Posted by USB2U on 7th March 2018 | Permalink
Almost everyone loves the idea of finding their own message in a bottle at some point in their lives, but for the Illman family in Perth, their find was extra special.
After the family car had got stuck in the sand on a remote beach, Kym and Tonya Illman decided to take a short walk where they then came across an old-fashioned bottle with a handwritten note inside which dated back to 1886 almost 132 years ago.
Original bottle and message found by Tonya and Kym Illman. Photo taken by Kym Illman
The note in the bottle, which was dated 12 June 1886, came originally from a German ship and was jettisoned as part of an experiment into ocean and shipping routes by the German Naval Observatory. After the Illman’s took their find to the Western Australian Museum, it was then deemed to be authentic, after the original Meteorological Journal from the ship was found. They discovered that an entry had been made by the captain, on the same date found on the note which indicated that a drift bottle had been thrown overboard!
The bottle was thrown overboard by the German ship, Paula during a voyage from Cardiff to Makassar, Indonesia. It travelled roughly 500 nautical miles before being deposited on a beach north of Wedge Island, where it was most likely covered by sand for many years before being discovered in January 2018.
While USB2U may not offer 131-year-old messages in a bottle we do have some gorgeous looking Cork Bottle USBs which work just as well!
Forget a ‘message in a bottle’, how about an accessible multi-media content in a bottle. It definitely rolls just as well off the tongue!
Posted by USB2U on 16th January 2018 | Permalink
A question we get asked quite a lot here at USB2U from our repeat customers is why the price of their branded USB sticks has changed since they last ordered? A valid question that I think we need to address. As hard as it is to believe we don’t actually enjoy charging our customers more for their USBs when cost prices go up, especially when they have used us as their trusted promotional supplier over so many years.
Unfortunately, it all comes down to the way flash drives are manufactured and how the supply chain effectively operates. Below, we’ll go through just some of the challenges that we as a company face when it comes to pricing our USBs on a daily basis.
How are Flash Drives made?
All modern flash drives will start out life on what is called a Silicon Wafer, a thin, delicate structure designed for integrated circuits that are found in flash drives, computers and even mobile phones.
FACT: Silicon is the most common semi-conductor on Earth and the most widely used in the electronic and technology sector.
Each Silicon Wafer is designed to be broken into multiple pieces for use in a variety of different components including USB drives. Many pieces will be serialised and can be stacked together to create 3D integrated circuits which are more complex and offer a greater level of density. Larger memory size USBs will inherently contain more wafer layers inside of them.
In general, the silicon wafer will be used to create NAND chips. Such chips are non-volatile meaning they do not require a constant power supply to preserve the data stored onto them, making them ideal for flash memory devices.
NAND chips are manufactured specifically in fabrication plants or ‘fabs’ for short. Only a small number of these factories exist in the world, and therefore have direct control over the overall supply and, more importantly, the day-to-day market price. The majority of these factories are located in China, however, some facilities also exist in Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
These chips are considered to be a critical component in a number of electronic devices, not just USB sticks. Modern computers, smartphones, and tablets all have NAND chips within them, thus all companies in these markets will inevitably purchase from the same supply chain. This, of course, creates problems if demand increases or there are issues in other market sectors as these will have a knock-on effect on supply and ultimately, market price.
NAND Chip Demand Issues
The smartphone market, in particular, is notorious for causing supply chain issues.
Big tech companies with large buying power such as Samsung and Apple will often purchase huge quantities of NAND chips for use in the production of their latest smartphones.
This therefore significantly reduces the overall supply available in the market which causes the price to subsequently rise for everyone else looking to buy, including us!
While it has gotten easier over the years for factories to cope with such large orders, new tech products are being created all the time with many subsequently requiring flash memory to function.
NAND Chip Supply Issues
It’s not just demand issues which can affect the price of USBs, it can also be supply based as well. The most expensive times to buy USB Flash Drives are February/March and September/October time where China observe their own national holidays.
You may have heard us before talking about how it’s important to order USBs before the Chinese New Year and Golden Week, well the reason for this is that production factories including ‘fabs’ close for up to 2-3 weeks over these periods. This causes a rise in demand, due to a shortage in production, which in turn leads to prices sharply rising. We ourselves have seen an increase in cost-price from 30p to anywhere up to £1.20 per unit before, during these periods.
