USB Flash Drives
Buying a USB flash drive
USB flash drives (also known as USB flash memory drives, jump drives and memory sticks) are one of the most popular ways to store and transport data. They're a business essential because they're affordable, compact and can be easily found in any office supply or electronics store. (You might even find discount USB flash drives in the checkout line at the grocery store.)
When it comes to choosing a USB flash drive for your work needs, there are two things you'll want to consider – size (meaning storage capacity) and quality.
USB Flash Drive Sizes
USB flash drives have come a long way in terms of storage capacity. At one time, they could store only a small amount like 256 megabytes (MB), but now their storage capacity can run as high as 256 gigabytes (GB) – though flash drives with that much storage are less common.
Nearly any flash drive with 1 GB or more of available storage will likely be more than you'll ever need for storing or transferring simple documents – between your laptop and desktop computers, for example – but if your work also involves photos or photographic records, you'll need to remember that they can take up more space. The most common sizes for USB flash drives, and their capacities in photos, are as follows:
- 1 GB USB flash drives – approximately 500 pictures
- 2 GB USB flash drives – approximately 1,000 pictures
- 4 GB USB flash drives – approximately 2,000 pictures
- 8 GB USB flash drives – approximately 4,000 pictures
Keep in mind that this breakdown can only be a rough estimate. Factors like the size and quality of images will influence the exact number of photos that can be stored. If you intend to store more pictures or documents than you think a flash drive can hold, external hard drives may be a better choice.
Buying USB Flash Drives
Follow these tips when you purchase a USB flash drive:
- Look at the casing. Many USB drives have caps that can be easily lost or damaged, leaving the connector exposed. It's best to choose a flash drive with a retractable connector or attached lid.
- Make a worthwhile investment. While there are cheap USB flash drives everywhere, if you're storing important data, it's best to go with the reliability of a brand name.
- Think big. While 1 GB may seem like more capacity than you will ever use, keep in mind that you may want to use your flash drive to hold years' worth of data all in one place. In this case, it's best to buy bigger.