usb flash drive - Which would be more reliable for data archival - SD card or a generic USB thumbdrive?

  • Visitor

    I've been thinking lately what should I preferably use for data storage and archival. I will say in advance that I do not use flash memory as the only storage media - I also keep my data on the hard drives and optical disks - flash memory is but one of the several backup solutions that duplicate each other.

    For the flash memory however I do have a choice - to use a generic USB thumbdrive or a SD card. Are there any indications that SD cards may be better and more reliable? From browsing people's review on the web I see that many complaints about USB sticks have to do with them completely failing, losing file system and stop being recognized by the OS. At the same time, most of the complaints for SD cards deal with just write speeds not holding up to the promise - failure reports are but a portions of those for the USB sticks. Are SD cards indeed more reliable?

    Am I also correct in my assumptions that SD cards use higher grade NAND chips than USB thumbdrives? At least, for class 10 cards, because the specification dictates the minimum performance and the manufacturers have to preselect better chips. While it is common for USB sticks to promise high speeds "up to XX MB/sec" but the reality is they very often deliver speeds 2-3 times less than promised. Do SD cards get better NAND chips and USB thumbdrives receive the discarded chips?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • Answers
  • David Murray

    Both use solid-state memory so theres no real difference. I would still take a USB flash drive as the SD card is easier to loose. Other than that. No difference. As for the write speeds, A USB 3.0 Flash drive can out perform a class 10 SD card, (depending on the brand).

    I guess it would come down to price and the how easy you can use it. You can use a USB stick on nearly any PC without anything else. SD card reader are required if you need to read or write to an SD card

  • kush

    Flash drives should not be used for long-term archival. I know you mentioned I do not use flash memory as the only storage media but that is no excuse. If you are storing data for anything remotely long-term, do not use flash. You're probably better off creating truecrypt volumes and shipping them away to Google Drive or Amazon Glacier.

  • Related Question

    usb - Copying SD Cards with "LaCie d2 Network"
  • rjstelling

    The LaCie d2 Network has a feature where by you can attach a USB drive and press the blue button at the from and it will copy the drive contents (no computer required). (See this review for more info).

    USB 2.0 and eSATA ports are also provided but these are not designed for extending the d2 Network's storage. Rather, they allow you to connect portable drives for uploading their data to the d2 Network directly. The process is quite slick, too: just plug in a drive and press the big blue button on the front of the unit to trigger an immediate upload. This copies over everything on the external device and seems ideal for camera use.

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    Is it possible to use an microSD or SD card adapter (like the Kingston MobileLite 9-in-1) and copy the contents of the card?

    I'm assuming the card reader just "looks like" a normal USB flash drive the computer or (in this case) LaCie d2 Network.

    Is this assumption correct? Do you know any reason why this won't work?

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  • Michael Kohne

    This is going to vary somewhat. I have a multi-card reader and it actually shows up as 4 separate drives on Windows, one of which has the card you plugged in. I have no idea what the LaCie would do with that. You'd probably have your best luck with a single-format reader, as that is least likely to have oddities that would confuse the drive.

    Basically: You're gonna have to buy one and test it, if you want to find out.