How Does a Pen Drive Work?

By Contributing Writer

"Pen drive" is another name used to describe a certain type of universal serial bus (USB) flash drive. Pen drives are NAND-type flash memory cards that can be plugged into a computer's USB port. The term "Pen" refers to its size. This type of flash drive is so small that it can fit into the palm of your hand or hang on a lanyard. Also, it is often flat and rectangular, similar to the shape of a highlighter pen.

Pen drives are used to store data. These flash drives vary in storage capacity (64 MB to 32 GB) and are removable and rewritable. Techies often purchase pen drives as replacements or backups for CD-R's or floppy disks. However, the average Joe unwittingly purchases pen drives in the form of iPods and MP3 players. Yes, iPods and MP3 players are the most popular form of pen drives these days. And, the key to their success lies within their circuit boards.

Pen drives consist of a small printed circuit board. This circuit board provides a sturdy base for the pen drive's form and also serves as a means to collect information. The microchip within it (the circuit board) is able to extract data with relatively low electrical power. It is based on old EEPROMS technology that allows writing and erasure processes.

When a pen drive is connected to a USB port, it activates. Otherwise, it lies dormant. The USB port gives the pen drive access to information on a specific computer. Because most pen drives are formatted using FAT or FAT 32 File systems, they are compatible with almost any USB host/port on a computer.

Data is read, transmitted or rewritten from a pen drive to a computer (or vice versa) after it is properly connected and manipulated through a program. For example, after an iPod is connected to a computer, music can be downloaded to it or extracted from it by the owner. This is usually completed through programs like iTunes. Programs such as this are able to interface with pen drives in order to exchange information.

Today, companies that specialize in technology are working to improve on the pen drive. A lot of it has to do with storage capacity and other issues that limit its use. Meanwhile, the pen drive is being marketed in fashionable ways in order to attract a variety of consumers. Basically, the developers of the pen drive are finding unique and innovative ways to make it accessible to everyone.