How USB Flash Drives Work
Unlike internal and external hard drives, USB flash drives use solid-state technology. Solid state essentially means that the data storage and retrieval on USB flash drives is achieved without moving parts, similar to computer RAM. However, unlike computer RAM, the memory on a USB flash drive is not volatile; the data is not lost when power is cut to the device.
A USB flash drive is made up of three major components. The housing protects the internal components from dirt, debris, and accidental electric charges such as static electricity.
An internal printed circuit board is where the memory chip is connected to the USB drive. These solid-state memory chips can be as small as a few megabytes to as large as 64GB or beyond. It won’t be long before we see 128GB and even 256GB USB flash drives. However, there have been attempts to fool consumers into thinking these devices already exist.
The third component is the USB connector itself. Distinctly flat in appearance, the USB connector is capable of delivering both data transfers and power to the USB flash drive eliminating the need for external power.
Although all USB flash drives have these three components in common, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes for different applications. Some are made for rugged use while others are built entirely for portability. Regardless of the external design, all USB flash drives share these three components.