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Hi-speed USB2 Flash Drive Round-Up

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the i-hid-it-in-my-space-cavity dept.

Data Storage 264

An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica has a USB 2.0 Flash drive review featuring 8 drives from different manufacturers. What's so interesting about the review is that not all Flash drives are created equal. Some have very unique features while some are clearly better than others. They also took a detailed look inside one of the drives as well as put two drives in a RAID-0 array (a la Mac OS X). Now that's cool!"

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264 comments

Putting USB flash drives... (5, Funny)

technogeeky (780692) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327305)

in a raid array has to be the geekiest thing I've ever heard of. What is this world coming to?

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (0, Flamebait)

biz0r (656300) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327326)

It's geeky to want to have redundancy and retain data?

Putting all of your eggs in one basket (so to speak) is rarely, if ever, a Good Thing.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

biz0r (656300) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327349)

Or rather maybe I should read the thing first...raid 0 flash? Ok maybe a bit geeky, I guess... But my point still stands...

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (2, Informative)

You aren't funny (784227) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327414)

No it doesn't.
The "R" in "RAID" stands for "Redundant". RAID level 0 is called that because there is no redundancy.
You could say RAID 0 so it isn't even really a RAID level. It is more like AID.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

Atticu5 (693001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327661)

You could say RAID 0 so it isn't even really a RAID level. It is more like AID.

And considering the price of some of these drives, you can drop the "I" as well. How does an AD sound?

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

Sven The Space Monke (669560) | more than 9 years ago | (#9328025)

How does the cost factor into RAID? Oh, wait! I get it. Another person who thinks the I in RAID means 'inexpensive'. Sorry dude, the I is for 'independant'. Redundant Array of Independant Disks.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (4, Informative)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327367)

It's geeky to want to have redundancy and retain data?

No, but that's not what RAID-0 is all about. I think you must be confusing the different RAID standards. RAID-1 is redundancy, RAID-0 is speed.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (2, Informative)

Adriax (746043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327371)

You're thinking raid-1, mirroring. This is raid-0, striping.
One drive goes (or even connect them incorrectly...), you lose everything without hope for recovery.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (0, Flamebait)

biz0r (656300) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327437)

Yes, and if you look at my own reply to my post, you will see I corrected myself. I should have read more closely...I very well know the different raid architectures as I handle a large-ish server room with plenty of horsepower at work.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327571)

Yes, and if you look at my own reply to my post, you will see I corrected myself.

What, this reply:

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (Score:1)
by biz0r (656300) on Thursday June 03, @05:15PM (#9327349)
(http://biz0r.biz/)
Or rather maybe I should read the thing first...raid 0 flash? Ok maybe a bit geeky, I guess... But my point still stands...


Where you say your point still stands... what point would that be, would it be It's geeky to want to have redundancy and retain data? or would it be Putting all of your eggs in one basket (so to speak) is rarely, if ever, a Good Thing. .

???

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (5, Interesting)

Adriax (746043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327340)

This [8k.com] is quite a big geekier if you ask me.
Striping floppies to get better speed and storage...

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327685)

Unfortunately you can't run superformat on USB floppies.

Still, it's a cool concept. And maybe you could use floppies you've previously run superformat on to get approx. 2MB each.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327344)

I think the limitation is still 100,000 i/o's, right?

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (2, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327346)

I think the array of ZIP disks I built way back when was geeker.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327353)

If you are planning on using them to write a large amount of data (here they used 500mb) for easy transport, I don't see why you wouldn't use a software RAID configuration.

It is well known that software RAID usually produces about 2x the speed that you would have w/a traditional setup. USB drives aren't exactly fast as it is (2.0 is getting there though).

I know plenty of people that use several 256MB drives to carry their data around. If RAID was this easy on any platform I would suggest they do the same thing.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327816)

Unfortunately you don't appear to have read the article as it states quite clearly that though a raid array _can_ be set up on these, there is no practical purpose as the array itself is not portable, kinda defeating the purpose.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327936)

Ok troll, I'll bite.

wow, you're a real fucking moron. Of course he read the article. It would have been more than obvious if /you/ had read it.

