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USB Flash Drive Round-up

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the yeee-haw dept.

Data Storage 348

Adam writes "Ars has published a massive USB 2.0 Hi-speed Flash drive roundup, with 10 USB 2.0 flash drives that they've tested on three OSes. They rate the drives by performance, durability, and features/accessories (including the crappy software that no one uses). Definitely a good read for anyone who has recently sat on their USB thumbdrive!"

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348 comments

iPod shuffle ... (1, Informative)

Draoi (99421) | about 9 years ago | (#12323489)

... is conspicuously missing. Why? It's an excellent and reasonably fast 512MB/1GB storage device which also happens to double as an mp3 player.

Just wondering ...

Re:iPod shuffle ... (-1, Troll)

James A. Y. Joyce (877365) | about 9 years ago | (#12323544)

Because iPods suck. (Not trolling, seriously. You should see what CmdrTaco thinks of 'em.)

OH YAY YET ANOTHER JAMES JOYCE TROLL ACCOUNT!!111` (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323640)

ROR

Whitelist (1, Troll)

tepples (727027) | about 9 years ago | (#12323545)

Some of the newer arcade video games accept select brands of USB memory cards. However, they tend to have whitelists such that only pure flash drives, and not hard drives or music players, are recognized.

Re:Whitelist (3, Interesting)

rsborg (111459) | about 9 years ago | (#12323850)

Some of the newer arcade video games accept select brands of USB memory cards.

In order to find out WTF you were talking about, I googled [google.com] your text... and got zilch. So what did you mean? And how can you identify a USB device in a video game... and why would they do this?

Re:Whitelist (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | about 9 years ago | (#12323866)

I'm curious.

What is a 'pure flash drive' in comparison to any other USB storage device? What's the advantage in including a small subset of USB storage devices?

Also, how can they tell the difference?

Re:Whitelist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323955)

Some of the newer arcade video games accept select brands of USB memory cards. However, they tend to have whitelists such that only pure flash drives, and not hard drives or music players, are recognized.

Nice jargon troll.

Re:iPod shuffle ... (2, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | about 9 years ago | (#12323558)

I use the iRiver with the Korean UMS firmware upgrade you insensitive clod!

And I'm not an old person in Korea.

Re:iPod shuffle ... (4, Informative)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | about 9 years ago | (#12323593)

They excluded all mp3 players [arstechnica.com] from the review.

If they added mp3 players, the review would have grown from 12 devices to 30.

However, if I had a choice between a 512MB Flash Drive for $60, and a 512MB Flash Drive/mp3 player for $99, I would definately consider the latter.

Re:iPod shuffle ... (-1)

Draoi (99421) | about 9 years ago | (#12323621)

Sure they did, but to your last comment, the point is the Shuffle is actually *cheaper* in the 1GB model than many of the flash drives of comparable size that ars reviewed. That makes their survey kinda skewed somewhat ...

Re:iPod shuffle ... (4, Informative)

calibanDNS (32250) | about 9 years ago | (#12323919)

1GB iPod Shuffle: $149
The prices of the reviewed drives (according to the comparison matrix at the end of the article) are $77, $120, $116, $138, $86, $127, $108, $80, and $80 for each of the 1GB models. Not only is EVERY drive reviewed cheaper than a 1GB iPod Shuffle, but 4 of the 1GB drives are cheaper than the 512MB iPod Shuffle. Don't get me wrong, I love my iPod Shuffle, but it is NOT cheaper than these drives.

Re:iPod shuffle ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323960)

How can such a blatant piece of disinformation be modded up? The 1GB Shuffle costs $149. Here [arstechnica.com] are all the reviewed drives. Which one is over $149 in the 1GB model?

MOD DOWN... not insightful, it's incorrect (2, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 9 years ago | (#12324008)

The iPod shuffle 1 GB is more expensive then every 1 GB drive reviewed.

Re:iPod shuffle ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12324030)

Just wondering ...

Because there are approximately 1000001 similar products out there which are both storage devices and mp3 players, and that's too many to review.

Just out of curiousity, why do you say that the iPod shuffle is "conspicuously missing" but conspicuously failed to mention similar products by Creative Labs, iRiver, Rio, and so on? Why not review SanDisk's mp3 players as well as their memory sticks? We're not astroturfing, are we?

