Is it worth buying a USB 3.1 USB flash drive?
The tech industry, tech nerds and tech blogs will definitely say that buying a USB 3.1 flash drive is worth it. After all, these blogs need something new to write about and new links to generate for affiliate advertising, but are these blogs reporting back valuable information before someone spends their hard earned cash?
Let us compare the write speed difference between a USB 3.1 flash drive and a USB 3.0 flash drive to see what information we can uncover.
Universal Serial Bus (USB) has different transfer speeds based on the version of technology, we did a write about that earlier. The USB 3.1 specification has a transfer rate which taps out at 1,250 MB/second (Megabytes per second). The USB 3.0 specification has a transfer rate which taps out at 625MB/second. Of course this is the theoretical maximum transfer speed. When anyone says “theoretical transfer speed” they are implicating all conditions are ideal. For example, the host computer has the horsepower and bandwidth to push that much data and the receiving device (in this case, flash drive) has equal throughput to receive that data. But is that the real world – is it worth buying a USB 3.1 USB flash drive?
Below are some images and here is the general order of what you will be reading:
- Screen shots of the USB device type (USB 3.0 and USB 3.1)
- Screen shots of benchmark software testing both USB technologies
- Screen shots of a real-world copy jobs using a Windows computer
From the screen shots below you can see a USB 3.0 flash drive and USB 3.1 flash drive. Both flash drives use an SMI controller for the USB 3.0 and 3.1 technology. These are the same high quality and higher performance controllers seen in iPhones and NAND memory used from Micron Technology. The NAND memory type is MLC (multi-layer cell memory) is slower than SLC NAND memory (single layer cell). Note: USB flash drives do not use SLC memory because the NAND memory price is too expensive and the SLC supply is very small. Flash drives are produced at mass scale and meant to be a low cost data transfer and storage tools – speed is not the #1 priority, despit all the marketing we read online.
Here are benchmark speed tests for both USB devices in discussion today.
The program has two test settings for benchmarking a speed test. One test setting is for the theoretical maximum speed of the device and writes data directly to memory without accounting for operating system and device overhead for were the data is stored. Think of this as a random write test to any available sector on the flash drive.
The second test setting is a write sequence which includes the operating system and device overhead cache for placing files in the file allocation table. This means extra time is spend during the data transfer to log where each sector is written along with the calculation required to write the next bit of data. This second test setting is more like a real-world experience.
Speed benchmark software is designed to provide a relatively quick summary of the device capability. So the first test setting is designed to show the theoretical maximum write speed or “burst” write speed. The second test setting is designed to show a more “sustained” write speed. Any benchmark software is designed to provide a quick and easy snap-shot of what the device can do – but can the device do it?
Readers can download the USB Scrub software for speed benchmarking their flash drives. The software is 100% free, no installation or sign-ups, and includes other cool features like registry cleaning and making image files of flash drives. USB Scrub download link
USB flash drive duplicators are typically in production type environments because the equipment is being used to make hundreds or thousands of flash drives. In this type of environment if may be required to perform routine maintenance to keep the duplication equipment operating at peak performance.
As with any flash memory duplicator system, there are no moving parts. This certainly makes it easier on keeping the gear in tip-top shape. Although there are no moving parts there are still cleaning steps one can take. There are three areas to consider for maintenance for USB Flash Drive Duplicator.
The USB socket of a USB duplicator receives the most wear-and-tear. The standard USB socket has a specification of 100,000 connection cycles. During that time, it’s possible dirt and dust can get into the USB socket. However, more likely will be plastic shavings form the USB stick itself found inside the socket. If a user connects a USB stick at a slight angle and with a bit of force, it’s possible some of the plastic inside the USB stick connector is shaved off and falls into the USB socket of the flash drive duplicator.
If this happens the quick, simple and effective solution is applying compressed air into the USB duplicator socket to blow out any debris, dust or dirt. By cleaning out the sockets you will insure a better point of contact between the pins of the USB flash drive and the pins of the USB socket.