Yes, it is unlikely that you would need to setup a software RAID but it will work and it will increase the speed.

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 9 years ago | (#9328004)

The poster I was responding to (Not you AC troll) appeared to believe that this would be useful if USB-Drive Raid Arrays could be set up on other platforms, then one could reap the benefits of faster read/writes and have portability as well.

I was pointing out that it wouldn't matter because a USB-Drive raid array set up on one machine CANNOT BE PLUGGED INTO ANOTHER MACHINE AND BE ACCESSED AS SUCH. (As it stated quite clearly in the article)

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (0, Redundant)

HiredMan (5546) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327484)

Dude, this [8k.com] is WAY geekier RAID than that.

If that's the geekiest thng you've ever heard of you must be new aro... I can't even say it. ;)

=tkk

Re:Putting USB flash drives... (2, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327579)

It's not a terrible idea, in fact, it'd be cool if there was a RAID-5-type redundancy built into the storage device itself so that flash failures wouldn't shitcan the entire data store.

I flashed my USB once... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327318)

...damned schoolgirl called the cops. Who knew she could see it?

On the playground?

In a raincoat?

I'm just saying...

SuCk IT, SuCk IT, SuCk IT, SuCk IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327328)

SuCk IT TACO!!

Thank You for your support

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327331)

Some parts of the past must be preserved, and some of the future prevented at all costs.

Which is which? (1, Interesting)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327333)

Um...hi-speed vs fullspeed...which one's the gimpy one again?

Re:Which is which? (4, Informative)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327404)

-from the article- USB 2.0 now has three different signaling rates:

Low Speed (1.5Mbps)
Full Speed (12Mbps)
Hi-Speed (480Mbps)

Re:Which is which? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327576)

I always thought it was funny that the "full speed" wasn't actually USB 2.0's full speed, but more like one-fiftieth speed.

fucking liberals (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327337)

1.) You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal
funding.
2.) You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach 4th-graders
how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.
3.) You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-bidding Americans
are more of a threat than U.S. nuclear weapons technology in the hands of
Chinese and North Korean communists.
4.) You have to believe that there was no art before Federal funding.
5.) You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by
cyclical documented changes in the earth's climate and more affected by
soccer moms driving SUV's.
6.) You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being
homosexual is natural.
7.) You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on
demand.
8.) You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments
create prosperity.
9.) You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but loony
activists who have never been outside of San Francisco do.
10.) You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually
doing something to earn it.
11.) You have to believe that the military, not corrupt politicians, start
wars.
12.) You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts
of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain
parts of the Constitution.
13.) You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.
14.) You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more
important to American history than Mary Washington, Betsy Ross, the American
Pioneer Women, Eleanor Roosevelt, "Rosey the Riveter," and Rosa Parks.
15.) You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial
quotas and set-asides are not.
16.) You have to believe that Hillary Clinton is normal and is a very nice
person.
17.) You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked
anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.
18.) You have to believe conservatives telling the truth belong in jail,
but a liar and a sex offender belonged in the White House.
19.) You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag,
transvestites, and bestiality should be constitutionally protected, and
manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.
20.) You have to believe that illegal Democratic Party funding by the
Chinese government is somehow in the best interest to the United States.
21.) You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast, right wing
conspiracy.

Re:fucking liberals (-1, Offtopic)

ranolen (581431) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327366)

And this has what to do with USB drives??? Post your political stuff somewhere else.

Stop with the fucking Mac zeaotry (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327352)

You can do RAID in any OS worth their salt. But since your mac zealots, mod me down with your one button mouse! Shame it will take 20 minutes for Mac OS X to register that click with all the gay eye candy and spinning rainbow balls!

Re:Stop with the fucking Mac zeaotry (1, Troll)

neomiasma (639496) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327440)

All you got out of that review is the fact that they decided to use Mac OS X to do the RAID?

