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How to Extend the Life of a USB Drive?

how to extend the life of a usb drive

When you are looking to transfer some files containing user data, the first accessory that comes to most people’s mind is a USB flash drive.

Some of the best USB flash drives or pen drives with extensive performance and speed can be bought from most tech stores, as they are readily available and cheap.

The advantages of using a USB flash drive make it essential for users to keep an eye on health and the USB flash drive life expectancy.

Some users complain about the speed of their USB flash drive as it usually deteriorates after using it for a while.

So, how long a pen drive lasts? Let’s jump straight into it.

How long does a USB Flash Drive Last?

If you want to store data in a USB flash drive and put it away for five to ten years, it will be safe and will work again when needed.

But if you continue to use it regularly as most users do, you can expect wear and tear in its condition.

USB flash drive life expectancy cannot be predicted with an exact number, but theoretically it last for 5-10 years depending upon the number of write cycles.

What is a Write Cycle?

It measures the endurance or life of a USB flash drive and a solid-state drive, also known as SSD. It works by writing and erasing data on a NAND chip. A typical USB flash drive can last for 10,000-100,000 write cycles, an industry standard. You can think of it like rubber. It keeps wearing away with usage until it completely wears out.

Besides this, a USB flash drive can be worn out by physical damage. Their body is made of plastic or metal, which saves them from dust and scratches, although a severe temperature, humidity, and oxidation can damage and corrupt the data stored in your pen drive.

Best Tips to Extend the Life of Your USB Drive

Pen drive users regard it as a consumable because of its low price, but it still remains a vital data storage unit. So it is important to take care of your USB flash drive to ensure its prolonged life.

Here are some useful tips to keep your USB flash drive in good condition and prolong its useful life.

Keep in mind the Environmental Factors

You can protect your pen drive by taking environmental factors like temperature and humidity into consideration.

Keep it Cool

When you are operating a USB drive, it generates heat like any other internal hard drive. So it is vital to let the air flow freely through it to keep it cool. And when not in use, keep it in a cool place. SanDisk provides the temperature ranges of their products. As an example, the SanDisk Extreme USB Flash Drive with a capacity of 16GB to 64GB is given below:

Temperature Ranges Operating: 32 to 113° F (0 to 45° C)
Storage: 14 to 158° F (-10 to 70° C)

Keep it From Water

Exposure to extreme humidity and submerging it into the water can potentially damage the flash drive. So it is essential to keep it away from humidity and water.

Keep it Clean

The memory chip of a USB flash drive is very delicate. Keep it away from the dust particles as it could cause a serious malfunctioning.

Keep your hand away from the surface of the contacts. Carry it and remove it from the edges. This will keep your pen drive clean.

Avoid Physical Damage

The most common reason for damaging a USB flash drive is physical damage. There is always a risk of dropping or smashing your pen drive if it is left hanging outside. It is better to keep your pen drive in a container; it can be a bag or a small box.

USB flash drives should be handled gently; they are small enough to be kept in a pocket, but they can roughen up quickly. And some people place the pen drive on a key chain, not an ideal thing to do.

Remove the Drive Safely

When you are done backing up the data, always remove the pen drive safely from the USB port. It is recommended to eject the drive by clicking on the Eject button on Windows. It will help the data from any potential loss in the process of ejection.

If you leave the drive plugged into your device, there is a risk of physical damage. And the operating system wears down the life of your pen drive as it keeps writings the cycles.

Always use the safely remove option on your computer, as it will stop the writing cycles, and you can avoid any extra wear and tear.

Do Not Defragment Your USB Device

Computer users often use the process of defragmentation to reduce the slowdowns and crashes that lead to a system failure. It is a process of file system maintenance.

While performing this process is deemed useful for most hard drives, however, USB flash driver users should not use this process. It can kill the flash drive. The reason being the usage of writing cycles. It wears down your USB drive. Disable defragmentation now to protect your device.

Avoid Editing Files Directly on the USB Drive

Editing files directly on the USB drive is another reason for it wearing down. It can corrupt the data as well, so it’s better to avoid it.

The data you need to edit can be copied to the hard drive on your computer. Play with the data, edit it, and when you are done, then copy them back to the USB flash drive for use. It will reduce the write operations and ultimately protect the drive.

Back Up Your Flash Drive Regularly

The article mentioned several times the chance of wearing down the USB flash drive and potential loss of data. USB flash drives have a limited life span, and no matter how well you maintain them, they stop working eventually.

It is essential to back up your pen drive regularly on your computer, or any other hardware you deem suitable.


To sum things up, maintenance of a USB flash drive isn’t tricky at all. These tips are easy to follow and do not need an expert to learn them. Taking these precautions will help you extend the life of your pen drive and keep the data safe and secure.

About author

A finance major with a passion for all things tech, Uneeb loves to write about everything from hardware to games (his favorite genre being FPS). When not writing, he can be seen in his natural habitat reading, studying investments, or watching Formula 1.
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