Running out of space on your USB drive when you really need it can be disappointing. Here’s a handy guide to help you choose the right memory capacity when purchasing a flash drive.
In this article:
- What’s the Biggest USB Stick Available?
- How Many Files Can I Fit in a 1GB Flash Drive?
- How Many Photos Are in a GB?
- How Do I Check the Storage Capacity of a Flash Drive?
- Why Do USB Flash Drives Show a Lower Storage Capacity When Plugged into a Computer?
- How Long Will Data Last on a Flash Drive?
- What’s the Difference between a 2.0 and a 3.0 Flash Drive?
How to Choose a Flash Drive | FAQs about Storage Capacity
What’s the Biggest USB Stick Available?
At the moment, there are flash drives with a massive storage capacity of as much as 2TB. This can hold up to 110,000 pictures, 125,00 songs, or 500 movies.
With this hefty storage capacity also comes a higher price. If you don’t really need this much storage or want to spend less, there are other USB drives that have a lower storage capacity to help you out.
Most commercial USB flash drives range at around 1GB to 32GB. These are usually more than enough to store the common files, especially if they’re not media files like videos and high-quality images, which tend to have higher files sizes than documents.
How Many Files Can I Fit in a 1GB Flash Drive?
How many files can you actually fit in your flash drive? Here’s a handy guide to help determine how many files you can store in flash drives with a 1GB memory capacity.
- Word Documents: Around 18,800
- PowerPoint Files: Around 2,800
- PDF Documents: Around 3,100
- Songs: Around 230
Note: All estimates are based on average file sizes.
Since the average file size of full-length movies is 1.5GB, a 1GB flash drive won’t be able to hold a movie file. For that purpose, you’d need at least a 2GB flash drive.
How Many Photos Are in a GB?
One of the most common uses of flash drives is to hold image files. It’s the 21st century’s answer to traditional photo albums.
The question is, how many flash drives do you actually need to need to store your photos in? It all depends on the file size of the images.
Here’s a basic guide on how many images a 1GB flash drive can hold based on their resolution (in MP) and estimated file size (in MB).
- 4MP (1.2MB): 715 pics
- 5MP (1.5MB): 572 pics
- 6MP (1.8MB): 476 pics
- 7MP (2.1MB): 408 pics
- 8MP (2.4MB): 357 pics
- 10MP (3.0MB): 286 pics
- 12MP (3.6MB): 238 pics
- 14MP (4.2MB): 204 pics
- 16MP (4.8MB): 178 pics
- 22MP (4.6MB): 130 pics
How Do I Check the Storage Capacity of a Flash Drive?
- Plug in the USB flash drive.
- Click on the “My Computer” icon on the home screen.
- Right-click the USB icon, then select “Properties.”
- From there, you’ll see a pie chart showing your device’s storage capacity, including info on how much you’ve used and how much is still available.
For Mac OS:
- Plug in the flash drive into the USB port.
- Click the USB flash drive icon once it pops up.
- Click the “File” key in the menu bar and click “Get Info.”
- A dialog box containing your drive’s storage capacity details will pop up.
Why Do USB Flash Drives Show a Lower Storage Capacity When Plugged into a Computer?
Have you ever wondered why a flash drive’s actual storage capacity is lower than how it was marketed? For example, if you bought a 32GB flash drive, the storage capacity indicated would be somewhere below that.
Does that mean flash drive manufacturers are scamming their consumers? The answer — no! There are basically two reasons why flash drives show a lower storage capacity once they’re plugged in:
Your flash drive has its own boot data and file system. This takes up some space, which is why the storage capacity available to users is actually lower.
The main reason why the available storage capacity is lower than its marketed memory capacity is the difference in calculation. For flash drive manufacturers:
- 1000 bytes = 1KB
- 1000KB = 1MB
- 1000MB = 1GB (or 10^9, which is why it’s called “giga”)
Now, that would mean that an 8GB drive has a storage capacity of 8,000,000,000 bytes of space. But, unlike flash drive companies, RAM manufacturers and operating systems count by denominations of 1024, not 1000.
So what happens is:
- 1024 bytes = 1KB
- 1024KB = 1MB
- 1024MB = 1GB
Going by the denomination of 10254, an 8GB flash drive would only end up with 7.45GB worth of free space.
How Long Will Data Last on a Flash Drive?
Generally, the data cells inside a USB thumb drive can survive for around 10 years — that is if it’s stored under optimal conditions. Yes, you can prolong this timeframe by protecting and maintaining the drive.
After this period, there’s no guarantee your files and data are still safe or retrievable. As such, it’s better to have a backup of their important files.
What’s the Difference between a 2.0 and a 3.0 Flash Drive?
Apart from the memory capacity, it’s also essential to learn the difference between a 2.0 and 3.0 flash drive. One thing you should also consider when choosing a flash drive is the speed by which it transfers data — which is what the USB 2.0 vs 3.0 debate is all about.
A 2.0 flash drive has a signaling rate of 480 megabits per second. Meanwhile, a 3.0 flash drive has a maximum signaling rate of around 5 gigabits per second.
This means that a 3.0 flash drive is ten times faster than a normal 2.0 flash drive in terms of transfer speed. This may benefit anyone who needs to transfer a lot of files (especially large ones) on a daily basis.
These are just some of the frequently asked questions on buying flash drives based on storage capacity. Overall, what’s important is to get one that suits your individual needs.
For example, there’s really no need to buy a 2TB drive if you don’t carry that much files, right? Explore your options to see which style, design, and storage capacity will be of use to you!
When buying a flash drive, what storage capacity do you usually go for? Share your answers in the comments section below!