The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide For Thumb Drive

November 25, 2019

This digital age has changed a lot the ways we use and share data. Gone are the days of having to bring tons of paper and notepads to meetings or presentations. With the help of thumb drives, you can share information in real-time without worrying about forgetting important documents at home. Here, we will help you understand everything from what you need to know about thumb drives, how a thumb drive works and thumb drive benefits. This revolutionary piece of technology may well be the game-changer you need in your life and if you know nothing about thumb drives, stick around till the end and you’ll make a better purchasing decision should you ever need to buy one.



What You Need To Know About Thumb Drives

Black USB flash drive


Before you head to the store to buy a new thumb drive this is what you need to know about thumb drives before you make a purchase.


  • A thumb drive is also called a USB flash drive, jump drive, pen drive or even a USB memory stick. You might have heard these common names before. Thumb drive is more of a fancy term.
  • They allow you to read and save data on them and are called a “thumb drive” for literally being equal to or smaller than a thumb in their size.
  • Some may know them as pen drives others as USBs but they all have one common theme: they connect to your computer via the USB port.


How It Works?

Before thumb drive benefits are explained further, let’s talk about how a thumb drive works:


The data is stored on a memory stick which can be of two types; either volatile or non-volatile. Volatile memory is temporary and a computer hard disk drives reads-writes information data that way, which would require a power source to keep it on constantly. If the power source is off, you can’t access that information. On the other hand, how a thumb drives works is by using non-volatile memory meaning it will retain the data stored on it even if there is no power source.


When you want to retrieve a certain file or document, you plug it into a computer or laptop that is on, and a memory command in the form of an electronic signal from a thumb drive’s integrated circuit memory will be sent regarding any action you will take.



Things You Need To Consider Before Buying A Thumb Drive


things to consider


Now if you are finding many thumb drive benefit and want to purchase one, here are some things you need to consider before buying a thumb drive:


1. Transfer Speed

Some of the thumb drive latest features include different transfer speeds. Some types of thumb drive have USB 2.0 connectivity which transfers data at a speed of 60MB/second whereas thumb drives with USB 3.0 connectivity transfer data at a rate of 640 MB/second. No matter the types of thumb drive you buy, the transfer of speed is important to consider in case you have time-sensitive tasks.



2. Storage Capacity

Another set of things to consider before buying a USB thumb drive is the storage size. As information is stored in bytes, 1 byte is equal to 8 bits. Similarly, 1MB is equal to 100K bytes, and 1 GB is equal to 1000 MB. These days you can find USB thumb drive types where the storage capacity ranges from 64MB to up to 2TB.



3. Compatibility

The latest features make thumb drives a great storage device to have, however, make sure that when you buy one for yourself you keep in mind whether it is compatible with your personal computer or laptop or not.


Because you’ll be using it frequently and it’s best to avoid these tiny mistakes before making a purchase. Some older computers may not have the USB 3.0 port which means that a USB thumb drive with a 3.0 connectivity may not work at its full capacity, and will be underutilized.



4. Use Of Thumb Drive

It is important to establish what your primary use will be for the thumb drive. There are many uses of different USB thumb drive types like gifting them to employees, or going paperless in your office or including them for a marketing tool.


Establishing the use of a thumb drive will help you find a style better suited for your needs.



5. Marketing Tool

One thumb drive benefit that isn’t as popular is its use as a marketing tool, where you pre-load a thumb drive with the marketing dock and configure it to auto-run whenever it is connected to a computer. So, you don’t have to fumble around finding where your presentation dock is.



6. USB Styles

Since thumb drives are so popular and common, there is a style for everybody to choose from. From bottle can openers, to wallets, to credit cards shapes the types of thumb drive styles available are many, and before you get confused with the option, know beforehand what you want. So, you won’t end up with a USB style you don’t like.



