We’ve prepared the ultimate list to help you learn all about USB drives – from how it started to what it can do for you, and more!
Everything You Need To Know About Your USB Drive
1.USB Flash Drive Definition
A Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash drive is a portable data storage device comprised of a flash memory and a USB interface. It is also known as a USB drive, a USB stick, or a thumb drive. All operating systems can support USB drives.
Also, as compared to a disk drive or a floppy disk, a USB drive can store a bigger amount of data. Even more, it can transfer files faster to any device, too.
2. How a USB Flash Drive Works
There are different parts inside USB drives. Each has its own special function, as listed below.
• NAND flash memory chip – the data storage component that houses all information stored
• USB mass storage controller – This is also known as the “brain” of the USB stick and is the component that communicates and enables the connection between the USB stick to the device it’s connected to.
• Crystal oscillator – the data output component that controls the flow of information from the USB drive to a device through signals
• Standard USB plug – the physical plug that attaches the USB stick to a device
• LED indicator lights – these refer to the tiny light that turns on whenever a USB stick
• Test points – the electrical pins used during the assembly function that indicate whether the USB drive is defective or not
• Write-in protect switch – an additional component for data security
• Space for additional NAND chip – a small space inside the USB stick that can accommodate a second chip to increase memory capacity
3. The History Of USB Flash Drives
The technology of the USB drives’ flash memory started in Japan in the 1980s. It was invented by Fujio Masuoka while he was working for Toshiba. The term “flash memory” was coined by one of his assistants, referring to how the flash memory’s capability to erase contents fast is similar to a camera’s flash.
Mashuoka first presented this technology in an international conference in San Francisco, California. Intel saw how powerful this breakthrough is and created the NOR flash chip. This was the first commercial chip for the flash memory technology. Although, after a couple of years, manufacturers moved to the more affordable NAND type flash chip.
Toshiba introduced the first NAND type flash memory in 1988. This flash drive had faster erase and write capabilities. And, it was much cheaper to produce than its NOR type counterpart. Soon after that, different companies used the NAND flash memory technology in creating USB flash drives.
In 1999, M-Systems, which was later on acquired by SanDisk, filed for the first patent for a USB memory stick named DiskOnKey. Later that year, IBM filed an invention disclosure regarding the creation of USB drives. Also, IBM became the first company to sell USB drives in the USA, named Memory Key. Memory Key’s initial file size capacity was just 8MB.
Meanwhile in Asia, Singaporean company Trek 2000 was the first to sell USB drives. After a few years, Malaysian inventor Pua Khein-Seng invented the pen drive, which is another version of the USB drive.
4. All You Need to Know about The Different Types of USB Flash Drive
USB drives are usually categorized according to their use. Here are the most common types of USB drives:
• Security Flash Drive – This type of USB drive is encrypted with either physical or logical security controls, which are used to maximize data safety. One example would be Cryptex USB drives, which have a combination lock that you need to open before you can fully use the USB drive. Another example is IronKey USB drives, which have a data encryption and password protection feature that you need to access first.
• Music Flash Drive – This is specially made for music storage. You can use this for easy saving and transfer of music.
• Boot Flash Drive – This is a USB stick specifically designed to install an operating system.
• Card USB Drive – This functions like regular USB drives, but is housed in a card.
5. What Size USB Flash Drive Should You Buy?
Nowadays, there are many different USB data storage sizes in the market. Sizes are expressed in Gigabytes (GB), and can range from as low as 2 GB and as high as 256 GB.
Here is the list of the typical sizes available, and how much it can store on average:
• 2GB – 582 minutes of songs and 51,200 documents
• 4GB – 1,164 minutes of songs and 102,400 documents
• 8GB – 2,328 minutes of songs and 204,800 documents
• 16GB – 4,656 minutes of songs and 409,600 documents
• 32GB – 9,132 minutes of songs and 819,200 documents
• 64GB – 18,624 minutes of songs and 1,638,400 documents
• 128GB – 37,248 minutes of songs and 3,276,800 documents
• 256GB – 74,496 minutes of songs and 6,553,600 documents
6. USB Flash Drive Guide: 5 Things To Know When Buying One
The best buy for USB sticks may depend on your common usage for the USB drives. For example, if you’re going for a moderate storage of files, you can just opt to buy for an 8GB USB flash drive.
