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Alternatives to thumb drives
March 5, 2014 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Hard drives always fail on me. I need usb/flash/thumb drive alternatives that are not online-based.

Media storage is always failing on me, both ssd and traditional data storage (internal and especially external hard drives). This used to happen with 3.5 inch disks, but never with CDs or DVDs. I already use cloud and online based services, but sometimes I need to have data on me, rather than trying to download it, or emailing it to myself. Burning stuff on cd has never failed me, but I am finding a (logical) movement away from this media nowadays. So sometimes when I have data on a CD or DVD, there is no drive to use it in. Thumb drives are pretty universally used, but these fail at an astonishing rate with me. Expensive brand names that are supposed to be especially protective, or cheap promotional ones. They all fail in a very short amount of time. I already have my data backed up, what I am asking for is:

What options do I have for carrying my data around with me if I don't want the data to get all corrupt, or the drive failing?
posted by hal_c_on to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thumb drives are pretty universally used, but these fail at an astonishing rate with me.

corsair flash voyager. the blue-and-black basic ones. this seems to be the basic model now.

i have some of these around that are like, almost 10 years old and still work perfectly that have been written to a kabillion times. In tiny sizes they don't even sell anymore.

anything from lacie will be similarly reliable, but is hilariously overpriced.

this is coming from a person who has also destroyed a lot of "brand name" drives. the name doesn't always mean much.

Note that the corsairs have a 10 year warranty, and their 10 year warranty seriously gives no fucks. I mailed them a dead power supply outside the 5 year warranty and they sent me a shrinkwrapped brand new one of a newer model with the same features that was actually nicer. Along with apple and lenovo think* stuff, they're on the list of companies i'll always throw money at if they can solve my problem.
posted by emptythought at 4:37 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


I would concentrate on figuring out why your drives fail so often. I've got half a dozen, some nice, some cheap promos that have stuck around for years, and I just kinda keep them in the bottom of bags or in the random crap bowl on my desk until I need them.
posted by cmoj at 5:07 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Are you rough on USB drives? I've literally never had one fail on me, to the point where it's kind of a problem that I have 256MB thumbdrives I can't bring myself to throw away.
posted by rhizome at 5:12 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


I agree with cmoj. If drives that are reliable for other people fail for you, then how can we recommend something that will work for you?

Maybe one of the devices you use either has something wrong with its usb port. Or a device has something wrong with its software - filesystem corruption can look a lot like a drive failure. (you do unmount ("eject") your drives before you unplug them, right?)
posted by aubilenon at 5:24 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


Note that the corsairs have a 10 year warranty, and their 10 year warranty seriously gives no fucks.

I just returned 5 usb drives last week. They gave me 'the eye' while testing them, but even the clerk agreed that they were all "faulty". I've never had any problems with returning them when I've saved my receipts. My problem isn't getting new ones, but I loves me a good warranty, so I'll definitely buy some corsair to test out. Thanks for the suggestion.

I would concentrate on figuring out why your drives fail so often.

Are you rough on USB drives? I've literally never had one fail on me, to the point where it's kind of a problem that I have 256MB thumbdrives I can't bring myself to throw away.

Maybe one of the devices you use either has something wrong with its usb port. Or a device has something wrong with its software - filesystem corruption can look a lot like a drive failure. (you do unmount ("eject") your drives before you unplug them, right?)


I'm not rough on my drives. I'm not rough on my hardware. It's not a user issue, more environment-related, but nothing can be done about that. That's why I was looking for alternatives to thumb drives.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:35 PM on March 5


What is the environmental issue you face? Perhaps if we knew we could work around that. Also, what ports do you have on your equipment other than USB? Any thunderbolt or Firewire?
posted by procrastination at 6:14 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Five faulty USB drives in one go is definitely way beyond the norm.

It might be helpful to provide some hints about the environment you're subjecting these drives to on the off chance that maybe better packaging can solve the problem. Otherwise, there aren't many other options. In the absence of optical drives, USB is basically the only game in town, and anything that uses it (usb sticks, external HDs, card readers) or any other external bus will have embedded controllers that present another point of failure in addition to the actual physical media.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:16 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


How do you know that the drives have failed? Are you testing this conclusion on other computers that you reached five times last week?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:57 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Are you running programs off it? I think they might have a limited amount of writes.
posted by photoexplorer at 7:22 PM on March 5


Also; I keep one of these bad girls on my keychain, and accidentally ran it through the washing machine a few months back. I used it two weeks ago to store a ~45 MB powerpoint presentation for a job interview, and it worked just dandy.

So maybe you could try one of those if you know for sure that your other flash drives have all actually been fucked up and ruined by your main rig.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:24 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


You might try a high quality SD card (and carry an SD to USB adapter for computers that don't have an SD card reader). There's also MicroSD card adapters the size of a USB stick that completely enclose the card.
posted by Candleman at 8:07 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I've never heard of a thumb drive failing. I feel like there is an issue on your end. Either you are breaking them or you mistakenly think they are failing. Why do you think the drives fail? What sort of message are you getting? What are you doing with them and on what type of machine?

In any event, what about using SD cards or similar card reader media? Other than CDs/DVDs, floppy disks, thumb drives, external hard drives and SD cards, what is there if you won't do cloud-based services like Dropbox? Not much.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:10 PM on March 5


maybe you can carry around a bottle of spray air and clean your thumb drive environment. I have a ridiculously overpriced thumb drive from lacie that I would pay too much for again. It's an 8gig xtreme key. I am not gentle on my hardware.
posted by mearls at 9:19 PM on March 5


What is the environmental issue you face? Perhaps if we knew we could work around that. Also, what ports do you have on your equipment other than USB? Any thunderbolt or Firewire?

I have wifi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Usb, and FireWire, sdxc, lightning available. The environmental issue is probably electrical.

Five faulty USB drives in one go is definitely way beyond the norm.

I buy a bundle of usb drives when I find a model I like. I always keep one or two on me, when all of them fail, I take them back. This is standard for me.

How do you know that the drives have failed? Are you testing this conclusion on other computers that you reached five times last week?

First they don't work. Next, I take them to the retailer and they always want to check them out to show me that all I need to do is format it, or plug it into the right slot. After fiddling with them, they decide that I should get my money back. Worst time ever, they gave me the same pack of usb drives. I came back a few weeks later with the same drives which were then faulty and got my money back. Several times a year.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:26 PM on March 5


SD drives an answer for you? Depending upon how much data you're lugging around, you could put it onto your telephone, slap a 32GIG drive in it and go; even if you've tons of apps, on a 32GIG drive you ought at least to have 20GIG. Just a thought, maybe you've already been down this road. As far as I can recall, I've never lost anything off an SD card, though truth be told I've not lost anything on a thumb drive, either.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:27 AM on March 6


Some of the methods suggested for protecting thumb drives from ESD damage might help you out - if that happens to be the electrical environmental problem that is causing problems.
posted by rongorongo at 2:52 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Are you experiencing this problem from a desktop or from a laptop?
posted by oceanjesse at 10:21 AM on March 6


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