Are you finding it difficult to choose between an SD card and a Flash drive? Is your mind fighting the war “SD card vs Flash Drive” and you don’t know how to differentiate between them? Then I must tell you that the writing is for you. Let me assure you that at the end of this article you will know about them and all of your confusion will fade away like dust in the air.
Let’s start with telling you what these things are.
What is SD card?
SD card, abbreviated for Secure Digital card is a non-volatile memory card used in portable devices. SD cards are an integral part of many devices including digital cameras, phones, MP3 players and game consoles. SD card includes four card families available in three different sizes. The four families are the original Standard-Capacity or SDSC, the High-Capacity or SDHC, the Extended-Capacity or SDXC, and the SDIO, which combine input/output functions as extra with data storage.
The SDSC card can store data up to 4 GB.
The SDHC card can store data up to 32 GB.
And the SDXC card can store data from 32 GB to 2 TB. Though the 2 TB SD hasn’t been made yet.
The SD’s are available in the original size, the mini size, and the micro size. Mostly we use micro SDs.
Class: On the basis of speed rating there are different Classes of SD cards.
- Class 2
- Class 4
- Class 6
- Class 10
Class 2 has a minimum sequential writing speed of 2 MB/s and functions smoothly for normal recordings like SD video recording.
The class 4 and class 6 has a minimum sequential writing speed of 4 MB/s and 6 MB/s respectively and functions smoothly for normal HD recordings.
Class 10 has a minimum sequential writing speed of 10 MB/s and functions smoothly for Full-HD recordings and large HD files.
The UHS-1 has also minimum sequential writing speed of 10 MB/s but it’s slightly better than class 10.
The UHS-3 has also minimum sequential writing speed of 30 MB/s and used nicely for 4k recordings and for huge files.
What is Flash Drive?
A USB Flash drive is a data storage device that includes flash memory with an integrated USB interface. It is also known as a USB drive, USB stick, thumb drive, pen drive, memory stick etc. Flash drives are used for the same purposes for which floppy discs or CDs were used before; for storage, data back-up and necessarily transfer of different computer files. They are smaller; a lot faster, have higher capacity and most importantly are more reliable as they have no moving parts.
Flash drives use USB mass storage device class standard, supported natively by modern operating systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS and other Unix-like systems. USB flash drives which have USB 2.0 support can store much more data and also transfer much faster than larger optical disc drives like CD-RW or DVD-RW drives and may be read by many other systems such as the DVD players, automobile entertainment systems, and in a number of other handheld devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, though the electronically almost and by use mostly similar SD card is better suited for those devices.
A flash drive consists of a small circuit board carrying the necessary circuit elements and importantly a USB connector, insulated electrically and protected inside a plastic or metal or rubberized case, which can be carried in a pocket. For example- The USB connector might be protected by a removable cap or by pulling back into the body of the drive, although it is not likely to be damaged that easily if unprotected. Mostly the flash drives use a standard type-A USB connection to connect to a USB port on a PC, but drives for other interfaces also exist. USB flash drives normally draw power from the computer via the USB connection.
There are different types of flash drives. Such as-
- Security Flash Drive
- Music flash drive
- The boot flash drive
- Keychain flash drive and so on.
They can store anywhere between 128MB to 256GB of data. While most of the flash drives use USB 2.0, recently some newer drives on the market offer USB 3.0 with many times the data transfer speed that we currently use.
SD card vs flash drive :
As you know now that they’re both small, portable and used to transfer and store files. Now you should keep it in your mind that their differences are noteworthy, but they are hardly rivals in the world of NAND flash storage. In spite of that, it is important however to distinguish what makes these memory formats unique so that you can use each of them to their fullest potential.
Difference between a USB flash drive and a memory card is USB driver hardware.
Memory cards compulsorily require you to buy a card reader for each machine you want to read it at. USB flash drives need just a USB port.
Again SDs are smaller than the flash drives.
Flash drives are compatible with any system that offers a USB port, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. They can store anywhere between 128MB to 256GB of data or maybe more nowadays.
On the other hand, SD cards are an integral part of many devices including digital cameras, phones, MP3 players and game consoles are most suitable to be used for mobile phones and other handheld devices. The average SD cards offer normally 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB capacities but can reach even up to 32GB. The extended SDs might be of the capacity up to 256 GB of data storage.
Though I have discussed the differences and comparisons in general, now I am going to describe the comparisons by the point in the following.
A USB flash drive is logically a memory controller chip with USB bus interface, built to the USB standards so that all modern computers understand it without extra software. This chip is actually attached to one or more banks of NAND flash memory. It’s true that some USB drives might put the flash memory and the controller in the same physical package, to save money. A USB flash drive is designed to plug into a USB jack on a PC, tablet, printer, etc… outside of the device, in lieu of a USB cable.
An SD memory card is mostly similar, only with a controller chip that understands the SD interface rather than the USB interface. A USB card is designed to run mostly on all devices or go all the way inside a device: a camera, a phone or tablet, a printer, a PC, etc.
As I said earlier that one of the main differences between a USB flash drive and a memory card is USB driver hardware.
Memory cards must require a card reader for each machine you want to read it at. USB flash drives need nothing but a USB port.
The capability of both SD card and flash drive are almost same. Their capacity differs from 128MB to 256GB of data or maybe more nowadays.
The devices that have the facility of USB port are the perfect usage field for a flash drive, i.e. PC, laptop, tablet etc.
SD card is usually perfect for handheld devices like mobile phone. And moreover, with a card reader, it can be used in a port also.
Things you should know before buying an SD card/flash drive
- In what type of device you are going to use it?
- For what function do you need it?
- And to which capacity do you need it?
If you are using it on a PC which has a USB port, you can buy a USB flash drive od desired capacity. There are various types of flash drives. Choose the best according to your need.
Again if you are using a mobile phone or mp3 player which doesn’t have any USB port and you do have a card reader, you must buy an SD card. There are different classes of SDs. Choose your right SD card wisely according to your need which I have described before.
Again SD cards are cheaper than flash drives.
There’s not a clear winner in terms of various flash memory formats here. On one hand, you can’t operate your handheld multimedia devices without an SD card. On the other hand, a USB flash drive is a much more superior in its ability to work continuously with your operating system. Anyway, I hope the small war- SD card vs flash drive in your mind has ended already. If you know about them and know your needs, I think then you are clever enough to make your right choice.
That’s all for now. Best of luck.