Because only a small number of factories exist in the world if only a few of them close for just a few days, the price of the chips would likely go up. This was very much the case back in 2011 when Japan was hit with an earthquake and tsunami causing many factories to close, which consequently halted production of NAND chips out of the country for several days and ultimately led to prices increasing.
Exchange Rate Fluctuations
Exchange rate fluctuations in general cause headaches for many businesses out there who buy from abroad. When it comes to buying NAND flash the issue is no different. Many companies, including ourselves, have to purchase these chips using US$ dollars and convert back into £’s. If the exchange rate is unfavourable between the two the overall cost price will inherently increase. This has been most apparent in recent years due to Brexit where the £ substantially depreciated against the $ and therefore we as a company ended up paying substantially more for flash drives. Even today the £’s value hasn’t quite reached the same level as it was before the referendum, therefore those who haven’t ordered from us in a while may see a noticeable increase in the price of their branded USB sticks.
Things to keep in mind when you next order USBs
NAND chips could be considered a tech commodity as their price is always determined by current supply and demand similar to that of Gold and Oil. There are times of year where prices will tend to rise and also times where they will go down, it’s always worth having a little look to see what is happening in the sector.
If you’re looking to purchase large quantities of USBs the following tips may be able to help you determine when best to buy:
- Look to order before February and September to avoid the closure of factories in China and the price rises that follow.
- Watch out for tech news especially related to new/upcoming product launches by large companies. These should give you an indication that the price of USB flash memory is set to increase.
What we can do at our end…
USB2U has become quite adept over the years of being able to predict when price rises are expected and will always try and order stock in advance. This means we can hold a variety of USBs in our own UK stock which helps to reduce some of the price volatility experienced.
Like any other commodity however, there is still an unpredictability to ordering at any time of year as prices can change daily, this is why our quotes are only usually valid for a limited time.
USB2U Guarantee and Promotional Tech
Our dedicated team will always do their best to get you the best price possible on your promotional USBs. Often we will look at several supplier options before coming back to you with a quote ensuring we try and obtain the best possible price.
Even if you find a cheaper supplier elsewhere, it is always best to check with us, as in most cases we will able to price match a like-for-like quote.
If you’re still not satisfied with the price quoted for your USBs why not take a look at some of our other promotional tech products including Power Banks, Speakers and Headphones to name a few!
Contact our sales staff at +44 (0)1604 684 811 or [email protected]. Alternatively, you can also visit our website to see the full range of products on offer.
Posted by USB2U on 4th January 2018 | Permalink
Over the last decade or so, online selling has expanded to a truly global scale. For USBs, the story is no different with thousands of suppliers now selling flash drives and USB Memory Sticks over the internet day-to-day. While this has made life easier for buyers, there are still things they should be made aware of especially when ordering from outside of the UK.
What should customers look out for when buying from overseas?
Can the seller be trusted? – Customers should always ask themselves whether or not they truly trust the source that they are buying from, do they know someone who has used the seller before perhaps who can vouch for them?
Does the website seem authentic? – While there are plenty of businesses out there with well-built websites and means of communication, not all can be just that. If the content on a website is poorly structured, not clear or translated incorrectly customers should avoid. Always check as well to see if the business is using a secure web address (HTTPS), while there are websites out there that may not use this, individuals should always trust the source they are accessing before proceeding with any purchase or passing over personal information.
Is there a way of getting in touch with the seller? – Is there a listed phone number or email address you can use to contact the business? If so, does it work? – In general, are they putting up barriers to stop you communicating with them?
Talk to someone who may have used the seller before.
Does the website work? Is it safe to use?
Is it easy to communicate with the seller?
At USB2U we have a dedicated phone number, email address and secure website that you can use to communicate with us. As well, we operate from a secure business location that you can easily find via Google Maps. Our 5000+ Trustpilot reviews should also give you a strong indication that we are a trustworthy and honest company.
Why should you buy USBs from a trusted UK supplier?
As a supplier of USB sticks and flash memory, we get told quite often by customers that they can get what looks like ‘our products’ much cheaper from China- this country being the main manufacturer of USB flash memory.
