USB Flash Drives: What Are They and Why You Might Want One

By: Pamela Lund
If you are an average computer user, you may not be very familiar with USB flash drives (also called USB memory sticks, thumb drives, etc.). Even if you do have a USB flash drive or two, the newest technology is impressive and less expensive than what was available just one or two years ago.The most impressive technological leap has occurred in the amount of memory USB flash drives can hold. Today, 32GB USB memory sticks the size of a business card cost less than two hundred dollars. 32GB of memory is more memory than some computers have! And 64GB USB flash drives have recently become available.USB flash drives are also uniquely durable compared to other external storage devices like CDs and DVDs. Since USB flash drives are made with solid-state (no moving parts) technology and are encased in a durable plastic shell, they require no special handling like CDs and DVDs do. A recent Consumer Reports independent lab test showed that some USB memory sticks can survive hours on the dashboard of a hot car and some even survived laundering and drying as if they had been left in a pants pocket.Another feature that USB flash drives have that can be beneficial is that they offer almost unlimited rewrite-ability.

Some USB pens have tested successfully on over 500,000 rewrites. This rewrite capacity makes USB memory sticks a great data storage option when your data changes daily. If you keep a regularly updated Word documents or run a small accounting firm where you need to backup your system daily, this rewrite-ability can be a major plus.Because of their large storage capacity and sturdiness, USB memory sticks can also be a great way to store important pictures, videos, and documents without fear that an accidental scratch will corrupt your files. USB flash drives also take up very little room, so you can easily add them to your safe deposit box or fireproof box. Or, if backing up data as mentioned above, dropping your USB flash drive in your purse, pocket, or briefcase will not risk its data integrity.Finally, USB flash drives are great for people who work on different computers regularly. Some USB memory sticks allow you to save your desktop applications, utilities, and personal settings. This allows you to take your preferences with you to any computer that has a USB port. Since almost every computer today has multiple USB ports, personal data portability is a snap if you use your personalized USB drive. For some people, this portability and compatibility is practically a necessity.So, the next time you, the everyday computer user, are looking to for a data storage device, check out the new generation of USB flash drives. They offer lots of memory and durability in a handy size that is compatible with most every computer. What more could you want in a data storage device?

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