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I've been thinking lately what should I preferably use for data storage and archival. I will say in advance that I do not use flash memory as the only storage media - I also keep my data on the hard drives and optical disks - flash memory is but one of the several backup solutions that duplicate each other.

For the flash memory however I do have a choice - to use a generic USB thumbdrive or a SD card. Are there any indications that SD cards may be better and more reliable? From browsing people's review on the web I see that many complaints about USB sticks have to do with them completely failing, losing file system and stop being recognized by the OS. At the same time, most of the complaints for SD cards deal with just write speeds not holding up to the promise - failure reports are but a portions of those for the USB sticks. Are SD cards indeed more reliable?

Am I also correct in my assumptions that SD cards use higher grade NAND chips than USB thumbdrives? At least, for class 10 cards, because the specification dictates the minimum performance and the manufacturers have to preselect better chips. While it is common for USB sticks to promise high speeds "up to XX MB/sec" but the reality is they very often deliver speeds 2-3 times less than promised. Do SD cards get better NAND chips and USB thumbdrives receive the discarded chips?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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closed as not constructive by Xavierjazz, Indrek, DragonLord, MaQleod, Journeyman Geek Oct 13 '12 at 1:48

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2 Answers 2

Both use solid-state memory so theres no real difference. I would still take a USB flash drive as the SD card is easier to loose. Other than that. No difference. As for the write speeds, A USB 3.0 Flash drive can out perform a class 10 SD card, (depending on the brand).

I guess it would come down to price and the how easy you can use it. You can use a USB stick on nearly any PC without anything else. SD card reader are required if you need to read or write to an SD card

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Unfortunately, just about every USB 3.0 flash drive I got interested in had large numbers of reports of failures by users worldwide. Seems that getting a high quality USB thumbdrive becomes trickier with each day. –  Visitor Oct 12 '12 at 21:32
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Flash drives should not be used for long-term archival. I know you mentioned I do not use flash memory as the only storage media but that is no excuse. If you are storing data for anything remotely long-term, do not use flash. You're probably better off creating truecrypt volumes and shipping them away to Google Drive or Amazon Glacier.

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Why shouldn't I use a flash drive if the backup procedure so simple and quick (takes only a minute). There is no reason against producing an additional copy, just in case. –  Visitor Oct 12 '12 at 21:30
    
Yes, you can do so for redundancy but that is a very different topic from long-term archival. –  kush Oct 12 '12 at 21:35
    
Unfortunately there is no long-term solution. Optical media rot in a couple of years, hard drives die all of a sudden after just a few power-on hours. Industrial-grade storage solutions are beyond my financial capabilities. Personally, I found flash drives to last the longest in practice. –  Visitor Oct 12 '12 at 21:43
    
As long as you are aware of the limitations, I think you'll be fine :) –  kush Oct 13 '12 at 13:46
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