Abandoning the USB! Why you should stop using it right away!

Storage – as I’ve pointed out in previous posts – has evolved. If you are a bit older you might remember times when information was stored on floppy disks, a bit later on CDs and even later on DVDs.  We used these media to store files for backup and if you needed to take files with us – on the go. It might sound like something coming from a kid living in the 90’s – but Floppy Disks, CD’s and DVD’s at some point were the latest in storage technology. In fact, I grew up with regular audio tapes being used to store entire programs that time, used on my Commodore 64 to load programs and store files.

Seeing things retrospective – human kind has become hungry for more and more storage – while a single Operating System like Windows in Version 3 would fit on 10 floppy disk drives, nowadays Windows 10 would need around 6.500 floppy disks to be delivered – and let’s face it, who wants to carry 130kgs in Storage Media?

Our phones take 16 megapixel pictures, which equals to 18 Mbyte of storage uncompressed, so a single picture would need around 17 floppy disks to store – or an equal of 340 grams. We are not hipsters who carry backpacks full of Floppy Disks or CDs, so how do we manage these enormous amounts of data we produce on a daily basis?

Now you will probably ask a reasonable question:

What about USB drives? They are small, portable and sometimes you will get them even for free.

Writing this blog post, I counted my various USB sticks, and believe it or not: I counted an exaggerating 16 sticks in my possession. On my office desk – in drawers, in my Laptop bag, even in my pocket I had 2.

And now the problem: They all look the same, they are black – and with everything in IT – they are, even now, a thing of the past.

So what are USBs good for?

  • Temporary storing of data
  • Easy taking information from computer to computer
  • Throwing it across desks to share a file with a co-worker without the need to create a shared drive or use cloud storage

Let’s have a quick look at the problem of USB drives

Problem 1: Limited shelf life
Most USB drives have a limited life expectancy depending on the amount of operations (read/write). This means that after a certain period of time, a USB stick will show malfunctions and corrupt your data.
Problem 2: Fixed amount of storage
What you pay for is what you get! No way to expand or add up storage to the stick.
Problem 3: Delete data – it’s gone forever
With USBs you need to think twice before hitting the Delete Button on your keyboard. No Recovery, no Recycle Bin, no way to get your data back once you delete it.
Problem 4: Loosing the stick
They are small – and believe it or not – every minute someone around the world looses a USB stick. That’s how I got my 16 sticks, someone has forgotten it in the office, at a conference – or even walking on the street, sometimes a USB stick just smiles at me :)
Problem 5: Major Security Issues
Researchers from SRlabs discovered flaws in USB sticks that would allow Malware being installed by a hacker remotely, thus allowing to take over your computer. What’s even more alarming: Your data can be deleted, formatting the stick doesn’t help and finally – your computer could be remotely controlled and everything you do can be logged by a remote intruder [1].

So now that you know about the problems of USB drives. What do you think? Ready to abandon your USBs?

References:

  1. Nohl, Jakob Lell and Sascha Krissler, SRlabs