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Data Storage Technology

USB Flash Drive Round-up 348

Posted by Zonk
from the yeee-haw dept.
Adam writes "Ars has published a massive USB 2.0 Hi-speed Flash drive roundup, with 10 USB 2.0 flash drives that they've tested on three OSes. They rate the drives by performance, durability, and features/accessories (including the crappy software that no one uses). Definitely a good read for anyone who has recently sat on their USB thumbdrive!"
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USB Flash Drive Round-up

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  • iPod shuffle ... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Draoi (99421) * <draiocht@ m a c . c om> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:28PM (#12323489)
    ... is conspicuously missing. Why? It's an excellent and reasonably fast 512MB/1GB storage device which also happens to double as an mp3 player.

    Just wondering ...

  • bootable (Score:5, Informative)

    by qewl (671495) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:29PM (#12323494)
    Still, the most important feature is that it's bootable. (And some still aren't) I love having Feather Linux on a keychain. The Cruzer Mini has done me well.
  • by selderrr (523988) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:32PM (#12323526) Journal
    i bought one, and I'm not really happy with it : if you attach the drive at your keychain, you can NOT insert the drive in a USB port without the keys : the litlle cord is FIXED on the drive ! This is very annoying, since I have quite a bunch of keys (10+.. hey, there's a poll suggestion) and the whole mess tends to get tangled between the KVM cables.

    if you buy a drive : make sure you can unplug it from whatever it is attached to. But make sure that the drive itself doesn't unplug too easily : I lost my previous drive cause the click-'n-hold system wore off and it would unplug at the slightest pull
  • Re:iPod shuffle ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:43PM (#12323593) Homepage Journal
    They excluded all mp3 players [arstechnica.com] from the review.

    If they added mp3 players, the review would have grown from 12 devices to 30.

    However, if I had a choice between a 512MB Flash Drive for $60, and a 512MB Flash Drive/mp3 player for $99, I would definately consider the latter.
  • Re:Most people? (Score:4, Informative)

    by aslate (675607) <planetexpress@gmaLIONil.com minus cat> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:59PM (#12323709) Homepage
    We've been selling USB drives at school as part of a Young Enterprise company. We're taking orders from teachers that know nothing about computers, students in the lower years that don't know much, the school secretaries, my mum has one. These things are pretty much replacing the floppy as a means of easy, cheap and compatable removable storage.
  • by dukeblue219 (212029) <dukeblue219 AT aol DOT com> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:04PM (#12323750) Homepage
    If you look online you can find a decent 128mb USB drive for $13, and a good 256mb for just over $20.

    Also, are you serious about the floppy drive? Floppy drives are the slowest, most unreliable and generally worst form of storage I have ever used. In the late 90's there were numerous different replacements for the floppy, like Zips, Superdisks (something like that) etc. None of these caught on because nobody had a drive to read it. Now we have a system where 99.5% of all users can read your files from a USB key at far faster speeds than a floppy could offer, but you want to go back to an 11.52mb floppy drive?

    Some USB drives are flimsy, yes, but I remember putting floppy disks in my backpack, and almost every time the damn metal thingy would bend or get yanked off. I feel far more confident about tossing a solid state USB key into a backpack, pocket, cupholder, etc.
  • Re:iPod shuffle ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by calibanDNS (32250) <`brad_staton' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:33PM (#12323919)
    1GB iPod Shuffle: $149
    The prices of the reviewed drives (according to the comparison matrix at the end of the article) are $77, $120, $116, $138, $86, $127, $108, $80, and $80 for each of the 1GB models. Not only is EVERY drive reviewed cheaper than a 1GB iPod Shuffle, but 4 of the 1GB drives are cheaper than the 512MB iPod Shuffle. Don't get me wrong, I love my iPod Shuffle, but it is NOT cheaper than these drives.
  • by Mattintosh (758112) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:51PM (#12324025)
    And while you're futzing around picking out how to limit what they can get to, they dump the memory of the thing and start parsing.

    Remember, USB only works where there's a host controller. That host has to be trusted. If it's not, your data is screwed.

