Are Flash Drives Safe for Long-Term Storage?

Data storage technology has gone through many changes over the years, transitioning from the standard of the floppy disk to compact flash drives that are capable of storing massive amounts of data. Even the smallest flash drive models can contain as much as 8 GB of data.

Flash drive storage capabilities make them an appealing option for long-term storage of important files, but there are some things you should consider to keep your data consistently safe.

Flash Drives Are Mainly for Transfer Rather Than Storage

The best place for long-term data storage is on a computer’s hard drive, with another backup solution such as an external hard drive. Flash drives can be useful for carrying files that are frequently used, but you should check them in to primary storage to make sure they’re up-to-date.

If you use a flash drive as a backup, make sure it’s stored in a safe place.

Know What’s Stored on the Drive

To avoid uncertainty about what you’ve lost if the flash drive is stolen or lost, you should limit the types of data stored on the flash drive at any time. This way you’ll know what you’ve lost, without worrying about what type of information you stored, which could otherwise cause you to waste time making sure all of your data is backed up.

To add to this point, make sure you don’t store any sensitive information on your flash drives, including personal identity information and credit card details, as storing this on a flash drive is almost an open invitation for fraud and identity theft.

Store Company Data Separately from Personal Data

If you need to store a combination of personal and company data on flash drives, you should keep them separate. While this is primarily done simply to avoid mixing business with personal data, it’s also important because company data may have different security standards.

Buy a Flash Drive with Encryption Software

If you have to store sensitive personal data on a flash drive for any reason, you should purchase one with encryption software or other security features and learn to use them. In many cases, flash drives can come with password protection that makes it impossible for others to access files. If you forget your password, you can simply delete the encrypted file and start a new one, but make sure you have back ups of all of your data.

Label Your USB Drives

If you lose your flash drive, someone who finds it may wish to return it to its owner. To help make sure you can find it again, label it with our name and phone number or other contact information on a file folder label, which you can wrap around the flash drive. You can even include a file inside the drive that details who to contact if someone finds the flash drive.

Don’t Carry Your Flash Drive Loose

Many flash drive designs come with loops for attachment to keyrings or other tethers. It’s ideal to use these rather than other loose flash drives that can easily detach. Placing them in backpacks or laptop cases can also keep them secure.

With these aspects in mind, you can keep your data safe on flash drives at all times. And while they may not be the best method for long-term data storage, you can use them for this purpose if you’re careful.


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