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  July 4, 2022

What is a Flash Drive and How Does It Work

Although flash drives are made in numerous formats, today’s most common type is the USB flash drive. They are highly convenient portable computer data storage devices, typically no larger than a thumb. Their ability to save large quantities of data locally makes them perfect for numerous applications – from local storage to backups.

Although USB drives are ubiquitous today, the underlying technologies are noticeably different from those found in typical computer hard drives. Understanding what a flash drive is and how it works may help protect and store important data so you always have it at your fingertips.


Why Are They Called Flash Drives?


Flash drives borrow their name from the computer memory technology they employ: flash memory.

In the past, flash drives were primarily available as proprietary memory cards, such as those used by cameras and older video game consoles.

Today, flash memory is found in commonly available standardized formats compatible with devices featuring the correct ports. These include USB thumb drives and USB-C memory sticks.

Other standard devices employing flash memory include the internal storage on most smartphones and tablets, solid-state drives (SSDs), GPS devices and embedded computers in medical and military equipment.


How Does Flash Memory Work?


Flash memory is a specific type of computer memory belonging to a category called non-volatile memory (NVM). Non-volatile memory exists in contrast to volatile memory (e.g., random access memory or RAM). Volatile memory loses all data it holds when you lose power, whereas non-volatile memory retains all data written to it even after removing power.

Types of Flash Memory


There are two types of flash memory: NOR flash and NAND flash, named after the types of logic gates, basic building blocks in electronic circuits they employ. Although the differences between the two are mainly technical, their advantages and drawbacks are:

– NOR flash memory typically has higher read speed and better data reading and editing precision (can read data down to the individual byte), making it better suited for code execution. NOR flash memory is more expensive to produce and is consequently rarer. Common applications include systems-on-a-chip (SoC).
– NAND flash memory is the most common. It is less expensive to produce, has a lower read speed and has less precise data reading precision (reads in blocks rather than individual bytes). However, its relatively low cost makes it ideal for long-term data storage, such as bulk flash drives.


Get Reliable Branded USB Flash Drives at USB Company

At USB Company, we aim to offer the most comprehensive selection
of customizable and branded USB flash drives for your company needs.
Browse our extensive selection of custom USB drive models and
choose personalized colors and branding features.
Our products are available in USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, ranging from 64 MB to 128 GB.