a great idea. I just love this "no moving parts to wear out or get out of alignment" technology.

Thanks for considering my write-up for part of the Lessons section. I had completely forgotten about it.

Regards,
Ted


In a discussion on USBs and HUBs in late 2012, the question of how large a USB drive could be and still be used in the Yamaha was raised. Ted did some research and came up with the following summary.

What About Large Drives?

You can format a USB drive using the FAT-32, which can handle drives up to 32GB. How about larger drives? For these, Microsoft has come up with exFAT. You can follow this link to a Microsoft article that gets fairly deep into a technical discussion of the exFAT file system.

David Kirk has posted an article on Tech-Recipes that presents a concise comparison of the advantages and shortcomings of the FAT-32, NTFS, and exFAT file systems and their recommended/intended uses. It is straight forward, fairly non-technical, and only takes a couple of minutes to read and absorb. I recommend it to anyone using the large media ( > 32 Gb ) devices. For those who do not like to follow links posted in forums, here is my synopsis of David's article:

FAT-32: Introduced with Windows-98 Release-2. Can handle hard drives, flash drives and SD-RAM cards up to 32 Gb. Can handle hard drives larger than 32 Gb with special proprietary software and drivers from the drive manufacturer, but inefficiency increases with drive size. Maximum size of any individual file is limited to about 4 Gb. This can be problematic for large DVD files. Can be plagued with file fragmentation problems on heavily used drives.

NTFS: Also known as "NT File System". As its name implies, it was introduced with Windows-NT to overcome the drive size limitations and most of the shortcomings of FAT-32. It can be used on flash drives and SD-RAM cards, as well as hardrives, but is not recommended for Flash/SD-RAM media due to its high memory overhead and other inefficiencies on those devices. It is less susceptible to file fragmentation problems than FAT-32.

exFAT: Introduced with Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to overcome the 32 Gb drive size limitation and 4 Gb file size limitation of FAT-32. If you are running base Vista, you will need to upgrade at least to Service Pack 1, or if you are running XP, you will need to download the exFAT drivers from the Microsoft website in order to use exFAT. exFAT can be installed on hard drives, but is not recommended due to inefficiencies when used with them. It was designed specifically for Flash and SD-RAM memory. Like NTFS, exFAT is less susceptible to file fragmentation than FAT-32. exFAT will work for ReadyBoost drives in Windows-7, but not Vista.

MAC OSX: exFAT will work with MAC OSX after Snow Leopard version 10.6.5

My personal recommendation to owners/users of older non-computer devices (keyboards, synths, MP-3 players, cameras, etc) that use the FAT-32 file system for Flash Drives and SD-Ram cards, is to stay with memory devices of 32 Gb or less, unless you have a manufacturer's statement that larger memory devices are acceptable. Memory devices larger than 32 Gb may not format properly, if at all, with FAT-32.  The worst case would be a large device that appears to format properly, but succumbs at a later date due to file system errors.

Regards,

Ted



This page updated on February 10, 2015 .