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Data Storage Hardware

Flash Drive Roundup 311

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the how-can-they-be-smaller-and-bigger dept.
Braedley writes "When [Ars] last took an in-depth look at USB flash drives in 2005, the landscape was a bit different. A 2GB drive ran nearly $200, and speeds were quite a bit slower then. At the time, we noted that while the then-current crop of drives was pretty fast, they still were not close to saturating the bandwidth of USB2. To top it off, a good drive was still going to set you back $50 or $70--not exactly a cheap proposition. Since our first roundup, this picture has changed considerably, and it leads to a question: has the flash drive become an undifferentiated commodity, just like any other cheap plastic tsotschke that you might find at an office supply store checkout counter?"
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Flash Drive Roundup

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  • NO!!!! (Score:2, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816)

    has the flash drive become an undifferentiated commodity, just like any other cheap plastic tsotschke that you might find at an office supply store checkout counter?"

    The OCZ AVB 16GB that I have PROVES that they are NOT an undifferentiated commodity: it shat itself when I simply plugged it into my car stereo, which DOES NOT WRITE TO THE STICK. Then I got an RMA'd replacement, which worked once, then I plugged it into my Lady's laptop (a centrino duo dell) and it shat itself again.

    Do yourself a favor, skip large OCZ flashes, they are garbage. Also, OCZ tech support is fucking agony. Probably best to avoid OCZ entirely.

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      I, on the other hand, have zero complaints about my several OCZ "Rally2" USB drives.

      They also have ca. 10x the write performance and ca. 2x the read performance of the no-name one I picked up in a supermarket for the same price, as well, so I'd also have to agree that USB drives are not yet an "undifferentiated commodity".

    • Abuse of moderation (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Here is the forum thread where I am trying to get support [ocztechnologyforum.com]

      And this is the private message to which he refers:

      Hey,

      At this point the only thing we can really do is RMA the drive again. If you'd like we can replace it with one of our other flash drives. Let me know what you'd like to do

      The simple truth is that OCZ sold me a piece of junk and now wants to replace it with another piece of junk. I've been looking for other options but it looks like I'm just going to have to take another flash drive and hope it wo

      • by coryboehne (244614) * on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:24AM (#27950105)

        All you want is waterproof?

        USB drives are super cool like that. (No moving parts!)

        All you need is a little 2-part epoxy.

        Take apart your flash drive (any!) and simply coat the green / black components with as much epoxy as you can stuff into it's exterior shell..

        Now, the cap, buy a thin o-ring from your local hardware store, using a knife or dremel, cut a very narrow groove around the inside of your cap. Carefully use epoxy (sparingly here!) to secure the o-ring..

        This might not be 100% water proof, but I'm pretty sure it would be very water resistant.

        -Cheers,
        Cory!

        • by at_slashdot (674436) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:52AM (#27950417)

          I don't know if all this is necessary, I washed and dried my flash drives couple of times and they still work fine.

          • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @09:18AM (#27950679) Homepage

            And I thought I was the only one that did that. So far, I've left my SanDisk Cruzer (4GB) Ti-Plus in my pocket eight times when washing. About half that time they remain through the drying cycle.

            Since then, I've backed up my data and reformatted the drive prior to copying the data back to it. No problems so far. Quite amazing given that soap breaks the surface tension of water, so I'm guessing the chip is 100% water tight.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by FatdogHaiku (978357)
              I used to love SanDisk (paid over $100 for my first 2gig stick), but the last one I bought, a Micro Cruzer 8Gb does not perform up to specs. I bought it to use the (heavily advertised) ReadyBoost feature on my friends Vista machine... Vista says no way (yes, I tried reformatting, both NTFS and FAT32)... and yes, I have seen flash drives pass the hardware test on that box. I have gotten zero reply from tech support. If you go to the forums you can see it's a common problem with the units, yet they continue t
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Flash drives as manufactured are nearly indestructible.

