Flash Drive Duplicator Buyers Guide – 2022
How to Choose the Right USB Flash Drive Duplicator
The optical drive is disappearing in laptops and computers and as a result, the USB flash drive, or thumb drive, is the ideal tool for sharing data in the year 2022. The USB flash drive is a small, easily transportable device which holds vast amount of data storage capacity. Flash drives are universal devices used in Windows computers, Apple computers, Linux computers, Smart TVs, car stereos and any other device which has a USB port. The universal acceptance of the USB flash drive in conjunction with the optical drive disappearing explains their continued popularity.
Considering the lack of optical drives found in new computers the USB is replacing the CD-R for duplication needs. In fact, some companies require the use of many flash drives but with different information on each thumb drive, also known as data publishing. There are duplicators for each type of situation and this USB flash drive duplicator guide will help determine which type of USB copier is best for your needs.
Coping USB sticks manually one at a time will is a time consuming and expensive process. Using a USB flash drive duplicator (also called a USB copier) increases efficiency and decreases costs.
Two Categories of USB Flash Drive Duplicators
- PC Based USB Duplicators
- Standalone USB Duplicators
PC based or computer connected USB duplicators
Using the processing power of a computer, the PC based USB duplicators are the next step over making one-off copies manually. The PC based duplicators are typically a bit less expensive than standalone systems because part of the expense of building a standalone USB duplicator (the processor) is already included with the host PC.
Computer based systems provide more control over USB duplication because the GUI software (Graphical User Interface) provide alternative ways to access the source data. For example, copying data from a sourcing folder on the host computer, from a physical flash drive connected to the computer, or from a digital master from the computer hard drive.
In the year 2022 every computer comes standard with USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 ports allowing the PC based USB duplicators to be equally as fast as the the standalone systems from years past.
Copy speeds between the PC connected and standalone systems will perform the same when when using USB 3.0 media. When using USB 2.0 media the standalone USB duplicators have a speed edge over the PC connected systems.
Standalone USB Flash Drive Duplicators
As the name implies, these standalone systems are OS’less and do not require a computer to function. Standalone USB duplicators use a processor built inside which does all the hard work of data duplication. For this reason, the standalone systems are typically more expensive than the PC based duplicator systems.
If simplicity is the number one goal in buying a USB duplicator – the standalone systems are best.
When speed is the number one goal for the purchase consider the type of flash drive technology being used. As mentioned earlier, using USB 3.0 media with a PC based system the speed performance will be about the same. At the time of this post, the duplication speed is around 1GB per minute to all targets, regardless of system being used. However, using USB 2.0 media the standalone systems do have an advantage. The copy time when using a standalone system with USB 2.0 is generally one minute and thirty seconds per GB of data. When calculating larger GB capacity flash drives, the extra time can really add up.
The Three Sub-Categories
- Read Only or Write Protected Flash Drives
- Network Connection Requirements
- Log File Reporting
Read Only or Write Protected Flash Drive
A key element in defining the type of USB duplicator to purchase is whether the USB must be read only. Read only is a term indicating the data on the drive can only be read, the data cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive – said another way, the data is permanently on the flash drive. To make a USB flash drive read only (write protected) a specific vendor command is sent to the flash drive for configuration. The vendor commands require a computer system to send these special commands. Creating read only flash drives requires a PC based duplicator and computer environment.
Network Connection Requirements
Network access will require a PC based system. The most common need for a network duplicator for sending digital copies (image files) over the network to the host computer running the duplicator. Standalone systems are OS’less and do not have the capability of communicating over a network.
Log File Reporting
An organization might require proof of performance for the duplication work performed. In order to provide proof of performance a log file is typically provided and the PC connected systems will generate such a log file. Standalone systems do not have on-board storage for log files, nor the ability to communicate to another computer and therefore do not have log file options. PC based USB duplicators will generate log files and include performance information such as number of copies created, number of copies failed, the date and time of the duplicator work along with additional metadata information.
Important Production Requirements to Ask Yourself
Ask yourself these top 10 questions before making any purchase decision and get the most out of this USB flash drive duplicator buyers guide:
- Number of copies needed per day or week?
- What is the turnaround time for production?
- Is the operator non-technical?
- Must the duplicator be portable?
- Are USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 drives being used?
- Are read only flash drives required?
- Should the USB have multiple partitions?
- Is there a benefit to creating a USB CD-ROM flash drive?
- Will data streaming be a requirement?
- Is a image file going to be the source?
Comments / Answers
Number of copies needed per day or week?
Answering this question will determine the size of USB duplicator needed. Keep in mind standalone systems perform asynchronous copying which means the copy process begins the moment a USB is connected to the system. Typically this means the first drive finished the data load process before the last drive was connected. (this example will depend on the data load size).
