How to wipe out data on a USB drive that is faulty, so that data can't be recovered?

I bought 3 USB flash drives with 256 GB capacity in 2 different stores in the same city named Murska Sobota, in country Slovenia, during different periods of time. The USB drives were: Hama 256 GB and later I bought a USB key named just Müller 256 GB, both bought in a store named Müller and then I also bought Xplore 256 GB in a store named Big Bang. All USB drives had pretty much the same problems. They all stopped working after a short time, after I copied some data on them. The stores and/or their factories at least steal money, but very likely also steal data, because they know people have personal data on their faulty USB drives. Most customers won’t return USB drives, because they are afraid their data will be stolen. The store/factory at least steals money. Then, if the customer returns the USB drive, they also steal the customer’s data.
Problem is, the USB drives won’t allow me to access the data, so I can’t format the drive, I can’t wipe out data and I can’t copy or delete data, but the data is still there. I checked the data being there with many programs and computers in both Linux and Windows. I also tried to format, delete, copy and wipe out data in both Linux and Windows. I don’t have access to it. Many times I get input/output errors, which errors I think are hardware built by the factory, which they can probably bypass with some of their own hardware. Somebody in a store or factory, who produced those faulty USB drives probably has physical access to data. It needs to be said that I have more than 20 USB drives, also Hama 32 GB and Xplore 128 GB, which two USB drives work and many others work for very long. So the problems are always with these 256 GB ones. I assume also that store Müller renamed the old Hama 256 GB into Müller 256 GB, to continue to sell these faulty USB drives, since even in Wikipedia they mentioned scandal around Hama company: Hama (company) - Wikipedia. Even the employee in Müller store told me I should look for different and better USB drives in exchange for mine when I tried to buy the more expensive 256 GB one, so everybody knows that the management is pulling a scam, but I needed 256 GB, so I bought it.
My question is, how to wipe out data on a USB drive, so not even recovery program can recover it, so then I can return the USB drive and get my money back? I don’t care, if I have to electrocute it with electricity, as long as it stays visually intact, since these companies/stores/factories obviously also sell only visually good, but faulty scammy things.

Put the drive into a ziploc bag.
Remove the air from the bag by placing the bag in a bucket of water…but with the opening still above the water.
Seal the bag. This is meant to remove air from the surface of the drive, but the drive internal still has air inside.
Put it in a microwave. zap it.

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Did you try? It is what I use for preparing a disk for keeping encrypted data on it

sudo dd if=/dev/rand of=/dev/disk name # disk name as shown in lsblk

There are and some specialized distros for secure deletion of data, but in both situations it is going to take more than a few hours.

@Second_Coming method will not get you a replacement.


This is obviously fraud. I don’t know anything about mentioned companies but you do seem a bit ummmm…conspiratorial? I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t be careful with your data and doing what can be done to keep those out of your data. Have you thought about encrypting the data? Obviously this has some limitations and you need to trust that the key isn’t stored on the drive itself. I can think of several methods off the top of my head that would guarantee that the drive would be non-functional but if you are trying to return a drive to a retail store, then it would be unethical to purposefully ruin it.

Without some kind of capability to interact with the drive, there is very little you can do to affect the data stored upon it without physically damaging the drive (i.e smashing it with sledgehammer). Alternatively you could take the drive apart and clip something that carries power to the pcb, frying it in the process. Putting a soldering iron to the NAND chips themselves would also do the trick. Lots of things could make the drive unrecoverable. Given that this appears to be a legitimate retailer, I think you might be reading too much into a manufacturer trying to steal your data.

Or the employee knows the return rates on the drive and wanted to spare themselves the headache and hassle of a return.

The “scandal” linked to had nothing to do with data theft and everything to do with a faked capacity and occurred over a decade ago to boot.

TL;DR give up on trying a return unless you are comfortable with handing over the USB as is. Given that you can’t format it, I can understand your hesitation. Use Gparted or some other Linux distro to try and get better access to the drive, you might have more luck that way. If that fails, physically destroy the drive by smashing it or otherwise permanently damaging it and call it a day.

The drive is faulty, interpret that as faulty, inaccessible by end-user. But data may still reside on the media / platter / chips.

He/she doesn’t want a replacement. Money back is the goal, with data irrecoverable.

(Looking at this from a technical angle, ignoring the ethical aspect)

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That “scandal” has nothing to do with the problem you’re encountering.

Hama buys their USB sticks from a Chinese factory, slaps their own name on them and then sells them (actually the factory puts Hama’s name on them and puts them in the packaging etc, but you get the idea).
In 2007 Hama ordered 30.000 2GB sticks from their supplier, but the sticks they got were 1GB sticks that told the OS that they were 2GB. Hama only found out about this after users started sending back their faulty sticks, and immediately issued an official recall (which also involves reporting the problem to the authorities).
Around 15.000 of those sticks had been sold at that point. Customers who sent back their sticks promptly got a refund/replacement with no questions asked. Sticks that hadn’t been sold yet, were pulled from the shelves, as is the norm.
The logistics and the cost of man-hours involved with such a recall are huge. I really don’t think that their supplier refunded more than what Hama paid for those sticks, so they probably lost several millions over this.

Anyway …

The data that’s currently on those sticks of yours, will be on there for years. Or at least until the data chip is properly destroyed. So your options are to either :
– send it back and risk that the data gets accessed
– try to destroy the stick without making it apparent (see @Second_Coming 's suggestion)
– properly destroy the stick and accept the fact that you’re not going to get that money back.

For the future, I’d highly recommend using Veracrypt.
You can either put the portable .exe (or linux equivalent) on the stick and then put a large encrypted container on there too for storing all sensitive data. Or you can turn the entire stick into one large encrypted volume.
Sure, you’ll have to open Veracrypt and type in the encryption password every time you insert a USB stick or external drive, but for me the peace of mind is worth it. If I ever lose a USB stick or one dies on me, I don’t have to worry about someone being able to read the contents.

Either way, you’ll probably need at least one new stick. If you want to be sure you actually get what you pay for, I’d suggest only buying top-tier brands that are known for their memory modules (Kingston, Samsung, Sandisk, etc) in reputable electronics stores.
Müller specializes in books if I’m not mistaken. It’s easy for them to get tricked by conmen who sell fake USB sticks with a well-known brand’s logo on them. I’m not saying that’s what happened, just that it is possible and even very likely.