HomeTECHNOLOGYHow Secure Is It To Store Data On A USB Stick?

How Secure Is It To Store Data On A USB Stick?

Those who habitually store data using USB sticks should pay particular attention to the problem of file integrity. How to avoid any data loss. USB flash drives, increasingly spacious, remain among the most used tools ever for data storage, especially if it is information that you must always carry with you. No cloud holds: USB sticks are always very up-to-date, so it is essential to dwell on the most useful features when choosing.

The increasingly compact external SSD drives are added to the USB sticks: although based on the USB interface, they integrate quality NAND flash memory and support for the NVMe protocol. USB sticks have indisputable advantages: they usually cost little, are extremely compact and allow you to accommodate large amounts of data. 

When choosing, however, always pay attention to fake products: some USB sticks are configured by unscrupulous subjects to display a capacity that is often much higher than the real one. Unfortunately, using poor-quality components and counterfeiting at the firmware level still need to be infrequent practices: we have explained how to recognize a fake or damaged USB stick.

Because The Data Saved In A USB Stick Is In Danger

Like any other storage medium, USB sticks are not immune to the risk of sudden data loss. In the same way that a rechargeable battery loses its initial capacity after several hundred cycles, NAND flash memories are also used in USB sticks. For example, SSD drives can lose their ability to retain data after thousands of write cycles /cancellations.

Time and high temperatures are usually the worst enemies for correctly retaining data in any drive that uses NAND chips. These are known issues with SSDs ( Solid State Drive Lifetime, Temperature, and Data Retention ) and become even more relevant with devices like USB sticks that go without power for long periods.

One of the situations that most frequently lead to the loss of data stored on a USB stick is removing the device while a data transfer is in progress. The most common result is logical file system corruption. However, using Windows Safely Remove Hardware only helps if you disconnect an external USB drive when no data transfers are in progress.

The important thing is that by pressing Windows+R, typing devmgmt.MSC, double-clicking Disk drives then the USB drive, the Best performance option is not selected in the Criteria tab. Otherwise, removing the industry without safely removing hardware (right-clicking on the USB drive icon in the tray bar, then ” Eject “) may cause data loss.

Protect Data Stored On USB Sticks

Many users still store data on USB sticks without making a copy, even performing continuous reading and writing operations on the files stored there. First, it must be said that the data recovery procedures on a USB stick can be extremely complex, much more than interventions on hard and SSD drives. A USB stick can get lost, and very quickly too. We have repeatedly found USB sticks in the most disparate places, often containing data stored in clear text without protection.

 In some cases, we could trace the owner and return them to the delight of those directly concerned. But can you imagine the danger of personal data and confidential information in the hands of people with few scruples? Therefore, starting from the assumption that a USB stick can be easily lost, the advice is to activate the protection with BitLocker or, if you don’t like using Microsoft solutions, with VeraCrypt. This no-cost solution has proved to be solid even in the case of attacks launched by qualified personnel.

BitLocker protection is activated simply by right-clicking on the USB drive icon and then choosing the Activate BitLocker item. If you plan to access the contents of the USB drive from non-Windows 10 PCs, you will only need to opt for the Compatibility mode. This article collected all the indications to protect the USB stick with BitLocker. At this point, if you often use one or more USB sticks to store and carry your data with you, we suggest installing the free USBFlashCopy utility in Windows, which allows you to copy the contents of the USB drives to one or multiple local folders.

USBFlashCopy recognizes the serial number of the USB drive itself that needs to be backed up. Thus, regardless of the identification letter assigned by Windows, it is possible to create a backup of its contents. After starting USBFlashCopy, the utility recognizes the insertion of the new USB key. With a click on New profile, it is possible to establish how the program must behave every time the same key is reconnected to the system. 

In the image, for example, USBFlashCopy is asked to create a backup copy of all the flash drive’s contents in the folder indicated in the Destination path box. Specifying a second path ( Copy to the second destination ) is possible. By checking the Keep a copy of an old file box, no file previously stored as a backup will be overwritten. Files with the same name will be preserved with the extension .0000, .0001, and so on.

Using the Run on Windows startup pull-down menu, it is possible to have USBFlashCopy run every time Windows starts for the current user or all user accounts configured on the same machine. The beauty is that for USB drives protected with BitLocker or VeraCrypt, the USBFlashCopy software will not start working until the drive has been unlocked by entering the correct password.

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