Flash Drive

A flash drive is a small, removable data storage device that uses flash memory and connects directly to a computer's USB port. A flash drive is typically very compact, only as wide as the USB port itself and an inch or two long, but is also rugged enough to travel safely in a pocket or purse. Connecting a flash drive to a computer requires no additional hardware, which makes using a flash drive simple and convenient.

Early flash drives could only store a few megabytes of data, but modern flash drives are available in sizes up to a terabyte or more. Due to their portability, high capacity, and fast transfer speeds, you can use flash drives for a wide variety of uses. You can use a flash drive to transfer files from one computer to another without establishing a network connection or to keep important files with you to access from anywhere. You can back up important data to a flash drive and store it in a safe place, like a safe deposit box. Most computers can boot from flash drives, so you can use one for operating system installation files or even boot an operating system directly from a flash drive to run system diagnostics.

Most flash drives use the original USB Type A connector found on computers since USB's introduction in the late 1990s. However, USB Type C connectors are increasingly common on flash drives to allow them to connect to laptops and smartphones that only use the newer connector. Many flash drives even include both USB Type A and Type C connectors that you can switch between for extra versatility.

NOTE: Windows and other operating systems will automatically mount flash drives that you connect to your computer, which could allow malware on a flash drive to infect your computer. You should never plug an unfamiliar flash drive into your computer if you're unsure what it contains.

Updated October 17, 2023 by Brian P.

quizTest Your Knowledge

What kind of peripheral lets you quickly make a digital copy of a printed document?

A
Scanner
0%
B
Plotter
0%
C
Amplifier
0%
D
Digitizer
0%
Correct! Incorrect!     View the Scanner definition.
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