Protect USB flash drives and prevent damages with these 13 tips.
In this article:
- Take Environmental Factors Into Consideration
- Keep Your Flash Drive Stored Inside A Container
- Avoid Applying Heavy Loads On Your Flash Drive
- Cap USB Flash Drive Off When Not In Use
- Watch Out For Sparks When Connecting Flash Drive To Computers
- Do Not Edit Files Directly On The Flash Drive
- When Not In Use, Do Not Leave The Flash Drive Connected To Your Computer
- Always Choose To Safely Remove The Flash Drive From Your Computer
- Avoid Ripping It Out of the USB Port
- Get Rid Of Viruses And Malware
- Do Not Defragment Your Flash Drive
- Keep Track Of Your Flash Drive’s Usage
- Regularly Back Up Your Flash Drive
Protect USB Flash Drives From Unnecessary Damages With These 13 Easy Tips
1. Take Environmental Factors Into Consideration
A lot of environmental factors could potentially affect your flash drive. Protect USB flash drives by being aware of said factors and their effects on your drive.
- Exposure to extreme heat — Avoid exposing your flash drive to high-temperature conditions since heat could damage the storage cells inside the drive’s memory. Too much heat exposure can even cause the data to be deleted.
- Water is a USB drive’s biggest opponent. Though it’s still possible for it to work once dried thoroughly, experts still do not recommend submerging or exposing it to water. While data recovery is still possible even if water ruins the drive, you would not really want to risk losing all your files.
2. Keep Your Flash Drive Stored Inside A Container
Shock is yet another factor that you must consider when it comes to protecting your flash drive.
Slamming, dropping, or smashing your flash drive can lead to physical damage. This can cause some parts to loosen or worse, breakage
You can protect your USB drive from breakage by keeping it stored inside a small box, pouch or purse. Make sure to keep the container clean as well.
While a lot of people choose to carry their flash drives around in their pockets, this may not be the best way to go. Your flash drive is still prone to slamming against other objects.
If you really need to carry around your flash drive for easier access, here are some alternatives to putting it in your pocket:
- Attach it to a lanyard or go for a lanyard USB — Wear your flash drive around your neck so you don’t have to put it in your pocket. This minimizes the risk of it being crushed when you put other things in your pocket or sit down.
- Choose a USB wristband — Another safer alternative to putting your flash drive in your pocket is to wear it on your wrist. These wearable USB wristbands can both solve the problem of avoiding storing it in your pocket and minimizes the risk of loss at the same time.
Shock is one of your biggest enemies when it comes to physical damage on a flash drive. Regardless of how you choose to carry it, be extra mindful of the objects it comes in contact with.
3. Avoid Applying Heavy Loads On Your Flash Drive
USB flash drives are typically smaller and more fragile than a common hard drive. They are not made to take on heavy loads and great pressure.
Subjecting them to such weights or loads could damage parts and even cause them to smash. This can compromise all the data stored in the flash drive.
As much as possible, be mindful of where you keep your flash drive.
Again, storing them inside a container should help prevent damages that heavy loads can cause. If you put your flash drive in your bag, try to designate a particular pocket for it instead of simply stuffing it inside.
If you’re having trouble fishing it your USB from a particular compartment or pocket in your bag, then that’s another argument for lanyard USBs. It’s much easier to grab a flash drive using a long lanyard than spend considerable time searching your bag for the tiny device.
4. Cap USB Flash Drive Off When Not In Use
Protect USB flash drives by making sure that their caps are on when not in use. This should not be too hard since most flash drives come packed with a cap that is essential in protecting it.
If you’re scared you’ll easily lose the cap, you can also go for swivel USBs, which already have a built-in cap. All you have to do to protect it is to rotate the cap when the USB is not in use.
Dirt and debris can destroy your flash drive if it accumulates. Keeping the cap on prevents them from making their way into your drive’s crevices.
Additionally, make sure not to touch the contacts surface directly. Instead, you should hold the device only by its edges.
5. Watch Out For Sparks When Connecting Flash Drive To Computers
If you have recently seen sparks when plugging on your flash drive to your computer, this might be a warning sign that something is wrong.
These sparks are electrostatic discharges between the computer and the flash drive. It can fry not only the flash drive, but even the computer’s hardware itself.
