USB flash drives are great to use for storing digital files and are replacing CDs & DVDs as the preferred storage media of choice.
The advantages of flash drives is that they are portable, durable, and have incredible storage capacity (ranges from 64MB to 256GB as of 2010). Furthermore, they are able to retain the memory even after the power is turned off. But does the memory last forever though? Should you use them to store important documents and files? How long do they last?
If you simply write data to a USB flash drive and put it away in a safe place for 10 years, it will work again and all the data will still be there.
But if you continue to use it over and over again, it will definitely wear out eventually.
USB Flash Drives Have Finite Number of Write/Erase Cycles
The life expectancy of a USB Flash Drive can be measured by the number of write or erase cycles. USB flash drives can withstand between 10,000 to 100,000 write/erase cycles, depending on the memory technology used.
When the limit is reached, some portion of the memory may not function properly, leading to lost of data and corruption.
Of course, the flash drive’s life can also end prematurely if you abuse it or subject it to extreme environmental conditions. Additionally, if low quality memory components are used, the flash drives can fail at a much earlier time.
Beware of unknown brands, as they may use low quality components and cut corners in the manufacturing processes in order to keep cost low. If you are looking for high quality usb flash drives, find vendors that use only grade A memory and have ISO-9001:2008 certified factories.
Should You Use Flash Drives to Store Important Files?
The best usage of flash drives is to copy and transfer files from one computer to another. If you want to use it to store important files such as family photos and videos, it is recommended to make duplicate copies.
Caring for Your Flash Drive
To prolong the life of your flash drive and ensure that it operates properly for years to come, here are some precautions to follow: