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What is a USB flash
A USB flash drive (UFD) is a
compact portable device
used to store data. It pairs a
USB (Universal Serial Bus)
interface with a flash memory
data storage unit. The USB
flash drive is also known as
memory stick, key drive,
jump drive, or simply USB
The shape typically
resembles a human finger or
thumb, hence also the name
thumb drive.
Technically, a UFD is not a
drive because the flash
memory technology is purely
digital, meaning it does not
contain any moving parts.
Flash memory is non-
i.e. it does not need power to
maintain the stored
information. On the one hand,
these characteristics make
flash drives less prone to
physical damage and on the
other hand they are
perfectly silent. The term
flash indicates that blocks of
data are
erased and reprogrammed in
a flash, rather than deleting
them one byte at a time.
What is a USB memory
stick used for?
The original purpose was to
transfer small amounts of
data between computers, e.g.
documents or media files. But
with the rapid growth of their
storage capacity,
alternative ways of using
these devices have opened
up. People no longer just
data on flash drives, they
also run applications from
them, enhance the
performance of their
operating system, or boot an
entire operating system from
stick. UFDs can be powerful
tools if you know how to use
them. This guide focuses on
how you can get the most out
of your memory stick to
enhance your work.
Before making a purchase,
three important
characteristics must be
case, capacity, and transfer
rate. Last but not least, the
price decides which model
offers the best value.
The case should be durable,
provide a hook to attach a
lanyard, and most of all,
the shape should not
interfere with its use! A
massive thumb drive may not
fit into a
USB docking station or block
surrounding USB ports.
Smaller devices will usually
anywhere. Besides, they
tend to be lighter and easier
to carry around.
The latest flash drive model
from Kingston can store 256
GB. Affordable models
range from 2 to 16 GB. What
size you go for depends on
two factors: what is the
intended use and how much
can you afford?
Transfer rate:
The transfer rate is the
speed at which data can be
read from and written to the
flash drive. A USB 2.0
interface should not limit the
performance of your flash
because it offers more
bandwidth than a flash drive
can use: up to 60 Mbyte/s
Mbit/s). If your computer is
fairly old and only supports
USB 1.0, you won?t have to
worry about transfer rates.
USB 1.0 only does 1.5 Mbyte/
s (12 Mbit/s), which is way
below the average read /
write speed of even a low
performance flash drive.
The read speed typically is
higher than the write speed.
Thus the write speed is a
limiting factor, especially if
you are going to work from
and save to your storage
device. Read speeds go up
to 34 Mbyte/s (272 Mbit/s),
while write speeds reach a
maximum of 28 Mbyte/s (224
The maximum read / write
speed is dictated by the type
of memory. SLC (singlelevel
cell) stores only one bit of
data per memory cell, while
MLC (multilevel cell)
stores two bits of data per
cell. This means that SLC is
twice as fast as MLC, yielding
higher read / write speeds.
Of course it?s also more
expensive. However, it is
the investment because with
SLC each cell can go through
approximately 100,000
cycles of writing and erasing
data before failing.
Subsequently, SLC lasts
about 10
times as long as MLC type
memory. Unfortunately, SLC
offers less storage space.
What type of flash drive
do i need?
There are four types of
flash drives: Generic,High
Plastic case, dull design, not
very fast, doesn?t come with
extra features, and offers
the best price per MB. When
you purchase a generic
thumb drive from one of the
market leaders, you can still
get a high quality product at
a very low price.
This kind of thumb drive is
sufficient for occasional use,
especially if you only need to
transfer data of little
importance or data that is
always backed up on another
High Performance
Flash drives that carry the
label “high performance” are
equipped with higherbinned
flash memory chips and
better memory controllers,
which enable increased
transfer speeds.
If you have a need for
speed and are going to use
the device on a daily basis,
should go for high
performance. It also means
better quality and will last
you longer
than a generic model.
Secure flash drives typically
provide hardware encryption
via an additional mini
processor. This way the
flash drive can maintain
better read and write speeds
generic drives secured with
software encryption. The
Advanced Encryption
Standard (AES) can encrypt
data with up to 256-bit.
Access to the data is
only after inserting the
correct password. Some
models even go as far as to
destruct, i.e. delete all data,
after a wrong password was
entered several times.
You should opt for a secure
flash drive if you frequently
deal with sensitive data.
These flash drives can have
any characteristic of the
above described, with one
exception: a robust design.
They are made to withstand
extreme conditions, for
example harsh
temperatures, extreme
kinetic shock, or high
moisture. Durable flash
drives are typically encased
in rubber or metal alloy and
may also be watertight.
If you tend to carry
important data on your flash
drive and fear dropping it,
it into the laundry, or
damaging it in some other
way, you might want to
invest in a
durable flash drive.

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