However, whilst USBs ordered from the Far East might look the same, the internal components can vastly differ. We have heard multiple stories from customers who have taken the plunge to purchase directly from China and end up coming back to us and complaining that they have paid in full for an order only to find that they never receive their goods or receive faulty products and afterwards are unable to get their money back. This is part of the risk of buying from a supplier you do not know or can fully trust. There are obviously some genuine suppliers that can offer good quality products, but there are also those that will tend to deliver low-grade products that most likely won’t work, that’s if they even bother to send them out in the first place!
Ordering USBs from an untrusted source could result in faulty or missing goods.
We will regularly go out and meet our Chinese suppliers to ensure they meet the standards expected by our customers.
USB2U has worked hard to develop long-lasting relationships with reputable Chinese factories who offer Grade A chip-sets for our USB products. Regularly we’ll go out and visit the factories in which the products are made to ensure they meet our standards and help us to bridge the communication gap between our customers and suppliers to resolve any issues that have occurred as quickly and efficiently as possible. We also audit them annually and have supplier contracts in place to protect our customers.
Even if the Chinese manufacturer that you are ordering from appears to be reputable and the price of a flash drive is cheaper, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the ordering process will be as straight-forward as it would be if you were to order from a UK supplier. When working with USB2U you have every means to come back to us if you are not happy with the goods, however, it’s very doubtful that the same customer service or processes can be applied to overseas sellers. For the sake of spending that little bit extra, you are affording yourself peace of mind and a hassle-free buying experience.
Below are just a few more reasons why customers should seek to order USBs from a UK supplier such as USB2U, including favourable lead times, regulations and processes.
No issues getting products through customs
Easier returns processes and policies
Faster lead times when ordering UK stock in general
Products conform to EU regulations
Want to find out more about our USB products? Email our friendly sales team who will be happy to help at [email protected] or visit www.usb2u.co.uk
Posted by USB2U on 15th November 2017 | Permalink
If you have ever come across a USB flash drive before, you will probably have noticed that they are often advertised by a set memory size which usually ranges anywhere from 128MB – 256 GB. While this is the case, when you insert a USB stick into a computer you’ll often find that the storage space you actually have on the device doesn’t quite match up to what was originally advertised. This is something our customers question us about quite frequently, as for many a 32GB USB should be just that, 32GB in storage space.
Where does the loss of storage space occur?
The storage loss is down primarily to the way in which a computer naturally reads data and how manufacturers choose to advertise storage capacities. While we would perceive 1 kilobyte of data is equal to 1000 bytes this isn’t exactly accurate due to the way in which data is stored using binary code on a computer (think 1 and 0’s), which means that 1 kilobyte is actually equal to 1024 bytes so not a rounded amount as we would assume. The common prefixes therefore are
- 1 Kilobyte (KB) = 1,024 Bytes
- 1 MegaByte (MB) = 1,024 Kilobytes or 1,048,576 Bytes
- 1 Gigabyte (GB) = 1,024 Megabytes or 1,073,741,824 Bytes
Because these numbers are not necessarily pretty to look at, manufacturers decide to rate most flash drive capacities on standard base 10 numbers so as per the above where 1 Mb = 1,000Kb or 1,000,000 Bytes, this means that for each 1Mb of data there is essentially 24Kb or 48,576 Bytes that is not accounted for. While this is barely noticeable on flash drives with low memory, those with much higher storage capacity see an increase in the discrepancy between the actual storage space and what is advertised.
What is the actual storage loss on a USB stick
The actual storage loss on a USB device is roughly 7% of the overall memory size, so for a 32GB device you can expect a loss of around 2GB. This, unfortunately, is a scalable loss as well, so the more memory size on a USB the more storage you will likely lose. The actual memory size of your USB flash drive is always marginally less than advertised regardless of the overall storage of the device.
Below is a chart which details the actual storage you get when using a USB stick as well as the overall loss you can expect to see.
Customers should be aware that these are only approximations and in reality, the amount of storage space may be slightly more or less depending on the device you are using. It is important that people know about this issue in order to ensure that they are purchasing the correct sized USB to suit their needs. If the data you are wishing to load onto a memory stick, for example, is 1.9GB it would probably be worth going for a 4GB USB flash drive rather than a 2GB to ensure all the data can be copied across successfully with no problems.
What to do if the actual USB storage capacity is a lot lower than expected?
