Are Flash Drives Reliable? How Long USB Drives Usually Last
In today's world, losing access to important data can be every bit as detrimental to your life as losing your wallet or your keys. Thus, if you're going to store something important on a USB flash drive, you want to be sure your drive won't fail when you need it most!
That brings us to our question for today: Are USB flash drives reliable, and how long can you expect an average flash drive to last? Below, we'll look at the facts about the reliability of USB flash memory storage.
Are Flash Drives a Reliable Place to Store Your Data?
Generally, a high quality flash drive is at least as good a place to store your data as the hard drive in most laptops or an external solid state hard drive is. That's because these types of drives all use the same type of highly reliable memory, called solid state flash memory.
Flash memory is amazing because it doesn't require power to store data and has no moving parts. That makes it much more reliable than the old spinning disc magnetic hard drives, especially when it comes to portable devices. Flash memory is a lot less likely to suffer damage from being dropped or jostled, which makes it the preferred choice for devices that get taken on the go.
For the whole story on flash memory, read our guide to the basics of solid state memory! If you don't have time for the nerdy stuff, the takeaway is this: Flash memory is the most reliable storage technology that we have today, and USB flash drives offer one of the most convenient and customizable ways to do it.
How Long Will a USB Drive Last?
Unfortunately, humans haven't yet invented any digital storage medium that lasts forever. Mechanical hard drives, solid state flash memory (such as USB drives) and even CDs and DVDs will all fail eventually.
However, since digital storage is pretty much a necessity in today's world, most people use solid state flash memory because it's an extremely reliable and easily accessible option. So, how long can you expect a flash drive's lifespan to be?
The answer depends mostly on how much you use it. The main measure of a flash drive's lifespan is its number of write cycles -essentially, the finite number of times that the drive's data blocks can be erased and rewritten. After a certain number of write cycles, the materials in the drive that transfer electrical charge start to get worn out, making the memory more likely to fail.
However, most flash drive users won't actually hit this limit, since it's in the tens or hundreds of thousands. A USB card that gets handed out at a conference and used a handful of times has an extremely low risk of failing since very few of its write cycles will ever be used. A flash drive that's used every day at the office has a slightly higher (but still very low) risk.
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Expanding Your Flash Drive's Lifespan
It's possible for flash drives to go bad due to other causes. Extended wear and tear on components, getting wet or being removed from a computer without being ejected can damage them. So long as you remember these rules, though, you'll find it's pretty easy to get a long and useful lifespan from your flash drive:
- Try not to edit files directly while they're on the drive since this uses up write cycles more quickly.
- Avoid dropping your flash drive, letting it get splashed with water or other things that are generally bad for electronics.
- Always eject your USB drive (using the Eject function) before removing the connector from the computer.
- Build quality matters a lot, so choose a high quality USB flash drive from a reputable custom flash drive manufacturer.
The Importance of Backups
Here's another cardinal rule of digital storage: Never have your important files stored in just one place. There are tons of ways to back up your files so you're not relying on just one USB to store them all.
One of the most cost-effective options is to make multiple copies of your files across more than one USB drive. Prices on bulk flash drives are now so competitive that it's simple to create multiple flash backups quickly. Plus, with so many awesome options for branded USB drives now available from USB Memory Direct, it's easy to make sure the whole office has reliable backup memory whenever they need it.
Of course, other backup methods also exist, including external hard drives and cloud storage. These all have their own pros and cons, and many people like to have a mix of multiple backup methods.
Explore Customizable USB-C Memory Stick Designs
USB Memory Direct takes pride in giving our customers the most options for custom flash drives - all available at the industry's best prices! Check out our whole variety of USB-C memory sticks and more to see what we've got in store for your custom USB project