              I was performing a cold-soak test (testing performance at extremely low temperatures prior to sending to space) on a 2GB Kingston flash drive cut out of its case, and actually noticed a slight improvement of performance from around -10 through -50 degrees C, at which point the test was considered successful. There was no sort of data corruption noticed at these temperatures.

              Because this didn't do much of anything to the flash drive, I re-tested it but c

          • by c0p0n (770852)

            They might but they will corrode eventually.

        • by just fiddling around (636818) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @09:07AM (#27950577) Journal

          As an amateur diver, I do NOT recommend gluing your O-ring. These things lose their suppleness and crack, rendering them ineffective.

          Make sure the groove is very smooth to prevent nicking the ring, insert the o-ring in it and lube the ring once in a while (once a year should be more than enough) with silicone grease.

          As for Epoxy: it should do the job in a pinch, but I would recommend looking at some silicone gelly like Olympus uses for it's Tough cameras. More flexibility = less cracking = less possibility of water seeping to the board. Most USB keys get flexed often in pockets, etc.

          Hey, I know it's overkill for a 10$ trinket, but if you gotta do it, you gotta do it in style.

        • No tools required (Score:3, Interesting)

          by RayMarron (657336)

          ;) This ain't rocket science. You want to waterproof something little, just put it in a condom and tie the end in a knot. Whether this is cost-effective or not depends on the price difference between your current USB drive and the fancy waterproof one, and the price of condoms over the expected use period (or how good you are at untying those knots).

    • Re:NO!!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by compro01 (777531) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @10:12AM (#27951385)

      it shat itself when I simply plugged it into my car stereo, which DOES NOT WRITE TO THE STICK

      Before you blame the drive for that, take a voltmeter to that port. The port on my friend's car stereo kept killing drives, and I discovered that the port was putting out over 8 volts. Either the manufacturer can't figure out a $0.10 5V regulator or there's a bad ground or something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Wraithlyn (133796)

      I have an 8GB OCZ Rally 2, the write speed is absolute garbage, especially for small files.

      I have a 4GB Lexar Jumpdrive Lightning now, it is the fastest USB stick I've ever owned, gets about 24MB/sec sustained write.

      The problem seems to be that once you go above 4GB, manufacturers are forced to use MLC instead of SLC. MLC is much more compact, but also much slower (at least for writes).

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @07:49AM (#27949831) Homepage Journal

    that will relegate them to such a commodity status.

    They are close to the perfect method for distribution of free computer programs/art/etc. Who needs AOL discs anymore! We can have a generation of usb key users. Of course I get lots of them from vendors in all shapes and forms, some are actually useful (led flash light, key holder, etc)

    • by tepples (727027)

      They are close to the perfect method for distribution of free computer programs/art/etc.

      Really? I thought Internet distribution was more convenient 1. if your work is smaller than 5 MB, or 2. if your work is smaller than 20 MB and you don't anticipate users in areas with no cable or DSL. Otherwise, CD-R is still cheaper, at least in the USA where royalties to the record labels are only 2 percent of wholesale [copyright.gov].

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        royalties to the record labels are [...] 2 percent

        You're still buying "Audio" CD-Rs? Sucker.

        • by tepples (727027)

          royalties to the record labels are [...] 2 percent

          You're still buying "Audio" CD-Rs? Sucker.

          They're the same price where I shop, and they provide a convenient defense if I'm ever caught with MP3z: "No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based [...] on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a [digital audio recording] device or medium for making digital musical recordings" (17 USC 1008).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            IANAL but I really don't think whether you used an "audio" CD makes any difference whatsoever, since the two are functionally identical. The act says that the tax will be added and it says that you can make personal copies, it doesn't say "the consumer shall be required to put audio only on discs marked for the purpose". Besides, format-shifting to mp3 is legal, and downloading the mp3 without proper permission is a violation of copyright anyway.

