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What is a Flash Drive

USB flash drives are NAND-type flash memory data storage devices integrated with a USB interface. They are typically small, lightweight, removable and rewritable. Memory capacity typically ranges from 8 megabytes up to 64 gigabytes [1], limited only by current flash memory densities. As capacity increases, so does price, to a point. More recent examples in the 1-4GB range are little more expensive than the 128MB versions available in 2002.

There are versions which use FireWire as well, but since the IEEE1394 standard is not as ubiquitous as USB, these are less common.

USB flash drives have several advantages over other portable storage devices, particularly the floppy disk. They are generally faster, hold more data, and are considered more reliable (due to their lack of moving parts) than floppy disks. These types of drives use the USB mass storage standard, supported natively by modern operating systems such as Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows XP.

A flash drive consists of a small printed circuit board encased in a robust plastic or metal casing, making the drive sturdy enough to be carried about in a pocket, as a keyfob, or on a lanyard. Only the USB connector protrudes from this protection, and is usually covered by a removable cap. Most flash drives use a standard type-A USB connection allowing them to be connected directly to a port on a personal computer.

Most flash drives are active only when powered by a USB computer connection, and require no other external power source or battery power source; they are powered using the limited supply afforded by the USB connection. To access the data stored in a flash drive, the flash drive must be connected to a computer, either by direct connection to the computer's USB port or via a USB hub.

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