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USB Drive Life Cycles

comments from ClifNotes, Great tip from BillWebb, Jul 2006


Bill wrote me with the following tip and I just had to pass it on. I've been talking a great deal about how handy and useful USB drives are without telling anyone about the downside ...


From Bill Webb


With the proliferation of applications meant to run from flash drives, we need to become more cognizant of their lifespan limitations. While they're cheap, the data stored on them often isn't!


Fred Langa has some good information here: http://langa.com/newsletters/2005/2005-12-08.htm#4


To Fred's remarks I would add that the lifetime of the plug is also a factor. The number of times one can plug and unplug a USB drive is also finite. The plugs will eventually work loose from their bonding material, especially if inserted/removed carelessly. When they do, they are dead to all but a skilled technician who might be able replace a plug.


One should always: (a.) pull/push the plug straight into the socket, being careful to apply as little twisting or up and down pressure as possible; and (b.) make sure USB plugs are well-lubricated. Silicone works best, since it won't gum up and attract dirt. Even better is to plug the drive into a short extension and plug that in and out of the system, thus eliminating wear and tear on the drive plug itself. Since the extension plug is attached differently, it will last almost indefinitely.


Bill is right. I work in an electronics lab and I've personally witnessed the premature death of 3 thumb drives. Two were irreparable, but one was revived by repairing the plug. One of the engineers lost a Gig of music files. Luckily they were backed up. So if you use a USB drive (thumb drive, flash drive), please back up those files.


A handy program to help you back up files is MyEasySync. Since it's a portable application, it'll be right at home on the thumb drive.


Thank you very much Bill, you've reminded me that a USB's life, like my own requires a little planning.


Be sure to drop by Bill's Backwash, DigitalZen to read some of his entertaining and informative articles.