    • by stomv (80392) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:20AM (#27950077) Homepage

      Frosted Mini Wheats -- collect nine (!) proof of purchases and get a Star Trek flash drive.

      No joke [kelloggs.com]. 1 GB, pre-loaded with Trek content, recommended for ages 8 and up.

      • by tb3 (313150) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:36AM (#27950223) Homepage

        Damn! I remember buying one of the very first flash drives, back in about 2000 or so. $50 for an IBM-branded 8 MB. 8 Megs, no typo.

        • by Starayo (989319)
          And I thought my AUD$120 for a 256MB one was bad.

          (I can now pick up a 4GB from my TAFE for like twenty bucks)
        • by Jhon (241832)

          Got you beat. I picked up a two 256k type-I sram cards (with battery backup) for my tiny palmtop back in the early 90's. I was in the lap of luxury when I found a 2 MB sram selling for $80. Picked up two and ran stacker on them.

          Ah... the days of portable dos computing...

          That said, I also had an 8 MB flash drive. Handy as hell for swapping files between PCs. And no "click of death" to worry about.

      • by Kugrian (886993)

        That's not 'in' a cereal box. That's 'buy 9 boxes and get a USB drive if you can be bothered to send off'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Why use a flash drive anymore when you can get an SD card reader and card for the same price?

  • I just ordered some equipment from Newegg and I got two flash drives for free. A 4GB one and an 8GB OCZ one. I'm probably gonna use one as a swap on my new i7 Core desktop.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by whisking (1181729)

      I'm probably gonna use one as a swap on my new i7 Core desktop.

      Didn't you notice from the review how incredibly slow flash drives are for small random writes? And that's what matters for swap, as pages in memory are 4KiB. Fastest of the tested drives was getting 0.1MB/s at that block size. Of course in practice swap writing will not be completely random, so maybe the actual performance is not that much worse than a normal harddrive...

      • 4 MiB pages (Score:4, Informative)

        by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:34AM (#27950195) Homepage Journal

        And that's what matters for swap, as pages in memory are 4KiB.

        Memory pages on i386 were 4 KiB. In modern x86 CPUs, they're often 4 MiB, which fits a lot better with the 128 KiB to 1 MiB erase blocks of high-capacity flash memory if your operating system supports 4 MiB page mode. But then I'd recommend adding RAM over swapping to flash because it takes a lot more writes for RAM to wear out. If you do go the flash swap route, such as if you're using a subnotebook PC with an SSD, tune your operating system's memory manager to swap less often. (For example, in Linux, set swappiness [kerneltrap.org] to 10 percent on machines with slower writes than reads.)

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Didn't you notice from the review how incredibly slow flash drives are for small random writes? And that's what matters for swap, as pages in memory are 4KiB.

        I would expect that small random *reads* are much more prevalent for swap, and that writes tend to go out in relatively large sequential transfers.

        Unless your system is thrashing. But if that is true, it doesn't really matter what your swap is on.

  • 1994 Floppy Disc (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnHegarty (453016) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @07:50AM (#27949845) Homepage

    Sounds like they have the same status as the floppy disc did 15 years ago.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mrbill1234 (715607)

      I still use floppy disks you insensitive clod!

      • by entgod (998805)
        Why?
        • by eam (192101) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:17AM (#27950051)

          Just the right size to keep the kitchen table from wobbling.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Daimanta (1140543)

          Windows XP installation drivers.

          Yes, you can slipstream them into the CD but so far that has proved to be too much of a hassle.(secretly awaits any tips on easy slipstreaming)

          • by drsmithy (35869)

            Yes, you can slipstream them into the CD but so far that has proved to be too much of a hassle.(secretly awaits any tips on easy slipstreaming)

            Er, nLite [nliteos.com] ?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by nanotech (34819)

            nLite is your friend. Slipstream drivers, service packs, hotfixes, plus configure/disable many of XP's annoying defaults

            http://www.nliteos.com/ [nliteos.com]

        • by jank1887 (815982)

          not banned at work. good for moving data filed from acquisition equipment to networked PC's now that USB mass storage is policy-banned. doesn't create a pile of used CD-Rs for small files (because I invariably forget to uncheck 'finalize CD' one time through or another) and isn't as awfully slow as CDRW.

