The pros and cons of flash storage

Flash storage USB on a computer keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Flash storage was seen as a key foundation for mass storage when it was first created back in the early 1980s.

By using NAND flash memory, data could be deleted and rewritten with much faster erasing cycles than non-flash EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) technology. Additionally, the creation of USB drives made flash storage popular with users that went on to replace their floppy disks, hard disk drives and CD-ROMs.

The benefits of flash storage are still very apparent today, but with the other long-lasting data storage solutions arriving, such as cloud storage, businesses have many options to consider. In this article, we take a brief look at the pros and cons of flash storage and where it might advance over the next few years.

Advantages of flash storage

Durable & Reliable

Flash storage devices are somewhat scratch-proof, unlike CDs and floppy disks, and they also can't be damaged by electromagnets. What's more, they don't rely on moving parts and instead are supported by multiple devices, such as mobile gadgets, PlayStations and other gaming consoles, as well as desktops and laptops.

Faster than other storage

The 'flash' part of the name tells you the most important element of flash storage - it's fast. Users can access information quicker and more effectively than their slow counterparts. This makes them suited for data that needs to be accessed quickly.

Much more flexibility


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Flash drives are lighter and much more portable than other storage solutions. They also use less electricity, so they don’t heat up like hard drives can, as they don’t need power to keep the stored data intact. Not only that, once purchased, you can use it for years so that as data demands grow, it enables cost and space savings with the ability to delete and rewrite information multiple times.

Independent of the Internet

We've all been in the position where we’ve backed up information with a flash drive, just in case the Wi-Fi drops and renders cloud backups inaccessible. Data stored in the cloud is also more susceptible to being accessed by hackers, while with flash storage your information is on your person and is far more unlikely to be stolen.

Disadvantages of flash storage

Cost over time

Although the cost of investing in flash storage is less than investing in a cloud solution, and you could have it for years, it’s not infinite. Flash storage does have a limited number of rewrites, which ultimately means it can’t retain heavy write loads as this use will wear its ability down in the end. In addition, flash storage is more expensive than the price of HDD, so businesses with smaller budgets might prefer to use the alternative.

Limited sharing compared to the cloud

The popularity of the cloud has vastly increased as a result of the pandemic, as businesses looked to support their remote workforces. Cloud file sharing also allows for information to be shared much further afield than flash storage, i.e. across continents - (although locally, when moving information between machines, flash storage devices are quicker).

Not resistant to malware

As much as flash storage drives can offer more security from cyber attacks, they can still pick up malware from the different machines they’re moved between in those local data sharing scenarios.

It could get lost!

We’ve all heard about those politicians on the train losing sensitive information.

However, ultimately, the future of flash storage is a positive one. Manufacturers have advanced flash storage devices to be much faster and store greater amounts of information, so side by side with cloud storage solutions, a flash storage system that can support a hybrid integration could allow fantastic future flexibility.

Sarah Thomson

Sarah joined ITPro in 2021, moving into all things tech after previously copywriting in marketing roles for leading global brands, including McLaren, Virgin Atlantic and Tesco, writing for email, web, print, and social. Sarah now leads the multi-channel marketing activity for client whitepaper campaigns across IT Pro, Cloud Pro, and Channel Pro, delivering organic B2B lead generation for Dell, AWS, & IBM amongst others, reinforcing brand engagement and brand affinity. You can contact Sarah directly at