Usb Drives

By: James Walsh



History

In 1956 IBM came out with the first hard drive which later on became an integral part of almost all the computers. In 1969 floppy disks were introduced and were considered to be the future of storage media. By the late 90s we witnessed the usage of optical devices like CDs and DVDs for storage and backup purposes. USB drive is a novel addition to this long list of storage media, which is increasingly becoming popular. The first USB drive was sold by Trek in early 2000. Since then the market for USB drives has exploded from $ 717 million to $ 5.3 billion by 2004.

Expectations from a Good Storage Media

Any dependable storage media has to fulfill certain criteria. First and foremost, a good storage media should be reliable and hardy. It should offer a high speed, so far as the storage, retrieval and processing of data is concerned. Any authentic storage device should be user friendly and must not demand any special expertise on the part of the user. It has to be compatible with the existing hardware. Portability is certainly a coveted advantage, so far as storage devices are concerned. Above all a popular storage device should be easily available in the market at a reasonable price, so as to fit into the budget of all type of users. USB drives fulfill almost most of the above mentioned criteria.

What is a USB Drive?

USB drive, which is also known as flash drive, is a plug-and-play storage media which is highly portable. It is very small in size and does not require the installation of any special software for its usage. It is compatible with almost most of the existing computers. Once a USB drive is inserted into the USB port of a computer, it instantly recognizes the drive as a removable media and assigns it a drive letter. USB drive offers certain special advantages over other storage media and comes with a storage capacity ranging from 32 megabytes to 64 gigabytes.

How Do They Work?

A USB drive is infact a combination of various old technologies and has been made possible by the latest advances in microprocessor technology. It primarily relies on EPROM technology. It consists of four main parts i.e. a USB connector which facilitates an interface to the host computer, USB mass storage controller device which contains a small microprocessor, a crystal oscillator and a NAND flash memory chip that stores data. Besides these four vital components, a USB drive may include various other parts.

Advantages of Using a USB Drive

1) Portable

A USB drive is very light, compact and portable. One can literally carry it in his pocket.

2) Does Not Require Rebooting

A USB drive does not trequire ant time-consuming special configuration and is a totally a plug-and-play device.

3) Does Not Require any Special Power Supply or Batteries

One does not need to install any batteries in a flash drive or provide it with an external power supply.

4) High Capacity

USB drives come in a wide array of storage capacities ranging from 32 megabytes to 64 gigabytes.

5) Compatibility

Almost all the new computers come fitted with a USB port and a USB device is compatible with all types of computers, be it a work station or a lap top.

6) High Speed

It is much easier and convenient to upload data on a USB drive as compared to other media.

7) User Friendly

One does not require any special expertise to use a flash drive. A mere functional knowledge of computers is all that it takes.

8) Hardy

A flash drive does not have any internal movable parts and comes encased in a plastic or metal jacket. Hence it is not that susceptible to damage due to mishandling.

9) Easily Available

USB drives are easily available in all the computer stores and on the internet.

10) Withstands More Erase/Write Cycles

A USB drive can withstand up to 500,000 erase/write cycles.

Future

The market for USB drives is expanding at a fast pace, however; high cost is a major obstruction to its popularity.
With the possible fall in the prices in the future, it is expected to replace the current storage media like CDs and DVDs.

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