USB Flash Drives as Storage Devices

By: James Walsh

USB flash drives are small, portable flash memory card that can be plugged into a computer’s USB ports to function as a portable hard drive. They are very small in size, easy to use and with an impressive memory. They have fast transfer rates, a solid state memory and do not need an external power source.

They are also quite affordable. This makes them the perfect removable storage device available. They, however, have their good and bad points. Their advantages include:

Portability: They are small in size, light weight and easy to carry around.

Capacity: The storage capacity available in USB drives range from a convenient 1 GB to an impressive 8 GB. USB drives provide high data storage density (size capacity ratio) and have huge memories adding to their convenience of small size.

Security: Their small size makes them easy to hide and makes them a secure method of carrying important data. Also, their solid state memory and tough plastic casing make them sturdier and lends more security to the stored information.

Simple Usage: The USB drive is easy to use and only needs to be plugged in a USB port to start working. Unlike the slow speed of parallel or serial ports, a USB interface allows for a fast data transfer.

Universal Availability: All latest operating systems today come with a built-in support for USB drives. There is no need to upload any software to start using a USB drive. Hence, it can be used anywhere in the world.

Rewritable: In the USB devices the data can be written or erased a number of times without any need of burner software.

There are some risks associated with them too. Their small size, easy to use feature and huge capacities pose a threat in the hands of wrong doers:

Viruses: earlier floppy disks or emails were the main sources of viruses for which network administrators installed anti virus programmes, firewalls in the network. USB flash drive can bypass these safeguards as they are directly connected to the computer and can easily introduce any infected document in the system. They can also copy a document, update it in an infected PC and reinstall it in the original network.

Introduction of Malicious Software: Users could bring in unauthorized software including shareware programs, software pranks, MP3 files, pornography and other inappropriate files that affect productivity and violate corporate policies. Even worse is the threat of spyware or keystroke loggers that enables users (or worse hackers) to capture passwords or other sensitive information.

Data Theft: Its portability and easy access allows any spy, disgruntled employee or a hacker quick access to confidential information. It is easy to conceal and so easy to use (no technical expertise required) that fast transfer rate ensures an increased risk of data theft going undetected.

Data Loss: The portability of USB flash drives opens another door; that of data loss. They are so small that they can be easily misplaced or lost. Its huge storage capacity ensures that a huge amount of data gets lost in case of losing a flash drive. They can easily be stolen or replaced after copying the data too. Its advantage of portability, easy use and huge capacity prove to be a bane too in wrong hands and with wrong intentions.

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James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you are concerned about data loss and would like more information on Data Recovery see

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