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The University Gadget Guide: USB Drives

[ 0 ] June 22, 2012 |

USB (or Universal Serial Bus) drives are an invaluable asset not only to students, but to anyone who uses more than one computer a day. This small, inexpensive device, allows you to transfer data between systems quickly and efficiently. All you need to do is plug it into a USB port, drag and drop your files to the device and take your data wherever you need to go. And for those of us who are always on the go – that means a good USB drive is your new best friend, so make sure that you get one that is just right for you!

USB Drives: Pro’s and Con’s


  • Small and easy to carry around
  • Cheap
  • No Software required: Just drag and drop your files!
  • Work across Windows, Mac and Linux


  • Flash Memory is easily corrupted (Could lose your data)
  • It’s size makes it easy to lose


What should I look for in a USB drive?

If you’re going to rely on a USB drive to store and/or backup your data, you should take no excuses in the quality. Many companies will sacrifice quality just to bring you a cheaper device, but as with printers, USB drives fail at the worst times, so take no chances.



If you’re only going to tote around one or two documents at a time, you probably don’t want a 16 gigabyte drive. On the flipside, if you want to take Alf Seasons 1 through 4 everywhere you go, you probably don’t want a 500 megabyte drive. I recommend people go with an 8 gigabyte USB drive, just in case. With an 8 gig, you have enough space for most peoples’ everyday needs, but not too much space.

USB drives usually come in the following (Approximate) Price and Usage denominations:

Size Price # of Songs # of Photos Hours of Video
1 Gigabyte $5.99 240 220 30 minutes
2 Gigabytes $6.99 500 400 1 – 1.5 hours
4 Gigabytes $7.95 800 800 – 1000 2 – 2.5 hours
8 Gigabytes $10.99 1600 1800 6.5 hours
16 Gigabytes $15.99 3200 3600 15 hours
32 Gigabytes $35.99 6400 7200 30 hours
64 Gigabytes $50.99 12,800 14,400 60 hours



While this may not be the most important aspect you should consider when buying a USB drive, the overall design should be something you are partially satisfied with. This generally means colors and any themes you might want. Many USB drives come in themes, usually designed as a small toy with a USB stick inside, or as a character like the Star Wars themed USB drive on the right.

Some of the more plain looking USB drives come in a variety of colors just to jazz things up a bit, and while it may be tempting to pick up your favorite color, it may be best to buy a bright and/or flashy colored USB drive. You’re less likely to notice you forgot you forest green USB drive in a computer, compared to maybe an electric blue.


Form Factor (Slide, Flip or Cap?)


USB drives with slides are usually a good choice for people who break things easily. With the USB prong safely stored inside of the drive itself, you’re less likely to snap it off in your pocket. The only downside to having a slide, is the lock that stops the prong from going back in to the drive when you try to plug it into a computer wears out quickly, meaning you’ll have to use your fingers to stop the prong from going back in.



Flip USB drives are extremely common in work environments as they are cheap to manufacture and put labels on. The only real problem with flip USB drives in fact is the lack of protection for the USB prong. Dust can wreak havoc on electronics, and USB drives are no exception!



USB drives with caps are pretty much the standard form factor. This is mainly because the cap keeps dust and other small objects from coming into contact with the USB prong, generally extending its usable life. The only downside is that the cap can be extremely easy to lose, so if you have more than one string tied to your finger I’d stick with the slide or flip USB drives.


My Recommendations

Well with so many choices it might be hard to know exactly where to start but you’ll be happy to hear that there’s something ready and waiting that’s just right for you, no matter what your needs. So here’s my top three picks!


You need…


Some Space

If you’re an average computer user, chances are you don’t need that much space and as a student, you need to save money in as many different ways you can. USB drives are no exception. That’s why; if you know you’re only going to need a small amount of space I recommend you get the Centon DataStick Pro 2GB USB Flash Drive. Retailing at approximately $7.99, this is a perfect buy for students. 2 GB will be enough space to take you through your school year, and probably still hold all of your documents.




Enough Space to feel Comfortable

As I recommended above, the best size for most people would be an 8 GB drive. I recommend the Kingston DataTraveler 100 G2 8GB Flash Drive. I personally use this USB drive and have had no problems with it. I use it mainly for school documents, and never find myself in need of more space.





ALL the Space I can get

If you need a massive amount of space, and you know you’re going to use all of it, I would recommend either a 32 or 64 GB drive. Specifically, the Lexar JumpDrive S70 32GB USB Drive or the Lexar JumpDrive TwistTurn 64GB USB Drive. Both drives are manufactured by a fantastic company with a simple drag and drop interface, no software required; they work right out of the box.




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