I GOT A GREASED UP YODA DOLL SHOVED UP MY ASS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323491)

GO LINUX!

bootable (5, Informative)

qewl (671495) | about 9 years ago | (#12323494)

Still, the most important feature is that it's bootable. (And some still aren't) I love having Feather Linux on a keychain. The Cruzer Mini has done me well.

BIOS upgrades? (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 9 years ago | (#12323565)

Still, the most important feature is that it's bootable. (And some still aren't)

Are BIOS upgrades generally available for those older mainboards that have USB ports but no ability to boot from USB storage? For instance, I use a Dell Dimension 4100 computer manufactured in fall of 2000.

Maybe...one more time (0, Flamebait)

ToddBox (825708) | about 9 years ago | (#12323498)

Oh good lord...another dupe.

Re:Maybe...one more time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323624)

It's not a dupe you fuckwit. A post on Arstechnica is not a post on Slashdot.

Most people? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323502)

From TFA:

Previously, most people had no idea what a Flash drive was, but now you can be sure to find most people with even a basic Flash drive in their pocket or purse.

Uh, no. Whoever wrote this must make a living pickpocketing or mugging geeks only.

Re:Most people? (4, Insightful)

vitamine73 (818599) | about 9 years ago | (#12323686)

I do not believe the vast majority of undergraduate biology students to whom I teach are be geeks. Most of them carry these things in their pocket or backpack! Previously, the only people I knew that had one where geeks!

If you use multiple computers to do your day's work, this is certainly an affordable and practical solution.. and people in this situation are doing it!

Re:Most people? (1)

calibanDNS (32250) | about 9 years ago | (#12323954)

The commenters point was that it is probably not true that most people have a flash drive these days, and I have to agree with that. A sampling of only undergrad bio students isn't a very good sampling of the US population as a whole (which is what I'd be lead to believe by the statement in the article). If you think that over 50% of US citizens have a flash drive, you're badly mistaken. I'm constantly in meetings of 20 or more people (with many geeks present) and when someone asks to borrow a flash drive to exchange files, I'd guess that only about 4 or 5 people in the meeting tend to have one (20 - 25%).

Re:Most people? (1)

vitamine73 (818599) | about 9 years ago | (#12324024)

A sampling of only undergrad bio students isn't a very good sampling of the US population as a whole

Altought you have a valid point, this is funny because I live (and teach) in Canada.

Re:Most people? (3, Informative)

aslate (675607) | about 9 years ago | (#12323709)

We've been selling USB drives at school as part of a Young Enterprise company. We're taking orders from teachers that know nothing about computers, students in the lower years that don't know much, the school secretaries, my mum has one. These things are pretty much replacing the floppy as a means of easy, cheap and compatable removable storage.

Re:Most people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323728)

We've been selling USB drives at school as part of a Young Enterprise company. We're taking orders from teachers that know nothing about computers, students in the lower years that don't know much, the school secretaries, my mum has one.

Do these people carry them around everywhere in their pockets and purses? Sorry, but even if they do most people do not.

These things are pretty much replacing the floppy as a means of easy, cheap and compatable removable storage.

Yes, and whilst I'm sure your school secretary and mum carried floppies around in their pockets everywhere they went, most people didn't.

Re:Most people? (1)

NetNifty (796376) | about 9 years ago | (#12323910)

The college I attend dropped support for floppies at the beginning of the year (some machines have floppy drives still but if they break they won't be replaced, and new machines probably won't have them), and as a result everyone carries USB flash drives (all machines have USB ports on the front of the case).

Mugging or pickpocketing people for usb flash drives would be stupid - they cost what, about £12 for 128MB now? I'm in Britain so if you want mug/pickpocket people it would be for mobile phones (I don't know anybody who doesn't have one) rather than cheap USB keys.

Re:Most people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12324000)

Or just look for the trademark white headphones of the Ipod.

Well done, Slashdot! (0, Offtopic)

Ianoo (711633) | about 9 years ago | (#12323503)

Article originally posted 10 days ago on Ars. You're really keeping up with the news, eh Zonk?

What a lame comment. (4, Insightful)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | about 9 years ago | (#12323534)

What a lame comment.

'10 days ago' isn't very old. The news is still relevent and interesting.

The job of the editors isn't to repost news articles as soon as they happen like some RSS newsfeed.

Re:Well done, Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323535)

Article originally posted 10 days ago on Ars.

It doesn't count as a dupe until it's been posted on Slashdot before.

In addition, these days many serious dupe spotters regard a second posting as too easy and only count articles once they've been posted three or more times.

