Thursday, September 4, 2014

Logo'd USB Drives - 6 Things To Know Before You Buy

USB drives, (also known as "thumb drives," "memory sticks," and "flash drives") are a staple promotional item that every company should have in the cupboard. It's easy to see why: they're useful and that means they'll be retained, they're inexpensive, and they offer multiple opportunities for branding.

You can use them to reply to RFPs, as a way to present information about an event (schedules, venues, etc.), speaker bios, insurance policy benefits, the list goes on and you get the idea.

BUT...they are not all created equal and it's easy to get taken if you just go for the lowest price.

Here's what you need to know before you buy.

The most important aspect of the drive is what is know as its memory classification (not the memory capacity, I'll get to that later).

Memory classification is designated by "Tiers" with Tier 1 Memory being the best and Tier 3 being the least reliable. The little chips at the heart of your USB drive were cut from a master silicon wafer.
Master silicon wafer
The chips cut from the middle are stronger, have the longest lifespan (about 10 years), have zero to extremely low error rates and are faster. These are Tier 1 chips. They often have a serial number or name etched on each chip.They have a lifetime warranty.They are unused and go straight to the USB drive maker. (More on that later)

Here's what the guts of your USB drive looks like.....

Tier 2 chips are cut a bit further away from the center. They are reliable, although not as reliable as Tier 1.
They will not have a manufacturer's name or a serial number. They're a bit slower and won't last quite as long. They will not have a lifetime warranty.

Tier 3 chips are cut from the edge of the master wafer. They can have failure rates up to about 40%. They do not have any warranty.

Here's a little secret about low cost USB drives; they are most likely either Tier 3 or they've been scrubbed and are being reused. It happens. That's why you're likely to see a 1GB drive from one source for $12 each and the same capacity from another source for $6 each. Rest assured, the first drive is Tier 1 and the other is probably Tier 3.  Your promo products vendor can tell you if you are getting a Tier 1 drive and you should insist on documentation that you're getting Tier 1 and a lifetime warranty.

As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

Here's the next thing you need to know; chips are sold as commodities. The price will fluctuate from week to week. Most suppliers post their prices on Monday's and hold those prices throughout the week. They re post the following Monday. Right now (September 2014) chip prices are at all time lows.
When Apple was manufacturing the iPhone5 prices jumped because Apple was buying all the supply they could.

Next, memory capacity has expanded significantly over the past few years. Most suppliers offer drives with 64 GB of capacity. The most popular capacities are 1GB and 2 GB. See if you can find a 32 mg or 64 mg drive...even 128mg are getting scarce.

The most popular (and practical) style is the "Swing" (also called a swivel ) drive, so named because of the arm that swings away to give access to the drive. (It's practical because there is no cap to lose).

You see they come in a ton of colors so getting something to match your corporate colors should be pretty easy.

Here are the typical imprint areas (and imprint sizes) for a swivel drive:

Drives come in all sorts of shapes and materials so you should have no trouble finding a drive that suits your style and budget. Many of the suppliers who cater to the promotional products industry are capable of making your custom design. You'll pay a bit more for a custom design but having something that is unique to your company might be worth the expense. Here's an example

Here's the take away: all chips are not created equal. Insist on Tier 1 memeory with a lifetime warranty.

Hope this was helpful and drop me a comment if you have any questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment