Heckroth Industries

How tough is a flash drive?

Back when I first started using computers (Oric Atmos and ZX Spectrum) everything was stored on cassette tapes (C15, C60, C90, etc). They weren't the most reliable way to store data and there was a definite black art involved in retrieving data stored on them, though a volume of 7 is a good place to start.

When I started using computers at school (BBC Micros) their data was stored on 5.25 inch floppy disks and later on a network drive (50 machines all sharing a 10MB hard disk). They were easier to retrieve data from, though don't leave the 5.25 floppy disks in the sun for too long or they wouldn't stay flat.

Later on in life I started using PCs (286,386,486 and pentiums) at school/college which used a 3.5 inch floppy disk to store 720KB, which later on increased to 1.44MB. At home I moved onto an Amiga 500 and later an Amiga 1200 (A1200), both of which used 3.5 inch floppy disks (880KB), and a 120MB Hard disk in the case of the A1200. These were again more reliable and I have actually still got a large collection of 3.5 inch disks to use with my A1200.

From then on I used 3.5 inch floppy disks until USB flash drives came along. OK, sometimes I would use CDs but not for storing files I was working on, just for archiving data onto.

So why am I talking about the history of my data storage. Well I haven't had any storage medium in the past that would have survived what I put one of my flash drives through the other day. It was an old one that I use to write ISOs to for booting rather than writing a CD, just 1GB of storage. I had put MemTest86+ on it to test the memory of my new media center PC. Needless to say that afterwards it ended up in my trouser pocket and the next night I put those trousers into the washing machine and gave them a hot wash. When I was taking out the washing there was my flash drive sat in the drum having been washed and spun.

Personally I had at that point written the drive off, I know they are tough but I didn't expect it to survive that. I let it dry then plugged it into my computer and rebooted, the boot menu had the flash drive as an option so I selected it. MemTest86+ started up and started running. It looks like that flash drive is a lot tougher than I thought.

Retro Hardware
Jason — 2011-05-11