  • by mc1138 (718275) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @07:54AM (#27949887) Homepage
    The phrase, "I'll just put it on my flash drive" is fairly ubiquitous these days and often people will be surprised or even shocked if you don't have one. With smaller ones like 1GB flash drives being given away at tech events this can hardly be surprising. With their large capacity, ease of use and ability to boot from USB they've definitely replaced floppy drives in the computing world. But it seems they're going a step further, as solid state drives continue to increase in both speed and size and continue to lower in cost it won't be long till they or a derivation there of replace standard harddrives. I see them eventually being able to vastly overtake even 15k scsi drives once the read write times are improved.
    • The phrase, "I'll just put it on my <b>shared</b> drive" is fairly ubiquitous these days".

      No one uses flash drives at work. We all have a mapped a shared drive that has global R/W with folders for every user in this division.

      Makes copying all those unencrypted SSN and Birth Date text files so much easier.
      • by jank1887 (815982)

        just make sure to keep it in the same folder as the 'mother's maiden name', 'birth city', and 'make and model of first car' files. Wouldn't want to have to hunt for those.

    • by IflyRC (956454)
      Not to mention, you can't make a tv show involving data transfer any more without writing into the script that the person transferring the data has a USB drive on their keychain. It used to be floppies...then it was full size CDs (see Ford Fairlane), then minidiscs...now USB flash drives.
    • The phrase, "I'll just put it on my flash drive" is fairly ubiquitous these days

      That phrase, was to be found nowhere on the web [google.com], until your own posting. Hardly ubiquitous.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 14, 2009 @07:55AM (#27949895)

    Yes, pretty much, except that I really would like for them to make *metalic* end clips for where you tie the little string or where you clip it onto your key chain that don't break! The vast majority of them have crappy plastic ends that always end up breaking.

    I should also mention that I like the unadvertized feature (bonus!) that many of these USB sticks can now survive washing machine cycles, if you just give them a few hours to dry when they come out of your wet pant pockets.

    I would also like to see manufacturers spend an extra 1/1000th of a pennny and simply write on the outside of the USB stick the read/write speeds of the internal memory; granted if it exceeds USB2 max theoretical read/write it's somewhat pointless, but hey.. USB3 is coming out right?

    Lastly people, after you buy one, don't forget to format them with truecrypt, before you dump any files on them. I don't want to see my medical records or SIN number find its way to the unattended StarBucks coffee table.

    Adeptus

    • by shic (309152)

      I was very unimpressed with every USB stick I used until I bought a Titanium one [google.co.uk]. Though I had to pay about 5 times that price to get mine, I'm extremely happy with it as hardware.

      I'm less impressed by the US software... and neither TruCrypt nor PortableApps are really make the mark as far as I'm concerned. 7zip archives with AES encryption works OK for transfer of data... but I'd really like to abandon the notion of a traditional file system... it simply fails to help me organise my data in a logical way

    • by codeButcher (223668) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @10:01AM (#27951229)
      What I miss most is that little switch to make it "read-only" for taking photos to the print shop or installing that much-needed antivirus on your brother's pc, which is not online, but gets lots of promiscuous flash activity from a horde of school kids. (And yes, I still trust that hardware switch more than the Antivirus Whatever that's installed on mine.) Not quite in the tsotschke category then, though....
  • TFA does not mention warranty -- it's a decisive factor for me when I buy anything. The computer industry has given generations of consumers deep scars for forgetting the axiom, "Caveat Emptor".

