How Do USB Drives Work?

The USB drive is a very popular device that is used in everyday work life, even for those working outside of a typical nine to five office administrative job. While many people know how to use a USB drive, not many people are aware of how the USB drive functions. To fully understand, it’s best to start from the beginning. The USB drive stands for universal serial bus, and has been an industry standard since it was first adopted in the mid 1990s.

The USB drive, also referred to as a pendrive, thumb drive, or USB stick, is a removable and rewritable device that can attain the capacities of up to 1TB as a result of their utilisation of NAND flash memory. One significant goal that has been met with the production of NAND flash technology has been to limit the cost-per-bit and heighten the chip capacity. Ultimately the end goal is to develop flash memory that is similar to traditional hard disk drives. As advantageous as they are, these do introduce new challenges and obstacles for the recovery of data and information.

In regards to this, it’s best to understand that there are two types of memory which are non volatile and volatile memory. The latter is temporary, meaning that as soon as the power supply is shut off, the data will be gone. That is the method in which data is stored on hard disk drives, and it utilizes moving parts to read data stored magnetically on a platter. It is also the reason why hard drives produce sounds and vibrations, and why they’re more vulnerable to physical damage. The former, non-volatile memory, refers to the data that is stored on the chip and which will not disappear if there is no power supply. This memory is non-volatile, or semipermanent. This means that it is used to store data on a USB flash drive. What is transistor based in flash memory which is also non-volatile because it has no moving parts and any data that is preserved on the NAND chip will remain there semi-permanently or until it is formatted or deleted.

Typically, most USB flash drives are composed of various different components, such as a USB plug. The USB plug acts as a kind of interface to the host device, as well as the storage controller, crystal oscillator for controlling the data output of the device, and of course, the NAND flash memory chip that is used for storing data. What is arguably one of the more advantageous benefits of USB flash drive is that it has a plug-and-play nature, meaning that the driver that supports the drive relays the port to query the flash drive as soon as it’s plugged. This command is then sent to execute a read request. In order to script data onto the NAND chip, the file is then transformed into a binary format, of which is conveyed to the USB port and will eventually be forwarded to the flash drive’s NAND chip.

It’s also important to recognize the differences between hard disk drives (HDDs) and flash chips. Though both are located in USB flash drives, one has a lack of moving parts and a smaller danger of sustaining physical harm (it’s the latter). Additionally, there is also a difference in the way flash drives can script and preserve information. The difference is that hard disk drives will script data to platters in a linear fashion and to sectors of a standard size, while USB flash drives will spread single pieces of data that form files throughout the chip, and can be found in several locations. Because of this spread the data recovery is much quicker than the former.

There’s a lot to learn and understand about USB drives. If you want to acquire any type of USB part or NAND flash memory, get in touch with our team today! At Aerospace Aces, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the unique parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-509-449-7700.


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