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Flash Drive Roundup

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-can-they-be-smaller-and-bigger dept.

Data Storage 311

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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NO!!!! (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949817)

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.

Re:NO!!!! (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949903)

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".

Re:NO!!!! (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949993)

I guess I'll let them send me a Diesel, since there is no such thing as a 16GB Rally2.

Re:NO!!!! (1)

rho (6063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950399)

Your sig has been OBE.

Abuse of moderation (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949913)

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 works better. Unfortunately, I BOUGHT the drive in the first place because it's waterproof, and I don't WANT a different drive. TOO BAD!

Re:Abuse of moderation (5, Interesting)

coryboehne (244614) | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

Re:Abuse of moderation (5, Informative)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Abuse of moderation (4, Informative)

just fiddling around (636818) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950577)

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.

And... more abuse of moderation (-1, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950113)

The above comment was on topic; the comment to which it was a reply was on-topic. If any further proof that the current system of allocating mod points is retarded was required, here it is.

Re:And... more abuse of moderation (0, Flamebait)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950345)

Nobody wants to hear you cry about your broken flash drive, alright? This is not the place for that, hence, "Off-topic".

Re:And... more abuse of moderation (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950419)

The question is whether flash drives are a commodity item. The answer is no, there is a vast difference between various flash drives and it is still necessary to do research before purchasing one if you don't want to get boned. My anecdote supports this assertion, and so it is clearly on-topic. The only comments I've posted or intend to post in this thread which are not on-topic are this one and its parent. Admittedly, that is 50% of them, but since the Slashdot management is not interested in hearing about abuses of their ill-conceived moderation system (the invitation to email complaints about same was removed from the FAQ long ago) the only recourse is to post a comment.

So far this has worked pretty well for me; the majority of the time, someone comes along and "corrects" their moderation by modding the comment back up into reality and letting natural forces take over. I have attracted mod trolls repeatedly, such activity is trivial to identify when you're on slashdot for long periods of time because the trolls are stupid and lazy and tend to just go look for your four or five weakest comments and dump on you.

The AVB flash drives OCZ is selling are defective by design, they can be written to by reading them, or something. MANY people have gotten bad replacements for their bad drives. They are simply NOT compliant devices! This information is germane to the discussion about whether flash drives have been commoditized! If the situation were any clearer my comment would be invisible.

Re:And... more abuse of moderation (5, Insightful)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950529)

I'm sorry drinkypoo, but you actually are off topic here. You are going on a personal rant about OCZ. The topic is how flash media has become cheap and undifferentiated. Which is true. One flash stick is essentially the same as the other. You can usually swap out the flash memory in a jump drive and put it in another one. The only difference really is the same difference with any other commodity (including other undifferentiated ones) and that is a difference in manufacturing quality.

The "speed differences" are largely imaginary as the USB connection bottlenecks access times anyways. Things like customer support and warranties are factors for buying a specific brand of thumb drive but aren't qualities that differentiate the actual product as the products themselves are largely the same.

I'm sorry you had a frustrating experience with OCZ but complaining about Slashdot moderators isn't going to do any good anyways. Chances are by this afternoon you'll be +5 Insightful once someone who has also had a bad experience with OCZ gets in here. Of course given most people seem to have good experiences with OCZ its possible that you'll be a bit lower than +5 by the end of day.

Re:And... more abuse of moderation (-1, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950607)

I'm sorry you had a frustrating experience with OCZ

It's not just me; if you go visit the OCZ forums you can find scores of people who have bought these ATV drives in differing capacities, had identical problems to mine, been jerked around by OCZ tech support with crappy support tools that usually don't fix the problem (and it's scary how little the techs actually KNOW... it's very much a "try this tool... no? try THIS tool!" process.

but complaining about Slashdot moderators isn't going to do any good anyways.

Actually, it often does. The problem with the abuse of moderation is that the abused articles tend to drop off the radar and help conceal the evidence. Posting additional comments to make them stand out ("what is he talking about!?") is literally the only weapon available unless you're sleeping with an editor or something. (*shudder*)

Uh, (-1, Offtopic)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949823)

yes.

When they appear in cereal boxes (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949831)

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)

Re:When they appear in cereal boxes (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949995)

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] .

Re:When they appear in cereal boxes (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950003)

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

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

Re:When they appear in cereal boxes (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950121)

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:When they appear in cereal boxes (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950165)

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.

