USB Memory Buying Guide
Flash drives, USB Memory, USB Drives, thumbdrives, USB thumbd...
USB Memory Buying Guide
Flash drives, USB Memory, USB Drives, thumbdrives, USB thumbdrives, jump drive, portable storage devices, are just a few of the names that USB Flash Memory can go by. No matter what the name though, there's no denying that they have become the standard for quick, easy portable memory for transporting our files to and from wherever we need to go. There was a time when they were more of a luxury item, and a small 64mb drive was quite expensive, now though we can easily and cheaply get them is sizes up to 64gb so we can take more stuff with us wherever we go. USB Memory has effectively replaced the Zip and floppy drive, and in most instances the CD as well and even the DVD as flash capacity has increased, their high capacity, ease of use and transportability just can't be beat.
USB Flash drives have become so popular and inexpensive that they are given away by companies with information on them pertaining to their products, it could be a house, computer equipment, or anything really. I've personally received many of these drives with press kits on them from companies, and many more for review, at last count I've got over twenty ranging from 128MB to 8Gigs in capacity. For the most part they're all different is shape, size and even features. I've got the IronKey that will self-destruct if someone tries to tamper with it, I've got another that integrates a biometric fingerprint reader into it, I've got another that's 24k gold plated, and many others with their own defining features. I literally have seven sitting on my desk as I type this, I lie them, I collect them, I think they're one of the best gadgets ever invented, they're just so useful for quick and easy transfer of information, grab one, throw your files on it in a few seconds and off you go.
I've seen USB drives shaped like food, animals and pretty much everything you can think of, they're used by companies to promote products, I recently saw one that was filled with beer to promote a beer maker or brewery! These things can be found everywhere, people who normally aren't computer savvy can be seen with one of these on their keychain because they're just so easy to use, truly a plug and play device. It's my opinion that they're also one of the most underrated devices out there as well, they've become so common that they're overlooked anymore. So, companies need to come up with gimmicks to make you purchase their USB drive, some are ridiculous, while some aren't really a gimmick at all and just focus on pure performance and capacity. Gimmicky, themed USB drives have their place as a novelty, but from my experience these are worst performing flash drives out there, they're truly just for looks and that's about it, if you want performance then you need to look for it.
If you're in the market for a USB drive, you'll learn that looks aren't everything, it could be the coolest looking USB drive out there but it might not perform as well as that plain looking one does, of course if you're more aesthetically inclined then it won't matter much to you. Most people today are in a hurry to get somewhere or do something and they want the speed no matter the looks of it, there are times though you can get one that looks cool and performs well, one that you'd be more than happy to show off for it's indestructible or waterproof qualities.
There are really only a few companies out there that make high quality, fast USB drives, all the others are more gimmicky kind, if you're looking for performance you'll want one from a well known company.
Of course flash drives are now being used for much more than storage, they can be used as a dongle or a key to allow a certain product to work or not work without the dongle present, and they can also be used for more nefarious things like keylogging, and hacking, on the inverse side though law enforcement can use them to help retrieve data from suspects computers. Some musicians and bands have even released entire albums on flash drives, and speaking of music, some mp3 players rely solely on flash based memory for storage.
Some well known companies that make quality USB drives are OCZ Technology, ATP, Corsair, Kingston, Crucial and Super Talent, one big thing you'll notice in common with all of these names is that they also produce top quality ram as well. If you're going to buy flash memory, but it from a company that has spent it's entire life making it and perfecting it. Of course there are other companies out there that produce flash drives but for the most part they can't compete against the big ram manufacturers in terms of quality and speed.
While USB drives seem like the perfect medium for storage they do have their limitations or disadvantages though. The main one being that they can only read and write so many times before failing, this is of course where buying from a well known manufacturer comes into play, buy from a reputable source to insure that your drive will have a long life.
Another disadvantage of the flash drive is more human related, since they're small they're very easy to lose or misplace, and when that happens you also lose whatever data is stored on them. Of course you can get encryption software to protect your data, and some companies even include it already on the drive, but still once the drive is lost it's gone. Some can be attached to a keychain or even a necklace to help prevent loss though.
The advantages of course really outweigh the disadvantages of flash drives. They're small, very lightweight and easily portable, they're fast, and use little power, and now can store many times more data than a DVD can.
They're also very durable as well, they don't have any working or moving parts inside of them to fail, you can throw them around, toss them about and they'll be fine, try that with a hard drive and see what happens!
Most all flash drives can be read by any operating system as well, they usually come pre-formatted with FAT or FAT32 file systems on them.
Some companies produce flash drives that are made to be impervious to water, dust, dirt and claim to be virtually indestructible, and the cost is not much more than the standard version of the same capacity. Most flash drives can be washed and dried and still will work, even if it's not of the specialized kind, they are a very rugged and durable device overall, though I wouldn't recommend doing this.
If you're looking to purchase a flash drive, most times the information on the package doesn't mean much to the average person, what does it mean when a drive runs at 200X? It's a speed rating is what it is, like a DVDRW can run at 20X or 18X, or a CD at 52X, really though in terms of comparisons there isn't much to compare it to when looking at the package.
For the best decision check with reviews, honestly, reviews can be your best source to find which is really the best performing flash drive if that's what you're looking for. Review sites will test and compare flash drives to each other and let the reader know what all the technical hype really means. Through good reviews you'll find which drives really perform as claimed and of course which ones don't.
A good flash drive can last quite a long time and become a valuable asset to most anyone for any needs.Close