USB Flash drives are very convenient devices that allow you to store work on the go, so you’re probably wondering what type of question is that? In this article, I will explain exactly why you shouldn’t use USB flash drives, the alternatives and what USB drives are actually good for.
So you’re probably thinking, who is this guy to say I shouldn’t use something that I used like forever. I’m Dom, a recent Computer Science graduate and IT Specialist who has experience working as a University IT Technician.
1. USB Drives are small and easy to lose
I don’t know about you but I’ve lost many USB drives in the past and I know that feeling all too well, especially when it had coursework on it which I haven’t backed up in a long time. It’s very important to consider the implications of losing a USB flash drive, especially since you never know who might end up finding it, it may be a nice person who will hand it into the lost and found desk or it may be someone who wishes to cause harm.
In a business environment losing a flash drive may be considered a data breach simply because anybody can find it and do whatever they want with it. In fact, Heathrow Airport was fined £120,000 after an employee lost a USB flash drive containing sensitive data. You can read more on this here…
It works the other way too! Attackers might leave dodgy USB drives lying around for you to find and take, but these USB drives may contain malicious code which can destroy data on your computer or even allow hackers to gain access to your PC.
If it looks like a Flash drive it doesn’t mean it is one! Devices such as the USB killer are in existence and they can cause your computer, well to never function again as the video below shows…
So how do I prevent file loss and data breaches?
Well, the best thing that you can do is to keep a regular back up of your work, saving it in multiple locations such as cloud storage, a portable hard drive etc..
On the other hand, to prevent data from getting into the wrong hands we can protect our drives by encrypting, which involves typing in a password to unlock the drive.
2. Files get corrupt
It’s very easy to corrupt files stored on a USB stick, in fact taking the drive out while work is still saving or copying onto it is enough to cause corruption. In some cases even if the computer states that the file has been saved or copied successfully, background processes may still be using the file, therefore removing your USB drive at the wrong time can still cause corruption. That’s why many operating systems come with an option “which we never use wrongfully” to safely remove your flash drive.
3. They are easy to break
It’s surprisingly very easy to break a flash drive and I’ve seen it all, from USB drives snapping in half to them falling apart, I’ve even seen some users remove USB drives together with the USB port, but that’s a different story. It’s worth remembering that USB drives are being made cheaper and smaller making them easier to damage.
4. They fail often
I can’t count the number of times I had a USB drive fail on me. Just last week I was creating a boot disk to install Windows 10 on a laptop, the USB drive I used got extremely warm and eventually stopped working altogether.
5. There are many fakes drives on the market
Yes, you read that correctly, with access to the internet we can often find amazing deals but sometimes these deals can be too good to be true, especially when it comes to USB drives. In fact, the USB scam is a very common scam which I fell victim to twice! On two occasions I purchased a USB drive which looked genuine but wasn’t. I even made a video about one of them…
So how does a fake USB drive work?
Fake drives can cause a lot of damage and it all starts by the drive telling your system an incorrect amount of storage space, for example, you might have a USB drive that is advertised as having 120GB of storage space when it actually only has 8GB. Your system won’t know this because it’s being told that the drive has a 120GB of storage space, therefore it will keep writing to the drive, overwriting and corrupting all your files in the process.