Well done, Slashdot!-Panicing geeks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323556)

"Article originally posted 10 days ago on Ars. You're really keeping up with the news, eh Zonk?"

This just in. The world will end tomorrow! React accordingly.

Re:Well done, Slashdot! (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 9 years ago | (#12323719)

It might take 10 days to make its first appearance on slash, but you can be sure it will be back tomorrow.

Re:Well done, Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323791)

Article originally posted 10 days ago on Ars. You're really keeping up with the news, eh Zonk?
I'm sure it'll be much faster the second time around.

out of style faster than the floppy (2, Insightful)

dattaway (3088) | about 9 years ago | (#12323504)

With the new flash readers as stock on most new computers, these may be unpopular by next year.

Re:out of style faster than the floppy (3, Insightful)

Bastian (66383) | about 9 years ago | (#12323691)

With the new flash readers as stock on most new computers, these may be unpopular by next year.

Only among that miniscule segment of the population that only has to deal with computers made in the past year, year and a half and are only made by manufacturers that include a certain feature set.

But seeing as how a USB key is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new computer or a flash drive for all my friends, I think I'll stick with that.

Re:out of style faster than the floppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12324032)

Only among that segment of the population that only has to deal with computers made in the last 5 years and are only made by manufacturers that include a certain feature set.

But seeing as how a floppy disk is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new computer or USB port for all my friends, I think I'll stick with that.

Re:out of style faster than the floppy (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12323700)

With the new flash readers as stock on most new computers, these may be unpopular by next year.

Is there one flash standard that ALL computers will take, or will there be diversity? Flash, Secure Disk, XD card, or Sony Memorystick?? If there is diversity, it does not really give people confidence that 1 floppy can be taken anywhere and read.

Sony has been putting their Memory Stick readers on all their laptops. It is on my laptop. But I never use it because it is the only Sony I own.

We need an industry standard, one main device for writing and reading data. That is the floppy drive, it just needs to take a couple leaps in memory. 1.44 megs will not cut it, not even close. If the computer industry would have kept this technology up to date, maybe had it double in 1994, double again in 1996, again in 1998, again in 2001, again in 2003, we would have a floppy that is 46 megs. More than enough for almost everyone. Instead we had one huge jump to jazz drives and zip drives that did not become universal. We need 1 standard.

Re:out of style faster than the floppy (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 9 years ago | (#12323855)

If the computer industry would have kept this technology up to date ... we would have a floppy that is 46 megs

We had 120mb floppies years ago (google for 'LS120').

They didn't take off, because at that time CDROM and CDRW were just taking hold and people couldn't see the point.

Re:out of style faster than the floppy (1)

wfberg (24378) | about 9 years ago | (#12323713)

With the new flash readers as stock on most new computers, these may be unpopular by next year.

Yes, because unlike USB Mass Storage, which can be accessed out-of-the-box by any computer with a fairly recent OS and a USB port, my CompactFlash will work beautifully on my friend's PC that has a xD-MMC/SD-MemoryStick1/2 reader! Also, his MemoryStick works great in my MMC/SD-xD-CF combo.. NOT.

Meanwhile, my frickin' car radio has got a USB port to play MP3s. It also has an MMC/SD slot (but no xD, MemoryStick 1/2, CF, etc. etc.)

Re:out of style faster than the floppy (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 9 years ago | (#12323788)

What model of car radio is that? I need to upgrade my car radio, and I never new that ones with USB ports existed! :) Can it play CDs too?

I'm thinking of getting a Creative NuVo TX FM 1GB, it would be pretty cool to be able to click it in place for long trips :)

Re:out of style faster than the floppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323806)

*ahem*. "knew", not "new". My bad.

my experience with Apacer (4, Informative)

selderrr (523988) | about 9 years ago | (#12323526)

i bought one, and I'm not really happy with it : if you attach the drive at your keychain, you can NOT insert the drive in a USB port without the keys : the litlle cord is FIXED on the drive ! This is very annoying, since I have quite a bunch of keys (10+.. hey, there's a poll suggestion) and the whole mess tends to get tangled between the KVM cables.

if you buy a drive : make sure you can unplug it from whatever it is attached to. But make sure that the drive itself doesn't unplug too easily : I lost my previous drive cause the click-'n-hold system wore off and it would unplug at the slightest pull

Re:my experience with Apacer (2, Interesting)

x0dus (163280) | about 9 years ago | (#12323643)

I would also say stay away from Apacer. I have a 256MB HT202 flash drive, and it has never worked. I constantly get "insert a disk" errors when copying files to it. If you do a Google search you will find many others with the exact same problem. They do have a utility on their website that claims to fix the drive by reformatting it, but I haven't heard a single report from anyone saying it works..

