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The USB Flash Drive – A Portable Storage Revolution

USB Flash Drives are common devices today, but not so long ago the term “flash drive” had never been heard, unless of course you were associating the term with a Ferrari. So where did the revolutionary USB Flash Drive derive? Well, set your mind back to 1995, it doesn’t seem so long ago. Believe it or not, most computer users were still regularly using floppy disks to transfer their digital data cheap usb sticks. In fact, virtually all computers had integrated floppy disk drives because floppy disks were by far the most popular, practical and cheapest format for portable storage.

CD Roms had also entered the market, but they weren’t as popular for recording as the technology remained in its early stages. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that CD rewriting appeared on many, if not most, new computers. By the year 2000, rewritable CD’s had fast become as popular, if not more, than floppy disks. These convenient new writable CD’s were affordable, compact, held a substantial amount of data and took up little storage space.

By 2000, the demand for transferring large amounts of data increased dramatically, within a year or so large portable storage disks were necessary to not only companies, but for personal computer users as well. This is primarily due to the introduction of digital cameras, camcorders and downloaded audio files (very popular with internet users). People were now storing, collecting and transferring digital information far more than ever before. Computers were also becoming exceptionally affordable due to lower technology costs as well as the demand and desire for internet use. By early 2000, a huge percentage of households, if not most, would have a computer.

As many of us have unfortunately experienced, computers have a life span. They can become painstakingly slow, annoyingly crash and even die very inconvenient deaths. People were now having to back up their systems regularly (and still do) in the fear of losing all their stored data. Businesses were also beginning to go paperless, their information was now being held on computer systems. This saved companies time, resources and storage space, it was however essential to back up their important data to avoid future problems.

Because of this, almost every computer was manufactured with the technology to read and write on to CDs and very soon after DVD rewritable disks took over. Large data storage and transfer ability was now a necessity more than a luxury. The reasons as to why floppy disks soon became redundant are no surprise. The average floppy disk held a mere 1.44MB of memory which is tiny when you consider that nowadays a single image taken on a digital camera usually exceeds this amount. Rewritable DVDs were cheap and could hold 4.7GB of data, it would take a staggering 3263 floppy disks to achieve this. CDs could hold an average 650MB, this would equate to 444 floppy disks. These comparative figures still amaze me today.