Benefits Of Having A Thumb Drive

Flash drive in USB port


The thumb drive benefits are too many to count and in this digital age they play a vital role for businesses, students, corporations and more, so here is a list of some of the thumb drive benefits:


  • Durability: since thumb drives don’t have moving parts located within their encasing they are less likely to be damaged or ruined by physical damage, or insufficient power supply. This makes them more durable compared to other storage devices available on the market like hard disk drives, solid-state drives and more.
  • Portability: the name “thumb drive” is so apt, as a single USB drive is only a few inches long and makes it very portable to take it on the go, instead of lugging around tons of documents, files, your personal computer and more.
  • Larger Capacity: the different USB thumb drives types and their storage size makes them an affordable option as compared to external hard disk drives. You can fit tons of data on these memory sticks that offer up to 128 GB in storage.
  • Affordable And High-Quality Thumb Drive: with the portability they offer, the storage size and different styles, it makes buying affordable and high-quality thumb drive really inexpensive and not a burden on your wallet.
  • Fast Transfer Speed: some of the latest USB thumb drives offer a transfer speed of 4.8 Gb/second which gives them the fastest transfer speed available for any external storage device on the market.
  • Compatibility: you can use a USB thumb drive with almost any sort of device from personal computers to laptops to gaming consoles to smart TVs and more. The options are immense and all you need is a USB port 2.0 or USB port 3.0 and you’re good to go.


As these USB ports are becoming available more readily on all sorts of devices being released, connecting your thumb drives to such devices is not a hassle anymore.  


Types Of USB Thumb Drives

If you’re interested to know the types of thumb drives or USB thumb drives that are available these days, they differ according to the service they provide. Similarly, the functionality and utility of each USB drive vary from the different scenarios they are used in.


Listed below are some types of USB thumb drives that you may or may not have seen or heard of in your everyday life.


A memory stick is a large family of flash drive memory that has evolved over the years. It is a removable flash memory card that was developed by Sony in 1998 and initially offered at a capacity of 128 MB. A memory stick is most commonly used in digital cameras, camcorders, DSLRs, Play stations, smartphones and more, however, these days they have different functionality. Nowadays, they look like small black chips and are equal in size to a SIM card called the Memory Stick Micro(M2). 
A Multimedia card is a small flash memory storage device that is used by cellular phones, eBooks, car navigation systems, music players and more. The multimedia card was developed jointly by SanDisk and Siemens AG in 1997 and at the time of launch weighed approximately two grams and has a size of a postage stamp. Similarly, they are quite durable and resistant to physical damage due to the use of metal connectors instead of plugs and pins which make them popular among major companies like HP, Nokia, Hitachi, Sanyo and more. As well as the encryption provided in multimedia cards make them quite popular among big companies.
They are commonly used in photography and digital cameras. Secure digital cards are famous for their faster transmission speed and large capacity of storage. Nowadays, there are two types of secure digital cards: SD Cards and Micro SD cards. Similarly, SD, SDHC, and SDXC represent the different storage capacities offered by these cards. SD has a maximum of 2GB, SDHC has a range from 2GB to 32 GB whereas SDXC offers anywhere between 32GB to 2 TB. It is important to mention that SDXC also uses a different file format called exFaT which makes it different from an SD and SDHC card.
Smart media cards were developed by Toshiba to compete with different file formats that were running in the market in 1995. They have a capacity of 2MB to 128 MB and are no longer manufactured. However, smart media cards were pitched as the successor to floppy disks and consisted of a single NAND flash chip in a plastic casing and were meant to be used as a portable device. Smart media cards were a good invention of their time however with the latest technology trends they soon became obsolete.
The USB on the go (OTG) allows tablets and smartphones to act as a host device for thumb drives to be connected to them. They were launched in 2001 and allowed flash drives, digital cameras, and keyboards to be attached to such devices via the On the Go (OTG). Similarly, On the Go (OTG) introduced the concept of the master-slave roles between the devices where two devices connected to establish a communication link. The device controlling the link is called the master or the host and the other device is called the slave or peripheral.