Bottom line.. Don't buy Apacer flash drives.

Re:my experience with Apacer (1)

Conanymous Award (597667) | about 9 years ago | (#12323702)

Me, on the other hand, love my Apacer USB drive for the same reason you don't like it. I don't carry it around at a keychain, so the cap being fixed to the safety cord or whatever they call it doesn't bother me at all. On the contrary, I find it the best feature of the drive. I never need to worry about losing the cap, and I know plenty of folks who have lost theirs.

Re:my experience with Apacer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323785)

Me love you too!

Re:my experience with Apacer (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 9 years ago | (#12323872)

Sounds like you should've got the Apacer AV220, with the Creative MuVo TX-style detachable thumb key.

Of course, when you say "keychain", I'm thinking carkeys/housekeys. Is that correct?

Re:my experience with Apacer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12324020)

A small carabine hook should take care of that.

Obligatory (3, Funny)

Have Blue (616) | about 9 years ago | (#12323531)

They seem to have neglected this flash drive that comes with a free MP3 player [apple.com] .

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323586)

All USB MP3 players can function as USB removable drives. The inclusion of MP3 players would have made the article much harder to write, read, and understand.

Re:Obligatory (1)

blueadept1 (844312) | about 9 years ago | (#12323601)

There is already enough apple in that article. They test them on Macs for god's sake. Oh, yes, and the article is about flash drives, not MP3 players, as the other response stated.

helloooo Alliston/Boston (4, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 9 years ago | (#12323582)

FYI, the photos taken with the flash-drive/camera were right on the Charles River, for the most part. The first building is (I believe) the Biogen building right by Alliston Mass Pike exit. The Trader Joe's happens to be in the same parking lot as (ahem) a Microcenter computer store (gee, wonder where everything was bought..) The red building is right near/behind the Central Square T stop. The last photo looks to be taken right after pulling out of the parking lot of the Microcenter/TJ's.

I opened that page up accidentally in Safari instead of Firefox, and man, now I remember why I installed Flashblock [mozdev.org] . Ow. Ow. OW OW OW. 3/4 of the page is flash advertisements!

Re:helloooo Alliston/Boston (1)

maggard (5579) | about 9 years ago | (#12323722)

first building is (I believe) the Biogen building right by Alliston Mass Pike exit.
The faux industrial building by the Allston exit of I90 is a Genzyme production facility, not associated with Biogen. All of Biogen's local offices are located around Kendall/Tech Square area (I'm former Biogen IT contractor).

FWIW, Ars was started by a bunch of Harvard folks, so the Cambridge/Boston backdrops aren't suprising. All of these are on or within a few block of Memorial Drive, which runs along the Charles River from Harvard to MIT.

What's with OS X? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323607)

Any idea why the OSX test yielded results 5MB/s slower than Windows?

dom

The Washing Machine Test - PQI Intelligent Stick (5, Interesting)

licamell (778753) | about 9 years ago | (#12323614)

The PQI stick is absolutely amazing. I have one and leave it in the cargo pocket of whatever pants I'm wearing and hardly remember it's there until it's needed. My roomate also has one (he actually got me mine for this past Christmas) and he has put his through the wash twice already and it still works perfectly.

One thing that's weird in the review is they act so shocked that the I-Stick can be so small and still be so good... but have they ever opened up any other USB thumb drive? Most have what looks like a I-Stick inside them. The case broke off my cruzer titanium (yeah, its titanium, but the part that holds the two halfs together definitely was not!) and I used to carry around the inside piece after that which was about the size of the I-Stick, but of course was not as strong of plastic and couldn't survive like the I-stick has.

Just my $0.02

Re:The Washing Machine Test - PQI Intelligent Stic (1)

gardyloo (512791) | about 9 years ago | (#12323724)

Yes, I got one of these two days ago, on the same day that I got a Cruzer Mini (for work). The PQI I-stick wasn't recognized in Win2k, no matter what I did, wasn't consistently mountable in linux, and kept crashing my WinXP machine. It may have been an anomalously bad little piece of hardware, but that's ridiculous.

