Reliability of USB Flash Drives

  Batch 09:09 22 Jul 2010

I bought a 64GB Corsair USB Flash Drive, from Ebuyer, which was DoA (Dead on Arrival).

My intention was to use this as a robust backup device for off-site storage that I could also easily take with me on my travels.

Having investigated more, I see that quite a number of people are having very similar issues (either DoA or later on - e.g. after a month or two). One particular recurring theme is that the firmware seems to get corrupted making any existing data on the device inaccessible for all practicable purposes.

This raises the question of how reliable [high capacity] USB Flash Drives are (particularly in the context of backups rather data transportation)?

Any views or experiences out there on this matter?

  woodchip 09:47 22 Jul 2010

As with other Hardware Media, they last as long as they last. Its like asking how long is a piece of string. They last longer if treated correctly, just like your own body does, i.e Using the Safe Removal icon in the System Tray the one with the Green arrow on it. In theory you are better buying a good make, rather than just a cheep one

  Batch 13:08 22 Jul 2010

Thanks guys, but I have the overall backup strategy etc. well covered - I haven't been in IT for over 40 years for nought.

Given my DoA experience and what I have found on the Corsair forums, I'm specifically considering whether USB Flash Drives are (particularly high capacity ones) not a suitable backup medium (i.e. for long term storage) or whether it might be particularly an issue with Corsair drives or.....

  Batch 14:46 22 Jul 2010

Yep. First job in IT (or Data Processing as I suppose it was called then) was as Computer Operator in the Computer Dept. at Harrods - got the job through my father who was a Buyer at Barker's in Kensington - long since gone (both Barker's and my father).

One interacted with the computer (an RCA 301 I seem to recall - see click here) by way of a panel of toggle push buttons (which represented the computer registers) and which lit up. The buttons were grouped in to sets of 3. Each set of buttons were effectively a binary representation of the values 0 - 7 (for each button, light ON = 1, light OFF = 0). By entering the relevant binary values it instructed the computer which program to run off magnetic tape.

How things have changed.

  [email protected] 14:51 22 Jul 2010

I used a usb flash for my vista raid drivers, died after about 6 months, this one had had a fair bit of use beforehand though.
I upgraded to windows 7 64 bit from vista 32 bit used a brand new 4 gig flash for the iso, this one died as it was writing...
I have gone back to dvd burning, I just don't trust them, they were not cheap ones, maybe i'm just unlucky.

  Ian in Northampton 15:48 22 Jul 2010

When I started in the computer industry in 1975, a mainframe computer had just 4k of memory, which was more than enough to run an entire accounting suite. 'Visible record minicomputers' were all the rage, combining computing with ledger cards (some of which had a magnetic stripe on them which recorded the data about that account or product so that the computer could read it - but there was still a printed ledger card as well). They used a 'rat hole' to load via paper tape. My mate and I couldn't understand, at the launch of a new minicomputer, why it didn't have a rat hole. Turned out that's what the cassette drive was for...

On the subject of backup/security... I have two internal 250GB drives backed up to two external 250GB USB drives. These are backed up to a 1TB external USB drive - which is backed up to another 1TB USB drive which is stored well away from the PC. Paranoid? Me?? :-)

  woodchip 16:49 22 Jul 2010

Seem to remember something about punched cards. Like a old music roll

  Batch 17:03 22 Jul 2010

Some other oddities from dim distant past:

- Square hole punch tape (most was round hole).

- CRAM (Magnetic cards - not visible records with mag. stripe but magnetic cards held in an indexed holder [conceptually a bit like an old fashioned jukebox] picked up individually as required and put in a reader / writer)

- Also, strips of mag. tape held in slots and picked up and wrapped round a read head. Supposedly an early form of DASD (Direct Access Storage Device which is what hard disks and their "successors" are). CRAM was also a sort of DASD - prior to this sort of thing info. was stored on mag. tape or punched cards etc. and so was not DASD as they had to be read through serially to access any given piece of informnation).

  Batch 17:09 22 Jul 2010

And just to prove I'm not making this stuff up:-

click here

  Batch 20:32 22 Jul 2010

Thanks for you comments.

The pen drive I've been referring to is a reputable brand from a reputable supplier. And I know that the issue I've had has occurred to others and Corsair recognise that it is a prob.

That said, it wouldn't surptise me if your 4GB one was some sort of fake / otherwise dodgy.

Not so long ago I bought a 128GB pen drive off ebay for what appeared to be a very good price (and I realised at the outset that it might be dodgy). It most certinly was a fake. Probably no more than 1GB doctored to make it self register as 128GB. When writing to it, it would work OK initially but fail after about 1gb.

Seems that this sort of thing is absolutely rife with pen drives as it is so easy and cheap to make things that look like the real thing and initially appear (when plugging in) to be real, but are in fact nothing of the sort.

  Batch 11:52 23 Jul 2010

Yes, I know - but a warranty is pretty much NBG if the device is possibly going to keep failing and losing your data.

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