Another common issue with USB duplicators are the sockets themselves getting lose from all the connection cycles during the production process. Inside each USB socket there are metal tongs which provide tension as the USB stick is connected to the socket. Over time, these tongs lose some of their elasticity and thus result in less tension. When there is less tension between the socket and device, it is possible a good connection is not made. By taking appart the duplicator and adjusting the tongs of the USB socket you can create good, strong tension.
Here is a close up picture of a USB socket from a USB flash drive duplicator made by Nexcopy. The red arrow points the tension tong. Using some sort of sharp mechanical tool, push the tension tong down towards the inner part of the USB socket. Do not push or bend the tong too much, but enough to create good tension when a USB flash drive is inserted into the socket. Apply this technique to all sockets of the duplicator.
The last bit of maintenance for a USB flash drive duplicator would be the internal fan and components. As with any computer, the internal fan will pull or push dust into the chassis and cover the components. The dust itself will not damage the components, but the dust will cover the components on the inside and make them run hotter than what is ideal. For this reason, it is a good maintenance step to open the duplicator unit and apply compressed air to the inside of the unit.
By thoughtfully and methodically applying the above maintenance steps your USB flash drive duplicator will continue to run for many years.
“The fundamental change towards how our flash drive works should draw attention for those looking for read-only USB flash drives” says Greg Morris, CEO of Nexcopy Inc.
What is unique about the Lock License approach is whenever power is cut to the device, for example disconnection, the USB is automatically write protected. This is the strongest first line defense against malicious software or virus jumping onto a flash drive without the user knowing. It is impossible to infect a USB drive if the device is write protected.
Lock License flash drives require a password upon first use. This password is used to unlock the write protection and make the USB a read/write device. This feature provides a personalized solution for each business which uses the Lock License technology. There is no need to set the write protection after being unlocked because simply cutting power to the device will put the USB into its default state: A read-only device.
The Nexcopy Lock License USB flash drive has the following features:
- Default state of drive is read-only, a.k.a write protected
- User assigned password to remove write protection
- No password is required to read from the drive, acts as normal WORM device
- Graphical User Interface (GUI) to set password and remove write protection
- Command line utility for custom integration to remove write protection
- No back door password or feature from Nexcopy to unlock the drive
- Available in USB 2.0 and 3.0 technology and ranging from 2GB through 128GB capacities
Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “System Control manufacturers for waterworks, electrical utility and petroleum companies need a solution like this. The ability to load software or firmware to a hardware based USB read-only device gives system control companies an incredible amount of security for in-field deployment via USB. More importantly, the command line utility gives the manufacturers a secure way to unlock the drive and update the content remotely without the worry of the drive remaining read/write. It’s simply impossible for the drive to remain writable.” McCrosky concludes.
The Lock License USB flash drive is simple to implement. Steps include:
- Connect USB to a Windows computer
- Open either GUI or command line utility to remove write protection
- Assign a password to be used when removing the write protection
- Data load the drive as needed
- Eject drive from computer once copy process is complete
- At this point the USB is write protected at the hardware controller level
- The Lock License drive can be read (used) by any device on any platform
- Password not required to read data from the drive
- Password is only used when removing write protection to make the USB read/write
Nexcopy Lock License media is available in USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 technology and range it capacity from 2GB through 128GB. Nexcopy offers six body styles for the Lock License media with a wide range of body colors available for each stye, all available for custom branding. The six body styles include Oxford; a capless swivel style drive. Newport; a classic rectangular shape with cap. Lexington; a classic rectangular style with rounded edges and cap. Augusta; a shorter style drive with large lanyard loop. Huntington and Geneva which uses an aluminum body for more durability and also better suited for laser etch branding.
The Oxford style swivel drive is the in stock media Nexcopy carries for same day printing and shipping. Nexcopy inventories USB 2.0 media of 2GB and 4GB capacity and in stock USB 3.0 media of 8GB, 16GB, 32Gb, 64GB and 128GB capacities. The in stock Oxford media is a black body with white swivel clip with full color printing via the Nexcopy Logo-EZ USB flash drive printer.
