View Full Version : USB/flash drives

14-01-2004, 20:53:06
whatever you call them. They've been around awhile, and I've always wanted one. I just got a 256 MB one that fits on my keychain.

Works great so far, but I did run into a dell case at work that, although it had USB ports in the front, they were recessed behind one of those plastic covers - since the drive flares out a little as you get away from the connector, I coudn't get it connected. The flared part kept bumping up against the casing. Dell.

So I crawled behind the cabinet and eventually found a USB port that wasn't quite blocked by adjacent cables.

I love it, though. Now I can carry a backup copy of my thesis wherever I go, and move data from my notebook to the work computers without carrying our only external Zip drive.

How reliable are these things, long-term? I know you should back them up and reformat them once in awhile, but don't know anyone that has had one more than a few months.

14-01-2004, 20:59:07
Don't know of anyone that's had a problem with them...other than people trying to use it with Win 95 :rolleyes:

I'm sure theres a problem somewhere...always is

14-01-2004, 21:02:01
Well, advice...

First, get an small USB extension cord. My last one came with a small 3" line (counts both USB plugs though). I've found a small 1 foot line to be extremely useful for those front USB ports and hubs.

Second, depends on who makes the memory. Sans Disk says they are guaranteed for 10 rewrites or 10 minutes, whichever comes first. Pony says 10,000 rewrites or 10 months, whichever comes first. Intel says 100,000 rewrites or 1 year.

NEVER, EVER, EVER defrag them. Every time you write to them, that's one time closer to a failure. Don't reformat them, ever, unless you have to.

Other then that... lets see...

I used a 64 Meg unit for over a 3 years, with zero trouble. I moved up to a 128 Meg unit when the price for a Sans Disk first went under $100, and that one was busted out of the factory package. Returned it, and eventually got around to getting another 128. Been using that for the last 8 months or so without any trouble whatsoever.

Every few months, I back the whole thing up to HD. Just copy all contents. Just in case. I know plenty of people that have had theirs fail consistantly at one month, but :knock on wood:, I haven't had any trouble.

14-01-2004, 22:41:33
I've got a 1' USB extension, I just don't carry it around with me. It might be a good idea for me to at least put it in my laptop case, now that you mention it. This one is Memorex.
I plan to use it as backup of presentations and papers and to quickly move files from my personal laptop to computers at work.
The problem with CD backups is I tend to keep them with my computer. That's fine if the HD fails, useless ood if someone manages to steal the whole thing, or the building burns down, etc.

I don't have a lot of confidence in the usb cap-to-drive attachment - the drive itself COULD pop loose from the cap and get lost. Pretty unlikely that I wouldn't notice if it dropped to the ground, but sometimes I have my mind on other things and miss the here and now. It should have been simple for them to tether the cap to the drive itself.

What's bad about reformatting them (ever, unless I have to)? :)
The instructions say that after extended use you'll probably have to reformat to keep it working reliably.

Sir Penguin
14-01-2004, 22:49:14
That's what they want you to think. As soon as you reformat it, it will die and you will have to buy a new one. Why do you think the reformat-by date is just after the warranty expires?

I think USB drives are really cool. I'll wait until they have reliable 2GB ones in my price range, though. I don't think I'd use it in the long term, except for holding a few documents and some tech support software (that is, CD images). I have other priorities, like a 17" LCD monitor and WD Raptor hard drives.


14-01-2004, 23:11:41
Reformating just waste writes. They have a small number of writes, compared to a HD, and then that memory 'cell' will be broken and will not change value.

GOOD flash aware drivers make sure to spread around the writing to the memory, rather then just always putting it at the start of the free memory block. Bad or non-flash aware treat it like any simple FAT16 or FAT32 drive, and just keep reusing the same area (wearing out that memory area faster then the rest... leading to eventual failure and dead block).

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. ;)

15-01-2004, 14:01:52
OK, they claimed in the manual that the life of this thing is forever because there are no moving parts, and I knew that had to be bullshit. No one survives in business by making things that last forever.

Sounds like they wear out in the same way as regular hard drives, except maybe at a different rate.

15-01-2004, 20:14:23
Well, with flash, it would be safe to make things that "last forever", as users will want more and more memory to store things on. So it isn't like the are dooming themselves.

However, being computer tech, their "forever" is merely in terms of Internet time... so somewhere from 3 months onward. ;)

Mobile Asher
15-01-2004, 21:39:17
Flash memory lasts approx. 10 years.

You can also only "write" a certain number of times, I think it's usually 500-1000.

15-01-2004, 22:14:36
Well, I gave what the sites for Pony and Intel list. I'm down on Sans Disk, due to the number of people I know who have had trouble with their various flash items. But I did look them up, and IIRC, they listed the flash guarantee for the same as Pony.

16-01-2004, 11:03:15
I have a 128meg keyring sized USB flash drive thingy which I use to take artwork to and from college, much like a zip disk. I've done all the stuff that people here have said don't do and I've never has a single problem with it. I've been using it for just over a year.

Sir Penguin
16-01-2004, 20:35:23
Yes, but you're an art student. You're supposed to defy common sense. This will make you famous some day.


16-01-2004, 22:50:36
My only hope of being famous is to be gunned down by Billy the Kid.

I thought I was on to a good thing with the drive, but I had a presentation today, and the laptop packed with the projector got missed when they did the mandatory departmental upgrades to win2k andXP this fall. It still had Win98, and I would have needed to install drivers to get it to work. IN 2k and XP, it actually plugs and plays. Moving it to a zip disk on another computer only took a minute though.

The upside is the presentation was in front of the department chair - and he will now be sure to make the techies upgrade this one. They probably missed it because its almost never connected to the network, but its packed up in the case with the projector.

23-01-2004, 17:52:22
:confused: So, if Darkstar is "down" on SansDisk, which manufacturer should I go with?

23-01-2004, 19:01:10
SanDisk :D :D

23-01-2004, 19:20:42

27-01-2004, 02:13:31
Lexar. Very reliable.

SansDisk MIGHT do you ok. But...

I've got 2 SansDisk Flash cards. SansDisk own Flash reader will not read either of them, but it will read my Lexar and PNY brands. No duh. Several brands of flash readers won't read those SanDisk flash. And 2 different SansDisk flashes I've bought (now) were broken/corrupt out of the box. In coversation to the Best Buy service desk, they said that they get 1 out of every 20 SansDisk returned, out of the box for being broken/corrupted.

My PPC will read and write to the SansDisk flash I have fine. Sometimes my work and my laptop WON'T though. As I said... no problems with my PNY or Lexar.