Flash Drive Makers Hate You


usb disk
Image by the Manchester City Library
USB flash drive manufacturers hate you and me. How do I know this? It will
become obvious should you try to buy a small USB flash drive. Now, I don’t mean
like fits in your pocket. I mean small like fits in your wallet. (No, I don’t
want to carry around MicroSD cards and an adapter.)

I was recently in the market for a new USB flash drive. I don’t have a need
for it to support USB 3. I do have a need for it to be small. Why? Because I
want to carry it on my keychain (and my keychain already feels large with 3
keys and a YubiKey.)
What did I find? I found lobster flash drives, (what look like) bottle
opener flash drives
, Spiderman flash drives, swiveling flash drives and
retractable flash drives. Goodness! A quick search of Flickr shows that
there are many other designs available.
What I didn’t find (immediately) was a small flash drive. And that’s what
bothers me. If the memory manufacturers of the world can fit 64GB of data on a
microSD card, surely adding a USB interface does not need an addition 3 square


Like many of you, I’ve owned a number of flash drives since they’ve become
available. One of the first was this Kingston 128MB DataTraveler. Yes, it’s
large, but it’s not too bad for the time. Notice the amazing read-only switch
on the side. It’s really rare to find that feature these days. ATTENTION
PUT FILES ON AN INFECTED SYSTEM. (Yes, I really did want to shout that.)
usb disk
A compromise solution is this microSD card adapter from Kingston. (I think
it’s actually made by a third-party and Kingston-branded.) It’s pretty good.
It’s also compact. It’s has the minor flaw of falling apart when you pull it
out of the drive. For that reason, I don’t really trust it to hold on to the
microSD card on my keychain. It’s also thicker than I’d like. (The standard
USB connector is too thick.)
usb disk

What I Bought

So, I settled on this tiny Touch T02 32GB flash drive from Silicon Power.
It’s thin. It meets my requirements. I like it. Manufacturers of the world,
please make more like this one. To make my point, I’ve taken a photo of some
of my favorite thin USB-powered devices. Manufacturers of the world, make more
like these.
usb disk
From top to bottom, I have the YubiKey (v2), an 8GB Tuff-‘N’-Tiny flash
, and the aforementioned 32GB flash drive. Not only are all of these
great form-factors, but they work great. (Who wants to carry around a device
that doesn’t work?) But it makes me happy to not have to fight with other USB
plugs on my MacBook Pro. (I’ll scream if I ever have to plug another USB
device into a Dell Optiplex GX 270
If you know of other great tiny USB-powered devices, please mention them in the
comments. Also, do yourself (and me) a favor and buy small USB flash drives in
the future.

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