What is the turnaround time for production?
Regardless of data load size, if quick turn times are the priority then a USB duplicator with more sockets is the best option. However there is a relationship between number of sockets, turn time and data load size. For example, a 50GB data load will take nearly one hour using 3.0 media, meaning some cases may require multiple units.
Is the operator non-technical?
The standalone systems work at a click of a single button. The simple one button operation makes these the easiest to operate. For example, a church might have their congregation donate time to run the USB duplicator equipment and this person might be non-technical making the standalone system a better choice. Keep in mind the PC based systems are not difficult to operate just not as simple as the standalone solutions.
Must the duplicator be portable?
Most duplicators are portable and fit inside a travel suitcase; however, some models have over 100 sockets and not portable at all. Example, a company may run seminars in different cities and provide copies of live seminars for those who attend.
Are USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 drives being used?
If speed is the highest priority then consider what our comments from before regarding to USB 2.0 media and USB 3.0 media in relationship to speed of the duplicator. In some situations the media is USB 2.0 but the functions required, like read only status are so important, making the PC connected system the only choice.
Are read only flash drives required?
When the USB flash drive must be read only (write protected) the PC based systems are the only choice. This is true because specific vendor commands must be sent to the USB flash drive so the device can be configured properly. Unfortunately, there is no universal command to make a USB flash drive read only. Each flash drive manufacturer will have their own set of commands to configure the drive as read only.
Should the USB have multiple partitions?
A multi-partition thumb drive will use a PC connected USB duplicator because the flash drive will require specific vendor commands to be sent from the host computer. This is true because specific vendor commands must be sent to the USB flash drive so the device can be configured properly. Unfortunately, there is no universal command to make a USB flash drive appear with multiple partitions. Each flash drive manufacturer will have their own set of commands to configure the drive as needed.
Is there a benefit to creating a USB CD-ROM flash drive?
When the USB flash drive must appear as a USB CD-ROM disc drive, the PC based systems are the only choice. This is true because specific vendor commands must be sent to the USB flash drive so the device can be configured properly. Unfortunately, there is no universal command to make a USB flash drive appear as a CD-ROM device. Each flash drive manufacturer will have their own set of commands to configure the drive as needed.
Will data streaming be a requirement?
Standalone systems cannot communicate with an operating system and therefore a PC connected system is the only option for data streaming (data publishing). “Unique data streaming” means a different set of files will be copied to each individual flash drive. For example, a medical facility might be transitioning away from CD-ROM devices to provide patients with medical information, so the medical facility can use a PC based USB duplicator which supports data streaming. This allows the medical facility to make many copies of USB flash drives, but each flash drive holds unique data.
Is a image file going to be the source?
Companies my use different locations to generate master content, or the company requires a digital master as the source data before the duplication process may begin. This digital master will take the form of an image file (.img file type) and is a binary copy of the physical device. PC based USB duplicators can use an image file as the source for duplication requirements, whereas a standalone system cannot because access to the image file is not possible. The standalone units will use a physical master, not a digital master.
Putting It All Together
Choosing the right USB flash drive duplicator will optimize performance and reduce company costs. Although this Buyer’s Guide for USB copier equipment doesn’t answer every question it will get you thinking about the right topics so when the time comes to purchase you will be well informed and start the right kind of conversations.
Choose a reputable company with contact information and technical support information clearly listed on their website. If you cannot find a physical address on the website – don’t buy from that company. Any reputable business should not be afraid to list all of their contact information.
USB Flash Drive Duplicator Buyers Guide – Nexcopy Solutions
Nexcopy Incorporated (since 2004) offers both standalone and PC based USB flash drive duplicators with features supporting all the topics mentioned in this article.
- USB104SA – Standalone 1:4
- USB115SA – Standalone 1:15
- USB131SA – Standalone 1:31
- USB160PRO – PC Based USB 3.0 – 16 Target – USB Read Only + Advanced Functions
- USB160PC – PC Based USB 3.0 – 16 Target – Standard Version
- USB200PRO – PC Based USB 2.0 (Legacy) – 20 Target – USB Read Only + Advanced Functions
- USB200PC – PC Based USB 2.0 – 20 Target Standard Version
- USB400PC – PC Based USB 2.0 – 40 Target Standard Version
- USB600PC – PC Based USB 2.0 – 60 Target Standard Version
Check the chart below to find the Nexcopy product which best meets your needs – please contact Nexcopy for additional details.
Please visit the Nexcopy USB Flash Drive Duplicator page for further details about the different features and model listed in this article.