PQI 1GB (1)

Solder Fumes (797270) | about 9 years ago | (#12323622)

I use it all the time, very unobtrusive and handy, my only worry is that I'll lose it admist a shuffle of papers, or down a crack in a desk. Also, the wallet caddy broke quickly, because I don't take my wallet out of my pocket before I sit down. I think the caddy counts as another one of those afterthoughts.

I taped one into the PCMCIA slot filler for my laptop, it's kind of a neat place to hide it.

What we need is one universal standard (1, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12323633)

These flash drives are nice, but problematic. First, on many computers the only USB ports are on the back of the computer. This is a pain to try and stick the usb memory stick in a port behind the computer, when the computer might be pushed up against a wall, or under a table.

The other problem is they are rather pricey. They are expensive. The cheapest one was $46 bucks. They can get to be over $100 dollars.

What we need is another jump in floppy disks. Like when it jumped from 720k to 1.44 megs. The #1 file type that I carry around are documents. And some PDF files, some powerpoint presentations can get to be big.

With all the innovation, we run a risk of having multiple products doing the same thing, and different computers supporting different hardware. For example, I really wished that all computers had a CD-RW. My computer lab has just DVD drives. It does not make sence, it is a lab, who is going to watch movies in a lab? But writing data to a drive is needed.

The anwser is to keep the #1 standard of the past 20 years. Floppy drives were the standard, every PC had a floppy, you could take your disk and know with 100% certanty you could read the data. There was no problem of "I brought my zip disk... huh? You don't have a zip drive?". Lets work on making a floppy drive take a couple leaps. I expected the past couple years for the 1.44megs to double a few times, to be around 11.52 megs if it doubled 3 times the past 6 years. That size disk would be big enough for most files, and people would not need a usb keychain, zip drive, and 3 other methods of transporting files.

Plus, am I the only one who thinks USB keychains are flimsy. A friend had the ipod shuttle and I kept thinking the USB part was going to snap off the cheap plastic. It stuck out of the computer, one bad move, one slip or shove into it and it would snap.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

Zeebs (577100) | about 9 years ago | (#12323687)

This was already tried, didn't take too well.
Zip Drive [google.ca] and Jaz Drive [google.ca] where what came of the effort, at the time I remember media being rather expensive.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12323767)

This was already tried, didn't take too well. Zip Drive and Jaz Drive where what came of the effort, at the time I remember media being rather expensive.

I am not talking about a new media that looks like a disk. I am talking about the disk. It is on every PC. That is what we need, something on every PC. The disk drive is the only hardware that has stayed the same for 2 decades on all PC's. We just needed the data capacity to double a few times. It could have happened with the media, and the same hardware would have still worked.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 years ago | (#12323793)

I am talking about the disk. It is on every PC.

Then use CD-RW. Virtually every new PC comes with a burner. Besides, floppies aren't even on every commodity x86 PC anymore.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 9 years ago | (#12323888)

LS120. Replacement floppy drive.. completely backward compatible with 120MB capacity. It died. Nobody bought it.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 9 years ago | (#12323940)

None of my PCs have had a disk drive in 5 years. And no Apple computers have had one since 1998.

Your assumptions are kind of out-of-date.

Besides, even if your plan WAS used, the floppy drive in today's Dell *still* can't read anything bigger than 1.4 MB... so you'd have to replace the floppy drive, which is a LOT hardware than just plugging something into a USB port.

If you think USB memory sticks are fragile sticking out of the USB port, just buy a $4 USB extension cord and lay it down on your desk. Isn't that a little bit cheaper and easier than replacing the floppy drive on millions of computers?

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

HiggsBison (678319) | about 9 years ago | (#12323721)

First, on many computers the only USB ports are on the back of the computer.

Try a USB-A M-F extension cord. Run it around to the front of the machine. Works for me.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (3, Informative)

dukeblue219 (212029) | about 9 years ago | (#12323750)

If you look online you can find a decent 128mb USB drive for $13, and a good 256mb for just over $20.

Also, are you serious about the floppy drive? Floppy drives are the slowest, most unreliable and generally worst form of storage I have ever used. In the late 90's there were numerous different replacements for the floppy, like Zips, Superdisks (something like that) etc. None of these caught on because nobody had a drive to read it. Now we have a system where 99.5% of all users can read your files from a USB key at far faster speeds than a floppy could offer, but you want to go back to an 11.52mb floppy drive?

