News flash (literally!): The USB flash drive is the portable memory device of choice for a majority of design engineers. (Though most of you probably don’t use the “Hello Kitty” version that I have.)
Engineer Gilles Boucharlat is a typical case: When he needs to move work-related files, he most often uses a USB flash drive. “It’s easy to read/write, easy to handle and store in a pocket, and is compatible with any USB i/o port.” His only complaint is the limit in storage capacity. With some CAD files a bloated gigabyte in size or more that’s not surprising-- though he says it is sufficient for every-day work.
And they’re getting cheaper all the time. You can get as much as a 1 GB USB flash drive (which holds as much info as 731 floppies) for under $100. That’s a major reason the market for USB drives mushroomed to 98M in 2005, up significantly from 63M in 2004, according to researcher In-Stat.
The low cost and convenience are big reasons why 60% of our readers reported that their number one portable memory device is the USB flash drive.
Of course, the picture is not quite that simple. Many engineers reported a hierarchical approach to their use of memory devices. In fact, the choice of device depends heavily on files sizes, where the data is going, and security concerns. For example, one engineers explained that he uses the following:
FTP site for data files with medium security requirements
USB flash drive for files too big to send over a network
CD or DVD for outside proprietary files
With the cost of a flash drive getting ever lower, most engineers are springing for flash drives with 500 MB or even GB capacities. The Sandisk Cruzer is popular among engineers, as is the Lexar jump drive. No one uses their MP3 player, although several readers suggested that would be an excellent idea for their companies to supply an iPod to every engineer!
Find out what portable data devices are most popular among design engineers...