    A Firewire (IEEE-1394) keychain drive would be much more secure for what you're describing, since the keychain drive would be in a point-to-point communication mode with that untrusted store machine. It wouldn't rely on an untrusted host that might force it to do what you didn't ask it to do. I'm surprised nobody's made a Firewire keychain drive already. It would be a faster and more secure (though a bit less universal) alternative to USB-based drives.
  • Re:Whitelist (Score:4, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @02:02PM (#12324092) Homepage Journal

    The game in question is In The Groove [roxorgames.com]. The USB device whitelist is here [groovegame.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 23, 2005 @02:03PM (#12324099)
    Something like this [pcuniverse.com]?
  • Re:faulty reasoning (Score:4, Informative)

    by Deffexor (230167) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @03:03PM (#12324414)
    Seeing as I was the one who wrote the review, I seriously considered including the Shuffle, but then I realized that if I included it, I would have gotten a ton of people accusing me of playing favorites to Apple and asking where all the other Flash-based MP3 players were at the same time. Including all the flash-based players along with the Shuffle would have made this article obscenely long and unmanageable.

    Needless to say, I have an iPod shuffle in hand along with a bunch of other flash-based digital audio players. I should have a review coming soon featuring as many of these flash-based players as I can get my hands on (some of which can act as a flash drive, too.)

    Hope this makes sense.
  • Re:Most people? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @03:07PM (#12324435) Homepage
    You're referring to the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identifier) number. This is sent to the carrier network along with every "hello", and is unique to the device (Although it is possible to reflash new IMEI numbers to some phones). In theory any phone can be pulled from all networks across the world once it is reported stolen, which is why phone companies tell you to keep the box and write down the IMEI number.

    For the curious, dialling *#06# on most phones will show you the IMEI of the handset.
  • Re:Most people? (Score:4, Informative)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @03:13PM (#12324471)
    These things are pretty much replacing the floppy as a means of easy, cheap and compatable removable storage.

    Great, but that doesn't have any bearing on the statement that "most" people have them. How many people carried around floppies? If everyone with a floppy or CD on them right now was counted with all the people with flash drives, it still wouldn't be half the US.

    Now, if someone were to say that half of all people with USB-capable computers had external USB storage, then that would be believable, even if it wasn't true yet. But half of all people? That just absurd.
  • by Hydrogenoid (410979) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @03:30PM (#12324567)
    I use my drive mostly to carry around anti spyware and antivirus software, so it tends to get a lot on quite unsafe machines, and even if the times when malware was mostly reproducing itself onto executables is past, you can't be too safe.
    So my usb keyring is write protected most of the time.
  • Re:BIOS upgrades? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @03:59PM (#12324733) Homepage
    Yes, most newer PCs should have a BIOS option to either boot from USB or "Other Device". Once set, then you just need to change the boot priority order. Make sure that "USB" or "Other Device" is set to boot BEFORE the hard drive.

    If you do not have this option, you might want look into updating your BIOS by getting the latest firmware from Dell. If your PC is customer built, head over to the Motherboard manufacture.
  • Re:What's with OS X? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 23, 2005 @07:53PM (#12326007)
    The reason that the OS X performance is less than the others is the fact that the Mac has to read the foregin file format. The same problem shows up in PC-formatted floppies and hard drives. If you want the best perfromance for a flash drive you need to format it in Mac's HFS file system. I have done so and it screams. As a side note, try a Lexar FireWire compact flash reader and a 1 GB camera card if you want speed and capacity.
  • by panoplos (584853) <panoplos@NOsPAm.netscape.net> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @11:33PM (#12326942)

    Having worked with USB Mass Storage Class (MSC) devices, I will have to call you on your bullshit.

    MSC devices utilise a SCSI pass-through protocol, which encapsulates SCSI packets in USB bulk commands. In order to access the flash, the device has to report the storage unit as a LUN, and respond to standard SCSI capacity inquiries.

    Now, the firmware on the uController is at complete liberty to report whatever information it deems necessary to the requesting host. The host cannot arbitrarily "dump the memory" contents of the flash chip, as it is limited the number of sectors that the F/W reports. Attempts to access beyond the reported sector boundary will result in errors.

    Additionally, in many of the top-end removable media devices, the F/W possesses the capability of representing the separate sections of the flash storage on the device as multiple LUNs, each with their own capacity (read: multiple partitions).

    Add this functionality to a secure authentication system (password, fingerprint, etc.), and voila! The user has complete control over what can be accessed on the device by disabling, and effectively hiding, the partition on which they have data that they do not want to expose to the host.

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