The Different Types of USB Flash Drives You Need to Know

Here, we will present a snapshot of flash drive and introduce different types of USB flash drives.

Are all flash drives the same?

I wanna buy a USB flash drive, but I have no idea about it. How many types of flash drives are there? What is the difference between 2.0 and 3.0 USB? Really confusing. Can anyone help me tell the difference? Many thanks!

Not all USB flash drives are produced equally. Every flash drive seems different in many aspects, like the appearance, the usage, the storage capacity, the speed and ports, and many more. In this article, we will introduce different types of flash drives based on their usage and lookings. Before that, let's have a snapshot of flash drive.

Part 1: What Is a Flash Drive?

USB flash drive, also called thumb drive, jump drive, pen drive and USB memory stick, is a device that can be used to save information on a tiny flash memory chip. Users can read and save data on it. These storage devices have been designed to be smaller than a typical storage disk, with some being the size of a thumb. That is why some people know them as pen drives, while others prefer to call them "thumb drives". Whatever the name, they all share one important characteristic, they can be hooked up to any computer. Thanks to their universal serial bus (USB) port compatibility.

1. How does a flash drive work?

There are 2 types of memory being designed to save and store data on different devices, respectively volatile and non-volatile. Volatile memory is a temporary data storage. For example, the computer hard disk drive takes advantage of volatile memory. It writes and reads data using the moving parts only when the computer is on. And often, you can hear a clicking sound when the computer is working. It means that the moving parts of the hard disk is reading your data. Without a power source, it would be not possible for you to have access to the stored data.

By contrast, USB flash drive is a non-volatile device. It has to resort to power to save, transfer and put data onto it. However, it can keep data stored inside it without a power supply. It will transmit a memory command in the form of an electronic signal to the internal circuity. Even if there is no a power source for a long time from the connected and powered-off computer, it can retain all the information without any harm and quality loss.

How does a USB memory stick work on a computer? Flash memory stick has no moving parts. A flash drive can be compatitble across devices through the USB ports. By plugging the pen drive into the computer USB port, the device can start writing, reading, transferring, saving and storing data. The data inside it will not disappear unless you remove them manually or something goes wrong with the memory stick.

2. Difference Between a USB 2.0 and a 3.0 Flash Drive

The USB port is used to create the interaction between a flash drive with your computer. To meet different needs, there are different types of USB flash drives based on the ports, respectively USB 2.0 flash drive, USB 3.0 flash drive, USB 3.1 flash drive and 3.2 drive. The biggest difference among them is the price and speed. But the price varies due to the storage capacity, brands and many other factors. We will mainly talk about the difference in speed here.

  • USB 3.1 and 3.2 ports - The latest and fastest ones in the world of thumb drive today, with the write-and-read speed of up to 1250 MB/sec and 2500 MB/sec, respectively.
  • USB 3.0 flash drives - Anyhow, it is all known that USB 3.0 flash drive is much faster than USB 2.0 in the same condition. 3.0 flash drive can deal with data at the speed of 625 MB/sec. Due to its fast speed in writing, reading and transferring data, USB 3.0 thumb drive becomes a more popular choice for most of flash memory stick users.
  • USB 2.0 flash drive - This is the standard memory stick. The transfer rate of USB 2.0 interface can only reach up to 60 MB/sec. Now, it is commonly used on many computers. And thus, even if you transfer data with a USB 3.0 pen drive, but the speed will limited to the computer 2.0 port.

Can a USB 2.0 be used in a 3.0 port? Yes, 100%. You can insert your 3.0 flash drive on a USB 2.0 port. But as we mentioned, a USB 3.0 thumb drive in a 2.0 port can't perform at the maximum speed.

Which are types of flash memory drives?

Next, we will go over the different types of USB flash drives. Please note that they can be categorized according to their uses, or physical characteristics. We attempt to find a balance between the two.


Part 2: Different Types of USB Flash Drives Based on the Usage.

1. Security Flash Drive

This is a normal USB storage device with a major twist in terms of the steps taken to protect your data. It is fortified with physical or logical security ways to ensure that the data is not compromised. An example is the flash drive from Cryptex, which has a combination lock before you can access the USB disk embedded within. Others, like those from IronKey, come with an internal mechanism like password protection and encryption for added security. All in all, these devices provide added security for the protection of all data. However, you will have permission to add or remove write protection to keep the flash drive more secure.

Different types of flash drives - security flash drive

2. Music Flash Drive

This is a flash drive that can be used to save or transfer music from one device to another. They may vary by fancy designs and different flash drive types, such as this one from Trident. However, most of them are designed to be miniature in size and to enhance portability. The reason for this is because most people who want to carry their music files around in a flash drive want them to be easy to reach, while also to be out of the way.

Different types of flash drives-music flash drive

3. The Boot Flash Drive

A boot flash drive is a normal USB memory stick that has been enabled to install an operating system. The process of dedicating an external storage device to serve this purpose is called "making bootable”. Whenever you have a computer that won't start because of a missing operating system, simply use a boot flash drive to fire up the computer. If you don't have one currently, get one for standby reasons.

Different types of flash drives-booted flash drive


Part 3: Different Types of Flash Drives Based on the Appearance

1. Credit Card Hard Drive

As the name suggests, this is a USB flash drive that has been customized to look like a credit card. Some of these flash drives can even be further tailored to display the name of the owner and have a matching fake credit card number. People have different reasons for getting such a flash drive, but one thing is for sure, you will never forget it at home again, because you can fit it snugly into a wallet.

Different types of USB flash drives-credit card flash drive

2. Keychain USB Flash Drive

There is nothing fancy about this type of flash drive. Besides, the fact that it has been designed to be carried around like a typical key chain. However, this does not mean that it is overrated in any way. On the contrary, this type of USB flash drive can come in handy for people who are forgetful and lose their flash drives frequently.

Because they are beautifully designed, you can shop for an ornate one to avoid the common problem of looking old-fashioned and to add to your car keys.

Different types of USB flash drives-key chain usb flash drive

3. Wristband Flash Drive

There is not much to say about this flash drive type because the name says it all. You should consider that it may not be waterproof; - hence, you shouldn't take it into the shower room. Other than that, it looks "tres" posh!

Different types of USB flash drives-wristband usb flash drive

4. Branded USB Flash Drive

If you are a die-hard fan of a particular brand , it may be time to show your love by getting a branded USB disk. There are literally tons of these USB storage devices out there, waiting for you to discover them. Here are samples.

Different types of USB flash drives-branded usb flash drive

5. "Dummy Head" USB Devices

If you have a funny bone, here are some of the props you can use to for decorate your desk. These are funny flash drives. There are miniature dummies of popular figures like football players and movie stars. Depending on your preferences, you can choose from the different selections available out there.

Different types of USB flash drives-dummy head USB


The Bottom Line

There are countless designs of USB flash drives out there. These can be categorized by use, functionality or even level of security encryption. As more people move to the cloud for storage, you can get your own personalized flash drive for offline use. It is time to move away from your comfort zone and start experiencing the various designs.

If you lost the data unfortunately, don't worry! You still have the chance to get lost data back. To recover files from USB flash drive, you can have a try the following tool.

USB flash drive recovery

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