Some USB drives are flimsy, yes, but I remember putting floppy disks in my backpack, and almost every time the damn metal thingy would bend or get yanked off. I feel far more confident about tossing a solid state USB key into a backpack, pocket, cupholder, etc.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323760)

You could take your disk and know with 100% certainty you could read the data.

Uh, no. Those things are unreliable as hell. I don't have one good floppy in my house, out of hundreds.

What about CD-RW? (1)

enosys (705759) | about 9 years ago | (#12323783)

What about CD-RW? Practically every computer can read them and most can write them too. The discs are very cheap and you can find great deals on drives too.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

rideaurocks (840805) | about 9 years ago | (#12323828)

You're right about the need for a standard, but guess what the most readily available new standard is for medium-to-large data transfer; USB.

You'd have a tough time to find a computer these day without at least 2 USB 2.0 ports, and having at least that is only a pci card away.

Floppy disks aren't going to be able to handle increased storage space, which is why there haven't been any developments since the ZIP drive. Face it, a USB flash drive IS the new standard!

Re:What we need is one universal standard (2, Interesting)

nemattoad (828569) | about 9 years ago | (#12323871)

Firstly, I have not seen a single new computer in the last year or two without front USB Ports. Also, a USB Hub or a USB extension cable works wonders.

Secondly, the last thing I'd call one of these devices is expensive. I recall it was about 2 years ago when I bought a 256MB SD Card (cheap one) for $139 canadian which was around $100 US back then. Today you can get a 1GB one for $100 US that is of decent quality and a top of the line 1GB for 100$ US.
Now, you may be saying WTF, that is expensive! you must be rich. Well, no, I just have an appreciation for the difference between solid state and magnetic or optical storage. Even compared to todays leading comparable storage medium, CD-RWs, they are A) Much faster, B) No software required, C) Virtually indestructable if retardedness is not an issue.

Finally, I have a Pentium 2 333mhz computer that has USB ports. I think it's safe to say that USB is a standard. As for drivers, if you still run windows 98, using good 'ol floppy drives may not be a bad idea. But if you want to embrace USB mass storage and don't want to upgrade your OS, included win98 drivers will do the trick, but are slightly slow to begin access to the device.

I must say that having had an M-System DiskOnKey 64MB for the last few years, I have had NOT ONE issue with corrupted files, durability, or speed, even on a win98 system. I can however think of numerous times where having to read/write many times to a floppy has yielded in extremly slow speeds and how easily it is to break them.

To top it off, a 11.52 MB floppy disk? Why not just write the 0s and 1s down on a piece of paper, it shouldn't be much slower.

Long live USB Mass Storage Devices! I say this as I am about to head out to buy a verbatim store and go pro 512MB and from my computer which does not have a floppy drive.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

meganthom (259885) | about 9 years ago | (#12323876)

Two of the three computers I use don't have a floppy drive. If I wanted to read a floppy disk with them, I would need a rather large device. If I want to read information from my flash drive on the computer that only has USB ports in the back, I can buy a handy extension cable.

I have a 128MB San Disk Cruzer Micro that cost me $25. It's half the size of my friends' flash drives and works just as well.

While standards are nice, floppy drives are not standard anymore. The disks are too big and too easy to ruin. While USB ports may not always be easy to access, they are practically ubiquitous.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 9 years ago | (#12323929)

I still keep a USB floppy drive around... It's needed sometimes (they're not big and the one I have came with an old laptop).

eg. I had to install XP on a brand new machine. XP can't install directly on SATA and I didn't want to do my usual trick of having an old 30MB IDE drive as drive C, so I had to use the boot drivers that came on floppy that are for this purpose (The XP installer won't read a CD prior to installation, however it will read USB floppy drives... go figure).

I wouldn't store anything on floppies any more... we have ethernet these days.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

LocalFire (698567) | about 9 years ago | (#12323877)

I can load 128 mb on my thumb drive. I got it for Christmas and have no idea how much it cost, but because my kids gave it to me, it must have been reasonable. I have installed Open Office.org from it and routinely haul things around bigger than 12 mb. If you really want to continue using floppies, you could get a usb floppy drive. They only cost about 50 bucks and seem to work all right.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

Have Blue (616) | about 9 years ago | (#12323948)

Yeah, why force yourself to move to a more reliable, faster, cheaper, and all-around better standard when you can pretend you're saving a few cents and put up with losing data every so often?

