Understanding The USB Flash Drive

USB flash drive like other flash memory drives is basically an EEPROM ( Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory). So it is user-modifiable read-only memory (ROM) that allow users to erase and reprogram stored data repeatedly in an application.

USB flash memory sticks are nothing but an assembly of EEPROM, a controller with a RISC microprocessor, RAM and ROM. These interact with a computer using a USB controller and connector.

As is common with EEPROM devices, USB sticks can hold data for as much as 10 years. They are shock proof and also do not have a volatile memory. They are therefore able to sustain shock and humidity to some extent. For example when they are unintentionally ran through a washing machine, or even dropped in tea.

USB sticks normally do not require drivers especially with operating systems newer than Windows 98. Older operating systems like Windows 98 and Windows 95requires drivers that are provided by the manufacturer. Newer OS consider USB drives as USB Mass storage devices and have built in support for these drives. That means you don’t need any drivers just plug in the drive and start using it.

Some Linux versions might recognize it but won’t let you use it until you manually mount the drive. To mount the drive manually, use the command
“mount -vfat (drive to mount) (directory to mount at)”
Eg. “mount -vfat /dev/sda1 /mnt/usbdrive”

Manufacturers are also coming up with systems that have bios support for USB that means you can boot from the small USB drive. There are different versions of operating systems coming up that can be installed on a ROM and are so small to fit a USB drive as well. Most of these OS versions are Linux based for example Damm Small Linux.

USB drives are mainly used to carry personal data. But you need to be very careful with your personal data now days. You can have anything in your personnel data collection that you have forgotten for example bank account details or anything. Try using some encryption engine to secure your data. You can use encrypted file system over the USB drive but then you will be able to access your drive only at few computers not all. Or you can have an encryption application that can run without installation from your USB. The best would be to use biometric USB drives.

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