I fail to see how it can be classified as zealotry, at any rate. It's not like they said that Linux sucks or anything. Here. Let me click my jolly, candy-like button and see how fast my knee can jerk to your bait.

Re:Stop with the fucking Mac zeaotry (2, Funny)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 9 years ago | (#9328016)

Okay, troll. I normally don't read down at these depths, but since I had mod points which I'm now not going to use in this thread...

Riddle me this, asswipe. I have a hard drive in a computer. Let's say it's running Linux. Let's say I get another hard drive and I want to make it RAID 1 (mirrored) with the first drive. It's a 30 second operation in OS X, a 30 second operation in NT, a 60 second option in Win2k (gotta make it dynamic first).

How long will this operation take in Linux? Yes, you can use all three mouse buttons, and no, I don't have a backup....

special features are useful but.. (5, Informative)

patrick.whitlock (708318) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327354)

not always, in my office we share usb drives to save time, so far they're the handiest things i've found so far... but if you really need biomectrically locked drive that looks like an inkpen, go right ahead

Durability/Reliability (5, Informative)

rot26 (240034) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327390)

The issue of durability and/or reliability wasn't addressed in the review but I have to say that I was impressed as hell when my Cruzer-mini went through both my washer and dryer with no apparent effect. That was several months ago and it still works great.

Re:Durability/Reliability (4, Interesting)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327427)

I've put my Viking through the washer and dryer twice and it still works nicely.

The case has a vent in it, so water definitely passed through it.

Re:Durability/Reliability (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327644)

That's to be expected, after all, to raid other villages by sea you have to be pretty durable. Still, I'm impressed you were able to cram him into the washer and dryer.

Re:Durability/Reliability (1)

patrick.whitlock (708318) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327504)

me too, its been washed twice and not only does it still work, but the data on it before the wash was still there and intact afterwards. not so much a special feature as it is a side effect, but kick ass none the less

Re:Durability/Reliability (1)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327572)

I had a 16MB thumbdrive - can't remember the brand - but it was lost, found without the protective cap being kicked around on the floor of our hallway at school. It's, oh, 2 years old now and currently being used (third owner) by a friend of mine. Still Works. (TM)

Re:Durability/Reliability (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327662)

I wish they had addressed the issue of reliability. I wouldn't have read the review if I had known that they skipped that. Frankly, we need a review of these flash drives that focuses -entirely- on reliability. What's the point of having a data storage device if when you need the data on it, you find the device broken beyond repair?

I killed my Lexar JumpDrive "Secure" in about two months. My mother's class of about 15 people has killed somewhere around five of them in a semester. I don't know about the cause of failure in the others, but wIth mine, if you flex the heck out of it, you can sometimes get it to show up for a fraction of a second. In other words, the USB plug broke loose from the board inside.

Needless to say, I don't intend to ever buy anything from them again. I'm not even going to bother getting them to repair it, since the replacement would seem to have about a 40% probability of failing in the first two months. Thus, I'm looking for a new flash drive from a new company, and my mother is looking for a new vendor to use for all the students in her class next year. Does anybody have any recommendations on low-power (keyboard-capable) flash drives that don't fall apart?

Re:Durability/Reliability (2, Interesting)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327696)

My Cruzer fell out of my pocket once.. and by the time I found it again, it had been driven over a few times.

That was 9 months ago and it is still humming along nicely... gouges and all.

Re:Durability/Reliability (1)

manitoulinnerd (750941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327746)

Maximum PC had an issue with this in it a while ago. It might be available online. They tested the crap out of those poor flash drives, i don't recall how many survived.

Re:Durability/Reliability (1)

fsck! (98098) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327881)

Flash in general is pretty reliable. I once dropped a digital camera in salt water, and wasn't able to retrieve it for around 30 minutes. The camera was beyond dead (bleeding rusty water) but the flash memory card was still usable. So usable, in fact, that a friend of mine borrowed it for a trip through Vietnam and Cambodia. God only knows what hell it went though in the jungle, but it still works to this day.

Re:Durability/Reliability (1)

p00p at instable.net (773687) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327954)

I have to say that I was impressed as hell when my Cruzer-mini went through both my washer and dryer with no apparent effect.

But come 10,000 read/write cycles, and it's shot. Interesting. I did notice a similar lack-of-effect after washing my thumbdrive, but I'm crossing my fingers hoping it doesn't wear out soon :)

USB Flash drives are great.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327408)

Ask Taco... he knows. He uses them for buttplugs.

unique doesn't take a modifier (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327415)

Some have very unique features while some are clearly better than others.

Look, I know it's asking a lot for a site where typos are continually allowed on the front page, but this is really basic. Learn it once and you never have to make this mistake again: either something is unique or it's not. There are no degrees of uniqueness. Using phrases like very unique, quite unique, more unique, and most unique are all equally wrong.

Now I'll stand back and watch the 20 posts accusing me of being a language nazi, unaware that they themselves are the illiterate trolls, who deserve to spend eternity at this site [mostunique.com] .

Re:unique doesn't take a modifier (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327433)

Just like I can't say that you're a major fucking asshole....

You're either an fucking asshole or you're not.

You're definitey an fucking asshole.

Re:unique doesn't take a modifier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327717)

it could take some adverbs though...

your post was surprisingly unique

mine is insterestingly unique

there was one yesterday that was uniquely unique

agreed....no DEGREES of uniqueness, but if you're going to be a language pick, let's tell the whole story

RAID Array? Afraid not... (0, Offtopic)

loose electron (699583) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327435)

Last time I checked, RAID still stood for

"Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks"

So where is the spinning magnetic media?

This seems to show some of the microsoft influence, where every storage medium plugged into the PC is defined as a disk drive.

Re:RAID Array? Afraid not... (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327489)

RAID-0
RAID Level 0 is not redundant, hence does not truly fit the "RAID" acronym. In level 0, data is split across drives, resulting in higher data throughput. Since no redundant information is stored, performance is very good, but the failure of any disk in the array results in data loss. This level is commonly referred to as striping.

Pulled from here [uni-mainz.de]

Re:RAID Array? Afraid not... (1)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327519)

You can make a RAID array out of the most expensive drives on the market, can't you? So the 'Inexpensive' seems to mean nothing as well.

Maybe they changed the definition to "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives" and tried to tell you. But the envelope was addressed "For loose electron" so you thought it was from you instead of to you and.... you know, sometimes it's just easier to call you stupid.

(Note: that's a Family Guy reference as opposed to trolling.)

Re:RAID Array? Afraid not... (2, Funny)

Feynman (170746) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327656)

This seems to show some of the microsoft influence, where every storage medium plugged into the PC is defined as a disk drive.

. . . as opposed to the UNIX influence, where everything is defined as a file.

OS X Raid Array (4, Interesting)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327436)

Gotta love it. Remember this guy [8k.com] . He used USB floppies in pretty much the same manner. I actually emailed him because I was curious about portability(traveling kind). Apparently all the raid information is stored on the drives so the entire raid array could be plugged into another machine and would work with no problems.

Re:OS X Raid Array (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327566)

RAID array is redundant in too many ways, please stop writing it, all RAIDs are arrays, it's part of the acronym.

Redundant
ARRAY of
Independent
Drives

It's like having at ATM machine: Automatic Teller Machine machine, or NIC card Network Interface Card card.

And yes, I may be pedantic, but I'd rather be pedantic than look like an idiot.

Re:OS X Raid Array (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327651)

I shouldn't even respond to this but...

RAID card,
RAID controller,
RAID drive(s),
RAID can

No reason to be ambiguous.

Never argue with an idiot, they'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience!

Re:OS X Raid Array (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327986)

Redundant
ARRAY of
Independent
Drives

So...

