A colleague of mine has recently been buying Cisco branded CF cards from eBay. At first it seemed like he was just unlucky, each card that arrived would die once plugged into a router. Some further digging yielded something quite different. Whenever a CF Card was plugged into a router it would die, but would work fine in Windows prior to that. The cards had the following on their identification sticker:
CCE256MCDS1MB11H CIS00-01557-1E4CH 091020-P01-003
Through a process of elimination it seems that ROMmon on a Cisco 2800 series router is killing these cards. In particular devices running ROMmon equal to or newer than 12.4(13r)T5 kills them:
System Bootstrap, Version 12.4(13r)T11, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)
If you chose to open up the CF card, you’ll notice it’s manufactured by a company called SimpleTech and re-branded as a Cisco card:
So there you have it, not all CF cards are created equal. Unfortunately once a CF card has been killed by ROMmon, it seems there’s no way to undo what has been done.