The Lock License utility is available for download off the Nexcopy support page. The utility requires a Nexcopy licensed USB flash drive. The Lock License USB write protection is not a universal solution for any thumb drive, a Nexcopy drive is required in order to take advantage of the increased security the technology offers.
Official press release:
This article will overview PDF copy protection and the available options. A couple of things worth mentioning before getting into the details:
- Encryption is different than copy protection. Encryption is a technology solution where the PDF owner assigns a password to the document and after the user enters that password the user can do anything they want with the file. Print, share, screen capture, etc. The idea for encryption is the document being unattainable until a password is entered.
- Copy protection does not use a password and anyone can see the file. However; the file cannot be copied, printed, shared or screen captured. The idea behind copy protection is the PDF being viewed by anyone, but nothing can be done with the file. When people are searching for PDF copy protection, this is the solution most likely sought after.
PDF or Portable Document Format is an open standard. What this means is the document format was designed to be used in just about any document reader program. The goal for the PDF specification was to make the format as universal as possible. For this reason, it is a bit more difficult than one would think to copy protect a PDF file.
Windows comes pre-installed with Adobe Reader. In addition, Windows has embedded Adobe API code to read PDF files. Even if Adobe Reader was not installed on your computer, or uninstalled, the underlying code is still there to open a PDF. In additional to Adobe Reader (#1 PDF reader in the market) there are dozens of additional PDF reader programs. Again, the goal for all these readers is to open and read a portable document file.
Adobe copy protection solutions are very well known for being cracked. If you Google “Adobe copy protection crack” you will find pages of ways the Adobe security features are compromised. Here and here are two examples of Google search results with web pages dedicated to hacking.
The fundamental problem with copy protection are the lack of controls when viewing a PDF. Meaning a PDF content owner (you) does not have the control over Adobe Reader, or other programs, to stop the user (your client/customer/student) from printing, screen grabbing, sharing and saving.
The idea behind a PDF copy protection solution is a framework where the PDF can be opened and viewed, while you (the content owner) maintains control of the document.
Of course Adobe Reader, FoxIt Reader and others, will not provide the tools to block a user from printing or saving from within their program. In contrast, we need a “reader” or “viewer” with controls to block those functions.
With this in mind, it is difficult to provide a reader with these security functions. Most users who receive a PDF do not want to download and install another program just to read a PDF file. The ease and beauty of a PDF gets lost in that process. No longer is the PDF a portable document format. In addition, a software program that can be downloaded to view a PDF can also be downloaded by a hacker to be reverse engineered. There needs to be something more than just a secure reader/viewer to control the PDF.
The most secure way to copy protect a PDF file is to associate it with something physical. There are some software (only) solutions, but those are not as secure as a solution with something physical.
The average user inserts a USB stick into their computer from a trusted source. However, there are companies and situations who receive USB flash drives or USB hard drives and they are not certain if the device is infected.
Globotron is a company based in New Zealand who designed the product. The product is called Armadillo and is an open-source USB firewall.
Some research has shown, as many as 29 different types of USB attacks can happen from plugging in mass storage devices (like USB flash drives and USB hard drives) or also HID devices (human input devices like keyboards and mouse).
The USB stack which is the low level code used in the host computer, is very complex and over time researchers and hackers have discovered ways to compromise a computer system through these vulnerabilities.
The Armadillo is an open-source device which is a firewall between a USB device and computer. The firewall isolates the firmware of the USB device so as not to infect your PC if the device has been infected with malicious firmware. You just need to plug in Armadillo between your computer and the USB device using the provided micro-USB cable. Armadillo is an upgrade over USG, the original or first-generation USB hardware firewall device.
The Armadillo has bot detection. This means if the USB firewall device detects malicious codes are being entered via keyboard or mouse (HID devices) the device will block transmission and a red LED indicator light will turn on.
The Armadillo has the ability to temporarily make your USB read only. This is valuable if the computer is infected and you need pull information (recovery software) from the USB stick and want to insure virus’ do not infect the flash drive. The USB is read-only, but it is read/write when not connected to the Armadillo.
