What Does a Flash Drive Do?

By Pallab Dutta

A Universal Service Bus (USB) flash drive has replaced the floppy drive as the portable data storage device of choice for many user segments. A flash drive is also called as a USB drive, pen drive or thumb drive. A flash drive is used to store, transfer, carry and back up data, information and other files. Manufacturers such as Kingston, PNY, SanDisk, Corsair, Transcend and others manufacture reliable, high-speed, rugged and portable flash drives with capacities ranging from 256 MB to 32 GB.

How It Works

A flash drive uses electronic memory called flash memory which is electrically erasable, does not have moving parts and is programmable. A flash chip present in the flash drive stores the files. The plug and play features of a flash drive have done away with the need to install additional device drivers. The operating system of a PC detects the flash drive and the drivers and the flash drive takes the place of an external drive. If the computer does not auto-run the device, you can simply click the drive denoting flash drive on "My Computer" and begin your desired tasks.

Transfer Files

A flash drive can be connected to the USB slot or USB hub port of a desktop or laptop. Using the drag and drop feature, files and documents stored on a computer can be transferred from the computer to the flash drive and saved in appropriate folders. These files can then be accessed anytime on other workstations elsewhere. Similarly, select files saved on a flash drive can be transferred to a computer.

Store Files

Depending on a person's usage characteristics, job profile and specific requirements, a flash drive is used to store files. Mobile professionals and other users can use low-capacity 4GB or 8GB flash drives to store word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDF files and basic PowerPoint presentations. Media, entertainment and creative industry professionals can use 32 GB high-speed flash drives to store music videos, music clips, graphics-rich documents and files, photos, entertainment episodes and even movies.

Back-up Devices

New-age or latest generation flash drives have password encryption, high-speed interface, fingerprint authentication features and other functions. These durable flash drives can be used to store personal files, medical histories, family files, photos and other sensitive data and important information. These flash drives serve as solid and reliable back-up storage devices and in case of computer hard disk failure or other PC-based issues can be easily used elsewhere or used to restore data files. Small enterprises, start-ups and many non-profit organizations also use these inexpensive flash drives as critical back-up data storage mediums.

Marketing Tool

Due their very form factor and portability, flash drives are emerging as highly popular marketing and promotional tools. Marketing-oriented companies are emblazoning or imprinting their corporate logos, visual imagery and other branding stickers on these handy devices. These flash drives are loaded with sales literature, product fact sheets, corporate write-ups and other marketing communication content by these enterprises and disseminated at trade fairs, industry marts, exhibitions, conferences and seminars.

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