The benefits and drawbacks of flash storage in 2021

A brief look at the pros and cons of flash storage and what the future holds for it

When flash storage was created back in the early 1980s, it pioneered the way for mass storage. 

Using NAND flash memory, data could be erased and rewritten, with much faster erase cycles than non-flash EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) technology. What's more, the creation of the USB drives made flash storage popular with users who went on to replace their floppy disks, hard disk drives and CD-ROMs.

Today, the advantages of flash storage remain apparent, but with the arrival of other long-lasting data storage solutions, including the cloud, businesses have other options to consider. Here we take a brief look at the pros and cons of flash storage and what the future holds for the technology.

Benefits

Durable & Reliable

Unlike CDs and floppy disks, flash storage devices can’t be scratched, nor can they be damaged by electromagnets. They also don’t have to rely on moving parts and therefore are supported by multiple devices, including mobile devices, PlayStations and other gaming consoles, in addition to desktops and laptops.

Faster than other storage

With flash storage - the clue being in the name - users can access information faster and more effectively than their slower counterparts. In essence, they’re better for data that needs to be accessed quickly.

Much more flexibility 

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Flash drives are lighter and much more portable than other storage solutions. They also use less electricity, so they don’t heat up like hard drives can, as they don’t need power to keep the stored data intact. Not only that, once purchased, you can use it for years so that as data demands grow, it enables cost and space savings with the ability to delete and rewrite information multiple times.

Independent of the Internet

We've all been in the position where we’ve backed up information with a flash drive, just in case the Wi-Fi drops and renders cloud backups inaccessible. Data stored in the cloud is also more susceptible to being accessed by hackers, while with flash storage your information is on your person and is far more unlikely to be stolen. 

Drawbacks

Cost over time

Although the cost of investing in flash storage is less than investing in a cloud solution, and you could have it for years, it’s not infinite. Flash storage does have a limited number of rewrites, which ultimately means it can’t retain heavy write loads as this use will wear its ability down in the end. In addition, flash storage is more expensive than the price of HDD, so businesses with smaller budgets might prefer to use the alternative.

Limited sharing compared to the cloud

The popularity of the cloud has vastly increased as a result of the pandemic, as businesses looked to support their remote workforces. Cloud file sharing also allows for information to be shared much further afield than flash storage, i.e. across continents - (although locally, when moving information between machines, flash storage devices are quicker).

Not resistant to malware

As much as flash storage drives can offer more security from cyber attacks, they can still pick up malware from the different machines they’re moved between in those local data sharing scenarios.

It could get lost!

We’ve all heard about those politicians on the train losing sensitive information.

However, ultimately, the future of flash storage is a positive one. Manufacturers have advanced flash storage devices to be much faster and store greater amounts of information, so side by side with cloud storage solutions, a flash storage system that can support a hybrid integration could allow fantastic future flexibility.

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