Flash Drives

Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Flash Drives
Flash drives use the USB interface, and can be used for data storage as well as portable desktop computing. The reliability and compact size of these drives makes them ideal for carrying your data along. Remember, they're more reliable than CDs or DVDs! These days, some Flash drives come with innovative features like U3, which allows you to use your software without installing it on a computer.

With the portable versions of most commonly used software available, you can virtually carry your entire office with you in that tiny space: wherever you go, just plug in your Flash drive and you have all your software in front of you!

You can also configure a Flash drive so that your computer can't boot unless the drive is plugged in-making for a lock and key mechanism.

Flash drives capacities are in the range of 32 MB to 8 GB. Flash prices are falling by the month, and you can get a 1 GB drive for Rs 1,000. Select the capacity based on requirement, but there's no point opting for less than 256 MB (Rs 600).

The interface of choice is USB 2.0. Don't even think about buying an older USB 1.1 drive-your dealer may have old stock left-it'll take ages to transfer large files. USB 2.0 has a transfer rate of 480 Mbps-compare that with USB 1.1 (a.k.a. USB Original) at just 12 Mbps!

Flash Drives As Memory Card Readers
In addition to the inbuilt memory, there are Flash drives that also act as memory card readers. You can plug in a supported card and just go ahead and access them. Supported memory cards differ depending on the model and manufacturer. This really neat feature comes in handy if, say, you want to transfer photos from your camera stored on an SD card to a PC, or if you want to transfer MP3s on a miniSD card to your cell phone and you don't have the necessary cables to connect your phone to a PC. This feature, essentially, saves you from needing to buy a memory card reader. Of course, if you have a laptop with a memory card reader, there's no point in getting such a drive.

Future Trends
Larger-capacity Flash drives have become quite affordable now, and Flash is getting cheaper by the month, like we said. Windows Vista's capability to use Flash drives as cache in the form of the ReadyBoost feature will speed up your computing experience.
Essentially, you can plug in a Flash drive and have it show up as physical memory on your system. You can also unplug the drive without any fear of losing data or affecting an operation. We're really looking forward to this combination of portability and increased performance.

Flash drives are changing their form factor as well. From the thumb-sized Flash drives to wearable drives that can be wrapped around your wrist, they have become trendier.

What To Look For

Many drives offer integrated software that requires a user to enter a password in order to access the data-a very useful feature indeed for the paranoid. And for those who tend to forget their passwords (or are so paranoid they think someone might crack them), there are Flash drives with biometric security. They have biometric sensors attached to the drive. You'll be able to access your data only after swiping your finger!

Software features
You now get Flash drives that support the U3 standard. This allows you to carry your software and preferences around on the drive, eliminating the need to install the software on any machine you use. You can also use your software on a public computer where you don't have the rights to install software. You need not configure your software settings every time you change a machine-your preferences are saved on the drive and loaded when you plug it in. There is a wide range of applications available for U3 drives, spanning across almost all software categories. Manufacturers also bundle some commonly used software with U3 drives. You can download more U3 software, both paid and free.

Build quality
Flash drives are usually used to carry important data, so the build quality of the drive is important. While most drives come in regular plastic casings, some of the expensive ones come with a rubber casing so they're more rugged. Try and opt for a drive with a sturdy-preferably rubber-casing.

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