On Computers: Pass the sushi — no, not that sushi

Jim Hillibish

You’ve got to figure flash drives are ubiquitous when they arrive as ikura sushi. It happened last week. I opened an envelope and the sushi drive fell out. It looks fishy, but it works.

When not serving as an artistic expression, flash drives earn their popularity as perhaps the most commonsense of all computer peripherals. All they are is a memory chip on a USB plug. The drive acts exactly like a hard drive but is totally portable.

Despite its size, there’s a lot packed into that Bic lighter (origin of one of its many names, the “flick drive”). A huge advance is you can move files and use them between different operating systems.

Linux, Mac and PCs all treat it the same. If you have a Mac at school and a PC at home, no problem.

With all things computer, we always wonder how long will this miracle last. With flash drives, that depends.

Average drives will last at least 10,000 writes, that is, data saves. The more costly drives are in the millions. The drives are too new to test how long they will hold data. At least 10 years is a good starting point.

New drives do a trick called “leveling.” When you save a file, the drive ensures it does not go to the same memory sectors each time. It spreads out the data, and this increases its longevity.

For this reason, never defragment a flash drive. It offers no speed enhancement. One defragging can cost you thousands of writes. The same is true for other utilities we use  on our hard drives. Anything that exercises the drive will hasten its failure.

Still, I’ve yet to hear of or find a bad flash drive. I cannot say that for DVDs and their burner drives.

The biggest problem so far is losing the little drives. Each has a clip for a neck strap. That at least makes them easier to find.

Some of the drives have been waterproofed. Apparently there are users who wash their drives with their shirts. Normally, water can kill a flash drive.

You can spend about 50 percent more and get a secure drive. These include encryption preventing prying eyes of the drive is misplaced or stolen.

Perhaps the sushi design is the best security. It certainly doesn’t look like a storage medium.


There’s considerable commerce with drives listed as a certain capacity that are not. This can happen with higher-end drives selling for $100 or more. It could be a cheap, one-gigabyte drive electronically altered to look like 32 gigabytes or more.

For this reason, buy drives from reputable sellers with warranties.


All of these are the same:

Jump drive, flip drive, flick drive, Bic drive, flash drive, USB drive, finger stick, memory stick, pen drive, keychain drive, thumb drive.

Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.