The Do's and Don'ts of Buying USB Flash Drives

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying USB Flash Drives

A USB flash drive is a small device that contains flash memory, which is used in order to store and transfer data to and from digital cameras, computers, MP3 players, and other devices. The flash memory does not lose the data if it is unpowered, so it is suitable for making backup copies. The USB flash drive connects to the device via the USB port, and when it is disconnected, the data is safely stored on the memory stick. USB flash drives are small and portable and can therefore be used virtually anywhere, and they allow users to move files from one place to another.

USB flash drives are available from high street electronics shops as well as larger supermarkets, but they can also be ordered conveniently from online auction sites, such as eBay. When buying a USB flash drive, there are several do's and don'ts to follow, and these refer to the flash drive's capacity, speed, and other features that should be considered before making the purchase.

Don't Buy Very Small USB Flash Drives

Older flash drive models were relatively small in capacity, and thus offered limited space for large files. However, today the capacity of USB flash drives is constantly increasing, while their prices are reasonable. In modern USB flash drives, the minimum capacity is about 1 GB, while more capacious USB flash drives extend up to 32 GB or even 64 GB. Although 1GB may be enough for smaller files, it is still recommended to buy a larger USB flash drive for future needs. If the USB flash drive is mainly used for transporting music and photos, then a 2 GB or 4 GB flash drive is a better choice than a small 1 GB. If the flash drive is also intended to be used for transferring large video files to a home cinema system, then the drive's capacity should definitely be more than 4GB.

If all the space is not required on the USB flash drive, it can simply be left empty. On the other hand, it is not possible to fit large files onto a USB flash drive that is too small, so it is worth investing in a more capacious model.

Do Choose a USB Flash Drive With Enough Speed

Besides deciding upon the storage capacity, the USB flash drive's speed should also be chosen according to one's needs. If one needs to be able to copy large files quickly, then a more powerful drive should be chosen. The data transfer rate is expressed in read and write speeds. The unit of measure for these speeds is megabits per second. The read speed represents the speed that is achieved when reading files from the flash drive, while the write speed describes the speed at which the files are written onto the drive. The read speeds are generally higher.

The speed of a flash drive is also influenced by the USB port types available on the computer. USB 3.0 ports are faster than the older, 2.0 and 1.0 ports. When buying a USB flash drive that is compatible with the USB 3.0 interface, it is always recommended to choose a model that is also backwards-compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.0 interfaces.

USB Flash Drive Speed and Interfaces

Mainly, three different interfaces are used for USB flash drives and these include USB 1.0, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0. The USB 1.0 is the oldest USB port available and is also the slowest, while today many computers are equipped with fast USB 3.0 ports. The following chart describes and compares their read and write speeds.


USB 1.0

USB 2.0

USB 3.0

Data Transfer Rate (MB/s)

1.5 on low bandwidth, 12 on full bandwidth


Up to 625

The data transfer rates listed in the chart represent real values. Quite often the theoretical data transfer rate values are larger, as manufacturers prefer to use larger numbers for marketing purposes. In any case, the newest interface USB 3.0 is the fastest that can be used with a USB flash drive, while the slow USB 1.0 is rarely used today because of its many limitations.

Do Look for Advanced Features

Advanced features can greatly enhance a USB flash drive. Water resistance, extra durability, security features, and bundled extras are some of the common advanced features found on some USB flash drives.

Water Resistant USB Flash Drives

Some USB flash drives can withstand splashes and even showers thanks to being water resistant. Such USB flash drives are handy for people who enjoy sports and the outdoors, because they can carry the flash drives in their pockets in any weather, without having to fear that sweat or rain may influence the drive. Water resistant USB flash drives are often covered with rubberised casing.

Ultra-Durable USB Flash Drives

Ultra-durable USB flash drives are built to last, and they are designed work even after being dropped from a height, washed in a washing machine, or baked in an oven, thus being suitable for absent-minded users. These flash drives are either packed into a protective rubber casing or made of other durable materials. The USB drive may have a watertight cap. The speed of a durable USB flash drive may be either fast or slow. The faster the drive, the more expensive it is likely to be.

Secure USB Flash Drives

Secure USB flash drives offer security features, such as hardware encryption, which allows users to store confidential or sensitive data on the drive. Secure drives come equipped with co-processors that manage the encryption algorithms. Although this means losing a bit in read and write speeds, it does provide substantial protection for important files. The authentication method on the flash drive may be as simple as entering a username and password, or may require a fingerprint. Combination locks are also available.

Do Consider Bundled Extras Carefully

Some USB flash drives come equipped with special applications already installed on them. These applications generally make using the drive a joy. For instance, some applications automatically back up the files stored on the drive, or carry Internet favourites and e-mail client information, so these can easily be accessed on any computer. Many manufacturers include media files, such as music and videos, on the drive. To get the most out of a USB flash drive, it is recommended to opt for bundled extras. Free security software is one of the good options for USB flash drives. However, films and music may not be necessary, especially if the style or genre is not a favourite. These media extras can add to the price of the USB flash drive.

Don't Buy a USB Flash Drive Merely Based on Its Appearance

Many USB flash drives come with stylish designs. In fact, a USB flash drive can be very colourful and amusing in appearance, and can serve as a fashion accessory. The flash drive may have a peculiar shape, for example. It may look like a key, a member of the Simpson family, or a rabbit. Some flash drives are also decorated with patterns including flowers, butterflies, or even the Union Jack embellished with glitter. Although these novelty USB flash drives may look great, a USB flash drive should ordinarily not be selected only on the basis of its appearance.

Buying USB Flash Drives on eBay

If you are looking for USB flash drives on eBay, you can always start by typing "USB flash drive" into the search box that you can find at the top of any eBay page. Usually, USB flash drives are chosen according to their storage capacity, so you can also add this value to your keywords. If speed is important, use this as well in order to specify your search. On the other hand, if the capacity and speed do not play a significant role and you simply want a flash drive that looks stylish and can be used for small files, then you may opt for a novelty drive and word your search accordingly. Once you receive the initial search results, you can sort them by price or auction time. You can also set the item's condition. Used drives tend to be cheaper, and it is possible to reformat them, so a new one is not always necessary.

Read the item listing in order to find out the drive's interface, as well as any other extra features that add value to the drive. Should you have any questions about the flash drive, the delivery, payment methods, refunds, exchanges, or packaging, feel free to contact the seller. For best service and high-quality products, opt for top-rated sellers and always pay attention to the seller's feedback and ratings given by other buyers.


A USB flash drive is indispensable for transporting files from one location to another. It is relatively small and can be carried virtually anywhere. The data stored on the drive is retained when the drive is unplugged, and thus it can be used for keeping back-up copies. The USB flash drive connects via the USB port that is found on most computers and other devices as well.

When looking for the perfect USB flash drive, its size should be considered. Today, the drives range from 1 GB up to 64 GB in storage capacity. It is advisable to buy a larger drive that can be adequate for future needs. The read and write speed are other important factors, because they determine how quickly the file transfer is accomplished. The interface of the USB flash drive influences the data transfer rates, with the USB 1.0 being the slowest and the USB 3.0 being the fastest interface available.

Many USB flash drives come equipped with advanced features. They may be water resistant and ultra-durable or come with hardware encryption applications that use algorithms to protect the data stored on the drive. Besides applications, music and films may be included on the drive as bundled extras. Last, but not least, the style of the drive also comes into play. If performance is not the main feature required from a USB flash drive, then novelty drives can be purchased, and these can serve as fashion accessories.

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