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Why Should You Write-Protect Your USB?
Everything you need to know about USB Write Protection
In spite of all the buzz regarding digital distribution, fulfilling your content on physical medium, like a USB flash drive, is still a very critical aspect of any business. You may have large data files or would just like to have your content branded. Whether you plan to fulfill software or a large library of video files, a USB key (a flash based storage device, also known as USB flash drive or thumb drive) is widely supported by most computer systems and smart devices. Unlike other storage devices such as magnetic tapes, compact discs or memory cards, USB flash drives do not have any built-in write-protection mechanism unless you choose to work with a provider who can work on the controller level and make the USB a read-only device. A write-protected USB will ensure that your content is secure and not accidentally erased.
- Safeguard Against Malicious Activity: When a disk is write-protected, files can be read or copied from the disk, but nothing can be saved or copied onto it. This can help prevent you, or anyone else, from accidentally deleting or saving over important files. Most importantly, a write-protected USB is safer since it can not be infected by any viruses or other malicious activity.
For example, let’s say you have a software package which is distributed on USB media. It is important that the company write-protects the flash drive because not only do you not want to spread any viruses, but you also do not want a third party messing with your software and saving the changes on your USB stick.
- Better Customer Experience: A USB flash drive behaves like a removable storage. If you accidently delete files from a USB flash drive you are out of luck. The deleted files do not go in the recycle bin so you will not be able to recover the files once they have been deleted. You want to make sure your content doesn’t accidentally get deleted which can result in an unwanted, expensive support service call with a frustrated customer.
- USB is Unlike Other Storage Devices: Whether you had IBM’s ½ inch magnetic tape, a floppy disk, a CD-ROM, or SD card, there has always been an option to write-protect your content. On the other hand, USB does not have this selection. IBM’s magnetic tape had a circular groove on one side of the reel, into which a soft plastic ring had to be placed in order to write on the tape. A floppy disk was write-protected when the plastic tab at the top was moved to reveal a “hole” in the disk. Sliding the tab up or down switched the floppy disk to enable or disable write-protection. Memory cards used in your camera have the option to write-protect. Standard CD or DVD-ROMs are “Read Only Memory,” which means the content is written once and used for reading only. CD and DVDs are still the most viable form of distributing your content as the content is secure and very economical to produce and distribute. However, the predominance of drive-less computers is forcing companies to choose USB flash drives as an alternative medium. For this reason, an easy write-protection option is a very desirable feature.
- Requires Technical Expertise to Write-Protect: A USB Flash drive can be write-protected. It requires sending a command to the controller and turning off the SCSI write command. The IC chip on a USB stick is called the controller and it is a chip which controls the read and write process between the USB memory and the host computer it is connected to. The SCSI write command (Small Computer System Interface) is unique to each USB controller on the market, so there is no universal command. A good service bureau who has expertise in data pre-loading and duplication services can easily control the command in the controller and help produce write-protected USBs.
In conclusion, even though USB flash drive does not have an easy way to write-protect your content, you must find a way to secure your content if you are choosing to fulfill your digital content on USB. This will safeguard your organization's interests and allow for a better customer experience.