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What Is a Waterproof USB?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2014
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With personal storage devices such as thumb drives becoming so ubiquitous, one might prefer to have a model designed specifically to endure the rigors of an active life, including the occasional and accidental bump, dip, splash or run through the washer. Enter, waterproof USB drives.

A Universal Serial Bus (USB) drive is a storage chip on a miniature system board, housed within a case similar in size to a BIC® lighter. USB drives are very popular and are used for many purposes including archiving files, swapping files between machines or devices, carrying personal bootable programs, and for testing operating systems in a portable format. One end of the flash drive is a male USB connector, made to interface with the female USB port of any computer. When not in use, a removable cap covers the USB connector of the thumb drive.

A waterproof USB drive sports a case that’s more rugged than a standard model, with a cap that creates a watertight seal when snapped closed. The case might be made of silicon or other impact-resistant materials. In addition to being waterproof, these models are also typically also shock-resistant. Some manufacturers list impact specifications, such as being resistant to shock up to 1,000g. Depending on the materials used to manufacture the case, a waterproof USB drive might also be electromagnetic resistant.

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Aside from personal use, a waterproof USB drive that is also shock and electromagnetic resistant can be a great promotional tool. The smooth case of this model can be imprinted with a custom logo, and various colors are available. This product lends itself well to advertising because thumb drives are so very useful in everyday life, they are unlikely to end up discarded in junk drawers or tossed in recycle bins. Even if the recipient can’t use the drive, it will probably be passed along to someone who can.

As with standard thumb drives or data sticks as they are sometimes called, price is dependent on storage capacity. The lowest capacity continues to rise as prices drop, but currently one might find the starting point at 512 Megabytes (MB), going up to 16 Gigabytes (GB) and beyond.

Since flash memory is still more expensive than platter storage (used on internal hard drives), the highest available capacity at any given time will be inordinately more expensive than mid-level capacities. At the time of this writing, an 8GB flash drive can be had for under $10 US Dollars (USD), making it pointless to buy anything smaller. However, a waterproof USB drive might run an extra $20-$30 USD to account for the special casing and waterproof cap.

You can find a waterproof USB drive at your local electronics store or online. Then forget about that impromptu dip in the pool, dive in the waves, or slide through the snow... your trusty memory drive will have you covered.

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fify
Post 5

@Logicfest-- I agree with you that it's not a good idea to get a very cheap waterproof USB. But I don't think that it has to be ridiculously expensive either. One can probably get a good idea of how durable it is by looking at it and talking to someone at the store. I think a waterproof USB at a mid-range prices is probably best. It's actually not extremely difficult to make a waterproof USB. The very expensive ones are just making extra profit, that's it.

SteamLouis
Post 4

@burcinc-- It has happened to me. I mean, I left my USB in my pant pocket and it got washed in the washing machine. It happened more than once actually. The first time, I was very lucky because the USB did not get messed up despite not being waterproof. The fabric must have protected it somehow. I wasn't so lucky the second time though because the USB got ruined then.

Now I have a waterproof one and I don't even have to worry whether I left it in my pocket or not. It gets washed and nothing happens. It's great.

burcinc
Post 3

Why does anyone need a waterproof USB? It's not like anyone is going to go scuba diving with it. And it's not very difficult to check pockets before washing clothes. Or one could just not put USBs in pockets in the first place.

Logicfest
Post 2

@Markerrag -- The short answer is to that question is "probably." When it comes to waterproof anything, the more expensive item is probably a lot better in terms of how durable the waterproof seal is, how deep underwater the object can go before water enters into it, etc.

Sure, you can pick up a cheap, waterproof USB drive, but that might be self defeating. The very reason you are picking up a waterproof drive is because you've got some data you want to protect. If it's that information is that valuable, spend a few extra bucks and get something that will provide the protection you want.

Markerrag
Post 1

I was researching waterproof USB drives last week and was surprised by the range in pricing. An 8gb drive can cost anywhere from around $13 to $60. Is the $60 one really that much better than the inexpensive one?

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