We’ve been asked what is the difference between a thumb drive, a flash drive and a memory stick.
For promotional products, the terms are used interchangeably, referring to a promotional item that stores information and plugs into the USB port of a computer. The flash drive / thumb drive/ memory stick has a logo or other imprinted graphic and is used for both practical data storage needs and promotional marketing needs. However, if we want to get technical, the differences are:
The “true” Memory Stick was a simple memory card introduced by Sony in 1998. It morphed over the years and become a type of SD card. The real “Memory Stick” is now an SD card used primarily for cameras and digital video recording devises. A Sony Memory Stick requires and adapter to plug into a standard USB port on computers to transfer data.
USB Flash Drives
USB Flash Drive technically refers to the technology that combines flash memory storage and an integrated USB connector. When we think of promotional flash drives, this is the actual product that is being described. With the imagination and creativity in the technology sector, many versions of the USB Flash Drive have been created.
ThumbDrive is a brand name created by Trek Technologies for the first commercial USB Flash Drive. As the first to come to market with the technology in 2000, they have the honor of becoming the “kleenex” of flash drives. The brand name and the category are nearly synonymous today.
The latest development in Flash Drives is the 1TB capacity flash drive released in 2013. Rumor has it that a 2TB capacity flash drive is not far off.
To be sure we are discussing the right item, we preface Flash Drive, Thumb Drive or memory stick with terms such as ‘promotional’, ‘imprinted’, ‘custom’, ‘logo’, or ‘branded’.