    Kingston offers a "limited 5 year warranty". The OCZ Rally 2 series has a lifetime warranty. I use these for NAS storage and they are good performers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by techiemikey (1126169)
      The first page of TFA has a chart which states the warranty of each one they tested. While it did not go in more depth than "lifetime" or "2 years", it is still in there.
    • by Tx (96709) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:24AM (#27950101) Journal

      Warranty is important for me when buying expensive stuff that's going to retain it's value. But large flash drives are cheap, and the technology is moving quickly. A 16GB flash drive costs a mere £20 now, and chances are that by the time it fails, I'll be able to buy something much larger and faster for the same price, so the warranty doesn't seem that important. Say you had a lifetime warranty on one of the $200 2GB drives mentioned in TFS and it failed, would you even bother getting a replacement 2GB drive now?

    • by Kugrian (886993)

      What do you need warranty for? Can buy a new one for little more than post and packaging would be.

  • OCZ Throttle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kokuyo (549451) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:06AM (#27949981) Journal

    I'm running this baby in eSATA mode as a system disk for my mediaserver (windows xp).

    What I can say is that it is doing quite nicely. Sometimes I do get application lag (writes to small files, perhaps?) but overall performance is quite good.

    I've had to reboot this machine once due to strange behaviour but since then it's been running non-stop. I think actual uptime is more than a month at this point. Perhaps several, even.

    If they could get random writes up to par I'd really think about putting one of these in my work machine. Geek factor, you understand ;).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by spyrochaete (707033)

      I hope your system swap/paging files are not on the flash drive or you're going to wear it out in record time. You get a very finite number of writes and deletes on flash memory sectors and there's no faster way to reach that limit than to put a swap file on there.

  • Ubiquitous... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:11AM (#27950005)

    ...that's the word you're looking for. They've become ubiquitous. Like cell phones and computers. Unfortunately, when a product becomes ubiquitos and many, many companies start making it, you're bound to run into a wide range of quality--both good and bad. I'm sure no one here disagrees that there are many more crappy, unreliable cell phones and computers on the market today than 10 years ago.

    To say flash drives have become "cheap plastic tsotschke" is accurate now about 90% of the time. I try to avoid "house brands" of any electronics, though. These usually make up the 90% of cheap, goldfish-lifespanned crap being pushed out to the consumers.

    Personally, my favorite flash drives are the plastic PNY ones with the rough, matte finish. It is one of the few drives I can attach to a keychain and not have it either destroyed or transformed into a scratched-up mess within a day. The rubberized X-Porter flash drives are nice too and can be bought at fairly reasonable prices considering their speed and quality.

    At least we know this, once a product gets to this stage of its life-cycle, you know it's become an important part of society and the original inventors should be proud of themselves for producing such an innovative (at the time) idea. Thanks, "law of diminishing marginal utility"! We love you!

  • with the corporate logo on them, most of which end up in the trash.

  • cloud is better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spyrochaete (707033) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:17AM (#27950049) Homepage Journal

    Rather than maintain my regular pattern of buying and losing ever-larger USB drives, I've opted instead to pay $5 to a web host with FTP access. I get 120GB of storage, can assign a domain name or subdomain to any directory if I want to label some specific content, or I can set up something fancy like a PHP/SQL CMS or wiki if I want to keep things organized. This content is available to me anywhere with internet access.

    I do keep a small USB drive in my pocket if I'm doing an important presentation and don't want to take a chance on shoddy web access. That's the only time I ever rely on a USB drive, though. I'm simply too clumsy to trust myself with gigs of data in my pocket. The cheaper storage gets, the more valuable the data in my pocket become!

    • by tepples (727027)

      Rather than maintain my regular pattern of buying and losing ever-larger USB drives, I've opted instead to pay $5 to a web host with FTP access.

      And $60 per month to a 3G ISP so that you can access the FTP host from your laptop, right? I carry a USB drive so that I can use my laptop on the bus without having to pay for tetherable 3G service.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I carry a USB drive so that I can use my laptop on the bus without having to pay for tetherable 3G service.

