What Is the Purpose of a USB Flash Drive?

By Rebecca O'Brien

USB flash drives are computer devices designed to fit on key rings. These small drives are the perfect solution for portable storage. Many high schools and universities now require students to bring a USB flash drive to class to store assignments. As the technology has advanced, the price has lowered to make the flash drive an option for anyone who needs to transport data.


While CDs and floppy disks were the preferred storage media in the 1990s, USB flash drives have largely replaced both due to their portability and capacity. The smallest drives available can hold as much data as hundreds of floppy disks.


USB flash drives are typically less than 1 inch long and less than 1/2-inch wide, with a USB connector that either retracts or can be covered by a plastic cap.


Any computer that has a USB 2.0 port and uses Windows ME or greater can open a USB flash drive automatically, without additional drivers.


As USB flash drives become available in larger capacities, more programs are created to run directly from the drive. Users will be able to take important programs with them anywhere they go and run them from virtually any computer.

Fun Fact

Some companies sell USB drives in novel shapes and designs, such as the sushi drive from Solid Alliance.