USB drive

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USB drive

(1) An external storage or optical disc drive that plugs into the USB port. See portable hard drive.

(2) A small solid state storage module that plugs into the computer's USB port. Using flash memory chips that can hold up to a terabyte and more of data, the ubiquitous USB drive functions like a hard drive. USB drives are used for auxiliary storage, backup, data transfer between computers and for disseminating product information. They can also hold an operating system and be used to boot the computer (see bootable disk). Ever-increasing storage capacities of USB drives have all but rendered writable CDs and DVDs obsolete. See sneakernet.

Known By Many Names
Debuting at the turn of the century, a USB drive is commonly called a "flash drive" as well as many other monikers. Any combination of the words "USB," "flash," "key," "drive," "jump" and "stick" are used (see USB drive names).

Transfer Speed
USB drive vendors use the data transfer ratings of CD-ROMs, where each "x" equals 150KB per second. For example, a 90x drive is 13.5MB/sec (90 x 150). See CD-ROM drives and solid state.

Long-Term Marketing Mileage
Vendors give away custom-printed USB drives preloaded with promotional material, because people keep using them.

No Bigger Than the Plug
In 2010, Verbatim launched its Tuff-"N"-Tiny line, only two millimeters thick. Although the contacts are exposed (top left), the units are water and dust proof.

Steampunk Drives
A 19th century USB drive... of course. These drive cases are hand crafted. See steampunk. (Image courtesy of WillRockwell,

Fun and to the Point
Bevy makes devices that hold a user's photo collection, and this rather appropriate USB drive holds its promotional material.

One Terabyte USB Drive
In 2013, Kingston Technology introduced the first 1TB drive, which increased to 2TB in 2017. Imagine telling someone in 1997 when floppy disks were still used that in 20 years, a handheld device would hold the equivalent of one and a half million of them.
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References in periodicals archive ?
If you use an older-standard USB port or an older USB thumb drive, then the USB hub automatically adjusts speeds downward to the lowest common standard.
Find a more detailed description of Rohos Mini Drive in my PDF guide The Office Worker's 101 Guide to a USB Thumb Drive.
An employee might be moving data to a noncorporate USB thumb drive maliciously or simply by mistake.
For example, the RX111 RPB can transfer a file from memory to a USB thumb drive using only the supercap as the power supply source.
The new Windows To Go feature in Windows 8 Enterprise will allow you put a clean install or an existing Windows 8 image onto a 32GB or higher USB thumb drive or a portable drive and boot it from another PC.
Smuggled out of Iran on a USB thumb drive concealed inside a cake, This Is Not a Film was titled to confound--but whom?
Computers that do not have a TPM chip will have to be booted up using an encryption key accessible on a mobile storage device, such as USB thumb drive. Thumb drives can be lost which will restrict access to a computer or alternatively they are stored with the computer which negates any of the FDE benefits in place.
Next month, Apple plans to make the operating system available on a USB thumb drive for $69.
The printers enable users to: plug-in a USB thumb drive or connect a laptop directly to the device to print with driverless printing; print from and scan directly to the web without a computer and preview projects through the large-format colour touchscreen interface, now with direct access to HP ePrint & Share; and print remotely from a computer or smartphone to any web-connected HP Designjet with HP ePrint & Share.
It looks like a USB thumb drive and is a throwaway device." Employees at meat-processing plants swab surfaces, and instead of sending the samples to outside labs for testing--a process that requires a petri dish and 48 to 72 hours, if not longer--they wipe the swab on the device's port and plug it into a PC or PDA and get results "in a matter of minutes," he says.
The new Private Eye 2 Portable Mainline Inspection System includes features such as a 15-inch TFT LCD flat screen monitor; on-screen footage display; automated power adjustment and a Digital Video Recorder to capture MPEG 4 video onto a media card, USB thumb drive or external hard drive.