USB Flash Drives versus DVDs

By: James Walsh

Though every body of data is unique in itself and requires situation-specific storage and archival solutions, yet, a high storage capacity, portability and speed are the three most sought-after qualities in the current cyber market. The two storage media that tend to impressively meet the three aforementioned criteria are DVDs and USB Flash Drives. Both are equipped with the never-before abilities and features and, to a great extent, tend to compete with each other for supremacy.

What is a USB Flash Drive?

A USB drive, that is also known as key chain drive or a flash drive, is a plug-and-play storage device that is very portable. It is extremely small in size. One is not required to install any special software or component in one’s computer so as to use a USB flash drive. A USB flash drive can be used in almost most of the existing computers. When a USB flash drive is plugged in the USB port of a computer, it immediately detects the flash drive as a removable media and allocates it a drive letter. A USB flash drive may have a storage capacity varying from 32 megabytes to 64 gigabytes.

USB flash drive is the outcome of a combination of many old technologies. The recent advances in the microprocessor technology have made it possible. A USB flash drive comprises of four main parts i.e. a USB connector which enables the flash drive to interface with the host computer, a USB mass storage controller that contains a small microprocessor, a NAND flash memory chip that stores the data and a crystal oscillator. Besides these four basic components, a USB flash drive may contain many other parts also.

What is a DVD?

A DVD is an optical storage device that basically uses the same data storage technology as used in case of a CD. In a DVD, data is stored on a spiral track that starts from the centre of the disk and runs towards the outer edges. The data is stored in the form of pits and tracks on this spiral track, which are very small as compared to those on a CD. Hence a DVD allows for high density data storage and also has a provision for multi-layer data storage. The storage capacity of a DVD may vary from 4.38 GB to 15.9 GB. A computer has to be fitted with an optical disk drive so as to enable it to read and write DVDs.

DVDs versus USB Flash Drives

A USB flash drive certainly has obvious advantages over DVD. There is no doubt that DVDs will eventually replace CDs as high capacity storage and backup media. However, when it comes to comparing DVDs with USB flash drives, the user’s choice will certainly be affected to a great extent by the nature of the data to be saved and length of time and purpose for which it is to be saved.

In monetary terms, DVDs certainly offer a lower cost per MB of data. Considering this price advantage, it can safely be concluded that USB flash drives and DVDs will continue to coexist for many years to come. However, in a futuristic context, DVDs will no doubt be superseded by USB flash drives, especially when the prices of USB flash drives are expected to come down in the future.

Advantages of Using Flash Drives over DVDs

Flash drives offer certain advantages over DVDs, which are:

1) Speed

It takes more than double the time to burn some data on a DVD than to save it on a flash drive. Thus, USB flash drives are fast and efficient as compared to DVDs.

2) Flexibility

When any data is saved on a DVD, it becomes permanent. On the contrary, a USB flash drive offers the flexibility of adding and deleting the files from it again and again. Hence DVDs are more suitable for permanent archiving and long-term storage.

3) Easy to Operate

It is more complicated to operate DVDs as compared to USB flash drives.

4) Ruggedness

Flash drives are hardier as compared to DVDs and are less susceptible to damage due to mishandling.

5) Plug-and-play

Flash drives are easy to use plug-and-play devices. They do not require the installation of any special software or components such as DVD drives.

6) High Capacity

Flash drives have a much higher storage capacity as compared to DVDs.

All these advantages certainly give flash drives an edge over DVDs and make them the storage media of the future.

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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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