Also commonly referred to as key drive, thumb drives, jump drives, USB drives and pen drives. A Flash Drive is a small self-powered drive that connects to a computer directly through a USB port. It’s both Mac and PC compatible, so you can transfer files between both Macs and PCs. They are supported on all public machines, although some flash drives require a user to install drivers before use. Flash drives can hold any type of data, including word files, excel files, jpeg, video, and text files. Basically you can put any type of file on a flash drive. The only limitation is the file capacity of the flash drive.
There are no moving parts. It has become the replacement for floppy drives for backing up files because it can hold a huge amount of data. You can carry around a movie on a USB drive – several in fact!
OK, so what is USB? You hear it referred to quite often. Printers, external hard drives, camera’s, mobile phones, keyboards and mice can all connect using USB.
To make it simple USB is an acronym for Universal Serial Bus.
In other words it is a universally accepted way of connecting things to your computer without you having to open the case and physically connecting it inside. There are other technical aspects to it but that’s all you really need to understand it in layman’s terms. That’s a basic definition.
In the mid-1990s, a group of engineers from the companies Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Northern Telecom worked out the specification for a very high speed interface that would largely replace the conventional ways things were connected to PC’s. Today, more than 1000 companies develop products which can be connected to the PC via USB. These can range from standard PC peripherals like printers and modems but now increasingly to specialist devices like scientific instruments, machine controls and even on-board networks in (racing) cars!
A USB flash drive holds data just like a computer’s hard drive. A USB drive provides a portable solution for carrying photos, music files, and documents with you to share with others. They are a valuable tool for any computer user.
So, how much can you store on a flash drive?
Calculations are based on the following:
- A Word document with a size of 53 KB
- A photograph with a size of 1.6 MB – Size depends on what is being taken. I use a Iphone 4S. Some of mine seem to go as high as 2.3MB if there’s a lot of stuff in the picture or as little as 1mb if there’s nothing but sky and a few clouds. Panorama photos can also be very large around 16mb for full pano in my experience.
- An MP3 audio file (4 minutes long; 128kbs CD audio quality; approx 4 Mb/song) again the bitrate of the song (128kbs) determines the file size – the higher the bitrate the bigger the file. You can check the bitrate of a song in itunes, right click, click ‘Get Info’ and you can also check individual files by right clicking the file, clicking on properties and then click on ‘Details’.
Based on the above calculation:
- 32 GB flash drive can store over 640,000 typical Word doc pages; 19,200 photographs; or 8,192 MP3 audio files.
- 16 GB flash drive can store over 320,000 typical Word doc pages; 9,600 photographs; or 4,096 MP3 audio files.
- 8 GB flash drive can store 160,000 typical Word doc pages; 4,800 photographs; or 2,048 MP3 audio files.
- 4 GB flash drive can store over 80,000 typical Word doc pages; 2,400 photographs; or 1,024 MP3 audio files.
- 2 GB flash drive can store over 40,000 typical Word doc pages; 1,200 photographs; or 512 MP3 audio files.
- 1 GB flash drive can store 20,000 typical Word doc pages; 640 photographs; or 256 MP3 audio files.
- 512 MB flash drive can store 9,600 typical Word doc pages; 320 photographs; or 128 MP3 audio files.
- 256 MB flash drive can store 4,800 typical Word doc pages; 160 photographs; or 64 MP3 audio files.
- 128 MB flash drive can store 2,400 typical Word doc pages; 80 photographs; or 32 MP3 music files.
- 64 MB flash drive can store 1,200 typical Word doc pages; 40 photographs; or 16 MP3 music files.
As you can see, the answer to the question of how much you can fit on a flash drive will vary greatly based on the average size of the files you are using.
Now there are some ‘deals’ out there when purchasing a USB/Flash Drive. But beware if buying online through Ebay for example because some unscrupulous sellers are passing off high capacity flash drives which are not what they seem.
“Fake Flash” refers to low capacity flash drives (and memory cards) that have been “hacked” so that they appear to have much more capacity than is physically present on the drive.
These drives will report the inflated capacity to Windows and other systems, which will in turn display a deceptively false capacity and space remaining in the drive’s property display. These drives operate normally under low usage, but will corrupt data once their “true” capacity is exceeded – potentially leading to massive data loss.
For example, a USB flash drive advertised as 512GB, but which is in fact a hacked drive that only contains 16GB of true memory is a “fake flash” drive. A 128GB SDHC memory card that is in fact a hacked and relabeled 8GB memory card is “fake flash”.
The terms “fake flash drive”, “fake memory card” and just “fake flash” are each a bit of a misnomer, the drives and memory cards are real and contain real memory, just nowhere near as much as advertised. A more correct term would be “fake capacity flash”, “fake capacity drive” or “fake capacity memory card”. However, the shorter term “fake flash” is commonly used. ”
My advice is to buy a brand name not an unknown or generic flash drive as there are vast differences in quality and resultant speed.
Don’t buy cheap if you want to keep!
Flash manufacturers sell the low-grade memory to companies to use in flash drives. Reputable well known companies such as SanDisk, Toshiba, Transcend, Verbatim, Lexar etc use only high grade flash memory.
You have also probably seen a USB drive advertised as USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 and never really thought about it. A lot of the time they are advertised at a special price but don’t mention if it’s using the USB 2.0.or USB 3.0 protocol.
The ones on special at a ‘great price’ are usually USB 2.0 which have being superseded by USB 3.0
What does this mean?
Well instead of me explaining the differences between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 have a look at this article which explains it better than I could.
USB 2.0 vs 3.0: Ports and Cables
Color is the key to telling the difference between USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. In almost all cases, USB 3.0 ports are blue while USB 2.0 ports are black or white in color (see image below):
So if your computer has the blue USB ports it’s best to buy a 3.0 USB/Flash drive
Ok I hope that helps you when considering a USB/Flash drive.