The USB, (Universal Serial Bus), Flash Drive was introduced as an alternative to floppy disks with the advantage of being more reliable, more durable, much faster and with much larger storage capacity.
Today the USB Flash Drives have completely replaced the aging floppy disks. Since they are mostly used to store and transfer digital files between computers the USB Flash Drives are seen as a complement to memory cards, not a competitive product.
The size of USB Flash Drives and lack of a USB interface on small portable devices like cameras and MP3 players contribute to the fact of them not being a competitive storage format to memory cards.
Considering that every new desktop computer, laptop computer and printer has at least one USB interface the USB Flash Drive standard is the most compatible flash memory device for transferring digital files to and from a computer.
Since USB Flash Drives do not have a standardised form factor they can be found in many different sizes and designs, but in general they are no bigger than a lighter or a pack of gum. The same applies for the USB Flash Drive as a name, since it is not a standardised trademark it can be found under many names. Such as Jump Drive, Pocket Drive and Pen Drive, still the USB Flash Drive name is the most common used when referring to USB based flash memory devices.
They are also called USB Pen Drive, USB Memory Sticks, or just USB Stick. The term USB Flash Drive is the correct term however, because it was created around a drive, as Windows sees the device, i.e. a disk drive, yet it is made of Flash Memory, not disk platters, and it uses the Univerisal Serial Bus as its interface (USB), hence USB Flash Drive.
Flash Memory is the type of memory which retains data even when power is withdrawn.
The industry adopted Windows FAT32 file format as a standard for the USB Flash Drive (an old Windows file format from the Windows 95 and 98 days, which is not a secure file system). Windows now uses the secure NTFS system, but can still access drives formatted as FAT32. Mac and Linux systems can also use FAT32 drives even though they also use the own secure file system on their hard drives. This makes the USB Flash Drive a brilliant cross-platform data sharing device.
USB Flash Drives can be found with two different data transfer speeds. The USB 1.1 standard has a transfer speed of 1.5 MB/second or 8X speed and the USB 2.0 has a transfer speed of 60 MB/second or 40X speed. The speed of the USB 2.0 is the fastest in the memory card industry.