        Oddly enough, I have managed not to pay for tetherable 3G service at all, and yet my laptop still works on the bus. Also, it has a hard disk inside of it for storing data.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Oddly enough, I have managed not to pay for tetherable 3G service at all, and yet my laptop still works on the bus. Also, it has a hard disk inside of it for storing data.

          What do you use to move files on and off it? Or do you never move files on and off it when you're away from an uncapped high-speed connection to the Internet?

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Sometimes I use (dun dun dun) a USB stick (4GB Sandisk, the slidey kind, with U3 excised) but more often I actually use a IEEE1394 connection to a 1TB WD MyBook. Which reminds me, I REALLY need to get another one of those soon... I'm just having trouble finding the usb/1394/esata version for the low low price I paid for my first one.

            On the other hand, I do use networking for this purpose pretty often. Bluetooth and Wifi are both available on most modern laptops. If the file is more than fifty megs or so it

      • Read my whole post before replying, please.

        • Read my whole post before replying, please.

          You admitted that sneakernet is useful for "doing an important presentation". But often, I have "shoddy web access" or none at all even when I'm making something and not presenting it. I might be waiting for my food in a restaurant that charges more than I'm willing to pay for Wi-Fi access, or I might be bored at someone's birthday party and waiting for a ride home. And I agree that a USB drive shouldn't hold the only copy of a work, but neither should a remote server.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        And $60 per month to a 3G ISP so that you can access the FTP host from your laptop, right?

        I just bought a netbook (Acer Aspire One) with an internal 3G modem. I haven't got it yet, but the parcel tracking thing says my flatmate signed for it this morning.

        O2 (phone company) will provide 500MB of data transfer that expires after 24 hours for £2. It's expensive, but there's no contract and no sign-up fee, so it could be OK if I only use it a couple of times a month.

        Vodafone will sell transfer that doesn't expire, also no contract, but I can't see a way to get the SIM without buying an overpri

        • O2 (phone company) will provide 500MB of data transfer that expires after 24 hours for £2. It's expensive, but there's no contract and no sign-up fee, so it could be OK if I only use it a couple of times a month.

          Does any provider offer a similar prepaid data plan in the midwestern United States?

  • They've certainly become more common and cheaper, but still not common enough. I guess there will always be loads of people to stupid to be bothered to care, but its annoying to hear people asking about "UBS" sticks at the Walmart I work at, or a college student coming in asking where the CD-RW's are because his idiot "computer science" professor insists on assignments being turned in via CD...

    Basically, until its as common as asking where the ketchup or milk aisle is, its still not common enough...
  • LaCie iamaKey (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrisgeleven (514645) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:26AM (#27950129) Homepage

    I did not see the LaCie iamaKey USB flash drive in the review, but I noticed on a Lifehacker post yesterday and thought it would be a perfect USB drive:

    http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11225 [lacie.com]

    I constantly have problems with flash drives breaking off my keychain. This would solve that issue and looks very durable. Probably will buy it today.

    • by karnal (22275)

      That's sweet!

      I typically have a Cruzer Titanium Plus on my keychain - but they don't seem to update the capacities as often as they do with the cruzer micros.....

  • by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:27AM (#27950143) Homepage Journal

    10 years ago, I could give someone a file on a floppy disk and not worry about getting the disk back. I had an essentially unlimited supply of blank disks, you could get a stack of 10 for £1. Nowadays, I do have to worry about getting my USB stick back, as I only have three of them. I suspect that USB memory sticks will never really get to the same point that 3.5" floppy disks got to in that respect. The market value of, say, an 8MB memory stick might be similarly negligible, but no-one's making them.

