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Author Topic: USB Flash Drives: What to look for or avoid.  (Read 11127 times)
nosh
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« on: February 26, 2008, 08:40:33 AM »

I'm probably picking up an 8GB pen drive tomorrow. Should I be looking for anything besides a good manufacturer? Or are they all plain vanilla - "one does no more or no less than the next"?
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BigJim
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2008, 09:13:47 AM »

According to an item in one of Gizmo Richards newsletters last year there is tremendous difference in performance amongst Flash Drives. I'm sorry, but I can't provide the exact reference right now but he's been messing with them for a while his figures are impressive if not shocking. Good luck!
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Lashiec
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2008, 09:52:33 AM »

As everything in life, more price -> better performance. Unless you want the top of the line model (which will cost you dearly), try to stay in the middle, and buy something manufactured by a well-known brand, like Kingston, SanDisk, Corsair, etc.

This is the article BigJim is talking about. And this comparison at AnandTech is also very helpful, despite its age, most of what is said there still applies today.
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f0dder
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2008, 09:57:02 AM »

Higher price doesn't necessarily mean better performance, you could be paying just for the brand... so definitely see if you can find a review, be very careful about trusting specs published by the manufacturer, check whether speeds are giving in megabits or megabytes, and whether kilo/mega means 1000n or 1024n.
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AndyM
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2008, 09:58:15 AM »

Decide if you want U3 or not.  If the drive comes with it and you don't want it, take the proper steps to get it off (not just delete files like I tried).

Otherwise when you plug it into a machine that doesn't have autorun disabled, or you forget to hold the Shift (?) key down, the U3 drive will load stuff onto the machine.  I think it's supposed to remove the stuff when you take out the drive, but doesn't always.  The stuff may be harmless, but people may not want you leaving droppings on their machines.

I might not have all these details right, but my point is to watch out if you want to avoid or understand the U3 behavior.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2008, 11:06:18 AM »

Speed: Some are faster than others. Faster means more expensive. Decide if you really need speed. If you do, buy the fastest you can afford.

Durability: Not all USB drives are built the same. Generally it is worth the extra money to pay for a durable drive over one that is pretty or "clever" (for example flip open caps or such).

Warranty: Not so much a big deal as you are probably going to be a new one in a year anyway that will be twice as fast and twice as big for the same price.

Shape: If there is a particular computer you will be using it on, make sure it fits. This is often a problem with laptops have USB ports on top of each other, but can also be a problem if they are side-by-side, but too close for wider thumb drives.

To U3 or not to U3: If you like U3 and will be using it mostly on computers you have administrative rights on, go for it. If you want the drive to be usable on more systems and be more compatible, forgo the U3 and the added price. There are plenty of other options like portableapps.com.

#1 Thing to do is to figure out how you are going to transport it and not lose it. (I suggest attaching it to a neck cord that allows you to detach it. The empty cord around you neck will help to remember you left you stick in the computer as you walk away.)

#2 Is to determine how you recover WHEN you lose it. (Oh yes you will!)
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AndyM
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2008, 11:56:22 AM »

(I suggest attaching it to a neck cord that allows you to detach it. The empty cord around you neck will help to remember you left you stick in the computer as you walk away.)

Or a really long cord that you don't detach it from.  The sudden choking sensation will help you remember smiley
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Deozaan
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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2008, 02:02:33 PM »

#1 Thing to do is to figure out how you are going to transport it and not lose it. (I suggest attaching it to a neck cord that allows you to detach it. The empty cord around you neck will help to remember you left you stick in the computer as you walk away.)

#2 Is to determine how you recover WHEN you lose it. (Oh yes you will!)

I got a 512MB Flash Drive a few years ago and I've never lost it. It came with a very durable rubber case that connects to my keychain.



When I use it, I leave my keychain out. So when I grab my keys to go, I'll notice the weird looking hollow rubber shell, grab the USB drive (if I forgot it) and go. If I really lose it, then I've lost my keys too. Which is why I put a txt file on my USB drive with my name and address so if someone is feeling charitable they can return my stuff to me.
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katykaty
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2008, 02:41:13 PM »


I got a 512MB Flash Drive a few years ago and I've never lost it. It came with a very durable rubber case that connects to my keychain.



When I use it, I leave my keychain out. So when I grab my keys to go, I'll notice the weird looking hollow rubber shell, grab the USB drive (if I forgot it) and go. If I really lose it, then I've lost my keys too. Which is why I put a txt file on my USB drive with my name and address so if someone is feeling charitable they can return my stuff to me.

Or if they're feeling not so charitable: pop round and help themselves to the rest of your belongings  Wink
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qwibbles
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2008, 02:46:01 PM »

Don't be silly ... they will be to busy hacking into your password safe. So they can empty your bank account  cheesy
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nosh
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2008, 02:51:33 PM »

Thanks everyone!