Does this mean we've finally buried the old 'Intelligent/Inexpensive Disk' part?

MRAM (5, Interesting)

AnwerB (255422) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327457)

NAND Flash is what's making this possible. It's denser and faster than NOR Flash.

If you haven't heard of MRAM, that's definitely another technology to be on the lookout for. According to IBM and Infineon Technologies, it's supposed to start shipping this year.

Basically, it has the density of DRAM, 15ns access time, and doesn't loses it's state even when powered down.

Google turns up some articles: here [techtarget.com] , here [motorola.com] , and here [internetnews.com] .

Encryption with specification is pretty useless (4, Interesting)

YetAnotherName (168064) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327461)

Regarding the SanDisk Cruzer Mini, Ars Technica mentions:

Unfortunately, we were unable to ascertain the type and strength of encryption.

Apparently, even the product packaging neglects to mention it. Neither is it listed on SanDisk's website. It could be as simple as rot-13 or as complex as multiple cascading one-way secure pads with quantum elliptical entanglements. Do you dare probe further to figure out what it's doing? Certainly not; you could well violate the DMCA.

DMCA this, DMCA that... (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327618)

> Do you dare probe further to figure out what it's doing?
> Certainly not; you could well violate the DMCA.


Exactly what copyrighted content does this encryotion protect?

Re:Encryption with specification is pretty useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327639)

It's probably not quantum... :)

What really amused me was the reviewer's shock and awe that you could encrypt the encryption .exe itself. (GASP!) Why would they include such a feature?!

However, what's more telling is that the reviewer inferred that you were hosed once you encrypted this file. Assuming that the reviewer is not a complete moron (...), this must mean that the encryption software conjures up its own passkeys. Otherwise, he would have memorised/transcribed a password and could just d/l the .exe again, neh?

I'll stick with GPG, thanks.

Re:Encryption with specification is pretty useless (5, Funny)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327758)

I believe it's rot-26 encryption. I've heard that the next model will support rot-52, but they're not for export.

PAUL MARTIN SUCKS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327462)

Vote for Harper!

almost there (4, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327465)

Now all we need is a small motherboard, lcd display + keyboard + network card, and we have a nice (cheap?) QUIET portable xterminal.

Here's the summary (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327474)

I hate when they put the article on multiple web pages. Even Tom's Hardware allows you direct access to the last page. Anyway, here's the conclusion [arstechnica.com] :

Conclusion

When we started this review, we only had an inkling of what we might come up with. By the time we finished, our perception that USB drives were a commodity was completely erased. While every USB Flash drive is essentially the same in that they carry data, they are all slightly different and not every drive will meet everyone's needs.

Drive summaries

PNY Attache: As drives go, this one was stylish and sturdy. It comes with a full assortment of accessories, including the USB extension cable and a neck strap. Aside from that, the drive itself is a rather lackluster offering. While much faster than any USB 1.1 device, the read and write speeds are rather slow for Hi-speed USB. The other unfortunate thing about this drive is the lack of extra software outside of the Windows 98 drivers. While it may be possible to find this drive for as little as US$15 to US$20 (after Mail-in-Rebate), it typically goes for US$30+. That is too expensive for such a mediocre drive. --- Score = 5/10

SanDisk Cruzer Mini: Of all the drives in this review, this drive is the thinnest. Some might even call it sexy, but we would not go that far. Unlike most other drives, it does not block dual-stacked USB ports in the slightest. Other positive things include the excellent LED visibility, good read/write scores, and it even works in unpowered USB hubs. Even the CruzerLock encryption software was solid and pretty easy to use. Some complaints would be the lack of a write-protect switch and that the plastic loop for the lanyard is rather weak. (It's fine for hanging around your neck, but it certainly is not load bearing in the least.) That said, the prices found for the 128, 256, and 512MB models make this a good deal. --- Score = 8/10

