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Removable Computer Storage

With computers, removable media refers to removable storage media, which can be removed from its reader device, conferring portability on the data it carries. A removable drive is a reader device for such media. These are not to be confused with removable disks, which are self-contained removable storage devices detachable whole from their hosts.

Some types of removable media are encased in cartridges to protect sensitive data-carrying surfaces from dust, moisture and mechanical wear. Cartridge enclosures are necessary where the medium itself is too fragile to be handled directly (as with Zip disk drives, floppy disk drives, or tape drives), but are sometimes dispensed with to reduce media costs (as with compact discs and later generations of DVD-RAM media). Of course to use removable writable CD or DVD media, you require a CD Burner or a DVD Burner.

Removable Data Storage can be based upon removable media, or based upon a complete removable storage device, such as a removable hard drive contained in a removable or portable enclosure. It can also be a USB Removable Storage device, such as a flash drive.

USB flash drives are NAND-type flash memory data storage devices integrated with a USB (universal serial bus) connector. They are typically small, lightweight, removable and rewritable. (USB Memory card readers are also available, whereby rather than being built-in, the memory is a removable flash memory card housed in what is otherwise a regular USB flash drive, as described below.) USB removable storage flash drives offer potential advantages over other portable storage devices, particularly the floppy disk. They are more compact, faster, hold more data, are more reliable due to their lack of moving parts, and have a more durable design. Additionally, it has become increasingly common for computers to ship without floppy disk drives. USB ports, on the other hand, appear on almost every current mainstream PC and laptop. These types of drives use the USB mass storage standard, supported natively by modern operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and other Unix-like systems.

With nothing being mechanically driven in a flash thumb drive, the name is somewhat of a misnomer. It is called a "drive" because it appears to the computer operating system (and the user) in a manner identical to a mechanical disk drive, and is accessed in the same way. A flash drive consists of a small printed circuit board typically in a plastic or metal casing and more recently in rubber casings to increase their robustness. This makes the drive sturdy enough to be carried about in a pocket, for example as a key fob, or on a lanyard. Only the USB connector protrudes, and it is typically protected either by a removable cap or by retracting into the body of the drive. Most flash drives use a standard type-A USB connection allowing them to be connected directly to a port on a personal computer. To access the data stored in a flash drive, the drive must be connected to a computer, either by plugging it into a USB host controller built into the computer, or into a USB hub. Flash drives are active only when plugged into a USB connection and draw all necessary power from the supply provided by that connection. However, some flash drives, especially high-speed drives, may require more power than the limited amount provided by a bus-powered USB hub, such as those built into some computer keyboards or monitors. These drives will not work unless plugged directly into a host controller (i.e., the ports found on the computer itself) or a self-powered hub.


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