Flip Mino HD. Empty. Time Left: 3:33. What?

Flip Mino HD failWe went on an overnight camping trip several weeks ago now. Several hours prior to leaving, I connected our Flip Mino HD to my (Ubuntu Linux) laptop to copy over the movie clips and recharge the unit. I did what I’ve done many times before: copied the files over, deleted them off the camera from the PC’s file explorer window, and that’s been it.

Except this time, when I whip out the camera for the first time on our trip. I’m now in the middle of nowhere, camping. Looking at the Flip Mino HD’s display, I notice there’s only 3:33 (three minutes, thirty-three seconds) of available recording time. But I erased the videos… or did I?

I double-check. The camera’s empty, it tells me. Umm, now what? I whip out my smartphone, so I can try to get online and check Google for any other instances of this problem. I find mention of a reset procedure using the pinhole inside the tripod mount hole on the bottom of the Flip. I had not known there was a hole and reset switch there before this, so hey, this could be great!

The hole itself is super-tiny. I finally managed to locate something small enough to insert into that hole (I pulled a staple out of some service documents for our Pilot from the glove compartment, straightened it out, and used that) and press the reset switch. The hole is that small, seriously. No ballpoint pen tip will work here. You need a needle or pin or thinner.

Hold the switch for 5 seconds. Then turn the unit back on, and without touching any of the buttons, wait another 5 seconds. Or something like that, I no longer recall.

Except, it didn’t work. Turns out this is a soft-reset for fixing the sensitivity of the touch controls, and that’s apparently it. Where’s a proper hard-reset, Flip?

I almost brought my laptop along, but didn’t because it was just an overnight thing. I was tempted to bring our Acer netbook, but didn’t. So we had no PC available. I break out my phone again. We’re not exactly in the best place for cell reception. I have a single bar if I walk up the hill from our camp site, face west, and hold the phone up like I’m engaged in some sort of offering ritual. My phone clearly doesn’t like being starved for towers, and the battery’s been draining since we got there, seeking and seeking away…

I finally manage to pull up Flip’s website using Pocket IE. I start filling out the form on their support page, because Flip apparently only offers email support. What? No phone number to call? This is a miss for Flip. Sure, they say it’s a 4-hour window for a response, so whatever; I’m thinking it’s better than nothing even if it’s kind of crappy having to wait.

I get the form as filled out as much as I can, but the site uses Javascript that Pocket IE apparently doesn’t comprehend, and I’m stuck. Can’t submit my support question. Pocket IE is an arguably common mobile browser; and it seems reasonable enough to make a support page simple enough that any functional browser should be able to access and use it.

I had similar results on my phone with Opera Mini, by the way.. and then we hit the point where my smartphone finally died from a drained battery… And after all this, the Flip still sits there, taunting me with it’s “Time Left: 3:33” display and continued insistence there are no videos on the device.

It would also only record 3:33 of video before stopping as it does when it’s normally full. I’ll basically have to know in advance if the next 3:33 I record will be more awesome and save-worthy than the previous 3:33 recording… This is terrible!

I wasted about an hour pecking away on my phone at this point, for nothing.

I only have my smartphone’s car charger along for our camping trip. I plug the phone into the car and left it to charge a bit. I come back later, managing to post to Twitter, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Flip monitors Twitter? Let’s try…

Flip Not Listening to Twitter #1

Flip Not Listening to Twitter #2

Flip Not Listening to Twitter #3

Flip Not Listening to Twitter #4

Apparently Flip does not monitor Twitter. As of this writing–now more than a month later–we have still not received any kind of response to any of my Flip-related tweets. Clearly it’s not going to happen. This is yet another (series of) miss(es) for Flip.

We have since learned that they do seem to barely maintain a @FlipVideoBrand account, though:

@FlipVideoBrand Crickets TwitterYou can guess: no response to that tweet, either. Flip, come on.

So we eventually return from our trip. Short, fun trip. Kids are young, fun, had a blast with us, each other, their cousins, and their grandparents. It really would have been great to have caught some video of their antics. We have… none. Huge disappointment.

Now at home, I plug the Flip camera into my laptop and look at the files and folders on the unit. The DCIM folder is empty. Fine, but the computer’s also telling me I only have a puny amount of free storage on the Flip, which seems wrong but consistent with the storage shortage issue. I don’t normally use the Flip software at all, by the way–ever, in fact, because I run Linux on my main laptop and the software’s not compatible. I notice a couple of folders with fairly recent dates on them: .cache and .Trash-nnn. Ohhhh. At this point, I delete those two folders. Suddenly my laptop reports 3.7GB free… and it seems we’re fixed.

I unplug the camera and fire it up. “Time Left: 60:00”. Hurr-freakin’-rrrah.

The problem? It looks like I forgot to “Empty Trash” before I unplugged the camera from my laptop, to flush those deleted images from the camera completely. Oops. But still, this should not be the showstopper it became!

