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USB Flash Drives - what types, how to choose

A USB flash drive is the smallest and most affordable storage device, compatible with almost all computers and laptops. There are hundreds of different options in stores - how not to get lost? In order not to get confused, clearly define what you need a flash drive for. And we will tell you about the most important selection criteria in this guide.

USB standard

One of the key parameters for any USB device, including a USB flash drive, is the interface standard. It is he who determines the maximum possible speed of reading and writing data. You can find products of the following types: USB
However, the latest standardization of the USB-IF organization from 2019 introduced some confusion. USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 are now officially on the market, as well as USB 3.2. In fact, all of these are third-generation sub-standards, but with certain restrictions: USB 3.1 Gen 1 = USB 3.2 Gen 1 = USB 3.0 (up to 5Gbits/s); USB 3.1 Gen 2 = USB 3.2 Gen 2 = Dual USB 3.0 (up to 10 Gbits/s). Don't confuse Mbits/s and Mbytes/s. The first usually indicates the theoretical transfer limit of the interface. The actual transfer rate is most often measured in MB(ytes)/s and depends on the specific device
Double USB 3.0, although it offers a higher speed, is mainly used on motherboards to connect SATA drives or in external boxes with a real speed of up to 900 MB / s, it is not found in ordinary flash drives.
Whichever USB standard you purchase, you need to understand that the maximum available read and write speeds will also depend on the port into which the flash drive is inserted. If we add 3.0 to 2.0, then the indicators will be slightly higher, but not at the same level as when connecting the device with the native 3.0 connector.

Memory volume

Most of us, when choosing a USB flash drive, pay attention only to this parameter. First, greed works - you want to take the device with the largest memory capacity. Today there are flash drives from 4 GB to 2 TB. The latter are still very rare due to their price and the lack of the need for such a volume. You can conditionally divide all flash drives into several groups:The most important thing here is to understand that a large volume is not always justified and is not at all synonymous with quality and performance.

Maximum throughput

It is the maximum reading speed with which the device reads information that allows you to freely watch movies directly from a USB flash drive or quickly transfer information to a computer. The available value of this indicator can vary from 5 to 400 MB/s and above.
If the reading speed is too low, then you will not be able to use the flash drive as a removable disk - it is recommended to first transfer information to the hard disk of a stationary device, and then work from it. At low speeds, movies jerk off, accounting and graphics programs slow down so that work becomes hell.
The maximum write speed will allow you not to waste a lot of time when copying files to a USB flash drive. For example, you need to write an image to a drive - the higher the write speed, the faster this process will take place. In practice, the write speed ranges from 2.5 to 120 MB/s.
On the boxes of serious brands, you can find both indicators. You should not trust unverified manufacturers, since it is not known what you will run into when buying. Especially beware of large flash drives with the indicated solid read and write speeds, but with a low cost - most likely, the declared parameters will not correspond to reality.

Design features

If it seems that there is nothing difficult in choosing a case, then you are only partly right. The USB stick's workspace - which plugs directly into a PC or laptop - is highly vulnerable to damage. Therefore, you need to choose a case based on your lifestyle and the likelihood of damage. There are several basic types of enclosures:The body material is different: plastic, rubber, metal. Plastic models are lightweight, cheap and durable, available in a variety of colors. The main disadvantage is that they are vulnerable to strong blows. Rubber has an anti-slip effect, but over time, the material becomes covered with small scratches and abrasions. Metal is the most reliable, but such flash drives are more expensive.
A flash drive often has an indicator light that indicates that the device is connected correctly and is working, as well as a hole for attaching to a key fob or bracelet.

Additional features

OTG support

Is a universal device that can be connected to both a computer and a smartphone, which is very convenient. That is, it has two connectors on both sides. Otherwise, its indicators are selected in the same way as for a regular flash drive.

Hardware encryption function

The drive contains a special chip that encodes data. To access them, you will have to enter a special PIN. This is one of the most reliable ways to protect your data. Even if you lose the flash drive, an outsider will not be able to view its contents, because without entering a password, it will be encrypted.

Fingerprint protection

One of the latest trends that has been picked up from the smartphone market. On sale, you can already find models that have a built-in fingerprint scanner. In this case, encryption is not performed, and the section is simply hidden until the correct fingerprint is activated.

Moisture protection

Some drive models can withstand not only water ingress, but also full immersion. For example, Samsung for some of its models of flash drives promises up to 72 hours in seawater without damage.

Fans of watching high quality movies from a flash drive or listening to music should pay attention to devices with a volume of at least 64 GB and a data transfer rate of at least 400 Mbps.

If you need a flash drive to store text files or photos, but you want to keep them for a long time, then you should not chase after a large amount of memory - such files do not take up much space. Choose a waterproof function and be sure to have a case with a rubber cap.