If storage capacity is lower than expected i.e. outside of a reasonable range of loss then there may be an issue with the USB itself. Firmware issues can mean the device will show less available storage or may corrupt the whole stick entirely and it should be replaced by the seller. Another widespread issue is the number of fake USBs on the market currently which are sold by third-party vendors. Many products are advertised as having a higher storage capacity than they actually do, in many circumstances a 4GB USB stick may turn out to have only a 1GB hard drive capacity.
It’s important that customers are made aware that these scams do exist, and can cause real issues for both individuals and businesses who rely on sharing information through USBs. People should always purchase their USB devices from a trusted sellers such as USB2U to ensure that goods received are genuine. Programs such as H2testw can help in determining the amount of actual storage on a USB stick and is an option to help determine whether or not the device is working as expected, as well as whether or not it is fake.
Posted by USB2U on 7th November 2017 | Permalink
The importance of Encrypting USB flash drives has once again come to the forefront of conversation following the revelation that a memory stick with important security data relating to Heathrow airport was found and accessed by an individual at his local library. Luckily the person realised what he was looking at and handed the device over to local authorities. Nonetheless, this has led to questions being raised in regards to how businesses share important information at the moment and whether or not many should rethink their current approach to the way they manage and share data.
Using an encrypted USB stick is an important practice for the following reasons:
- To keep sensitive company data secure
- To protect customer information- in line with new data protection measures (GDPR)
- To ensure companies do not suffer loss of earnings, time or customer loyalty
Keeping sensitive data secure
It is important that companies are able to look after the data they own and share it without risk of it falling into the wrong hands. The Heathrow Airport USB contained information relating to the security of the airport itself including locations of security cameras on site as well as details of security protection measures put in place for the Queen, Cabinet ministers and foreign dignitaries visiting London, so not exactly a couple of MS Word documents. The importance of sharing information across functions and departments in organisations has never been greater but this has also led to more opportunities for data to be compromised and go missing. Large multi-national companies spend millions on making sure their internal security is up to scratch, even if companies do not have large budgets to spend on security, encrypted USBs which are password protected at least add that extra layer of security to sensitive information that is shared across the business.
Protecting customer information
Probably more important than looking after company information is looking after your customers. Under the new GDPR guidelines, that come into effect in May 2018 and replace the old data protection laws, organisations must ensure there is adequate protection in place for all customer data and must show evidence that such information is being handled correctly and is not at risk of being misused or compromised in any way. It is often the case that customer information is shared between different parts of a business, as well, this information is often sensitive in nature i.e. personal and financial and therefore extra measures should be put in place to protect this information wherever necessary.
Loss for companies
Using Encrypted USBs can help prevent against damaging consequences for organisations. The financial implications, for one, can be huge if data is mishandled. According to IBM, the average cost of a breach is roughly £2.75 million in 2017. As well, under the new GDPR regulations companies who are in breach of data protection laws could face a hefty fine of 20 million euro or 4% of its annual turnover, whichever is higher, which for many businesses out there is enough to bankrupt them. The question, therefore, needs to be asked as to whether the risk of sharing information without appropriate protection is worth taking.
Even when not taking into consideration the cost implications, the amount of time and resources spent when fixing security errors that have occurred can be just as bad. Also if the data leak has compromised customer data, then a company risks their future brand loyalty, especially in markets where there are numerous competitors offering a similar product or service.
Encrypting a USB
There are numerous third-party software packages available online that will be able to encrypt USBs and add a layer of password protection. For windows users as well, there is the option to use Microsoft’s own built-in encryption software called BitLocker which offers a similar level of security to a device. While these solutions offer basic protection to data on a flash drive, they can still be susceptible to hacking. For businesses who handle sensitive client data on a daily basis, hardware encrypted USBs should be strongly considered. These USBs, in general, are a lot more secure as the encryption isn’t purely software based and therefore cannot be easily hacked, as well they tend to load a lot quicker than software encrypted devices.
At USB2U we offer a range of USB products that are hardware encrypted such as the Kingston DataTraveler Privacy 3.0, Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G3 and new SafeToGo USB sticks which all offer the latest in data protection.
Find out more about our Encrypted USBs by getting in touch with our sales team at [email protected].