Anyway, we’re now all charged up, and storage capacity is back to normal. Too late for this trip, but fixed nonetheless, it seems.

During all of this troubleshooting and searching/researching, I discovered I had missed Flip’s release of their Ultra HD camera. Two hours recording time, HDMI out, takes rechargeable (or regular) AA batteries… might work out better for us. Time to look for that Costco receipt?

How could this have been made better? Offhand:

  • Flip could more closely monitor Twitter. They obviously have at least one account. They’re a hip company with a great product; a well-maintained Twitter presence at this point is a complete no-brainer.
  • Flip’s website should not suck. Support pages that don’t support mobile devices isn’t helping anyone that’s out and needs help.
  • Flip should provide phone support. I’ve since read that they do, but I was unable to find this information when I needed it (and I’ve still not yet seen direct evidence of this myself).
  • Flip cameras should support a hard reset if they don’t already. I understand the Flip software is stored on the unit, but there needs to be some way to wipe out and fully reclaim the storage capacity of the unit without requiring a PC to do so. Again, if this is an option, I could not find it when I needed it.
  • The reset hole could be larger. Apparently not directly related to my situation, but even if the Flip had an available hard-reset option, I would have had a very hard time engaging it using the existing reset hole without something as thin as a straightened staple or needle that few people carry around with them on the go.
  • And finally: I could have not been an idiot when I failed to empty the trash after deleting the images from the camera. However, if we had a hard reset option, I could have still fixed the problem in the field without a PC to help, and we’d have more great videos of our kids!

And that’s about it. We still really love the camera a lot, overall; we take more video now than we ever did with a traditional camcorder. We’d happily take an Ultra HD or two as compensation for our troubles, Flip… Are you listening?

110 thoughts on “Flip Mino HD. Empty. Time Left: 3:33. What?”

  1. This post helped me figure out the ‘0:00 time left’ conundrum in a matter of seconds! Muchas gracias.
    – AnUbuntUser

  2. thanks so much! its because macs and linux store their “Trash”‘s on the actual devices in .trashes files. Windows stores it in a local folder. So I guess you just forgot to empty the trash and when you unplugged the flip, the trash reported nothing was in it… that happened to mine also.
    Thanks though!!

  3. @JDSBBJr: You’re welcome, and thanks for taking time to comment. It’s strange that we’d never encountered it as a problem before; the particular Ubuntu box has had all manner of other storage devices, flash drives, etc plugged into it, files deleted, without any issue (that I could/can recall, anyway). Ah well–live and learn, right?

  4. Hey thanks Alex for the post on your Mino HD! it also applies to the Ultra HD. Unlike your marathon it only took us the time to read your post to in order to fix our similar problem.

  5. @Alexis: Glad we could help! Thanks for your comment, too–particularly for the Ultra HD mention; we’ve been curious. Even more people may be helped now that we have your confirmation. πŸ™‚

  6. So, I have a question:
    Can I store my Flip videos on a Linux laptop- an Acer Aspire ONE? You say the software isn’t compatible..is that true?

  7. @Michael: Thanks for stopping by! The software (which I don’t really use at all, even under Windows, though many do) isn’t designed to be used under Linux. I don’t know anyone that’s attempted running it via WINE, for example, but I have successfully tested the Flip software under Windows virtual machine via VMWare or Virtualbox. However, your question is can you store them under Linux, and that answer is definitely yes. If you plug a Flip into a Linux machine, it should mount just as any external storage device would, and you can copy the video files to your Linux machine as you would copy any other files. They’re buried a couple of folders deep, but they’re there. They do take up some space, so you may not want to leave them on your laptop full-time and risk running low on or out of disk space.

    Once copied, I recommend you use the Flip’s own camera controls to delete the videos from it. You can delete them via Linux, but you want to make sure you empty the trash so you don’t end up with a lost-space issue as described in the post to which these comments are attached.

  8. Hello Alex and thank you for this detailed post to help Flip users and the Flip company. They should definitely take your advice as I felt the same ways about my missing recording time. I was bugged when I couldn’t reset using the typical resets: on and off 8 times and the reset button that, I agree, is rediculously small.

  9. Help – this solution is not working for me. I am on my mac at work and opening up my flip – which does not show a trash or cache file and the flip says there are no videos, but still only shows 11 minutes of available space! HELP!

  10. Wow – I figured it out. On a MAC, you have to EMPTY TRASH on the computer to get it to empty the trash on the camcorder! YAY!

  11. Fantastic! I have been struggling with the Flip for months and finally found your post which, tadaaaaa: completely SOLVED the problem! Thank you so much for posting this!!!

  12. Thank you for posting this…sorry you had to go through so much to find the answer, but it seems your struggles really helped a lot of people..me included! I am filming a food fight tomorrow for my friends and was totally stressing that I only had 6 min 55 sec. of video even though I had emptied the camera! Now I have the full 2 hours back..thank you so much!!!

