Choosing a USB Flash Drive

April 7, 2010
Choosing a USB flash drive may seem trivial with only a few things to consider, but there are a few technical details that many people don’t consider or know about. Storage capacity is a given, transfer rates are usually considered, but memory type plays a part in the latter. Also, you may be less likely to forget about your USB flash drive if it has a cap.

Memory type determines speed and longevity

There are two types of non-volatile memory used in today’s USB flash drives and solid state drives (SSD). They are single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level (MLC). Here are some significant differences:

Memory Type SLC MLC
Cost more less
Data Density lower higher
Write Speed faster slower
Endurance 100k write cycles 10k write cycles

I didn’t compare read speeds because they’re fairly comparable. Also, even though MLC has fewer write cycles, as a consumer, there’s not much chance you’ll have any problems. If you plan to have a server with an SSD, I would opt for SLC memory. You can find more details here: Different USB flash drives

Having a cap may help you remember your flash drive

It may be convenient and stylish to have a USB flash drive without a cap that slides in or flips out. However, if you need to use a USB port on the back of a computer or otherwise out of sight, it can be easy to forget. If you have a cap, you can place it in an obvious location near your hand or keyboard. When you see the cap, you remember your flash drive.

There are many ways to remember your flash drive, but I found this seems to work best for me.