Re:When they appear in cereal boxes (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950591)

downloading the mp3 without proper permission is a violation of copyright anyway.

The common theory is that the uploader infringes the distribution right, and the downloader infringes the reproduction right. But in this case, because the downloader reproduces each 700 GB batch of MP3z to a "digital audio recording medium", it would appear that the copyright owner is barred from action against the downloader.

Disabling bonus for this digression.

Re:When they appear in cereal boxes (1)

dark_15 (962590) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950063)

Surprisingly enough I just saw some cereal boxes the other day as the local grocer's that allowed you to send in proofs of purchase for a Star Trek branded USB Flash drive...

They're in cereal boxes (5, Informative)

stomv (80392) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950077)

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.

Re:They're in cereal boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27950111)

www2.kelloggs.com/Promotion/PromotionDetail.aspx?PID=17517

Ah tsotschke. I'm still using web 1.0 so I can't get the free st00f.

Re:They're in cereal boxes (4, Interesting)

tb3 (313150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950223)

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.

Re:They're in cereal boxes (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950323)

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)

Re:They're in cereal boxes (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950447)

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.

Re:They're in cereal boxes (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950309)

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:When they appear in cereal boxes (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950291)

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

Re:When they appear in cereal boxes (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950367)

They are close to the perfect method for distribution of free computer programs/art/etc. Who needs AOL discs anymore!

Although prices may be cheap, it's unclear you will be able to get them to the order of a few pence, comparable to CDs and DVDs. Flash drives are useful because you can easily rewrite to them of course, but I'm not sure they will outdo CDs or DVDs for distribution anytime soon.

They're giving 'em away free (1)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949835)

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:They're giving 'em away free (1)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949871)

A 4GB one and an 8GB OCZ one.

see this post [slashdot.org]

Re:They're giving 'em away free (1)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949907)

A 4GB one and an 8GB OCZ one.

see this post [slashdot.org]

I saw it. It was the first post, afterall. Here's the two drives that they gave me:

Intel 4GB Retractable Keychain Drive [newegg.com] and OCZ ATV 8GB Flash Drive [newegg.com] . Judging by the responses I'll probably scrap the OCZ one and use the Intel one (after I stress test it of course).

Re:They're giving 'em away free (2, Informative)

whisking (1181729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950029)

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 (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950195)

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.)

Re:4 MiB pages (4, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950343)

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.)

Is there a way to do this on Vista Ultimate 64 bit?

Re:They're giving 'em away free (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950275)

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 (5, Insightful)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949845)

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

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (1, Funny)

mrbill1234 (715607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949909)

I still use floppy disks you insensitive clod!

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (1)

entgod (998805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949959)

Why?

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (5, Funny)

eam (192101) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950051)

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

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950203)

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)

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950303)

(secretly awaits any tips on easy slipstreaming)

"make menuconfig"

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27950515)

The SATA drivers are already on the Vista DVD; how easy is that? *ducks*

This is actually a good reason for installing Vista(!)

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950549)

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:1994 Floppy Disc (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950633)

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.

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (1)

superFoieGras (1423701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950031)

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

Except they don't tend to die next to magnets or cell phones !

Re:1994 Floppy Disc (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950319)

Except that floppy discs capacities and speed didn't grow exponentially and floppy discs always required dedicated hardware.

So, how are they like floppies?

Not just a commodity, a necessity (4, Insightful)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949887)

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.

Re:Not just a commodity, a necessity (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950157)

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.

Re:Not just a commodity, a necessity (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950645)

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.

Re:Not just a commodity, a necessity (1)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950475)

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.

Yes, pretty much,,, (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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

Re:Yes, pretty much,,, (1)

cjanota (936004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950133)

Take a look at this one from Corsair then. http://www.corsair.com/products/survivor/default.aspx [corsair.com] Its case is aluminum and waterproof. And the keyring hole is very strong. You do have to unscrew the lid every time you open it, but that doesn't bother me much. Also, the 2 rubber bands on the outside came off of mine. Again, doesn't matter to me. I am very impressed with the quality of the aluminum case and it has a 10-yr warranty.

