Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Buying a USB Flash Drive (Part 2)

In part one of this article, we talked about the technology behind the USB flash drives. Now we’re going to talk about the different physical aspects and features of these drives.

These drives can come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, and storage capacities; here is a list of things that you should consider before buying one.
  • Buy a drive with a small form factor, my general rule of reference is that it should not be bigger then a pack of stick gum (for example: check out the SanDisk Cruzer Mini). Avoid buying drives that have funny shapes to them. For example, there are a few drives that I have seen that have a round bulge on the end. The drives with odd shapes can prevent you from inserting it in computers where USB connectors only offer enough room to insert another cable.
  • Buy the highest capacity USB flash drives you can afford. A one gigabyte flash drive is now under a hundred dollars.
  • Buy the fastest USB flash drives you can afford. Most modern USB flash drives support USB v2.0, which can support transfer rates as high as 480MB per second, while USB v1.1 only supports 11MB per second. Make sure to read the packaging carefully before you buy it, to make sure it supports USB v2.0.
  • Two other important considerations that are often overlooked are how you’re going carry the drive, and the type of cap that is used to protect the USB connector. I like to keep my USB attached to my key ring, but I had to modify the tether that came with my drive. The one thing I really hate about my drive is the protective cap. It keeps following off, and I have lost a few of them.
  • Some drives come with extra software to perform special tasks such as encrypting your files. Manufactures do this to try to differentiate their drives from the competition. I generally delete this software because it is either trailware (that only works for thirty day), or it’s a poorly designed custom.

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