Is a Flash Drive Good for a Photo Backup?


USB flash drives, also known as thumb drives and jump drives, are the devices that replaced floppy disks, diskettes and to some extent CDs and DVDs for everyday computer file storage. People use them to store and transfer documents, photos, music and other files. You can decide to use them for photo backup depending on several factors. Other options besides flash drives include CDs, DVDs, external hard drives and a variety of online backup services.


  • Basic flash drives with minimal space can cost about $10 to $15, while others with extra security features, durability or storage space can cost upwards of $200. This is inexpensive compared to other storage methods like external hard drives at about $40 to $500 each, or online backup service rates at $50 to $100 a year, but it is considerably more expensive than recordable CDs and DVDs, which can be as low as about $1 each. Other alternatives are online photo albums, some of which are free up to a certain amount of space.

Storage Space

  • Inexpensive flash drives typically have one or two gigabytes of space, while high-end models can have up to 32 GB. This may or may not be sufficient, depending on how many photos you want to store and if they have high resolution. Comparatively, DVDs have up to about 5 GB, CDs have less than 1 GB, and external hard drives have from about 30 GB up to one terabyte. Online storage can back up as much space as your computer holds.

Usability, Portability and Durability

  • Unlike recordable discs, flash drives can be used over and over again because you can add and delete files as often as you need to. They are also the most portable storage devices; some people call them thumb drives because they are about the size of your thumb. The downside to their size is that they are easy to misplace. Finally, they are some of the most durable storage devices available, depending on the model. You cannot scratch them easily like you can a disc, and dropping them does not necessarily do much damage as it would on a portable hard drive. Some can even survive water submersion.


  • Another benefit of some flash drives is that they are potentially very secure for transporting and storing files that you want to protect. High-end models require passwords or even fingerprints to access them. This option is not available on CDs and DVDs.

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  • Photo Credit Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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