Re:Yes, pretty much,,, (-1, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950211)

If there's no lifetime warranty against defect, I'm not interested. This current problem with OCZ proves the validity of the approach; if I never used it anyplace but as a readyboost drive for years and then went to use it in my stereo it would fail immediately. Also, the warranty must not require receipt or proof of purchase. PNY has a "lifetime" warranty but you have to prove purchase. I'm not saving a receipt eternally for something where the receipt is larger than the product...

Re:Yes, pretty much,,, (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950393)

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 had a 256mb drive for years, it survived several washer-and-dryer cycles and a bent-while-inserted incident without trouble, till the lanyard broke off and I lost it.

The new 4gb drive I ordered failed after one such cycle.

Re:Yes, pretty much,,, (1)

shic (309152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950545)

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 in the context of portable drives.

Times Have Changed (1)

Jesterace (914041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949929)

I remember buying a 256MB usb flash drive for $80. Now they seem to be a dime a dozen. I just bought 3 4GB drives for $15.00 from Wallyworld just last month.

Re:Times Have Changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27950071)

The first time I ever heard of a USB flash drive was when my brother bought one. He got a deal on it because it was IBM branded and he worked for them at the time: $80 for an 8MB drive. The largest available at the time was 16MB for over $100. I thought it was cool, but shunned it as impractical because at the time, USB support wasn't what it is now and so you had to install a driver on any computer you wanted to use it with. I mean, at the time, all computers had floppy drives and 8MB was just a few floppies, so why bother paying $80 just to waste time installing drivers?

Re:Times Have Changed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27950145)

Has anyone priced the 8 MB flash storage for the PS2 lately? They're still asking $20+ for the Sony branded ones. $20 for 8 MB??? Are you flipping kidding me??

Warranty is a differentiating factor (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949971)

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:Warranty is a differentiating factor (2, Insightful)

techiemikey (1126169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950091)

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.

Re:Warranty is a differentiating factor (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950493)

I missed the line in the table. Thanks!

Re:Warranty is a differentiating factor (3, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950101)

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?

Re:Warranty is a differentiating factor (1)

jnik (1733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950115)

TFA does not mention warranty

You mean on the first page of TFA, in the giant chart that compares features, the first line that isn't prices?

Re:Warranty is a differentiating factor (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950263)

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

OCZ Throttle (2, Interesting)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27949981)

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:OCZ Throttle (1, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950083)

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... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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!

They give 4GB USB drives away at trade shows (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950013)

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

Re:They give 4GB USB drives away at trade shows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27950065)

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

Trash? Unlike a lot of trade show swag, usb drives are very handy. And people often lose their usb drives, so it's always good to have more.

cloud is better (3, Insightful)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950049)

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!

If you have 3G service (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950089)

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.

Re:If you have 3G service (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950151)

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.

Re:If you have 3G service (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950245)

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?

Re:If you have 3G service (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950461)

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 makes a lot more sense to go some other way, though.

Re:If you have 3G service (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950265)

Read my whole post before replying, please.

Re:If you have 3G service (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950429)

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 overpriced modem at the same time.

I probably won't use the 3G very often anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Not common enough (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950081)

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...

USB not always cheap (1)

LinuxOverWindows (1549895) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950125)

Well I agree that USB keys have become a use once and lose piece of hardware there are still USB keys out there to hold there own.

It really just depends what you need. If all you need is a plastic key around your neck for some high school / college word documents then fork out 10 and get your self a 2GB. How ever on the other hand if you really need either performance or security then you can satisfy that to, just not for $10.

If you look at keys like the "Iron Key" you get a ton of security but at a much high cost per Gig. The average cost for the Iron Keys run:

$69 - $139 for a single Gig and that's the basic level.

On the other hand if your looking for performance you can still spend a good amount on just being able to run faster then those around you, the average cost of a performance stick:

$38 - $270 ( for a 64 GB)

so It really just breaks down to what you need, well I can agree that the average key is use once and lose kind of situation, you can still get good USB keys worth there cost.

Thanks
Docmur

LaCie iamaKey (5, Interesting)

chrisgeleven (514645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950129)

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.

Re:LaCie iamaKey (1)

mkilpatric (1001841) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950647)

hey, that is some pretty good functions there, thanks for the info!

Will they ever be truly give-away items? (5, Interesting)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950143)

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.

