Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Constant writing to a thumb drive is going to wear it out. I suggest a few alternatives for keeping your files safe.
Many of my files are large, complex and graphics related (i.e. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Corel Draw, etc.). These files are stored on and run from a high-speed, 32 GB memory stick. A Sony or Lexar brand using the NTFS format. However, I now worry that the heavy use of this memory stick could induce file corruption. My question, "When it comes to constant and heavy use of file read/write cycles, is it acceptable and safe to work from a simple memory stick with the NTFS format?"
In this excerpt from Answercast #39, I look at the problems caused by constantly writing to a thumb drive and suggest some alternatives.
My recommendation is that you do not.
Now, there are absolutely scenarios where it's perfectly safe. It really depends on how much you understand the specific characteristics of the program you're using.
Writing to a flash-based memory stick is what wears it out.
Reading does not.
So, if on that memory stick you have files that are constantly being read, and only being read, you're probably just fine. It's not really that big of an issue – and to be honest, I probably wouldn't be too concerned.
On the other hand (and in fact, I have warned friends of mine off of doing this) for example, if you keep a database on the memory stick that is constantly being written to,
You are going to cause file corruption eventually.
You will lose the contents of that memory stick eventually.
Writing, writing a lot (which many programs can do) is exactly what wears memory sticks out.
How quickly I can't tell you because that varies dramatically based on the quality of the technology that's being used in the memory stick. You can certainly do a rule of thumb thing with price:
If you've got a free memory stick or a very, very cheap one, chances are the circuitry inside of it is probably pretty cheap as well.
On the other hand, if you spent a whole bunch of money, maybe they're using better technology.
It's not something that I would want to rely on day-to-day. So I have two pieces of advice for you:
If you're going to continue to use it this way, back it up and back it up often – because it will eventually fail on you.
In other words, don't use it the way that you're asking about using it.
Instead, a safer way, a less impactful way of using your memory stick to deal with these files is to:
Copy the files to your computer's hard disk;
Operate on the files on the hard disk;
And then when you're done, write them back to the memory stick.
That replaces this constant (or potentially constant) read/write directly on the memory stick with a single write after everything is done.
That will definitely extend the life your memory stick at the cost of the inconvenience of having to copy the files back and forth.
The other alternative, for what it's worth, is to use an external drive;
There are definitely small ones. I'm looking at one right now next to my computer that I use for backing up all the time. It's the size of a pack of playing cards and since it is not based on flash memory, it doesn't have these kinds of issues.
So, if it is really an important scenario for you to run in this manner, I'd
actually suggest you change the underlying technology that you're
Next from Answercast 39 – My machine will often crash on or after booting, how do I resolve this?
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