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Chapter Twelve. External Storage > Flash Memory - Pg. 170

External Storage 170 Typically, USB keys contain between 16MB and 512MB of flash memory--although we have seen models that hold a whopping 2GB of data! Their pocket-sized plastic shell also holds a basic USB hard drive controller and a USB plug. To access the data on your USB key, plug it into a free USB port and access it like any other removable device in the Windows My Computer folder. Modern USB keys should work without drivers on any Windows Me, Windows 2000, or Windows XP ma- chine. In addition to simply carrying files, more advanced USB keys offer hardware-based encryption, automatic synchronization of certain folders, and compression utilities. These are great bonus fea- tures, but when we're purchasing a USB key, the main criteria we consider are capacity and con- struction. You definitely want your USB key to have enough storage space to tote any files you might need. However, we don't recommend spending an untoward amount of money on a USB key. Because they're so small and you'll carry a USB key with you everywhere, they can be easily lost. The sweet spot lies squarely between 128MB models and 256MB models. Although sizes range up to 2GB, pricing beyond 512MB becomes prohibitive. A 512MB model usually costs about $130, but the 2GB model costs a whopping $600!