Flash memory is an evolving technology that is finding its way into our lives on an increasing scale. From USB-adapted devices for computers to digital cameras and gaming consoles, flash-memory technology is ubiquitous. As with most things related to computers, flash memory sticks have a particular set of advantages and disadvantages. Having a basic idea of these parameters allows the consumer to make a more informed choice about which is best for their needs.
The obvious initial appeal and great advantage of flash memory sticks is portability. Pop one on your keychain, drop it in your pocket or wear it around your neck. Weighing almost nothing and with a footprint smaller than most people's thumb, a memory stick is infinitely easier for an active lifestyle than, say, an external hard drive. Already, you can place an impressive number of files and applications on a 2 GB size. As memory space increases and size diminishes, the portability advantage of flash memory devices will only become more apparent.
A flash memory stick requires no power to operate and has no moving parts, so there is less danger of losing information. Since it requires no power, it is portable, allowing the user to take files from the home desktop to the office, and continue using files without missing a beat. Flash sticks are much more durable than other forms of computer memory. Accidentally dropping a flash stick will likely have no effect on the information contained on it. Extremes in pressure or temperature change won't normally affect your flash memory stick. A final advantage is that information on a flash memory stick can be easily erased, much more quickly that its computer based cousin. Adding or deleting files in flash memory is quick and tidy.
The primary disadvantages to flash memory are price and rewrite limitations. Since it is still a fairly new technology, the cost per megabyte of storage is more than a traditional computer hard drive. As is the usual case with advancing technology, the price is bound to drop as it reaches farther into the market. The other disadvantage to flash technology is that there is a finite number of times information can be erased and written to the memory stick. That number is about 100,000 times, which should not have much of an impact on the average user. A power user might have to switch memory sticks a few times over the course of a lifetime. In practical terms, heavy users frequently upgrade to the newest model with more memory, so reaching the rewrite limit is not a concern.