USB flash drives have a number of aliases including: pen drives, keychain drives, jump drives, thumb drives, memory sticks (not to be confused with a Sony Memory Stick flash card) and the list goes on. No matter what the name, they are all based on the same principle.
* High power, high capacity.
* Ultra-compact design small enough to fit in a pocket makes for go-anywhere portability.
* User-friendly plug-and play" design is compatible anywhere there is a USB port.
* Durable casing lasts longer and keeps data more safely stored than an outdated floppy, or easily-scratchable CD or DVD.
These are very handy devices for students, professionals on the go, and just about anyone else who needs to bring their data with them from one place to the next. They also work as mini external hard drives for backing up files and storing information that you don't use that often, but that you can't stand to part with.
No other memory storage device is as useful, portable, and safe. Take along hundreds of MP3 files, movies, photos, and documents in the palm of your hand. Want to know more? See this USB FAQ. Or read an article on flash memory on Wikipedia.
How to Choose a USB Flash Device
* The amount of hard drive space ranges from 8 MB to a whopping 6 GB. Price will vary accordingly.
** To get an idea of what USB flash drives are capable of, a floppy disk holds 1.5 MB.
* While the least expensive models start at around $15 and provide a minimal amount of storage, they are not incredibly useful, unless you just want to bring along some basic text documents.
* Anything in the 128 to 256 MB range is decent, and not too expensive, but for a slight upgrade you can have 512 MB for about $50 or less.
* The choice for true versatility would be around 1 GB: You can then pack it with music, photos, and more for about $100.
* If you are interested in getting a self-powered device that packs a big punch for its size, compared to an external hard drive, you may elect to invest in one of the 4 GB models that go for about $300.
* Memorex has introduced inexpensive Flash Discs, which are solid state U.S.B 1.1 flash drives with storage capacities of 16MB. You can get a set of three for $19.95.
** Some of the higher priced models come with a secure password protection option and even biometric fingerprint authentication to keep your data safe and for your viewing only.
* '''Mobile Body'''
** Some are able to twist and swivel up to 180 degrees, which can be useful in tight places. However, bodies that twist may not be as durable as a solid USB flash drive with no moving parts.
** Some models come with a fixed cap that can't be removed. This can sometimes impede working in tight space, but you won't lose the cap.
** Check for the ability to synch up with Microsoft Office, and other programs that you use often.
** Also choose accordingly so that the drive is compatible with either PCs or Macs.
* '''Drive Speed'''
** Choose a drive that has either USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 compatibility depending on the type of USB hubs and/or USB ports that you usually have access to.
** The best bet if you are starting from scratch is to go with all Hi-Speed USB 2.0 hubs, drives, and devices. These are much faster than a USB 1.1.