USB Flash Drive – Floppy Disk’s Reincarnation of 21s Centuary

1200x1200USB flash drives in the form of small sticks back in late 90s where cool refreshing from very slow and not very reliable magnetic Floppy disks.

The main problem of floppy magnetic disks was their very slow operation and flash memory drives solved this problem.

Another characteristic of removable media – reliability  was not very bright with Floppy Disks , but we can’t say that this problem was completely eliminated with introduction of Flash memory. The problem is still there. The truth is  – no matter how big the name of your Flash drive’s brand is, you still will loose your data if you use your drive in a very intensive manner.

I had 3 flash drives failed – first one was famous OCZ Rally 2 8GB – failed after intensive use for 5 months. Then I had Sandisk Cruzer fit 64gb USB2 which failed after 3 months of heavy usage. I did not realize the major problem and thought that it was just defective unit , so I bought Sandisk again , this cz43128gbangleleftcloselrtime Sandisk Ultra Fit 64Gb USB3 drive, which died exactly 3 months later.

So all 3 drives were heavily used. What is heavy usage? In my case all three drives where used as a Linux partitions mounted as /home/user or /Documents or even boot partitions. In all 3 cases I lost valuable data.

Learn from my case – never ever use flash stick drives for anything other than occasional backup storage or media for moving data between PCs. You can use flash drive for booting Linux live distro – after you burn live disk to Flash drive, it can serve you for a long time because it is readonly. Writing kills Flash sticks much-much more quicker than SSDs. Why? SSDs are made of higher quality chips and better controllers which actually redistribute “writings” across SSD evenly. Flash drives have less space in them and  components used in them are cheaper and packed more dense.

Today’s commodity 2D MLC flash has raw wear-out in the 2,000 to 3,000 write cycle range. (Later – a news story in March 2016 suggested that 2D QLC (x4 nand – which has double the virtual density of TLC) will have endurance in the range of 500 write cycles.) from here

Flash sticks are small and manufactures actually compete to make them even smaller at the price of reduced reliability if compared to SSDs. Due to reduced sizes and increased capacity , flash sticks are warming up and becoming even as hot as 120F.  After almost 20 years since their introduction Flash Sticks are still meant mainly for occasional writing and only good for storing and reading data from them. In fact very good use of flash drive sticks is using them as live Linux distro boot disks. Just don’t make attempts to use flash sticks to mount any working folders of any OS – intensive writes eventually will kill it.



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