I am very fond of portable software. While it’s great topic on its own I also want to cover external media. Portable is not much use sitting on local drive without means to accompany you.
Flash drive is obviously plan A for carrying portable software. It’s good to have plan B (also it’s geek to have plans C, D and E like me) but flash drive comes first. Buying cheap one is bad plan. Read on for my reasoning.
Hard truths about flash drives
- They are not reliable. All that marketing about decades of life and millions of write cycle is total crap. I had not had a flash drive that reached one year of usage alive. Cheap ones don’t survive month with load I put on them.
- They are not created equal. Difference in specs between different drives can be up to ten times. You should choose very carefully to get good and reliable one.
Advantages of expensive flash drives
- Casing and internal materials. It’s hard to make people spend money for something they can’t see and touch. Manufacturers use solid stuff with these – good rubber or metal. The tougher it is the longer it will last.
- Electronics and storage. Expensive drives get best available. Common read/write speeds for cheap flash drives is 10/3 MB/s. For decent drives 20/20 is good but there are better ones.
In the beginning difference was because of using single-level cells (SLC) or multi-level cells (MLC). SLC are much faster and expensive. MLC came later and popularized flash drives by dropping prices. I heard that SLC are no longer used at all but it’s hard to confirm – manufacturers rarely release such details.
So even expensive drive is going to die sooner or later. But it will live longer and serve you much better and faster. So which one you could go for? I am going to showcase three excellent drives I had used.
Apacer Handy Steno HT203 200x
- thin design, easy to plug in and out;
- metal frame inside;
- can’t loose cap;
- comes with nice dock station.
Corsair Flash Voyager GT
- rubber casing makes it resistant to water and falling (but not to blows – no hard frame inside);
- wicked fast;
- comes with cable (nice) and strap (ugly).
SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition
- metal casing and geek looks;
- retractable connector;
- comes with file recovery software (at least they are honest :) ) and strap (semi-ugly).
What flash drive are you using now? Are you satisfied with it? Would you buy cheaper or more expensive one next time? Tell me in the comments.