This durable, portable storage device was first sold by Trek Technology in 2000 and is now often used in place of the 3.5 inch floppy disk, the Re-writable DVD and the Re-writable CD. Whether you use your flash drive to store financial records, scanned images of important legal documents, music or family photos, it is important to know the benefits and risks of using this device to store and retrieve important information.
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Makes files easily accessible. If you are accustomed to digging through drawers of accordion folders to find the information you need, one feature of a flash drive you will appreciate is that it allows you to perform a keyword search on the device for that same file once it has been scanned and saved onto your flash drive.
Durability. A flash drive can usually endure water damage, if allowed time to dry completely before using again, being dropped, stepped on (unless it is crushed and connectors are damaged in the process) or left unused for long periods.
Convenience. Since a flash drive drive can go anywhere you go, it is far easier to take your data with you on road trips than a PC or laptop and ensure that it is not lost during a cross country relocation. You can carry it in your pocket beside your loose change and feel safe knowing your resume, art portfolio and other documents are safe. Since no charging is required, you only need to carry the USB flash drive and no other cords or cases--unless you are bringing along additional equipment.
Easy to misplace. This is the biggest downfall when owning a flash drive. Especially if it is not password-protected. This is even if it is attached to your keychain. Losing a flash drive with all your personal info is like losing a laptop or handwritten address book--once it's gone, it's gone.
Requires computer access. While a folder, hand-held organizer or Smart Phone can all operate independently, a flash drive cannot. Your flash drive must be connected to a PC or laptop before you can save or retrieve files.
Takes up USB port space on your PC. This can be annoying if you are using a laptop or PC with limited USB port space, but can be resolved if you purchase a USB Hub (adds 2 or more USB ports to your laptop or PC).
Affordability. With 1 GB (gigabyte) flash drives being offered on websites for as low as $5.99 as of 2010, you can store a lot of data without having to buy folders, burn them to disk or take up space on your work/home computer's hard drive.
Security features. There are brands of flash drives that allow users to password protect the flash drive, permitting access only to authorized users. This feature is great if you are concerned about someone viewing information on your flash drive without your permission. Remove the flash drive from your computer's USB port after each use though, since the password prompt only comes up at the start of a new flash drive session and the data on your flash drive is still accessible if it is left in a computer without properly closing it.