Flash memory drive

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This page refers to removable USB flash drives, not to be confused with SATA/PATA Solid-state drives

A 1GB USB flash drive

A Flash Memory Drive (a.k.a Thumb Drive, Memory Stick, Jump Drive, and Flash Drive) is a kind of digital data storage device which uses flash memory to store all manner of files and information. These are used for file transfers (from on device to another), and storage. They can be used to simply hold a file for five minutes, or store that file for years, during which time it can be edited and accessed any time.
As flash memory develops, flash memory drives become progressively less expensive while capacity continues to increase. These removable drives are generally connected to devices using Universal Serial Bus (USB) connections.

Technical details

Flash memory is an efficient, non-volatile type of storage which is composed of MOSFET's that have a special "floating gate", so well insulated that it can hold its charge, thereby controlling the transistor, almost indefinitely. The charge in the floating gate can be set using electrical impulses. When disconnected from power, the transistors hold their charge, so data can be stored for quite some time and/or transferred to another device.
Over a period of years (and decades) flash memory tends to suffer from bit rot. While flash memory drives are versatile and fairly reliable, they can eventually lose the data which they contain. This can make then unsuitable or long-term backups and archives, but they can often be stored for more than a decade with no discernible problem. Also, rewriting the data to the drive refreshes the electrical charges, which helps ensure that the data will be available for years to come.