  13. @Jennifer: Am I to assume it’s a planned two-hour food fight? πŸ˜‰ Glad we could help you, and if you wanted to post back a link to your video, I know I’d personally enjoy watching it. Everyone loves a good food fight, right? Take care!

  14. For Mac I simply emptied the trash on the computer and viola! There was 60minutes of recording time instead of 9 minutes & 30 sec. Thanks for this post.

  15. Hi, my flip only shows 11 seconds and I emptied my trash and emptied my flip share and I emptied my camera and I turned it off and on 10 times and nothing is working. Any more ideas. When I contacted Flip they said, (after 34 minutes of trial and error stuff) – oh well, something must be wrong and your no longer under warranty?????

  16. @Chris: Sorry to hear you’re still having trouble. Make doubly sure the camera’s plugged into the computer and recognized when you empty the trash on your PC. Otherwise, you might try looking for the folders mentioned in the post and blowing those away (again emptying the Trash on the connected PC). Beyond that, there’s really not much else to suggest. Some people have done some more drastic deletions of the files/folders on the Flip, but I don’t know that it’s ever been actually necessary.

    If you felt like providing some more details–Flip model, what OS you’re using, for example–maybe we can work on a more specific procedure. I’d not give up on the thing just yet, despite the “help” FlipCo gave you… although there’s always that possibility that it has in fact gone belly-up.

  17. Thanks for your help here. I had the same issue and didn’t think of emptying the trash on my Mac. Did the trick.
    All the best.

  18. Oh how this made me happy. I located this article from google after my flip mino hd had the same problem. I had tried both reset options. Now Im on a mac and when ever I plug in my flip it opens up the program called “flipshare”. I despise this program and find it very insufficient. Therefor I just open it manually and manage it from there. My guess is that when you delete something off of the flipshare program it tells your flip that that space is now free. If you do it manually like i did it will not do that causing me to have 1:09 and no videos on the flip. I read your article and was very exited when you said to delete those 2 items. I immediately plugged in my flip but (drum roll please) I did not have those files. Like I said earlier I have the newest flip, the mino hd. My heart was crushed. After more thinking I decided to delete the DCIM folder. It worked, I now have 60 min of recording time. I just thought that I should put this out there for others who might have the same problem as me. Hope this helped some,


  19. @Josh: Thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad you got it working. I don’t have any newer models of the Flip, so it’s very nice to have your report about what worked for you. Hopefully Chris is still out there and got help or finds your solution here.

  20. Why couldn’t have you just told us how to fix it? We didn’t need to know your life story.

  21. @Savannah: Wow. Really? Maybe you wanted a bow and ribbon on it, too? Please feel free to contact our Support Department for a no-questions-asked refund of the full amount you paid. You’re welcome.

  22. Thanks for posting that. Fixed and working again. My wife – though she doesn’t know it yet – really appreciates your post. Ready for the birthday party tomorrow.

    I didn’t find a life story, though. I must admit, I’m disappointed about that. Can I get a refund too? πŸ™‚

  23. @afterwit: Enjoy your party! Glad we could help. Also, we’re all sold out of refunds, sorry. πŸ˜‰

  24. Thank you so much for this post. I’m actually on a mac and had the same issue. Mine said I had a 1 hour 34 minutes when I knew everything was deleted. I plugged my flip back up, emptied my computer’s trash, unplugged my flip and it was back to a full 2 hours. Again, I appreciate it!

  25. thanks for the info. for a windows environment, you will have to turn on hidden file then u will able to see the hidden trash folder.

  26. I know this post is old, however it helped. Didn’t realize I needed to ’empty the trash’ before I could use my flip. Your suggestions would make sense. Thanks for posting, you are the only one to answer my question.

  27. I am a tech guy in a school district and normally all these tricks have worked for me. However, I think the Flip Mino was used by one of the teachers in the school and they put the videos in the trash on their computer. Nothing shows up on my Mac or PC in the trash, but I only have 33 minutes of time remaining. Any ideas? Especially when I have no idea who used it last.

  28. Never mind. I ended up doing a control-click on the Mounted Image and chose Clean Up Selection. Unplugged it and I have 60 minutes again. Doesn’t make sense, but it worked.

  29. Thank you! Still relevant in 2012! Had the same issue … and spent nearly an hour trying to figure it out — even went back to an old PC to see if that would work since I now am on a Mac.

    So glad I will have it for tonight b/c my husband will miss our son’s drama production. Was starting to flip out (pun intended)!

  30. THANK YOU!!! Who would have thought that it was as simple as “emptying your trash!” So thankful I will be able to video a special performance tomorrow thanks to your insight and suggestion! You’re a lifesaver! πŸ™‚

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