When the photographic “negative” evolved from a processed piece of film to a digital file (at least metaphorically, if not in the pure technical sense), the requirement for pieces of gear to complete the imaging cycle expanded greatly. And among the most mundane small tools are also some of the most useful.
Such as the ubiquitous flash drive (memory stick, thumb drive, etc.). Just a little piece of solid state memory attached to a USB connector serves as a near universal means of moving files from one device or location to another—a replacement for the floppy disk, for those who remember that far back. Over time the capacity of flash drives has risen and the cost declined, and now the speed with which they transfer data has increased dramatically too.
Data transfer speed depends on several things—the connector (USB 1.0 was very slow, but still very convenient at the time, USB 2.0 was much better, and now USB 3.0 is really pretty fast—up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 (5Gbit/s vs. 480Mbit/s), the memory in the drive itself, and the device to which it is connected. The latest incarnations of flash drives use the USB 3.0 connectivity protocol. Of course you need a USB 3.0 port on the device you’re connecting to in order to achieve the higher throughput, but there is also backward compatibility to earlier USB versions. Faster memory costs more but can provide a giant speed boost. Lexar’s JumpDrive Triton USB 3.0 Flash Drive claims a rate of up to 155MB/s read and 150MB/s write and is available in capacities up to 64GB. SanDisk’s Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive claims an even higher read rate of up to 190MB/s (write not specified). You’ll pay for the privilege of this level of performance of course, but flash drive prices have plummeted in the last year or so and there’s a lot of performance here for the money. Should you be interested in a little more technical information, there’s an informative review of these two drives here.
There are many other brands of flash drives as well, and price competition is fierce so shop carefully. This is a rapidly changing market, but the convenience and capability of portable flash memory has never been greater.