Mushkin Flashkin: We had mixed feelings about this drive. On one hand it offered a full complement of accessories and features, such as the standard neck strap, USB extension cable, write-protect switch, security software and it even worked in unpowered USB hubs. Yet despite this, everything about the drive felt like it was cheaply made and the security software felt like it was coded as an afterthought. The plastic body was very bulky and felt extremely hollow. On top of this, the slow read/write performance was troubling and the one-year warranty made us wonder how long this drive would last. Overall, the drive is not that bad, but what really lowered the score is that the price for the drive is more expensive than most of the other drives (which are notably better equipped.) --- Score = 6/10

SimpleTech Bonzai Xpress: This drive has the best physical design of the bunch. It is both strong and sturdy, yet still compact and a comfortable to carry. While it does not come with a USB extension, it does have a write-protect switch and some very helpful file synchronization software. What makes this USB drive especially nice is the strong read/write speeds, the solid two-year warranty, and the very nice price (considering how much is included.) --- Score = 9/10

Fujifilm USB Drive 2.0: Two words: speed demon. Without a doubt, this drive is fast! With top read speeds reaching 8.5MB/sec and write performance that destroyed the competition, this drive is perfect for anybody who is impatient or never seems to have enough time. Unfortunately, this drive has its drawbacks. The drive is the largest of the bunch, has no accessories included, no write-protect switch, no low-power support, and a higher price than most. Fortunately, it does come with decent security software and a lifetime warranty. --- Score = 8/10

Verbatim Store 'n' Go: In a nutshell, this drive was consistently above average. Never spectacular, but never terrible either. Read/Write performance is definitely strong, but nothing amazing. It comes equipped with neck strap, USB extension cable, and security software. As mentioned before, the security software does not run directly from the drive, but wants to install on each and every machine in use. In addition, this drive is not bootable and has no low-power support, either. On the bright side, it is compact and carries a lifetime warranty. Unfortunately, the higher than average price keeps it from scoring higher as well. --- Score = 7/10

Transcend JetFlash 2A: This drive is nearly perfect. It comes with everything: Neck strap, USB extension cable, write protect switch, and easy-to-use security software. On top of this, it is bootable and works fine in unpowered hubs. It carries a 2-year warranty and has absolutely amazing read speeds (9.5MB/sec.) Unfortunately, its "Achilles heel" is its write performance. When working with small and medium size files, it is the worst of the bunch. It was even slower than our USB 1.1 drive. It does manage to put in average scores on the larger file sizes, but even then it is a bit of a disappointment. The saving grace is that the price is quite nice. --- Score = 9/10

Iomega Mini: For something known as a "mini", it was certainly one of the largest of the bunch. That aside, this is a smokin' drive. While it was not able to write data as fast as the Fujifilm drive at the small and medium file sizes, it was the fastest drive in both reading and writing at larger file sizes. It also has a neat slot for inserting custom labels. Unfortunately, this drive comes with no accessories, no write-protection, no boot support, and it has a really dim activity LED. The good news is that it works great in unpowered hubs. What really separated this drive from the rest was the Active Disk applications for both Mac OS and Windows. --- Score = 8/10

Strapping 1GB around your neck (5, Interesting)

kyoko21 (198413) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327507)

Well, for those that are interested in the 'bulk' data, you can pickup a 1GB SanDisk Cruzer Mini for only $162 after an instant rebate...

http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/m as terid=1956584/search=1gb%20usb

Quick & Dirty Summary Link (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327525)

Here [arstechnica.com] is a link to summary/comparison matrix for those of you who don't care about the other details.

Anonymous, 'cause I ain't no karma whore.

How about... (5, Informative)

jwr (20994) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327552)

How about fixing USB 1.1 support in Linux first?

USB must be the crappiest kernel subsystem in existence: I can crash 2.4 in a number of ways just by plugging in and removing USB devices. Bug reports are being ignored, sometimes people sugggest moving to 2.6.

Well, 2.6 freezes dead hard when I plug in my USB audio device.

USB is the primary reason for the short (several days) uptime on my laptop.