Posted by USB2U on 18th October 2017 | Permalink
As you may be aware USB2U sends out a lot of tech products to clients every day. As such the laws around sending out such products are constantly being changed and updated in order to ensure that health and safety remain’s paramount throughout the distribution and delivery process, as well as for the end consumer. For products such as Power Banks in particular, the restrictions on shipping these overseas are even greater due to the fact they are essentially batteries that hold a charge and therefore can become dangerous if faulty.
USB2U is a fully accredited supplier of dangerous goods through UPS, which means that we adopt best practices when handling and shipping these sort of products internationally. This ensures that they are not impounded, and ultimately means that there is minimal risk of delays on international orders.
This is just one important element in helping to offer professional and safe tech products to our clients. All products you will find on our website go through rigorous testing and come with a full certification of safety before they are sent out to our customers.
For more information about shipping dangerous goods please visit the UPS site or alternatively get in touch with our sales team at [email protected] who are happy to help with any questions you may have about ordering from overseas.
Posted by USB2U on 3rd October 2017 | Permalink
This week marked USB2U’s 15th anniversary and as such we thought it would be fitting to look back on the history of the business and how far it has come since its humble beginnings back in 2002. Having started out as one of the first UK USB suppliers, the company now offers promotional tech products to a wide range of businesses operating in a variety of industries!
Posted by USB2U on 7th September 2017 | Permalink
As has been the case for many years now, China celebrates two key holidays each Autumn. The first is National Day which is held on the 1st of October and lasts for 7 days to commemorate the formation of the People’s Republic of China. This week long break is often referred to as Golden Week as pretty much all of China’s population are given time off work, with many people choosing to go travelling in the country. The second holiday is the Mid-Autumn festival which luckily this year falls on October 4th right in the middle of Golden Week.
What does this mean for USB2U?
Like many tech suppliers out there, certain product lines and tech components, such as flash drives for USB’s and Power Banks, are manufactured solely in China. Over Golden Week most manufacturing and distribution facilities start to slow down and eventually come to a halt, which consequently has a knock on effect for western companies. For USB2U in particular we are unable to necessarily get hold of certain products manufactured in China or able to outsource more complex print work over this period, meaning the lead times for deliveries will increase on select customer orders.
The weeks before and after Golden Week can be just as troublesome. Often there are price increases on certain goods as supply levels drop and production slows down, while the weeks after can often be off-set by factories playing catch up with processing orders!
What steps do USB2U take to help?
In the lead up to the National Holidays, we will be stocking up on components and tech products ahead of time, ensuring that supply levels don’t run too low. This means that we can still provide a comprehensive range of products whilst delivering a seamless level of service that our customers have come to expect.
Furthermore to this USB2U has a range of promotional tech products available in UK stock which can be delivered in as little as 24 hours meaning that you can still order something last minute without any issues. Within the range we have everything from USB’s and Power Banks which remain popular choices among many; to Speakers, Earphones, Wearable Tech and even Car Accessories ensuring there is still plenty on offer.
Whilst we endeavour to ensure it remains business as usual here at USB2U, we recommend that if you are thinking about placing an order within the next few weeks that you consider doing so on or before the 18th of September, to guarantee that your products are delivered on time. If you are unsure about whether or not your item will arrive on time or if you plan on ordering after the 18th- then please get in touch with us through our online enquiries form or call us on 0800 008 7079 where we will be able to provide you with more information.
Posted by USB2U on 16th August 2017 | Permalink
Photo Booths have become a popular feature at many weddings and special occasions in recent years. The main appeal for these is the fact that they provide a fun and inherently different way of taking photos of guests. The increase in quality and design of such booths has also aided this development allowing hiring companies to create bespoke packages for their customers.
With this in mind, there remains a growing demand for businesses operating in this corner of the market to distribute photos (both digital and prints) to clients, for them to keep copies of and distribute as they wish. USB’s provide a workable solution by allowing images to be stored and shared amongst family and friends whilst also helping to leave a lasting impression on any bride and groom. For photo booth businesses, extras such as this can help increase their overall offering and ultimately lead to an additional revenue stream. Below we take a look at a few USB Sticks and USB Bundles that are bound to make an impact on any bride and groom out there.
