USB Flash Drives

A USB flash drive, also commonly known as a thumb drive or a memory stick, is a type of portable data storage device that fits directly into a USB port. It can backup, store, and transfer important data and make that data available to other devices with USB ports. USB drives tend to favour speed and convenience over absolute storage space.

How does a USB flash drive work?

External flash drives use what's known as "solid-state" storage, which can store, backup, and retrieve data using only electronic circuits. Solid-state drives do not contain any moving mechanical parts, which enables them to access data quickly and easy. A typical flash drive allows up to 100,000 write/erase cycles before the integrity of the data starts to degrade. This translates to around a 10-year lifespan, depending on how much it is used.

What are the benefits of an external USB flash drive?

The biggest advantage of USB drives and memory sticks is that they are fully compatible with all computer device or hardware that has a USB port, including desktops, laptops, video game systems, video players, entertainment systems, and even a number of smartphones and tablets. The external flash drive is automatically recognized by all types of devices. No installation is required. Simply by plugging the flash drive into the USB port of your device, you can immediately transfer, store, and backup your files, regardless of format.

Another major benefit of an external USB flash drive is their durability. Without any fragile moving parts, the drive is less prone to breaking down. They are also more resilient to scratches, drops, dust, mechanical or electrical interference, and extreme temperatures. A portable flash drive can be used for long-term storage, but they are better at temporarily transferring data between devices. They are especially useful for businesses that need to relay data between different workstations.

How much storage space does a portable USB flash drive provide?

USB flash drives are only limited by the cost of the storage space and the physical constraints of the drive. Some of the cheaper flash drives can store less than a gigabyte, but modern high-end flash drives can store as much as 1TB of data, about equivalent to a typical hard drive. A standard external USB drive can store or backup around 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of data. As storage space increases, USB flash drives have become proficient at storing massive files such as ultra high-definition videos that display at 4K or even 8K resolution.

How fast are the file transfer speeds of a USB drive?

File transfer speeds differ radically between external flash drives, although read speeds tend to be faster than write speeds. Some drives can achieve speeds of 150MB/s or more at peak conditions while others may only reach a fraction of that. Generally, USB 3.0-compatible drives offer the fastest speeds, and older USB formats are somewhat slower. Bigger drives are sometimes faster than smaller drives in order to compensate for the large file sizes, but that is not always the case.