The USB Flash Drive - A Portable Storage Revolution

The USB Flash Drive - A Portable Storage Revolution

USB Flash Drives are common devices today, but not so long ago the term "flash drive" had never been heard, unless of course you were associating the term with a Ferrari. So where did the revolutionary USB Flash Drive derive? Well, set your mind back to 1995, it doesn't seem so long ago. Believe it or not, most computer users were still regularly using floppy disks to transfer their digital data. In fact, virtually all computers had integrated floppy disk drives because floppy disks were by far the most popular, practical and cheapest format for portable storage. Also at that time, Zip disks and Jaz disks (both manufactured by Iomega) came on the market, but they were quite expensive. Zip disks could hold 100MB / 250MB of data, there were even 750MB disks in existence. Jaz disks offered 1GB capacity and later 2GB, but the high(ish) price for both formats meant many computer users couldn't justify the costs, nor did many computer users have the need to save and transfer large amounts of memory, unlike today. Zip disks and Jaz drives eventually faded out within just a few years of production, they were also bulky and accordingly the Jaz disk broke quite easily.

As many of us have unfortunately experienced, computers have a life span. They can become painstakingly slow, annoyingly crash and even die very inconvenient deaths. People were now having to back up their systems regularly (and still do) in the fear of losing all their stored data. Businesses were also beginning to go paperless, their information was now being held on computer systems. This saved companies time, resources and storage space, it was however essential to back up their important data to avoid future problems.

OK, so I've emphasized on how great USB "Universal Serial Bus" is and why the demand for portable storage has dramatically increased, but let's focus this topic. A USB Flash Drive, is also known as memory stick, thumb drive and jump drive. It is a pocket sized device which is traditionally the size of a regular lighter and capable of carrying HUGE amounts of digital data (some can store a massive 256GB). In the early days (2002) USB Flash Drives weren't cheap and even the smallest memory sizes were quite expensive. USB Flash Drives were however highly desirable because they could be plugged into any USB port without the need of a specific drive to read them. They were also robust, some can actually withstand getting wet and continue to work as good as new once dried (please don't try this even though I have and it did actually work when dry). Not only were USB Flash Drives convenient and robust, they were easy to carry and had decent read and write speeds, many flash memory providers even claim that USB Flash Drives can be used over 1 million times.

Not only are USB Flash Drives ideal portable storage devices and promotional items, they are also environmentally friendly. Many companies are ditching their paper based brochures and handing out digital versions uploaded directly on flash drives. This allows the user to reuse the product, it saves paper and it can also be a much cheaper process than print. There are even some music albums and movies available on USB Flash Drive format. The question is, what new found use is next for the revolutionary flash drive?