Will Magnets Affect a Flash Drive?

Written by clare edwards
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Will Magnets Affect a Flash Drive?
Flash drives are not disrupted by magnets. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Flash memory is a type of solid state non-volatile data storage, meaning that flash memory chips don't need to be powered to retain data. Flash memory is non-magnetic so it is not affected by magnetic fields. Many memory cards for devices such as digital cameras use flash memory. Flash drives use a flash memory chip, often in conjunction with universal serial bus technology, to make a light, portable storage device.

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Flash Memory

The term "flash memory" comes from the chip's ability to erase blocks of data very quickly -- "in a flash." Developed by Toshiba, flash memory technology grew out of erasable-programmable read-only memory chips, which needed to be written using ultraviolet light. Flash memory chips replaced the permanent ROMs found in computers and was soon used to make solid-state drives.

Flash Drives

Flash memory is stable when disconnected from an electricity supply. Flash chips are physically durable and have a large storage capacity for their size. Flash memory is thus ideal for memory cards, personal music players and portable drives.

USB Flash Drives

In 2000, the DiskOnKey drive was introduced, combining flash memory with USB technology to make a miniature data storage device that could easily be swapped between computers. DiskOnKey drives became known as thumb drives or inch drives because of their small size and are called jump drives because they let users "jump" between computers. The term "flash drive" is often used to refer exclusively to USB flash drives; not all flash drives use USB connections, however.

Magnets And Data

Magnetic media was once the commonest form of computer data storage. Data was written by orienting the molecules of an iron oxide film. If a magnet was brought near a computer tape or disk, data could be wiped completely. Users were cautioned never to bring magnets near their computers or disks. Flash drives, however, do not use this kind of sensitive magnetic media. They can be placed near magnets without the possibility of data loss.

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