Different types of Portable Drives

USB Flash Drives

Corsair GTX Flash Drive


Flash Drives also called thumb drives due to their shape are extremely portable. They are lightweight making them optimal for on the go in your pocket. Since they are so small, storage is usually limited to 64GB.


There are many uses for thumb drives. Most people use it to transport and store personal files like pictures, videos and documents. Some use it to store their medical information, taxes and etc. Computer builders can use it to get the Windows 10 operating system onto the new computer since optical drives are becoming more and more obsolete. Another use to you builders is that you can use it to install the new motherboard firmware.


For speed, it depends entirely on the plug, receptacle, controller and the type of NAND memory. For plugs, there are three main types, they are USB 2.0, 3.0 & 3.1. 2.0 can transfer at a theoretical maximum rate of 480Mbit/s. 3.0 can go up to 5Gbit/s and 3.1 can go up to 10Gbit/s. Although USB 2.0 was popular back then, 3.0 is becoming more and more popular due to their increasing 3.0 receptacle ports on motherboards and front ports. Each newer version plugs are backward-compatible with older version receptacles however, they will transfer speeds at the receptacle’s version. If it has regular grade controller and NAND memory, it will be far slower than those with SSD parts. I forgot to mention that some manufacturers put 3.1 Generation 1. This is a marketing scheme as it is technically 3.0. 3.1 Generation 2 is truly USB 3.1. Don’t be fooled by this as it affects speeds drastically.


Although it doesn’t have any moving parts making it resilient to bumps, it is still very vulnerable like any other electronic to water. Now make sure that your USB drive isn’t in your pocket before putting the pants into the washer. I, myself experienced this and lost a whole bunch of data. The next thing is to not pick up any random thumb drive off the street that you see. It could possibly hold some malware or viruses and they are transferred to your computer causing havoc. Even worse, you might plug it into your computer at work that’s connected to a server. You most definitely do not want to be the person held responsible for taking down the company. The IT department will hate you.


Corsair Padlock 2

Since thumb drives are small and are easily portable, they can be easily lost too. We do not want other people to snoop around and see the data so we have encryption. Windows has Bitlocker which is extremely reliable. Some files can be locked up with WinRar but it is not the safest. There are 3rd party software for this but through my experience, they are uncooperative and don’t do a good job of encrypting. Instead of software encryption, some manufacturers opted for physical encryption. Some USBs use built-in keypads or fingerprint readers to authenticate it.

Playing Games?

It is possible that people can game off a USB stick. This is great for those who usually play games on different computers. First of all, you need a USB stick that is 3.0 or else you will be waiting for a really long time. For loading up games, there isn’t any noticeable difference at all. With some FPS games, there will be the more than occasional freezing mid-game. For CSGO, I advise you to not play competitively with this.

External Hard Drives

This is similar to the HDD but this is mainly for backup or transferring large files. You can easily offload huge amounts of data at the same time to a different computer. Everybody should have at least one backup for their important data like insurance forms, taxes and etc. They are generally cheap yet able to hold lots of data. Speeds are similar to regular hard drive and it also depends on if it uses USB 2.0 or 3.0


Since that USB drives don’t have moving parts, they shouldn’t have corrupt files unless you toss it around or play catch with it. For external hard drives, we should take more care of them as they have moving parts. These are much more susceptible to damage such as heat, moisture, shocks and vibration. It is optimal that you have a case or a thick pouch to protect it. You may think that you are always careful but accidents can happen when you least expect it.

Network-Attached Storage Devices

Western Digital My Cloud

This can also be referred as NAS devices or NAS servers. It connects to a router instead of the computer. This is great for a big home or an office. This allows multiple users to send off data for backup or to let other users transfer over to their computers. Transfer speeds depend on the type of ethernet cable you use. This offsite server can keep your important files even if your computer suffers from a bad power surge or a meltdown etc. This is becoming more and more popular as routers have USB ports for this very purpose.


Now that you have learnt about their functions and speeds, you can choose one best for yourself. If you want to learn about internal hard drives, click here. Don’t forget to not pick up stray USBs.


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