What Is the Difference Between a Flash Drive & a Memory Stick?

By Steve Tuffill

Today, when transferring data from one source to another, most computer users do so with a USB flash drive. However, some people still use memory sticks in older forms of storage (though this is less common today).

Choosing Storage

Different forms of memory vary in their speed of transferring stored files from an external device. Obtain an older high-end Sony digital camera and it may contain proprietary Sony stick memory. A professional SLR camera with a digital back end uses compact flash for storage.


Flash is electrically erasable memory, and programmable in large blocks. This gives it an exponential speed advantage over other forms of memory. In fact, Windows 7 has a feature where a flash memory card can be plugged into a computer port (such as USB or PCMCIA) and it can be used as an extension to the virtual memory.

Stick Memory Features

Stick Memory PRO Media is proprietary Sony memory format used in digital voice recorders and other small portable devices like digital cameras. Although it has progressed at the same speed as other forms of memory like compact flash and SD RAM, it is less popular.