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USB Memory

USB Memory Buying Guide
For some of us it feels like just yesterday we were pulling o...
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USB Memory Buying Guide

For some of us it feels like just yesterday we were pulling out a floppy disc to backup that work document to work on at home. Of course the advent of rewritable CDs and DVD's made floppies extinct very quickly - as did external hard drives gaining popularity. The invention of the flash memory chip would revolutionize the way we see portable storage and usher in a whole new breed of digital cameras that no longer used a floppy but some form of flash memory card for exponentially more storage. At first, the capacities of USB memory sticks were small; 128mb or less - still 128 floppies though! Today, with a little shopping around, it isn't hard to find USB memory sticks exceeding 32Gb in capacity - likely four times larger than your hard drive in that old computer you used to regularly use floppies in! Although they are simple in operation, small in size and inexpensive to buy, there are an increasing number of features finding their way onto our USB memory sticks!

Build - Most USB memory sticks will be either plastic, aluminum or titanium. You usually pay slightly more for the ladder two not only because of material cost but because most aluminum/titanium sticks are also marketed as "rugged" sticks - often with some weather proof abilities too. The implementation of the USB plug itself will vary from being just a straight stick to more compact designs that will swivel or retract to make the stick as small as possible. Of course the colours, shapes and designs of USB memory sticks are endless - literally.

Capacities and Speeds - I won't touch much on storage capacity because this number seems to be doubling at an unprecedented rate. However, at the current time most USB memory sticks on the market range from about 1gb up to 32+gb. Most models won't provide any sort of transfer speed rating unless you are specifically looking at "high speed" or "dual channel" sticks. These are sticks with faster flash chips that are often setup in different configurations to allow for faster transfer rates; this is good if you're using it as virtual RAM or are moving really large files.

Security - For most people, loosing their USB stick full of confidential or important documents could be a huge loss or security risk. For that reason many manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and offering security features on their sticks. Some examples include; password protection, password + encryption protection, fingerprint biometric protection, keypad pin protection (like the locks on your car doors) and I've even seen some go as far as a fully encrypted stick that will destroy the data after so many failed password attempts. If you plan on ever putting data that is the least bit important to you on your USB memory stick then take into account what could happen if you loose it and it is picked up by someone with criminal intent. With the small size of memory sticks, there are uncountable amounts being lost, forgotten and misplaced on an hourly basis.

U3 - U3-enabled flash drives allow you to execute software off the memory stick that will not touch or install itself to the host computer. This allows you to take some of your favourite software, that is U3 enabled, with you on the go. This is great for things like web browsers, Skype, password encryption databases and much more!

It's hard to believe there are more options than meets the eye when it comes to those little USB memory sticks we take for granted! Hopefully by better realizing some of the build materials and security features you can find one that will best suit your line of work!

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