Re:How about... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327825)

SHHHHH! Don't say that.

Linux is good, Linux is great. We surrender our will, as of this date.

Linux is good, Linux is great. We surrender our will, as of this date.

Linux is good, Linux is great. We surrender our will, as of this date.

Re:How about... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327894)

How about fixing USB 1.1 support in Linux first?

Agreed. And while they're at it, could they PLEASE fix Microsoft Optical Mice?

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327938)

What's wrong with Microsoft optical mice? Haven't had any problems with other brands (takes a little bit of /etc/X11/XF86config editing), and they're all the same Korean hardware underneath the labelling...

Thou Shalt Not Use GIF for Screenshots! (2, Funny)

green pizza (159161) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327569)

Thou Shalt Not Use GIF for Screenshots!

http://arstechnica.com/reviews/004/flash/RAID0.gif [arstechnica.com]

GIF really makes that screenshot look bad. The gradent in the window bar was reduced to just two colors and the icons and RAID tab are a dithered mess.

Re:Thou Shalt Not Use GIF for Screenshots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327766)

No, thats how it's supposed to look. It's a Mac.

Re:Thou Shalt Not Use GIF for Screenshots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327806)

GIF really makes that screenshot look bad. The gradent in the window bar was reduced to just two colors and the icons and RAID tab are a dithered mess.

The images are meant to inform with a minimum of bandwidth usage. Given the low number of *necessary* colors, the wide areas of uniform color, and the prospect of nasty JPG artifacting on complex, hard-edged images such as dialog box text, GIF is a perfectly workable solution for screen shots.

Now if by "screenshot" you mean wanking to the sexy title bar gradient as the pretty little icons wink at you, then please disregard the preceeding statement.

Mac OS X 10.3.4 (1)

green pizza (159161) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327597)

Does anyone know if Mac OS X 10.3.4 has better USB drive performance? I see that the release notes mention USB fixes/changes since 10.3.3, but it is not much more specific than that.

Where's the MUVO TX? (0)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327610)

Anyone tried the MUVO TX from Creative? It's a USB 2.0 drive of the same type, but it has built in MP3 and voice recording and a cool AAA Battery carrying case for like $40 more than some of othe models Ars reviewed.

I have NOT tried it, by the way; just seen the marketing, but I'm thinking of buying one... I'd rather have something that is more than just an elaborate drive, and the MUVOs seem to fit the bill.

I was distressed that Ars ignored it in their review, but perhaps they didn't want to have to consider the extra functionality in their comparison?

Re:Where's the MUVO TX? (2, Informative)

Ann Elk (668880) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327809)

FWIW: I have a MUVO NX (128MB, USB 1.1) and it rocks! The sound quality is great, I get at least 20 hours of play time on a single rechargable AAA battery, it's small, and durable. My only complaint is the headphones seem to be designed to tangle their wires as quickly as possible.

The MUVO TX was announced about a week after I bought my NX. Such is life with technology. Grrr....

Fuji flash drive (4, Interesting)

chiph (523845) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327621)

I've had a 256mb Fuji for 18 months now, and a 8mb DiskOnKey [diskonkey.com] for 2 years before that (the Fuji is a re-branded DiskOnKey drive). The complaints from Ars Technica are only valid if you keep your flash drive on a lanyard. As I can't stand anything hanging off my neck (too much like a tie!), I keep mine clipped to my keyring. I've never had it come unclipped, nor have I lost the drive part (the clip is on the cover, not the drive itself). In fact, having the clip on the cover is very useful, as I can leave it connected to my keyring while the drive is in use.

I'm surprised the review didn't cover performance under GnuPG and PGP -- I keep my keyrings on it, as well as my Quicken backups. Plus tons of room left for mp3s to listen while at work. The SiSoft benchmarks are nice, but I'd like to know how slow/fast they are relative to an IDE drive.

Chip H.

Re:Fuji flash drive (1)

Quixote (154172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327864)

I keep mine clipped to my keyring. ..... I keep my keyrings on it, ...