Latest Feature Of Thumb Drive

So far, we’ve seen many types of thumb drives and their uses, now we’ll look at thumb drive latest features:


  • The newest thumb drives simply plug and play that can fit within the palm of your hand, making them portable.
  • Due to the non-volatile memory, the information on a thumb drive is not lost even when it is not connected to a USB port.
  • Nowadays you can find flash drives with memory starting from 2 or 3 Gb and going up to 2TB.
  • They are compatible with different operating systems including Linux, Windows, Mac.
  • A thumb drive is one of the cheapest forms of a storage device.



Where To Buy Affordable And High-Quality Thumb Drive?

If you’re looking to buy affordable and high-quality thumb drives the best place to look for them is at your local electronics store, or by buying them online by famous brands like SanDisk, Samsung, Kingston. Similarly, you can buy them at affordable prices from Amazon.



How To Keep Your Data Safe

In order to be assured that a USB keeps safe data stored on it, you should make sure to use some encryption mechanism or software. So even if your thumb drive falls in the wrong hand they cannot access any information. Similarly, another way to keep safe data stored is by keeping passwords on your files so that if someone with malicious intents accesses your thumb drive your individual files are encrypted.



USB Thumb Drive Tricks


We’ve also got some great tricks for using your USBs that will make your life a lot easier. Some USB Thumb drive tricks are:


  • You can give your drive a custom icon if you use a lot of USBs and need some help differentiating.
  • With a high capacity USB, you can create a replica of your computer’s operating system and in case it crashes one day you can restore every program as it is.
  • Another great USB thumb drive tricks are to download a program with which you can lock your computer so that no one can access it.
  • You can also encrypt your files on a USB so that no one can mess around with them



Difference Of USB Flash Drive And USB Thumb Drive?

Although people use the names USB Flash drives and thumb drives interchangeably both of them have some stark differences. Some of the differences between a USB thumb drive and flash drive are:

  • Thumb drive is a generic term for USBs, pen drive, memory sticks and more. Whereas a flash drive like the name suggests uses non-volatile memory to store data.
  • Thumb drives are named for the thumb like appearance and can be plugged directly in the computer. Flash drives use non-movable parts from which it gets the name.
  • Another difference between USB flash drive and thumb drive lies in storage capacity where thumb drives have a range between 64MB to 256 GB. Whereas flash drives range from 512GB to almost 2TB.
  • Lastly, another point of difference between USB flash drive and the thumb drive is their usage where the former is used in digital cameras, gaming consoles, music players and more whereas thumb drives can be used for file transfer between personal computers.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Thumb Drives


1. What type of  thumb drive do I need?

If you’re looking for a thumb drive for personal use then a good option is to choose one with a normal capacity between 64GB to 100GB. Similarly, the types of thumb drive you will need may vary according to your needs. If you’re a professional looking to carry your office on the go then you will need larger amounts of data. On the other hand, some different types of thumb drive you may need may depend on how much school work you have if you’re a student. In that case, choose a larger capacity.



2. How long does the USB thumb drive last?

USB thumb drives usually last around 10 years however the information stored on them doesn’t necessarily degrade over time which reduces its lifespan. On the other hand, the more you read and write on a USB thumb drive the more chances there are that your flash drive will degrade over time.



3. Common problems encountered on your thumb drives

Some common problems you may encounter while using your thumb drive are:


  • A broken USB connector can result in a faulty memory drive as it usually sticks outside of the USB port and can be kicked or damaged unintentionally.
  • As a flash drive has small components they can burn out or become faulty which will make the entire drive fail.
  • During data transfer, any abrupt changes like disconnecting the drive midway or power fluctuations can affect the thumb drive’s functionality.



4. How to hide & unhide hidden files on thumb drives?

If you’re using a windows computer by simply right-clicking on the USB icon you will get an option to hide files. Similarly, you can view the hidden file by opening your flash drive file, clicking on view and check “Hidden Items”.


