Types of USB Flash Memory

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

Published: May 11th, 2020

What makes the USB flash drive such an important milestone in the history of computer storage? One of the great advantages of doing work on computers and other electronic devices is that you get to save your work in the form of digital files. Quickly fading are the days of offices having entire rooms devoted to storing file cabinets (although some paper purists persist).

As computers became commonplace equipment in the home and office in the 1980s, inventors kept working to develop new digital storage formats that would allow files to be saved as backups and transferred from one computer to another. CD-ROMs, floppy discs ... there was no shortage of ingenuity (or of flat items that people could throw across rooms like Frisbees once the items had gone bad).

The USB flash drive, also popularly called the jump drive, thumb drive, or memory stick, is a kind of external storage device that's remained in use since its public debut back in 2000. What is it that separates the flash drive from other storage media, and why do consumers keep using it?

Advantages of Flash Drives

The flash drive, introduced to the world in 1999, has been popular ever since and has undeniable staying power. In fact, considering that a two gigabyte flash drive went for about $400 in 2004, but goes for considerably less now, we'd argue that flash drives are used even more often today. So what does this tiny, mighty computer accessory have to offer?

Flash memory doesn't need power to retain data. The USB flash drive gets its name from flash memory, which is an electronic signal that flashes to the internal circuitry in the device as a "remember this" command. The information the command carries gets stored in internal data cells, even after the computer is turned off.

Different types of memory, such as the RAM in your computer, actually do need power to store data; once the power goes away, so does the info. The flash drive's ability to retain information without being attached to a power source is what makes it a portable form of data storage.

Flash drives are portable. Of course, the hard drives inside of your computers and devices also use types of memory that store info long after the power is shut off. Otherwise, you'd never get to save your work, and where would modern society be as a result? There are also external hard drives that offer plenty of digital storage space.

However, for sheer portability, the flash drive is hard to beat. While it may offer less storage capacity than a full external hard drive, the typical flash drive measures one to four inches long, fits in a pocket or on a keychain, and still has enough storage space for thousands upon thousands of documents and presentation files.

Flash drives are compatible across devices. Many laptops don't have CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray drives installed on them, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a computer that can read floppy disks these days. USB ports, by contrast, allow your machines to interact with flash drives via the Universal Serial Bus interface, which has been standard on computers and laptops made since 1998. This means the documents you save to your flash drive with one computer can be opened when you plug your flash drives into another.

Flash drives are durable. CDs can be scratched outside of their cases or sleeves, and even Blu-ray discs can crack if someone steps on them. USB flash drives, on the other hand, can withstand the abuse if they are thrown across the room or accidentally dropped. Even if your flash drive is left abandoned in a snowy field, or collecting dust in a lost and found bin, it's likely it will still work, and you'll still have access to your important documents. Pretty incredible, huh?

Flash drives have their circuitry encased in plastic, metal, or rubbery materials and often have connectors that are retractable or covered with a cap. For people like me, this is a good thing.

Flash drives are extremely customizable. You can customize your flash drives beyond just printing a logo on its case. In fact, we here at Quality Logo Products offer customizable flash drives in a variety of shapes and sizes!

Flash drives inspire customers to commit your brand to memory!

The Storage of the Past and the Future

As you've probably noticed, technology gets improved and updated all the time. We've come a long way from the Williams-Kilburn Tube, a storage device from the 1940s that used a cathode ray tube (similar to what you'd find in Grandma's old TV) to store information. This is widely considered to be the first electronic memory device!

Even after the USB flash drive was released to the masses, engineers and scientists continued to develop new forms of digital storage. Blu-ray discs and micro SD cards both were developed and released in the 2000s, and cloud storage continues to grow as a legitimate option for saving files at work and at home. Even USB technology has seen some updates, with USB 2.0 being released to developers everywhere in 2000 and USB 3.0 being released in 2008.

For portability, durability, convenience, and personalization, the humble USB flash drive continues to reign in the minds of many. Offering one as a promotional giveaway is a great way to inspire customers to commit your brand name to memory!