Argh! The recursion is killing me!

I won't register (-1, Offtopic)

Schugy (556670) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327626)

I'll never read it. Why do you post links to webpages that force us to give our email addresses?

Bug me not to the rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327821)

http://www.bugmenot.com/

Very unique? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327629)

> Some have very unique features

Something can't be 'very unique'. Nor can it be 'quite unique', 'almost unique' or anything besides either 'unique' or 'not unique'.

Sometimes I feel I must be nearly unique in knowing this.

Despite appearances, I am not a shill. (2, Funny)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327647)

But I'm wondering if they reviewed anything that was inside of this little beastie [thinkgeek.com] .

And if what some of the above posters have put up about washer/dryer incidents is true, you can STILL take it into the bath with you!

My experience (1)

DroppedAtBirth (776511) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327748)

I have a Iomega USB 1.1 256mb Secure Drive. I love it and wouldn't change a thing about it, plus I got if for 45 bucks.

I hate neck strap that is connected to the cap/lid (3, Informative)

antdude (79039) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327792)

If the cap/lid comes off, there goes your USB Flash HDD! SanDisk and others are smart to put on the Flash drive, not the cap/lid! My 512 GB PNY brand (not the same one in the article) has it on the cap! I don't bother to wear it on my neck anymore since I can lose it easily.

Can you dual boot a bootable USB drive? (5, Interesting)

DroppedAtBirth (776511) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327799)

Can you dual boot a bootable USB drive? Sounds like a fun way to waste a few hours....

Solid State Raid (1)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327826)

Now there sounds like the most expensive storage device other than carving into pure gold. Actually, solid state RAID may be more expensive.

Win95 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327837)

From the article:
Windows 95 does not appear to have support


Wasn't 98 the first version of windows that supported USB in general? That might be why 95 "does not appear to have support."

Re:Win95 (2, Interesting)

Halvard (102061) | more than 9 years ago | (#9328062)

Actually, Win95 OEM SR2 was the first to support USB without third party support. It's commonly called Win95B.

"Very Unique" (4, Informative)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327839)

Something is either unique or it isn't. Saying "Very Unique" is like saying "very one of a kind."

You'd think this place was run by /. editors or sumptin.

Sort of like "less optimal" (1)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327983)

The other misuse of "unique" that gets to me is how it's used as praise, as if simply being "unique" (or, more often, "one of the most unique...") were a good thing in itself.

Cruzer Titanium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9327972)

I can't believe they did not consider the Cruzer Titanium by Sandisk. Yes it is expensive, but it is really fast. My own unscientific tests have it outperforming the iomega drive by a wide margin.

Kanguru skipped? (1)

soboroff (91667) | more than 9 years ago | (#9327974)


It's a shame they didn't review Kanguru's MicroDrive+ [kanguru.com] . I don't know about speed, but it includes a SD slot (or CF slot on another model), so it doubles as a USB SD card reader.

Does write protect work with Linux? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9328006)

I noticed that some of these flash drives have "write protect". However, I noticed that some manufacturers claim that Linux cannot use the write protect functionality:

" When you put the write-protect switch to "ON" position, you cannot write any file or data into the device. You still can view and read the files and data in the device. You can switch the "Write-Protect" switch even you do not disconnect the device. Due to Linux OS limitation, the write-protect switch will not work on-line."

Flash drive manual [panram.com.tw]

But I see in status messages when people plug in the flash drives that it says "write protect is off".

Does anyone have experience with these products in Linux and whether write protect works with the flash drive connected?

pqi (2, Interesting)

austad (22163) | more than 9 years ago | (#9328026)

I wish they had tested the PQI Intelligent Stick [pqi1st.com] . It's the smallest drive around and looks pretty sweet. Pricing isn't bad either if you look on Froogle.

I guess I could always pick one up and return it if it sucks. But really, how much could it possibly suck as long as it works? I can't imagine I'm going to get horrible transfer speeds with it.
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