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  November 15, 2013

USB Flash Drives Explained

KAY 8 GB USB Flash DriveUSB flash drives have become one of the most popular items used as giveaways or incentives in the past few years. But, even now, may people don’t know how these amazing devices used for storage and transferring digital data, actually work. Like any other computer related devices, the USB flash drives are produced from different components, but mainly three of them are important and make the difference in quality between them. The first one is the male type A USB connector, which provides an interface to the host computer, then is the USB mass storage controller, that contains a tiny microcontroller with a small capacity ROM and RAM, and the third one is the NAND flash memory.This chip is the one that actually stores digital data.

USB flash drive printed circuit board

USB Flash Drive circuit boardAlso, the USB memory drive has a small printed circuit board, included in a case and for computer connection, an integral connector is used. The flash drive can be connected to computer system either by a direct connection or via a USB hub. Usually, the memory drives require no other power source than the one provided by the computer, so when plugged in it becomes active, the operating system recognises the device as removable drive and you will be able to access any data stored on it or upload any files you require. The modern USB flash drives are very similar to the regular hard drives, but the only difference is that the USB controller has control where the information is actually stored.

Even thou their name suggest movement, nothing drives the USB flash drives beside your computer. The ‘drive’ term is used because the read and write operations are done in the same way as the mechanical counterparts do it, they have the same system commands.

To summarise, the USB sticks require no external power sources, other than your computer and most important, they have no mechanical parts, which makes them more reliable and robust when compared to other old devices like the floppy disks or ZIP drives and the CDs or DVDs.

The USB connector

This the most exposed to damage part of the device, is usually protected by a cap that can be removed when needed, or, depending on the style of the USB stick, it can slide out the protecting case. Through the USB connector you are allowed to connect to your computer, using the common USB ports, but there are also flash drives that use other kind of interfaces, which we will maybe talk about at another time.

Don’t be surprised to know that most of the USB memory drives are produced in the Far East and most of their components, by brands like Micron, Intel, Samsung, Hynix and many other OEM manufacturers. When assembled and branded, they offer us the amazing marketing and advertising tool every company needs.

Flash memory chip

USB flash drove memory chipThe most expensive and quality revealing component is the flash memory chip. When you decide it’s time for purchasing branded USB sticks, always make sure your supplier provides the exact brand that manufactured this component. Recycled or low grade flash memory chips provide very low quality and reliability, with up to 40% operation failures, so in the end, even thou their price is much lower, it will cost you more in the long run. No business wants to offer their customers low quality gifts, because that will be the way the brand will be seen, as a low quality one.


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