Flash Drive Duplicators Spread the Word

As a journalist, I’ve gone through tons of paper.  In the ‘80s, conferences were accompanied with rooms filled with press kits – folders, filled with paper press releases.  Most journalists (myself included, often), removed the important paper from the folders and tossed the folders.  (The folders were probably the costliest part of the kit, but for journalists, the extra weight they added was a real problem.)  I pushed the manufacturers to put press kits onto floppy discs – some finally did.

In the 90s, there they were, with the same flashy folders and reams of paper- and I hoped for releases on CD.  Some vendors accommodated.  As the ‘90s moved into the current century, some exhibitors moved their kits onto DVD.  Finally, in recent years, some vendors actually realized that they could put their kits – and hundreds of megabytes of supporting material, if they wanted to use it, onto a USB flash drive (also referred to by some people as ‘thumb’ drives).  Early on, these press kits were put onto 64 MB or slightly larger drives.   As drive sizes went up, and the prices of the drives dropped, some vendors also increased the size of the drives that carried their press kits.

I attended events where there were dozens of exhibitors, and hundreds of press attendees.  Each attendee got a flash drive loaded with each exhibitor’s information – sort of an enhanced Exhibitor’s List on a flash drive.  It was a great way to distribute a LOT of material in a small package, and I think most journalists really appreciated the flash drive.  I know I did.

At some events, they only had a limited number of drives to distribute – I made it a point to arrive early so that I could get the information (and the drive).

I often wondered how a company could quickly duplicate a LOT of flash drives.  I’m guessing that the company that made these duplicates probably had a dozen or more computers, tied up doing little more than copying a flash drive’s image onto blank drives.  The process would have taken a lot of people (or just a few willing to jump from computer to computer, removing the finished flash drive copy and inserting blanks and starting the whole process again), or a lot of machines, or a LOT of time.

Aleratec 11 Target USB Flash Drive Duplicator - to clone / copy USB Flash Drives

Today, with Aleratec’s family of flash drive duplicators, the ‘how’ can be easily answered.   Aleratec offers a range of flash drive duplicators, with the ability to copy as many as 118 flash drives at one time.  The Aleratec 1:21 USB Copy Cruiser Duplicator, an affordably priced duplicator, can format, verify and copy as many as 21 drives at once.  Information on Aleratec’s line of flash drive duplicators can be found at http://www.aleratec.com/usb-flash-drive-duplicators.html.

The ’why duplicate flash drives’ has a much more complete answer than it may have had in the past.  Flash drives do a lot more than just hold a few press kits.

With flash drive capacities doubling frequently, 64 GB and 128 GB flash drives are becoming increasingly available.  Today, 4GB and 8 GB drives are dropping in price, and flash drives smaller than 1 or 2 GB are also getting even less expensive and less common.  Some companies will even sell these drives printed with a company name, a company logo, or perhaps even an organization’s short message.

Such pre-labeled drives are great for advertising; they’re good for marketing materials of all types, but they’re also great identifiers for organizations that want to distribute information internally.  For example, an organization may wish to distribute internal data on flash drives that had the company logo and special wording already printed on it.  Such labeling should make it rather risky for an unauthorized user to obtain possession of the drive.  Combining the extremely visible markings with encryption on the drive could deter unauthorized use or possession of such a drive.

As a journalist, the drives that carry the vendor’s logo provide an extra value, even after the information is no longer current – the drive is reusable, and the logo reminds me of the vendor and products that were featured on the drive.  For example, a company may give me a USB flash drive at a trade show or conference – or as part of a press kit it sends me.  I may use the data. I may copy the data into my research files, so I can review it later, and I may even write articles, columns or reviews based on what’s originally recorded onto the flash drive.  If I no longer need the information that was put on the drive, I sometimes use drives to copy and move my own files.  I may even put Linux onto a drive and make it bootable, then install the Linux applications that I use most.  If I go to another computer at my offices, or perhaps even find an unused computer at a vendor I may be visiting, I can insert the flash drive, turn on the computer, and install and run my own operating system and open source applications.  But, whatever I do, I still know who gave me the flash drive, and think of them when I use it.

Putting information on a flash drive, for internal distribution inside an organization, or for marketing purposes that may use hundreds or thousands of flash drives to distribute a message, is a great alternative to other media.  USB should be available on any personal computer made in the last 12 or more years.  Depending on the size of the flash drive, the actual drives can be relatively cheap, and the cost climbs as capacity climbs.  Compared to a CD or DVD, a flash drive is more durable and convenient.  Also, as a tool to differentiate the ‘value’ of your message from one that’s put onto a somewhat disposable plastic disc, distributing the data on a flash drive earns more attention.

Being able to quickly copy flash drives is an important part of the value proposition.  Being able to make dozens – or even hundreds – of flash drive copies in minutes, instead of hours or days, can enable an organization to quickly prepare drives with data for distribution to employees or remote locations (security software or encrypted data can be copied onto a flash drive, helping to secure the data on the drive) quickly and easily.   Aleratec’s flash drive duplicators make this possible.

Mark Brownstein is a technology journalist and technology consultant who specializes in explaining and interpreting new technologies, and clarifying how to integrate these new products into current systems. He has been Editor-In-Chief at computer technology and networking publications, has held significant editorial positions at major technology magazines, and is a frequent contributor to various technology magazines. He has written seven books. He is Microsoft Certified, and spends much of his time testing hardware and software products, running his own networks, and learning the best ways to get computer systems running and to keep them running.

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