Top 10 Myths On Flash Memory: Debunked

Categories: News & Resources

Flash memory is a rapidly evolving market with new innovations hitting just as rapidly, from new kinds of storage itself to new packaging types that are intended to solve emerging problems. Flash memory is moving beyond top-tier performance solutions to storage tiers with more moderate performance needs. Not understanding how flash memory and storage can benefit your business may be hampering your success in the market. It’s important to understand the facts and dispel those popular myths so that you can make the best possible decision for your specific needs. So here are a few myths and rumors circulating about several types of flash memory. 

Myth #1: Unplugging a USB from a Computer Without “Safely Removing the Hardware” Results in Damage

It is a popular belief that unplugging a USB directly from a computer will result in damage. This is a complete myth with the exception of one instance. The only time you can really cause damage to your drive or to the host computer is removing a flash drive when it is in use. This can actually cause severe damage to a computer. So as a tip, never remove a USB while it is in use! For all other occurrences, it is completely safe to remove your USB with no further protocol. 

Myth #2: When a USB breaks, Your Data is Lost Forever

Unlike a CD or DVD that breaks, when a USB breaks your data is not 100% lost. USBs have been blown up with explosives and data has survived, so the likelihood that your data is still on the drive from a more common failure is actually pretty good. The method for data retrieval may be out of the skill knowledge for the average computer user, but it is certainly possible. There are programs on you can buy or download that will help you retrieve deleted or missing data off a flash drive, as well as there, are professional computer forensics companies that specialize in data retrieval in the event that traditional programs don’t work. So is it possible to lose your data permanently; yes, but it could be potentially saved through other means.

Myth #3: SSDs are Too Expensive

When SSDs (Solid State Drives) were first introduced, they were priced so much higher than HDDs. However, flash memory technology has already matured, and prices are falling and becoming more comparable with HDDs (Hard Disk Drives). Over the long-term, SSDs can narrow the price difference through other factors that lead to lower total costs. SSDs do not have movable or mechanical parts, so they can withstand strong shocks and vibrations without any functional interruption or danger of data loss, translating to fewer costly service calls and fewer drive replacements. Faster data access leads to greater productivity, and lower power consumption generates substantial power savings. 

Myth #4: Flash Memory is OK for USB keys and maybe consumer devices like laptops, but I can’t trust it with my more valuable data.

USB key design is completely different from consumer SSDs for laptops, and those are different from enterprise-grade drives. All these denominations of flash memory are designed to meet certain needs, both with respect to capacity and performance. Enterprise flash devices such as SSDs have been engineered with unprecedented reliability, end to end protection, temperature throttling technology, and groundbreaking Quality of Service. In fact, they are far more reliable and offer greater performance than the HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) our industry has relied on for years!

Myth #5: SSDs are Not Big Enough to Be Effective

When choosing a storage solution, capacity is almost always among the top considerations. For data-hungry applications, the advent of 3D NAND technology is a welcome boost. 3D NAND technology is able to achieve higher densities at lower costs per bit. This simply means that there can be more bits per cell causing more storage capacity in a smaller frame.  Without overcomplicating things, the more technology evolves, the more capacity a relatively “small” SSD will be equipped with. Size is not always an adequate structure for evaluating capability and compatibility to your needs. 

Myth #6: The USB Connector on a Flash Drive is Very weak

This is one of those myths that got things completely backward! The USB connector on all standard USB flash drives is made from metal and is quite resistant to damage or bending. The rest of the USB drive, however, is not. Most USB drive cases are made from plastic or other materials and are vulnerable to breaking or bending as compared to the USB connector itself. Even on the inside of a USB, the PCB board is more fragile than the metal USB connector. So can a USB connector break; absolutely, but it is far stronger than we often think.

Myth #7: SSD Management is Complicated

SSDs (Solid State Drives) write and erase data differently from HDDs(Hard Disk Drives). The basic unit for storing data on an SSD is called a page; several pages make up what’s known as a block. To write new data on pages where old data currently resides, valid pages need to be relocated and the entire block has to be deleted. The process of constant moving and relocating data is called garbage collection. This function ensures optimum performance and better endurance. Another way to ease SSD management is ATP’s Life Monitor/S.M.A.R.T. Tool which provides a user-friendly interface for monitoring the health status and life expectancy of a flash product.

Myth #8: USB Drives are Vulnerable to Magnets

This myth more than likely originated even before USBs were created, but it is still a myth nonetheless. USB flash drives are completely resistant to magnetic fields as they themselves are not magnetic! USB drives are built with none magnetic materials. However, USBs store data in such a way that it wouldn’t matter if it’s materials were in fact magnetic. This, of course, extends to all types of flash memory such as SSDs, SD cards, etc. and as a side fact, even traditional hard drives are immune. In fact, a traditional hard drive uses a very powerful magnet to move the head.

Myth #9: All USBs are destroyed when Dunked in Water

This particular myth does have some truth to it. It is a well-known fact that if you put a standard flash drive into water, and then plug it in, you will more than likely break your flash drive. However, simply putting a flash drive into water does not hurt it. It is only when the USB is wet and plugged into any device that gives it power does it short out. So as a tip, if your drive gets wet, put it in a jar of uncooked rice or silica gel for 24 hours and make sure it is 100% dry before plugging it back in. As long as there is not an electrical current passing through the drive when it is wet, the drive will most likely survive.

Myth #10: Flash Memory is not field-tested, and represents a bigger risk than traditional storage

Flash memory has no moving parts. Physical wear and tear is a key cause of failure in traditional disk storage. In stress tests, Flash memory failure rates are much lower because of this and other variables. The lack of moving parts also makes them less vulnerable to changes in environmental factors, such as temperature, moisture, and so on, which are key points of vulnerability for traditional IT systems. It also makes it better suited for use in more varied scenarios – on ‘mobile’ computing resources, hence its rapid adoption in cell phones.

Like all myths, it’s important to get clarity and proper information in order to make the best possible decisions for you and your business. The main thing to remember when it comes to the tech space and flash memory specifically is that change is a certainty. Technology will constantly evolve, prices will almost always fluctuate based on demand and Everything But Stromboli will always be here to help severe you in all of your flash memory needs.