Note: If you need a USB stick that is always write protected at the controller level, yet need to temporarily turn off the write protection for data changes, the Lock License drive from Nexcopy is your solution.
This last point about the Armadillo is a bit strange, but we like it. The body is sealed with glitter epoxy so it is easy to identify if the box itself was tampered with. Very creative!
The Armadillo USB Firewall is available from Globotron for $150 USD and ships from New Zealand.
LAKE FOREST, CA, USA, November 20, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ — Lake Forest, CA – November 20, 2019 –
Nexcopy Inc., introduces all new mini size USB duplicator, the USB104SA, a 4 target standalone USB flash memory Duplicator specifically design to be light weight and portable.
The USB104SA USB Duplicator has a list of features which pivot from the larger, award winning, Nexcopy standalone duplicators. Features include:
- Asynchronous copy mode, all the time
- Binary copier will copy any format; FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, Ext2,3,4, Proprietary
- Binary CRC verification algorithm
- Quick Erase and Ful Erase for disk sanitization
- Four language modes in LCD menu
- USB speed benchmark utility
- Firmware upgradeable
“With the lack of optical drives in computers and laptop, the USB stick continues to grow in popularity,” reports Greg Morris, President of Nexcopy. “What we have seen is a demand for both small configuration systems for those transitioning from optical media to USB media and large production systems which we’ve serviced for years. The USB104SA is a great stepping stone for those coming from the optical duplication industry.”
Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “What we have seen, are small organizations and business requesting something low cost and low volume for data duplication. Our main focus is still business-to-business, but the growing demand for low volume duplication equipment justified the development of a product like the USB104SA.”
The USB104SA is a portable solution and ideal for trade shows or spoken word events. The unit weighs less than one pound and with a foot print of about six inches by one inch tall. The unit can easily fit into your computer bag, which is ideal for carry-on luggage at the airport.
The USB duplicator is powered by a microUSB cable which can be connected to your computer laptop USB port. A USB block is also provided for powering from an outlet.
Nexcopy firmware is a code technology which has evolved since 2008. This system is backward compatible with USB 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 flash memory. The system will accept SD card reader adapters, microSD and CF card reader adapters. The firmware may be used to speed test flash memory which is a great tool for understanding the quality of flash memory a supplier has provided.
EIN PressWire official news release
USB-C is great. Ultra fast data transfer rates close to 10Gbps and increased power to charge laptops, monitors and TVs. However; the power improvement from USB-C doesn’t last over longer cables. The USB-C (or USB 3) specification indicates the optical power and transfer rates will retain as long as the cable length is under two meters, or about six feet.
POE or Power over Ethernet, is a way to get both data and power to longer destinations via cable. PoE Texas has unveiled such a product for USB-C connections.
“As a standard USB-C offers amazing speed and power delivery. Unfortunately, USB-C can only transmit power less than ten feet (three meters), and the cable infrastructure comes at a cost premium. Ethernet cable, nearly ubiquitous in modern construction, can transmit power and data 328 feet (100 meters). USB-C power and data transmitted over Power Over Ethernet significantly lowers the cost of adopting USB-C by eliminating the need for new electrical infrastructure.”
Let’s give an example of how the PoE USB-C product could work – the following is a real life example from our own experience:
A user has a work station about 30 feet away from the production unit it needs to communicate with. The production unit is a USB-C duplicator by Nexcopy. The work station has a manager who controls the data to be loaded to USB-C flash drives, and the production unit, or USB duplicator, is manned by a production manager who physically connects and disconnects the USB sticks during the duplication process.
Because a standard USB-C cable cannot be used, as the distance is too far, the User could employ the USBC Power Over Ethernet product and get both the power and data to the destination.
Let’s face it, optical discs are large and bulky. At nearly five inches in diameter, the discs are big when compared to the size of modern laptops and now tablets. Even though the optical drives has been greatly reduced in size, more and more laptops have dropped the technology to conserve on space and power.
If you are not talking about the size of the mobile computer, the space used up by an optical drive can be used for more practical things. That space could be better used for the battery which can extend the overall running time of the system. If the system is designed for performance, it could store a better or bigger solid state drive in addition to a hard drive for added performance. Maybe the computer could use a better graphics solution for graphic design or gaming.