I was thinking along the lines of Kingston/Transcend/Sandisk but after reading Lashiec's links & some online reviews I've decided on the Corsair Flash Voyager 8 GB (some interesting links to flash storage info on their home page.)
[external review]
It has excellent ratings everywhere I've looked & seems to be ahead of most on both speed and durability. They also have a 10 year warranty, which is twice the norm. As Tinjaw mentioned, the actual warranty period is not significant these days but it does say a lot about the manufacturer's confidence in their product. The only thing that sucks about it is the ghastly blue! Methinks it's well worth a slight premium. smiley

PS: I rarely lose things which is strange coz I'm very absent-minded. Before I installed a security software on my phone I used to have a startup note identifying me as a member of the police force. tongue






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qwibbles
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2008, 02:54:36 PM »

The Flash Voyager GT is red ... and nice and quick. (It costs more but looks better :-))
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nosh
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2008, 03:24:05 PM »

Was reading a review about it in another tab as you posted. I'm trying to figure out how the GT makes it different - not paying more just coz it's red. It does look better but still - red and black with a _yellow_ company logo & a _blue_ LED? Cry This thing is more colorful than Richard Simmons!
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qwibbles
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2008, 03:55:33 PM »

Sorry for the delay. The GT is faster than the normal voyager ... (so I have read in other reviews).

http://www.tweaktown.com/...page_2_testing/index.html

I own both a Flash Voyager 8GB and Flash Voyager GT. The GT is much faster.

I have never had and issue to date using them. And vista works using the Voyager GT for 'Ready Boost' - although I am not sure the ready boost really does anything .... but that's another post.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 04:03:32 PM by qwibbles » Logged
nosh
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2008, 04:55:53 PM »

Thanks for the link. I'll obviously take your word on the speed difference since you own both but here's something interesting I read in another review...

Quote
The red Flash Voyager GT that landed on my desk was pretty much the same as the blue Flash Voyager that was sent to me in February. If you can find yourself a blue regular Flash Voyager manufactured toward the end of 2006 you might get lucky as you will be paying the price for a regular Flash Voyager, but actually getting a Flash Voyager GT!
Source
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ljbirns
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2008, 06:25:05 PM »

 For what it is worth,  I bought a  no name ( super flash drive is printed on it) at a computer show about 18 mos ago. 4 GB  USB 2.0  I paid $ 35.00.  I don't know how fast it reads or writes but it is fast enough for me and the price was right (Oct  2006 ).  I loaded portable apps on it Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office. All work fine.  U3 drives  take up a lot of space for the " U3 " function . (The U3 drive  part doesn't work on  my wife's Vista machine ) I don't think U3 is worth it.
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Lew
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2008, 02:25:46 AM »

Thanks for the link. I'll obviously take your word on the speed difference since you own both but here's something interesting I read in another review...

Quote
The red Flash Voyager GT that landed on my desk was pretty much the same as the blue Flash Voyager that was sent to me in February. If you can find yourself a blue regular Flash Voyager manufactured toward the end of 2006 you might get lucky as you will be paying the price for a regular Flash Voyager, but actually getting a Flash Voyager GT!
Source

I've read some negative user reports about the older one - "physical" problems with the casing etc - I think it was on Amazon
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Tom
nosh
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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2008, 05:51:26 AM »

Thanks tomos, I'll be sure to check it out - from my initial inquiries at the shops today, the newer red/GT ones cost three times as much as the regular ones so I'm fairly certain of buying the latter. Neither are in stock so I'll probably have to wait a couple of days anyway.
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f0dder
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2008, 05:58:36 AM »

Do keep in mind that the GT models are plenty faster, that's why you're paying a premium for those.
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oldfart
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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2008, 08:20:35 AM »

Just this morning I found a free download at PC World called HD Tach.  It is designed to test the speed of USB flash drives.  You can find it here:  http://www.pcworld.com/do...ownloads/description.html
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dmg
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« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2008, 04:22:15 AM »

I've just got this 8gb Dane-Elec here in the UK, good price and performance seems as good if not better than my previous 2gb pendrive.

http://www.7dayshop.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=777_6&products_id=103796

edit by jgpaiva: replaced tinyurl link with actual link
« Last Edit: March 07, 2008, 11:23:15 AM by jgpaiva » Logged
CleverCat
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« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2008, 04:31:22 AM »

Our PC shop had a customer who's wife put his Sahara Flash Drive in the washing machine & dryer and..

IT STILL WORKS! Grin

Can't get a better recommendation than that... Thmbsup
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kevmacca
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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2008, 02:27:26 PM »

she should try putting the computer in there to, save on all these antispyware and virus progs  Grin Grin Grin
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CleverCat
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« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2008, 09:03:34 AM »

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J-Mac
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« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2008, 01:28:21 AM »

Do keep in mind that the GT models are plenty faster, that's why you're paying a premium for those.

NOT faster, really, in the 8 GB flavor. Read the more recent reviews - they have switched their GT models from using SLC chips to the more standard MLC chips - and there is not much of a speed difference at all from their regular drives. Reviews have gone straight down (esp. for the 16 GB drives), and users are returning them left and right. Newegg stopped selling them for the time being. Most users are crying that Corsair is now mislabeling - and overpricing - them since they switched to the MLC chips and lost the speed advantage they once had.

In fairness to Corsair, they most likely had to switch to MLC - it has been adopted as the standard by whatever group regulates the drives - or so I have read. But people are still fuming because they kept the GT name and price.

Jim
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