Crystal USB’s & Bundles
Great for any elegant occasion and highly customizable, the Crystal USB is the epitome of a classy evening and is sure to be popular amongst any bride and groom. The body is available in a variety of different colours and materials including wood and also rose gold which is a popular choice at the moment. They can also be packaged in a nice looking black and white flip box or for something that little extra special, they can also be placed in our Luxury USB Box, which come wrapped in a high quality faux leather.
Colourful Painted Woodland USB’s
Our Painted Woodland USB’s are great for just about any wedding theme. Available in 5 distinctive and bold colours, these USB Sticks truly stand out when you look at them and work well with any branding, which can be either printed or engraved on. A USB Bundle is also available for this particular product which includes a wooden box painted in the same colour as the Woodland USB with space for a logo on the lid, creating a product that looks fun and ultimately pleasing on the eye.
The Rodeo USB
If you’re looking for a USB stick with a luxury look & feel, then our Rodeo USB might be for you. A strong favourite with wedding photographers, the Rodeo features soft textured leather encapsulated in polished chrome making it a perfect accompaniment to any photographers package or photo booth offering. The Rodeo USB is also available as part of a bundle with our gorgeous white flip boxes and even a Luxury Keepsake Box suitable to house large prints inside.
Traditional Woodland USB’s
With a natural look and feel the Woodland USB 3.0 is an absolutely stunning USB stick. Available in either a light or dark wood and suitable for both printing and engraving, there is so much you can do with this product. There are also plenty of bundle options available from slide and flip boxes of different sizes to those with room to house prints inside. Photo booths which have a natural look to them or which are placed in an outdoor setting, could especially benefit from this accompanying USB and bundle.
Designed with Heart in Mind
Wanting a USB that’s completely unique? Then take a look at our Heart USB’s. Lavish in design and finished with bright diamante crystal and a simple polished chrome this product is bound to melt hearts. It is also paired with our popular Luxury Boxes and White Flip Boxes for that added extra that is sure to impress.
Make sure to take a look at our website for further information on our Photography USB’s and Bundles or get in touch with our sales team at [email protected]
Posted by USB2U on 18th July 2017 | Permalink
The practice of universities operating an ‘open day’ has become very common over the last decade or so. Many institutions recognise it as an important contributor in helping prospective undergraduates decide on where their futures ultimately lie. A great deal of planning is therefore required to ensure that the initial impression given at each event is one that helps to ultimately contribute positively towards a student’s decision.
In general, many open days follow a typical format in allowing people to explore the campuses; find out more information about the courses on offer and also give an impression as to the overall university experience. The thing that essentially differs between institutions is the content on offer, and how it is delivered to each individual who visits, this is especially the case when looking at the physical marketing elements such as welcome packs and guides, which are commonly given out to each student at the start of the day.
The Challenge for Open Days
The challenge arises within universities in being able to provide relevant and bespoke material to each student whilst also being able to stand out from competition and remain cost effective. In most cases it’s unlikely a university will have the time or the resources to produce packs catered for each individuals need’s, therefore the question must be asked as to whether alternative methods of producing content which remains engaging and informative are available. One way this can be accomplished is by uploading more specific/comprehensive information onto a USB Flash Drive while keeping the welcome booklet as a general guide.
USB sticks and USB cards make great handouts for any student as they can hold considerably more data in a variety of different formats. As well, such devices encourage people to go away and find out more about the university beyond their initial visit. Compared to welcome guides they remain relatively cost effective to produce; are considerably more portable and can also be branded onto to stand out.
Upload more information to a more portable format
How can Universities use USB’s for Open Days?
There are many different ways USB’s can be used to help improve the overall impression left on students during open days. The most effective of these would be to upload information onto them that is relevant while also detailing the various aspects of their potential experience, whether that be through course guides; accommodation, sports clubs and societies, info about getting around the local area or even tips as to what students can do in their spare time!
As with any other business, the objective for a university should be to try and communicate the salient qualities it possesses to any prospective investor, therefore content developed to capture the interest of students and help give them all the information they require will no doubt reinforce their decision making.
Overall picking a university these days is not a simple process. Often the choice to go doesn’t necessarily come down to the course or institution itself, but a variety of different factors pertaining to the individual, thus it becomes important for institutions to try and capture prospective students with content that is relevant whilst also capturing their interest.
USB Products make a great alternative for communicating engaging content to prospective students.