How Does a Jump Drive Work

Have you wondered, how does a jump drive work? USB jump drives don't have the same type of memory you'll find in a hard drive, although they function similarly to the end user.

What is a USB jump drive?
A USB jump drive, also known as thumb drive, USB drive, key drive or flash drive, is a small, portable memory stick. You plug USB jump drives into your computer, and then you can transfer files to the jump drive for easy transport to another computer. Once you've downloaded files to your thumb drive, you simply eject the thumb drive, plug it into another computer, and get the files you need.

USB jump drives use USB controllers.
USB jump drives are becoming so common because the USB standard is universal. Many operating systems, including Windows, Mac and Linux, support the USB mass storage standard, which makes it an ideal medium to use cross-platform. USB controllers are fast and enable the writing and storage of extremely large quantities of data, making them a much more efficient storage method than floppy disc, or even CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. With a USB jump drive, you don't need special drives or software to store and retrieve data; all you need is an open USB slot.

Jump drives aren't drives at all.
USB jump drives may be called drives, but they really aren't drives at all. These devices are actually just very small circuit boards, protected by a rugged casing that theoretically enables them to be carried in pockets, purses or bags without being damaged. USB jump drives have no moving parts and are a stable choice for storing data, as they can have thousands of successful write cycles and can now hold far more data than any other storage method that isn't hard-drive based.

USB jump drives are solid-state memory.
One of the names for USB jump drives is "flash drive." The reason USB jump drives are also called flash drives is that these solid-state memory devices work by flashing or erasing the existing data and replacing it with new data. The circuit boards inside of thumb drives are broken down into small fields, and when you write data onto the thumb drive, it may take up many of these fields. When you erase the data, the computer simply flashes some of these small fields, leaving the rest intact and not bothering the other contents of the drive.

Some jump drives come with software installed.
Because of the substantial storage capacity, relatively low cost of manufacture and ability to rewrite the contents of these drives, some software manufacturers provide software on custom jump drives. You can take this software to practically any computer; you don't need to worry about whether or not your destination computer has the software you need because you always carry it with you. This is a great solution for people who travel a lot or need specialized software that is difficult to find.

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