    • DVD's are the disposables of the present day. Well the 4.5GB blanks anyway. Once files/collections get routinely larger then things will get interesting. I'm guessing it takes about the same time to burn 4Gb of data to a DVD at x16 speed as it does to move the files to a USB drive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PhilHibbs (4537)

        I don't like to use optical media in the same way - they aren't as re-usable so there's the environmental concern, they're easily scratched, you have to find a separate case to put them in (whereas 3.5" disks had their own protective casing). I used to have stacks of 3.5" disks lying around without ever having to go to the effort of buying them - cover disks, old software installation sets, we had about a hundred sets of Microsoft Office install media at my old work place that got wiped and re-labelled. Wha

        • by Hatta (162192)

          I just bought 100 verbatim DVD-Rs from Newegg for about $25. $0.25 a pop is pretty disposable.

    • by EvilIdler (21087)

      I wish for the same - I want a stack of tiny, flat USB sticks at 1-4GB, no more than 50p or so each. At that amount, I could give them away freely. I spend that amount on DVDs and paper sleeves anyway.

  • Pet peeve (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoneguy (324887) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:35AM (#27950217)

    Why won't anyone manufacture one with a white matte finish? That way they could be written on.

  • by Steauengeglase (512315) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:44AM (#27950327)

    Do we get a nice compare and contrast of the rootkits and malware included on these drives?

  • What's in a name? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by benbean (8595) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @08:56AM (#27950459)

    So if we're agreed they're super-popular now, can we also agree on a name? USB stick, USB drive, pen drive, thumb drive. Just pick one! Where the hell did pen drive and thumb drive come from anyway?

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      USB drive can also refer to an external 2.5" or 3.5" drive, so I prefer to call these things "USB Flash Drives".

      And yes I do know there's 2.5" and 3.5" flash drives...

  • I am waiting for 64Gb and 128Gb sticks. 256Gb would be nice to.

  • I bought an ADATA 16 gb flash drive when they first came out, and it worked great. It wasn't a "double wide", but was pretty thick and long. The computers I work on require small width due to some of their USB ports and I don't want to have to carry around a 4" usb jumper cable.

    When my cat hid it, I bought another which turned out to be defective and I never was able to get a replacement. (at the time they cost over $130)

    I bought a lexar firefly 8 and used that until they came out with a 16, which I now h

  • Trivia: (Score:4, Informative)

    by RailRide (737108) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @09:09AM (#27950601)
    "The days of Win98SE driver disks are long gone"

    True. But for those who still have machines running '98, there is a little known generic mass storage driver [technical-...ance.co.uk] for '98 that allows use of newer drives that do not come with '98 support.

    I have a tower still running 98SE that I installed this driver onto. It'll take any flash drive I shove into it, that whore :D.

    ---PCJ

  • like, whatever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CristalShandaLear (762536) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @09:18AM (#27950689) Homepage Journal

    One day I said to my 16-year-old daughter, "Hey, cute bracelet" and she says, "It's my flash drive [ipromo.com]."

    I remember being amazed and a bit amused when you could get a Swiss Army knife with a USB drive. That was cool. But it's hard, and kind of interesting in weird sort of way, to see tech relegated to the fashion accessory of a teen girl.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @09:19AM (#27950703) Homepage Journal

    To test this commodity theory, we selected a cornucopia of mostly 4GB and 8GB USB flash drives ranging from $9 to $30 dollars (average: $19.00)

    Products (tallest to smallest)
    OCZ Throttle 16GB ($57.98)
    Patriot Xporter XT 16GB ($41.99)
    Corsair Flash Voyager 16GB ($35.99)
    OCZ Rally2 4GB ($25.49)
    Kingston DTI 2GB ($7.99)
    Sandisk Cruzer Micro 4GB ($10.95)
    Super*Talent Pico-B 4GB ($18.99)
    PQI i820 1GB ($9.99)

    Their list has three 16GB, three 4GB, one 2GB and one 1GB flash drives. How is that "mostly 4GB and 8GB"?

    And the prices go from $10 to $56, how is that "from $9 to $30"? There's three drives over $30 listed, not to mention that only morons view $9.99 as being equal to $9 instead of $10.

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