Re:Will they ever be truly give-away items? (1)

Brit_in_the_USA (936704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950283)

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:Will they ever be truly give-away items? (2, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950471)

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. What price are DVD-Rs nowadays? Last time I bought some I think they were about £1 each, which is almost throw-away price, but nowhere near the ubiquity of floppies.

Re:Will they ever be truly give-away items? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950517)

Yes - it's interesting that the floppy drive was never replaced entirely by one single item (which partly explains why it hung around for so long). I'd happily give away a CD/DVD, but the writing process is still a bit more of a pain than it was for floppies (well, on platforms like the Amiga at least, unlike PCs which always seemed to freeze everything else as soon as you wrote to a disk...), with no rewrite ability (unless you have a more expensive RW disc, and even then you can only reformat and start from scratch). Flash drives are more convenient, but as you say not quite at the stage where you could happily give them away - even though prices per GB will always fall, I suspect that their minimum price will always be above what floppy disks used to cost.

It's probably the wide availability of the Internet, and home wireless connections, that have replaced floppies in terms of quickly transferring files to someone.

Re:Will they ever be truly give-away items? (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950585)

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.

Re:Will they ever be truly give-away items? (1)

hydromike2 (1457879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950625)

cds/dvds are like that, i mean obviously its not as easy to use as a usb drive but you wont really care i you get it back, i remember being able to get 100 cds at office max for free after rebates, and nowadays like 50 dvds for 10$

Chotchkie's? (0, Offtopic)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950179)

Want to go to Tsotchkie's? Get some coffee?

Pet peeve (5, Interesting)

stoneguy (324887) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950217)

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

eSATA on one side USB on the other? (0, Redundant)

Brit_in_the_USA (936704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950261)

When will we see memory stick models with USB on one end and eSATA on the other? I'm sure there must be some demand from professionals for 16MB+ with such features. When you start moving around more than 1-2 Gb the slowness of USB gets to be a pain. And a 2.5" SSD is not as easy to keep on your key chain. (interesting to note that some SSds have both USB and SATA)

Or will USB 3 kill this idea?

Re:eSATA on one side USB on the other? (1)

sanjosanjo (804469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950335)

Here you go: http://bit.ly/jriZj [bit.ly]

Re:eSATA on one side USB on the other? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27950451)

When will we see memory stick models with USB on one end and eSATA on the other?

You might want to read the article.

Re:eSATA on one side USB on the other? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950481)

When is USB 3 expected to become widely available?

Re:eSATA on one side USB on the other? (3, Informative)

RailRide (737108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950497)

One of the drives in the article (OCZ Throttle) functions in this way. The review notes that it still needs a USB port to power it while plugged into SATA.

---PCJ

So in the write up, (3, Insightful)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950327)

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

What's in a name? (2, Interesting)

benbean (8595) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

16Gb ? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950539)

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

Sony Micro Vault (1)

mathimus1863 (1120437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950543)

I got two Sony Micro Vault flash drives a year ago, like $20 for 2GB and $40 for 4GB. They are USB keys, but don't have the metallic anchor around them, making them about the same thickness as an SD card. I keep them in my wallet where I would normally keep my ID (relocated to CC pocket) and therefore have them accessible at all times. The 2GB key I keep encrypted (dmcrypt/LUKS) and that contains basically all my personal information. The 4GB key has anything and everything and constantly break it out to give or get data from people. I now can't live without them, and people are impressed by how nerdy I am that I have such small USB keys on me all the time.

I tried some similar Kingston USB keys (also tiny, with keychain hole) but both stopped working--completely, hopelessly dead--after 1 month.

The fact that we can store 16e9 bytes on a disk the size of our thumbnail for a price that is accessible to the average person, is evidence enough that we've reached "the future".

16gb flash drives (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27950571)

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 have.

The firefly is thin, not wide, short, has an easy to see activity light, and the lanyard attaches to the CAP, meaning it's not necessary to untangle yourself from it to plug it in. (and it leaves the noisy cap swinging around banging into things to remind you that you are about to forget your flash drive in the back of the machine you're walking away from) It's the only flash drive that I know of that has the lanyard attachment on the cap which is a great feature.

My only complaint is I wish it had a write lock switch. I don't have to work on viris-ridden windows boxes, but if I did, that would unfortunately be a requirement.

Trivia: (4, Informative)

RailRide (737108) | more than 5 years ago | (#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

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