Of course, if you really want to get modern space and performance out of a floppy drive, you could always do this [8k.com] . Good luck getting it on a keychain, though.

Re:What we need is one universal standard (1)

zakezuke (229119) | about 9 years ago | (#12323963)

What we need is another jump in floppy disks. Like when it jumped from 720k to 1.44 megs. The #1 file type that I carry around are documents. And some PDF files, some powerpoint presentations can get to be big.

We had 2.88meg drives over 10 years ago. Sony 2.88meg drives were stock on 486 series PS/2s by IBM. They used the same media as standard floppy but held twice as much. But they didn't catch on. Why, no bugger would buy them. Hell even fewer bought 5.25inch 2.44meg drives, and in fact only have seen them used on odd IBM equipment.

MD (Sony MiniDisc) would have been good but they didn't want to license it for the PC.

I hate to say it, but CD-R(w) and DVD+/-R(w) are the floppy of this decade. Cheaper than floppy by a long shot, and everyone at least has a CD drive. New systems are hardly ever shipped with a floppy drive anymore, why would they it's not needed.

i just broke my MuVo NX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323638)

i need to get a thumb drive to replace my muvo that i had been using. i was in lab at school where they have the computers on the floor and i plugged it into the front usb port. i managed to kick it with my big feet and broke the damn plug clean off. i was hoping to resolder it back on but the solder points ripped off the pcb.

Re:i just broke my MuVo NX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323707)

I did that to a wireless USB adapter. Just find wherever the solder points lead to and solder there.

Feature not taken into account (3, Interesting)

ArAgost (853804) | about 9 years ago | (#12323663)

It seems like the FA didn't conider the fact that some USB drives simply *don't fit* in some USB ports. I think it's one of the most annoying thing about those little things.

Bonzai with SD card (1)

bender647 (705126) | about 9 years ago | (#12323690)

I have one of the Bonzai drives with remove SD card. It is slow, it is bulky. But its nice to be able to pull the memory out of my camera or Sharp Zaurus, plug it into the Bonzai and sync to the PC. It saves battery life on the camera or PDA for sure.

Re:Bonzai with SD card (1)

Gogo Dodo (129808) | about 9 years ago | (#12323772)

I agree. I have one of these, too. It is a little slow, but the removable and upgradable SD option is great. I recently broke my Bonzai card and will be able to pull out the memory card and stick it into another Bonzai.

a drive full of shit (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323710)

Definitely a good read for anyone who has recently sat on their USB thumbdrive!

I think the only thing good for someone who did that would be a first aid kit...

-SJ53

Looking for SECURE thumbdrives (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 9 years ago | (#12323723)

For the most part, all of these units are the same with only minor variation in features and performance.

What I am looking for is a usb thumbdrive/fob/whatever that has strong anti-tamper security features. I'm talking about on the level of FIPS 140 Level 4 which, among other things, means that it probably encrypts all of its contents and if it detects an attempt to physically get at its innards, it erases the data. Note that levels 1 through 3 are all pretty much the same, but level 4 is a big leap up in protection from level 3.

I need this to store all my drug deal accounts receivables,
and to keep my wife and her electron tunnelling microscope from finding my pr0n.

Bad charts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323753)

Argh! Somebody please instruct these guys on how to build charts. You don't change the line markers between charts! You have to read the legend for each individual chart.

New Removable Media Standard Ignores Media (5, Interesting)

RonBurk (543988) | about 9 years ago | (#12323775)

I've long followed and tried to predict the struggle to replace the floppy as the standard for removable media. Finally, I realized that there will be no standard for removable media -- the standard that matters is the interface for removable media, and that prize goes to USB 2.0.

Once there was an interface standard that supported the basic "something that looks like a disk drive" concept, the war was essentially over. Who cares if different people choose flash, or miniature disk, or anything else that might come along? So long as they can all plug into that USB port and behave pretty much the same to your host computer's software, there's no reason to mind that a single removable media format is not king.

What's left for the USB media revolution is its use in bricks and mortar commerce. In the B&M scene, they are constantly trying to create schemes to get you to carry a device (e.g., smartcards) to let them "touch" your data. The information benefits for the B&M store are clear, and the example of store cards ("10% off if you have your QFC card!") shows that they can offer rewards to induce the information sharing.

But who wants to carry 15 different magstripe cards for 15 different stores? The answer is in those little USB devices that more and more people have in their pocket. What's needed is an open standard for sharing data on a USB device -- a standard that lets the customer control what the merchant can store on the card, and what information the customer is willing to share with that merchant.