This can lead not only to the loss of data but even to irreversible damage to your drive.
6. Do Not Edit Files Directly On The Flash Drive
Yet another simple but often forgotten rule when it comes to using flash drives is to not edit files directly on them.
If you have to make any edits to your files, copy them to your computer. Afterward, unplug your flash drive properly, make the necessary edits, then copy your files back.
Leaving your flash drive on for too long not only increases its usage rate, but also heats up the device. Additionally, it is prone to data corruption especially if the flash drive is suddenly yanked out.
7. When Not In Use, Do Not Leave The Flash Drive Connected To Your Computer
Leaving the drive plugged in is one of the main reasons behind the death of flash drives. As much as possible, don’t make a habit of leaving the flash drive in the USB slot when not in use.
Write operations are one of the primary causes for the wear of USB drives. Flash drives write their date directly to cells.
Unfortunately, the number of times a cell can be written on has a limit. Leaving the device plugged in causes the operating system (OS) to continuously write on it, leading to the wear of the flash drive.
8. Always Choose To Safely Remove The Flash Drive From Your Computer
That “safely remove” option on your computer is there for a reason. When removing your flash drive, make sure to click it and wait for it the prompt that tells you that it is now safe to remove your drive.
Using the safely remove option instructs your OS to stop reading your drive. This is your computer’s way of safely disabling its connections with the drive.
Yanking it out without enabling this option could cause loss of data and degradation of the drive.
9. Avoid Ripping It Out of the USB Port
To protect USB flash drives, avoid ripping them out of your computer at all costs.
Ripping or yanking it out with a sudden motion could cause the pieces to loosen. This will physically damage the drive, leading to loss of data or even the ruin of your flash drive.
10. Get Rid Of Viruses And Malware
Viruses and malware may not ruin your drive physically, but it can act as the carrier and transfer them to computers, which can cause numerous problems in computers. They could delete files, corurpt data, and even freeze your drive.
If possible, protect USB flash drives by running anti-virus and malware software. This should scan the drive and take care of any viruses that may have gotten into it.
Plugging your flash drive into different, unfamiliar computers could also cause it to be infected. As much as possible, don’t plug your flash drive into unfamiliar computers unless absolutely necessary.
11. Do Not Defragment Your Flash Drive
Defragmentation definition: Defragmentation is a process in the file system maintenance that reduces fragmentation, which is a process that could cause slowdowns, crashes, and ultimately, even total system failure. It rearranges fragmented files to occupy storage locations that help optimize storage and performance.
USB flash drives do not require defragmentation. In fact, defragmenting flash drives actually kills it slowly.
While this may be a useful process when it comes to hard drives, such is not the case when it comes to flash drives. Defragmentation, being a write operation, wears out your drive.
Performing it on a hard drive could speed up and improve its performance. However, on a flash drive, the only thing it speeds up is your flash drive’s degradation.
Protect USB flash drives from wear by disabling auto-defragment for your drive.
12. Keep Track Of Your Flash Drive’s Usage
As with everything, continuous use eventually wears out your USB drive. In fact, even the best USB flash drive will eventually give in after enough uses.
Metal contacts in the USB become worn over time. Eventually, the computer will no longer be able to read the flash drive.
The so-called Single Level Cell (SLC) based memory flash drives can perform up to 100,000 writes. The more common Multi-Level Cell (MLC) based memory flash drives can perform up to 10,000.
Typically, this translates to more or less about 1,500 connect and disconnect cycles.
13. Regularly Back Up Your Flash Drive
Even with the best care given to a flash drive, it will eventually wear out. As such, perhaps the best way to protect USB flash drives, especially the data they have in them, is to regularly back it up.
While it is true that there are ways to retrieve data from broken flash drives, it’s best not to rely on them. Taking the necessary precautions should help avoid data loss in the first place.
Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:
Flash drives can’t last forever. Eventually, with time and with use, these things give out.
However, giving it the care it needs can help prolong its life. This can also help protect your USB from getting damaged.
Follow the tips above to help prolong your flash drive’s lifespan. Additionally, make sure to keep a backup of your data in case something unexpected happens to it.
Do you have other tips on how to protect USB flash drives? Share them with us in the comments section below!