USB flash drives
USB flash drives offer potential advantages over other portable storage devices, particularly the floppy disk. They are more compact, faster, hold much more data, are more reliable for lack of moving parts, and have a more durable design. Additionally, it has become increasingly common for computers to ship without floppy disk drives. USB ports, on the other hand, appear on almost every current mainstream PC and laptop. These types of drives use the USB mass storage standard, supported natively by modern operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and other Unix-like systems.
With nothing being mechanically driven in a flash drive, the name is something of a misnomer. It is called a “drive” because it appears to the computer operating system (and the user) in a manner identical to a mechanical disk drive, and is accessed in the same way.
A flash drive consists of a small printed circuit board typically in a plastic or metal casing and more recently in rubber casings to increase their robustness. This makes the drive sturdy enough to be carried about in a pocket, for example as a key fob, or on a lanyard. Only the USB connector protrudes, and it is typically protected either by a removable cap or by retracting into the body of the drive. Most flash drives use a standard type-A USB connection allowing them to be connected directly to a port on a personal computer.
To access the data stored in a flash drive, the drive must be connected to a USB port, either a host controller built into a computer, a USB hub, or some other device designed to access the data, such as an mp3 player with a USB-in port. Flash drives are active only when plugged into a USB connection and draw all necessary power from the supply provided by that connection. Some flash drives, however, especially high-speed drives, may require more power than the limited amount provided by a bus-powered USB hub, such as those built into some computer keyboards or monitors. These drives will not work unless plugged directly into a host controller (i.e., the ports found on the computer itself) or a self-powered hub.
Pen drives or USB flash drives have left other portable storage devices behind especially the floppy disk, which at this time and age have become antiquated. The size, the faster transfer rate, capacity and reliability have made the pen drives the current choice among computer users on the go. And because of the USB interface, these storage devices can be used by any modern operating systems like Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.
A flash memory card that plugs into the computer’s USB port. Small enough to hook onto a keychain, it emulates a small disk drive and allows data to be easily transferred from one machine to another. Software drivers are not required for the latest operating systems, but are available on the Web for legacy systems such as Windows 98, Windows NT and Mac OS 8.