A USB flash drive, also variously known as a thumb drive, pen drive, gig stick, jump drive, disk key, disk on key, flash-drive, memory stick or USB memory, is a data storage device that includes flash memory with an integrated USB interface. It is typically removable, rewritable and much smaller than an optical disc. Most weigh less than 30 g (1 ounce). Since first appearing on the market in late 2000, as with virtually all other computer memory devices, storage capacities have risen while prices have dropped. As of March 2016, flash drives with anywhere from 8 to 256 GB are frequently sold; less frequent are 512 GB and 1 TB units. Storage capacities as large as 2 TB are planned, with steady improvements in size and price per capacity expected. Some allow up to 100,000 write/erase cycles, depending on the exact type of memory chip used, and are thought to last between 10 and 100 years under normal circumstances (shelf storage time). USB flash drives are often used for the same purposes for which floppy disks or CDs were once used; i.e. for storage, data back-up and transfer of computer files. They are smaller, faster, have thousands of times more capacity, and are more durable and reliable because they have no moving parts.
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