When CD-R drives first came into the market, they offered a huge storage capacity that rivaled traditional magnetic media of the day. After all, 650 megabytes of storage was well beyond what most hard drives were at the time. DVD expanded this capacity even further with 4.7 gigabytes of storage on the recordable formats.
While the growth rate of optical media was good, it is nowhere near the exponential growth that hard drives and USB sticks have seen. Optical storage is still stuck in the gigabytes while most hard drives are pushing even more terabytes. Using the CD, DVD and Blu-ray for storing data is just not worth it anymore. The write time is too slow and the seek time to find your data is equally as slow. The hard drive and it’s portable version, USB flash drive have found the main stream masses.
Keeping these points in mind, you can see why optical media is all but dead. Sure, the CD-R and DVD-R will last another year, probably another five, but it’s USB and hard drives which have taken over. The next step in the logical progression, is how to data load USB media? With optical media you had CD and DVD tower duplicators. There are many systems with robotics and printers so duplicate to the optical media and also print a label. But those systems are getting harder and harder to find.
The equipment most companies and organizations are seeking now are USB duplicators. These are flash memory copier systems which can data load content to USB flash drives at ultra-fast speeds. CD and DVD duplicators went through some phases of supported formats like discs being finalized or disc-at-once over track-at-once. Well, USB duplicators have a similar issue to resolve. There is file copy and binary copy and duplication from an ISO file or an IMG file. There are many ways to copy the data from the source to the target USB media.
It’s important to have a USB duplicator which supports all these functions. There are some duplicators with as many as six copy modes. A system like this makes it extremely versatile for the user to move data around. There is file copy, copy add, unique data streaming, copy from a physical device, copy from an IMG file, copy from an ISO file. These are all great resources to have if you are not sure how the content is being given to you.
Today, Hynix put out a press release on their Gold S31 solid-state drive (SSD). The SATA III, first generation, is the first of their SuperCore series of products.
With a 560MB/s read speed, this device becomes an ideal SSD drive for high demand users, such as Gamers. What’s also somewhat unique about the new Gold S31 drives is that they’re entirely built in-house.
“All key components in Gold S31, from NAND flash and built-in controller to DRAM and firmware, were designed and produced by SK Hynix. The in-house components are built for robust performance and reliability,” SK Hynix says.
What is more interesting, at least for us at this moment, is the history of SK Hynix we uncovered by doing some research about the company.
I always wondered what happen to Maxtor, an optical media giant back in the early 2000s. Well, SK Hynix bought them. SK Hynix is the third largest conglomerate in South Korea.
Hynix is the world’s second-largest memory chipmaker (after Samsung ) and the world’s 3rd-largest semiconductor company. Founded as Hyundai Electronic Industrial Co., Ltd. in 1983 and hasn’t stopped growing since.
Hynix memory is well know for quality flash and used in products made by Apple, Asus, Google, Dell, Nexcopy and Hewlett Pakard.
The company also merged with LG Semiconductors in 1999.
These guys had an operating income of 18 billion for 2018, so it’s a company with
Came across an article today, which I thought was a very good read. It’s a niche article, but for anyone who deals with flash drives, I would suggest checking it out.
From the article:
The optical drive is nearly dead – they are no longer found in laptops and rarely found in tower PCs. With that said, the trend for giving out data is shifting to USB flash, not CD or DVD media. Because of this shift, many companies are taking a closer look at buying a USB duplicator.
There are several factors one must consider before spending thousands of dollars on a USB duplicator. We have broken down the most important considerations into four categories. After reviewing these four categories, you should have an excellent idea of which type of duplicator is best for your organization.
USB Duplication Speed
Speed is the first area you should analyze to figure out which direction you should go. When considering speed, we are not simply talking about the copy speed of the USB duplicator, but other factors as well, such as number of USB sockets and the user interface required for feedback during operation. Questions you should ask, include:
# How many USB drives will you need to copy in a day or week?
# How large is the data load in MBs or GBs?
# What kind of turn-around time do you have between a duplication request and when that request should be completed?
# Is there printing, or branding required, on the outside of the USB?
# Do you need proof of performance via a log file?
Answering the above questions will give you an idea of what type of USB duplicator to consider. The type of duplicator will be size, how many USB sockets, copy speed of the duplicator and what type of software, if any, your organization will need.
