Wednesday, April 9, 2008


At a time when technology is constantly changing. It is routine to get your system upgraded. This means we have to transfer all data into another machine during this period and transfer it back once the change has been done.

But there is a problem how do you transfer these files from one system to another, and back? Floppy disks, with a dismal capacity of 1.4MB, are simply out of the question. CD’s too are quite outmoded since they rarely have a capacity of more than 700MB. This is where the pen drive or USB memory stick comes to the picture. The pen drive in recent days is gaining popularity among all computer users.

A pen drive or a Universal Serial Bus (USB) stick is a key chain sized removable and rewritable device that can be used to transfer files easily, between pen drive compatible systems. It is available in capacities ranging from 128MB to 4GB. In some cases, they may come with a built in MP3 player. Some of the companies manufacturing pen drive include Sandisk, Kingston, Transcend, Moser Baer, Data traveller, Jump Drive etc.

Advantages of a pen drive

Optical storage (CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW) pen drives are more robust and portable than optical storage devices, coming in smaller packages and are not susceptible to surface scratches, which can damage the stored content. Pen drives can be rewritten many times, unlike some of the ‘R’ varieties of optical storage that can only be written once.

Floppy Discs

Pen drives are more compact, faster, can hold more data, and are considered more reliable (due to lack of moving parts) than floppy discs. Pen drives use the mass storage standard, and are compatible with all modern operating systems such as Linux, Mac OS X, and windows, be sides all laptops and note book PC’s.

How secure are pen drives?

Many manufacturers offer pen drives with pass word protection and/ or encryption software. Most of the pen drive allows the user to have a public and private partition, where the public part is always accessible and the private part is secured through a password. Users can also download encryption software onto their pen drive, from the internet.

USB flash drive and USB smart drive

A USB smart drive is a USB flash drive with additional capabilities, typically, software which enables it to run active programs from the drive, from the encryption technology to personalized web browsers instant messaging services. Users can purchase USB smart drives, or download software from the internet that enables existing flash drives to be uploaded to smart drives.

Pen drive is made of?

A USB flash drive consists of non volatile memory, a controller, clock generator, led indicator and some additional components. Beyond this basic configuration, other components might be integrated, depending on the functionality of the drive, such as an MP3 player, finger point sensor etc.

No driver required!

No driver is required for windows 2000/ME/XP, Mac Operating Systems X, Linux 2.4.0 or higher. Windows 98/98 /ME/ NT require appropriate device drivers.

Supports storage of all file types

The pen drive behaves like any other hard drive, thus it supports storage of all file types, provided the operating system is compatible.

Virus Attacks
In general, the best way to protect your computer against virus attacks is through various available security methods. These may include an internet firewall, a virus scanner and other tools that screen incoming files for viruses.

In case of pen drives, you could consider running a virus scan on the contents of the drive before accessing any files. Also, there are some anti virus applications that can be run directly from the USB smart drive to ensure that your drive does not get corrupted by a “host” system that may have a virus.

Information courtesy: IEEE magazine.

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