Here are some considerations you may look at, before purchasing:
• Similar specs – two brands of USB drives may offer similar specs at different prices. And, the difference may lie in the quality of components. Make sure to take note which brand has a better reputation. Also, you can check your computer’s USB requirements.
• USB size – Usually, a USB drive’s size also corresponds to its processing speed. This means that a small USB drive is usually slower in processing. So, if you need a bigger memory, then go for a bulkier USB drive.
• Limited lifespans – USB drives, on average, can survive 3,000 to 5,000 life cycles. A life cycle refers to an insert and subsequent removal of a USB drive from a device. Also, you can check how many life cycles a USB has before purchasing.
• Data encryption features – this can be especially handy if you want a special feature that will protect your files, such as a password protection program
7. 10 Incredibly Useful Ways To Use A USB Drive You Didn’t Know
These are different ways you can use your USB drive, using flash drive apps:
• Load your own Google Chrome browser in a device – This is made possible by Google Chrome Portable. It is an app that can store a version of your Google Chrome in your flash drive.
• Scan viruses – You can also use a virus-detecting app to scan and delete viruses from a device.
• Create an emergency drive – Windows pioneered this feature. To prepare for a sudden data loss, you can use your USB as a troubleshooting stick. However, you will need a USB drive with a capacity of at least 16GB.
• Play different computer games – different games can be stored in your USB drives, too
• Surf online anywhere in incognito mode – A flash drive app called Tails can enable this. You can run Tails in any computer using two USB sticks, and it will keep all your activities private.
• Create customized USB business cards – you can also use a USB business card as a promotional tool
• Boost browser experience – This is another feature also pioneered by Windows. You can use a flash drive app called ReadyBoost to make certain programs like your browser in your computer faster
• Use it as a special computer lock – you can use your USB drive as a special tool to lock and unlock your devices. An app such as Predator offers this feature
• Store backups of documents – Safeguard your most important files using a USB drive to prevent data loss.
8. 7 Industries Using USB Drives For Promotions
USB sticks are common everywhere nowadays. Although, different industries may have unique usage for USB sticks.
• Financial institutions – banks and other financial institutions may commonly use USB drives as conference giveaways, storage for digital quarterly reports, and promotional gifts
• Educational institutions – schools and other educational institutions may use USB drives during recruitments, school orientations, and giveaways during programs
• Transportation and automotive businesses – Both of these industries primarily use USB drives as promotional tools. Also, they can use USB drives as giveaways with their logos attached to them
• Healthcare institutions – healthcare professionals can use USB drives as storage for medical manuals and interactive guides
• Travel and tourism businesses – travel companies can use USB drives as promotional tools and storage for photo documentation purposes
• Music and entertainment companies – music companies can use USB drives for album and song launch promotions. Also, production companies can store both new and old albums in a USB drive, along with other freebies.
9. Custom Flash Drives: Top Benefits For Marketing
Businesses can use a USB drive in different ways. Not only does it make documents portable, but it’s also eco-friendly. Here are some of its marketing benefits to a company:
• Promotional tool – A USB stick can be an effective promotional tool and corporate giveaway since a client can use it daily. This increases the chances for the client to always remember the company.
• Cost efficiency – by storing files in a USB stick, a business can cut down expenses for printing
• Digital storage for company brochures and manuals – During events, a company can pre-load the USB stick with company brochures. And, this may also be more helpful in distributing company manuals, too.
• Digital storage for multimedia portfolios – Artists can distribute USB drives that contain a soft copy of their portfolios. Also, they can also pre-load a marketing message in USB drives that will automatically run when a user connects it to a computer.
There are different ways a USB flash drive can be helpful for both work and leisure. With the technology behind it continuously evolving, USB capacity sizes and features will only continue advancing. We hope this guide has helped you understand more about USB flash drives and how they can benefit you.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about USB drives? Ask away in the comments section below.