Your Production Crew
Your next step is to consider the production crew who will be running the equipment. Will there be non-technical people running the equipment, or will a more hands-on approach be required? Is the IT department looking to restrict user access to the equipment or restrict access to the data content during the duplication process?
Much of the above depends on how the data is received before copied to the USB flash drive. For example, a duplication company might receive a physical master from a client; where-as a fulfillment house may get content delivered from a server from an on-line order submission process.
Will the organization require multiple USB duplicators located in different parts of the world? Said another way, many global companies standardize on one manufacturer so the user experience is the same across multiple locations. This also makes production easier as both support and experience can be shared between divisions to streamline processes on a global scale.
Knowing the production crew, their capabilities and responsibilities will help narrow the search for the right piece of equipment.
Read-Only or Read-Write
The third category worth investigating is asking the state of what the USB should be once sent delivered. Is the organization looking to ship out a read-only flash drive? By default all flash drives are read-write. Because of this, many organizations fear a virus could jump onto the drive and spreading to other computers. With that fear in mind, most companies are looking for a USB duplicator which creates a read-only drive product. This means the USB drive is locked, or write protected. The files cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive, and more importantly, files cannot jump onto the drive.
Nexcopy is world leader in read-only flash drive duplicators and therefore used as an example of a duplicator system worth considering.
Nexcopy is a bit of classic entrepreneurial story, starting out in a home garage and sales on the first day of business, this is a story about a copy that has gone only upward.
Tech Company News had some time to sit down with the owner of Nexcopy, Greg Morris, and fire off some questions.
Here is a snippet from the interview…
Question: What kind of technology does Nexcopy offer?
Answer: Nexcopy has a specific focus on flash memory duplication, printing and production needs. The business started out with one product geared towards USB duplication. From that single product, Nexcopy’s business has expanded into other duplication equipment such as SD card duplicators, microSD cards duplicators, Compact Flash cards duplicators, and of course our most recent product, the USB Type C duplicator. During this expansion process of hardware, Nexcopy also developed copy protection of digital files on USB drives and mobile devices. Several years ago, Nexcopy introduced a USB flash drive printer which really rounded out our product offering. From the devices, to the duplication equipment to the branding equipment, Nexcopy is a one-stop manufacturer for anyone who deals in flash memory.
The full Nexcopy interview is available on the Tech Company News website.
In a recent news press release from Nexcopy Inc., it appears USB Type C is trending up for consumer demand.
Via the EIN News Wire Service, Nexcopy announced a twenty target USB-C Duplicator. Some of the information posted in the release talks about the upward trend manufacturers are seeing with USB type C product. In addition, the production of a mass aggregator, or duplicator, is another indication users are data loading, in bulk, to USB-C product.
“Apple computers and Iot, or Internet Of Things, are driving the force behind the increased demand for USB-C flash drive consumption. Although the internet is great for many data sharing applications, there is still a great need for data dissemination off line. USB is still the definitive choice among users to share data via flash memory,” states Greg Morris, President of Nexcopy.
Morris continues, “We see the demand of USB-C duplication to only rise in the coming years. In technology, smaller is always better, and as devices get slimmer in size the USB type A socket will eventually phase out and USB type C taking over. The transition is slow, but it is inevitable; and with that said, we are ready – today.”
Nexcopy is also well known for the PRO series duplicators that perform advanced functions to flash drives, such as USB write protection (USB read-only), partitions at the controller level, and serial number control for UFD identification. From the press release, these advanced functions will also be available on the USB-C200PC duplicator.
The USB-C duplicator has a list price of $1,299 from what we understand and available now through a list of on-line retails like Amazon and NewEgg. The product is also available through a worldwide network of authorized resellers.
Nexcopy did allude to