Consider the following scenario. I walk into a store I've never visited before. They tell me that if I sign up for an "affinity card", I'll get 30% off today's purchase. But now, instead of spending 15 minutes filling out a lengthy form of personal information, I just plug in my disk on key. Up comes a list of personal profiles I've created. I pick the one I'm willing to share with the store, select how much device storage I'm willing to let the store have on my USB device, punch a button, and I'm done!. When I return that store, I can just plug my pocket USB device into their socket to qualify for discounts.

You can already purchase password database applications designed to run from USB disks. These let you walk up to your Internet cafe machine, plug in your USB disk, and gain access to all your many encrypted passwords for logging into various web sites. There's no reason the same sort of thing can't be extended to "logging in" to B&M stores.

Re:New Removable Media Standard Ignores Media (4, Informative)

Mattintosh (758112) | about 9 years ago | (#12324025)

And while you're futzing around picking out how to limit what they can get to, they dump the memory of the thing and start parsing.

Remember, USB only works where there's a host controller. That host has to be trusted. If it's not, your data is screwed.

A Firewire (IEEE-1394) keychain drive would be much more secure for what you're describing, since the keychain drive would be in a point-to-point communication mode with that untrusted store machine. It wouldn't rely on an untrusted host that might force it to do what you didn't ask it to do. I'm surprised nobody's made a Firewire keychain drive already. It would be a faster and more secure (though a bit less universal) alternative to USB-based drives.

Poorly Written (2, Interesting)

yakofdeath (835581) | about 9 years ago | (#12323776)

Previously, most people had no idea what a Flash drive was, but now you can be sure to find most people with even a basic Flash drive in their pocket or purse.

I thought this article was fairly informative, but their writing sure could use a little work.

Re:Poorly Written (2, Interesting)

Mondoz (672060) | about 9 years ago | (#12323805)

But you've got to give them props for dunking one of them in a glass of water...

USB drive that accepts xD memory? (1)

Construct X (582731) | about 9 years ago | (#12323807)

Does anyone know of a good sulution? It would be nice to take advantage of the over priced memory I have for my digital camera. Ugh, wish this thing took honest to God CF or SD instead.

impossible combination (2, Insightful)

ashpool7 (18172) | about 9 years ago | (#12323809)

Why is it that none of them have write-protect AND are bootable? Both of those are pretty high features on any geek list.

Corsair Flash Voyager (1)

odyrithm (461343) | about 9 years ago | (#12323857)

Even though they think the rubber is a gimmick I can say no sir it is not! I've been looking for a memory stick for ages that could live on my bike/house/work keychain that sits on my bike through all kinds of shitty weather, looks like this one will withstand all the rain god gives and vibrations a bike pumps out unlike countless wimpy mem sticks in the past. woot! /me runs out to buy one!

I suppose the warranty (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 9 years ago | (#12323891)

is a way of quantifying the durability of these things, but they suffer the same limitations of compact flash cards or memory sticks being as that they're the same thing, no? How many times can we jam it in and rip it out before the connnecter gets all loose and starts shorting things out?

Heh ... (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 9 years ago | (#12323897)

Definitely a good read for anyone who has recently sat on their USB thumbdrive!

Shouldn't that be called a "Bumdrive" now?

In all seriousness, though, I've been trying to find reviews on the Creative Labs MuVo TX FM 1GB. I'm very interested in getting one, but I want to hear if anyone's encountered issues with it. Tom's Hardware had a glowing review of the MuVo TX (non-FM), and their only gripe seemed to be the lack of an FM radio.

Anyone here own one? Seen a review? Heck, *written* a review? Link me please :)

USB drive destruction is hard (1)

dascandy (869781) | about 9 years ago | (#12323904)

> anyone who has recently sat on their USB thumbdrive!
Does plugging it into the back of your laptop and then dropping your laptop on the floor back-end first count too?

The USB plug was ripped off. Being soldered back on it physically worked, but was at a 70 degree angle to normal position, so it wasn't portable anymore.

my poor usb stick... *sob*

Write cycle limits (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12323926)

That article didn't discuss my main concern about USB Flash drives - longevity. Flash memory used to be quite limited in the number of write cycles per block. What is the limit on these modern devices? One hundred thousand, one million, or what? And which devices (if any) have the write-leveling that you sometimes hear about, and is it built into the USB drive?
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