5. Ways to recover deleted files on your thumb drive

Data can be recovered from your thumb drive that has been deleted by using data recovery software available online or by using the command prompt application on your computer.


Simply type “chkdsk H: /f” where H stands for your USB name and press enter. Type Y and press enter. Lastly, type H:>attrib -h -r -s /s /d *.* and wait for the deleted files to be displayed in a new folder on your USB drive.


6. How to free your thumb drive from viruses?

An easy way to free your thumb drive from viruses is by formatting the drive. Similarly, by running regular virus checks on your USB, it will ensure that no viruses are present.


7. Thumb drive sizes available on market

There are different types of thumb drive sizes available on the market ranging from 64MB to 2TB. You can choose a thumb drive of your required capacity and start using it.


8. How to maximize thumb drive sizes?

Some easy ways of freeing up more space on your thumb drive are by deleting unwanted files, compressing larger files into .zip files or by simply formatting the USB to get rid of any hidden files.



9. Steps on how to format a thumb drive?

You can format a thumb drive by right-clicking on the USB icon and clicking on the “Format” option. This is automatically available for all drives on a Windows computer.



10. The Best Thumb Drive For Your Needs

Some of the best thumb drives are:







11. How Many Files Does A 1tb Thumb Drive Can Store

If you have .JPEG pictures of 2.2MB each, you can store around 450,000 files on a flash drive of 1TB which is a lot for a flash drive.


12. What Does A Bootable Thumb Drive Do?

With a bootable thumb drive, you can directly boot your computer to free up CPU load time and increase efficiency of your personal computer



Thumb drives are a highly useful invention. Whether you’re a business professional, a student or just someone who needs to store their data somewhere safe and accessible, thumb drives are worth the investment.


They are highly affordable, long-lasting and immensely useful. We hope this guide shed some light on what thumb drives are and what thumb drive type you should get depending on your personal needs.

More Thumb Drive Ideas

Different Thumb Drive Sizes Available In The Market

By: Tabinda Mustershad • The Ultimate Buyer's Guide For Thumb Drive

Different Thumb Drive Sizes Available In The Market

Thumb drives, famously known as USB drives or flash drives are named after their tiny portable size and thumb-like shape. These little solid-state drives have made transferring and securing data a piece of cake, transferring data within the span of seconds. Although surprisingly, this small-sized drive can typically hold at...

Read More
Simple Steps On How To Format A Thumb Drive

By: Tabinda Mustershad • The Ultimate Buyer's Guide For Thumb Drive

Simple Steps On How To Format A Thumb Drive

There are a lot of good reasons why you should be formatting your USB from time to time. Especially, if you are wondering do you need to format a USB flash drive? This is because the thumb drive performance can reduce over time if you do not clean it out...

Read More
1TB Thumb Drive: A Cheatsheet For Beginners

By: Kevin Ashwe • The Ultimate Buyer's Guide For Thumb Drive

1TB Thumb Drive: A Cheatsheet For Beginners

Have you ever felt a need for more space to free up space in the hard drive of your computer, and to transfer files between PCs? Look no further, for the 1TB thumb drive is here to rescue you. Find out all about this extraordinary storage device right here.   ...

Read More
25 Best Thumb Drives That Can Never Disappoint You

By: Pavneet Kaur • The Ultimate Buyer's Guide For Thumb Drive

25 Best Thumb Drives That Can Never Disappoint You

Thumb drives are called that for a reason. They are conveniently small and lightweight while offering loads of storage space for your essential data. But you might not be aware of the best options out there.       So here we are with the carefully chosen thumb drives that...

Read More
15 Common Problems Encountered On Your Thumb Drives

By: Tabinda Mustershad • The Ultimate Buyer's Guide For Thumb Drive

15 Common Problems Encountered On Your Thumb Drives

The need to store and transfer information from point one to another has remained a necessity since the beginning of civilization. Centuries back, this need was fulfilled by scripting information on pieces of stone, animal hides, and leaves. Fast forward today and we have reached the pinnacle of the digital...

Read More