TECH TIP: USB Memory Devices
You’ve heard a lot about those memory things that seem to be so popular today. They are used to save your data in much the same way as a floppy disk – what are they called?
Well – they actually have a variety of different names. They are sometimes called USB Jump drives, USB flash drives, USB memory sticks, USB removable drives, USB mini drives, USB Micro-mini drives, USB pen drives, USB thumb drives. There is even one called the Rist Memory Watch drive – it’s a real wrist watch that has a USB flash memory. Check it out here:
Notice the common term used in all those names – USB. USB, which stands for Universal Serial Bus, is the way that all these memory devices plug into a computer. The USB connection, also called a port, is a rectangular shaped jack into which you plug a USB device.
Now, these USB ports began showing up in the backs of computers as early as 1996. And more recently – say the last couple years, the USB ports are in the front of computers – nice, very nice – no more digging around the back of the computer to plug in your USB memory device.
So here’s what’s good about a USB memory stick.
And one more good thing. USB flash drives are hot swappable. That means, you can plug them in without shutting down the computer and restarting. Your computer will recognize the USB drive the second you put it in. You can also disconnect them by ejecting them in the Task Bar. The older style parallel ports, serial ports, or PS/2 ports are not hot swappable and do require restarts when plugging in to them
USB memory drives come in a variety of sizes. There are the 128 MB, the 256 MB, the 512 MB and the 1 GB (which is 1000 MB). So which one should you get? Well, if you do a lot of computing, and you are working on large projects, and you frequently carry data back and forth to different computers or you just want to back up a lot of important information easily, go for a bigger one – the 256 or the 512.
A couple years ago, they improved USB by coming out with USB 2.0 – sometimes called high speed USB. If your computer is more than 2 years old, you probably have USB 1.0 (or 1.1). Don’t worry – if you buy a USB memory stick and it says 2.0 on the package, it will work in a computer with USB 1.0 (or 1.1). And vice-versa. That’s nice.
Here is Wal-Mart's assortment of USB flash drives – there are 69 to choose from.
So which brand name should you buy? I don’t think it makes any difference. USB flash drive technology has been finely developed and all manufacturers adhere to the same specifications. You should buy the cheapest one that fits your size requirements.
Here is a nice FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) all about USB flash drives if you want more information.
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