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Is Fiat Chrysler about to order 1.4 Million USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 27th July 2015 | Permalink

Just days after Wired magazine revealed that it was possible to hack a Jeep Cherokee via its internet-connected entertainment system and take control of it whilst in motion Fiat Chrysler have announced a recall of 1.4 million vehicles to fix the problem.

Fiat Chrysler has said it was “unaware of any injuries related to software exploitation” but nevertheless they have moved reasonably swiftly to deal with the issue and the subsequent media furor that has followed the story breaking.

The fact that the hackers were able take control of the cars brakes, the throttle and the pretty much everything else in the car (apart from the steering although apparently they could control this as well if the car was put in reverse) demonstrates the severity of the issue and explains why Fiat Chrysler have responded so quickly!

Although defined as a “voluntary recall” most customers won’t have to take the vehicles back to the dealers to get them fixed instead they will be sent a USB Stick with instructions on how to plug it in and upgrade the vehicles software.

Customers who don’t want to wait for Fiat Chrysler to send them a USB Memory Stick with the patched software on can instead download the upgrade and transfer it to their own flash drive and plug this into the vehicle.

With around 1.4 million vehicles affected (most manufactured between 2013 -2015) the upgrade is going to be a huge challenge. Only cars in the USA using the company’s uConnect wireless systems are affected.

If Fiat Chrysler, as seems likely, take the decision to proactively issue 1.4 million USB memory sticks with the patch pre-loaded onto them, then someone is going to pick up what could be the largest ever single order for memory sticks in the history of the device!

Who would have thought when they were first introduced well over a decade ago that USB sticks would be used to upload new software to cars to prevent hackers taking control of the cars whilst in use! In fact who would have thought a decade ago that we’d be talking about hackers remotely controlling cars (whilst in use on the roads) over public mobile phone networks. It all sounds like the stuff of a science fiction novel but it just demonstrates how scarily fast technology is moving these days.

Twister USB Flash Drives

Twister USB Sticks

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Barclays Customer Data Found on USB Memory Stick

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

A USB memory stick recovered by Police in Brighton in February this year contained the personal details of 13,000 Barclays customers. The information which included names, date of birth, addresses and in some cases employment details and NI numbers is thought to have been in the hands of fraudsters for around 7 years!

It’s unclear exactly how the data was originally taken but Barclays, who are clearly embarrassed by this further breach, have acted swiftly and contacted all of the impacted customers and proactively offered them each £250 in compensation.

A Barclays spokesman said: ‘This is not a new theft of data from Barclays. Every indication is that the data here was part of the same theft of data that was reported last year, relating to data stolen in 2008. It is simply a separate USB data stick that was not received at that point in time and was recently discovered by the police.”

They go on to add: ‘‘We are asking each customer to call if they feel their individual circumstances warrant different compensation, especially if they believe that they had a fraudulent event at any point since this data was stolen.”

To be clear it is not believed Barclays stored the data on the USB stick in the first place. It was more likely copied onto the stick by the original fraudsters but the whole episode does once again highlight just how easily stolen data can be distributed.

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Most of the USB sticks we supply are used as part of simple brand development or marketing campaigns and as such any information stored (or pre-loaded) onto them is unlikely to be sensitive. If you do plan to distribute any USB sticks that you buy from us with confidential data on then we strongly recommend that you ask about the range of encrypted and password protected USB sticks that we offer.

Encrypted and password protected flash drives will cost a little more but this small extra cost is tiny when compared to potential compensation payouts. The compensation that Barclays have offered each of the 13,000 customers whose data was found on the USB stick by police in Brighton compensation will total £3.25 million! Ouch!

Better still don’t use USB sticks to distribute customer confidential data on in the first place. That might sound strange coming from a USB stick supplier but it’s not in our interests to see a popular promotional giveaway “demonised” by the actions of a few people who should know better.

 

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Will MRI Scans be next for the USB Memory Stick Treatment?

Posted by USB2U on 22nd July 2015 | Permalink

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen lots of companies that offer a baby scan service provide additional copies of the images they take on a USB memory stick. This is usually in addition to the more traditional printed images they supply. It’s a great idea because it allows the proud parents to easily share their scans with friends and family on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

One of the first companies to spot the opportunity was Babybond, the UK’s first ISO Quality Endorsed ultrasound provider, who offer their 4D Baby Bonding Scan results on a Babybond branded USB Memory Stick.

The scans that Babybond produce are high quality still and 4D moving images that are captured digitally. It’s these “digital” files that are then copied onto a USB stick. The introduction of a USB memory stick as an option is another innovation introduced by Babybond and reinforces their pioneering approach to the sector.

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

The interesting question being posed here is will private MRI companies follow where BabyBond have lead. If you’ve been advised that you need an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan then you might elect to have this done privately. They’re not as expensive as you might think, there are lots of companies now offering the service around the UK and in most cases you can get seen and have your scan done in a couple of days.

MRI scans are typically required (or suggested) to help with the diagnosis of a wide range of medical conditions and sports injuries. If you do elect to get your MRI scan done privately then at the end of your appointment you’ll typically be given a copy of the scan results on a CD/DVD (a copy is usually supplied directly to the referring clinician.)

Getting a copy of your scan on a CD/DVD is a great idea BUT with fewer of us having access to PC’s with a built in CD/DVD player it can be a bit tricky viewing what’s on them! You’ll struggle to find a new laptop or Mac with a CD/DVD drawer and even some desktop PC manufacturers have phased them out.

A better option for private MRI companies like Vista Diagnostics would be to offer their clients the option of getting their scans on a branded USB stick (with their logo on). Not only would it be a point of differentiation for them but also it’s likely to be a more popular option with their clients.

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Free Data Loading on Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 5th June 2015 | Permalink

It’s been over 12 years since we first started selling promotional USB memory sticks and the demand for them today is stronger than ever. Other technology based promotional gifts have come and gone during this time but USB sticks have stubbornly clung on.

The reason for their enduring appeal seems to be down to a few key factors; people like them, they’re relatively inexpensive (but have a high perceived value) and more fundamentally they keep giving more for less! By this we mean that today you’ll pay broadly the same for a 8GB USB stick, as you would have done for a 64MB USB stick a decade ago! That’s a huge increase in data storage capacity with no comparative increase cost – no other type of promotional gift (that we can think of) continually offers more in this way.

With branded (USB sticks printed with your logo) 8GB sticks costing less than £2 each (depending on volume and stick type) they really do represent fantastic value. Think about it – 8GB is the standard storage offered on the iPhone C and you can get this for less than £2.

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

Of course this amount of storage is crying out to be used so when customers buy their promotional flash drives from us we strongly advocate using the memory they are paying for is loaded with whatever promotional material they can digitise and make available. Why, we, it’s a great way to distribute information about your company, your products or your event at very little cost. Compared to the price of printing, transporting and distributing the collateral the benefits and savings are significant.

If you do plan to load data onto your USB memory sticks before you distribute them then you will need to get organised and have your data ready. If you don’t want to go through the pain of loading the data onto the USB sticks yourself then ask us to do it for you. We use our own in-house professional data loading and data duplication equipment to load the data onto your memory sticks and by allowing us to do it we can check the data is loaded correctly on each and every USB stick (The professional data loading kit does this using some clever “checksum” algorithms.

Any style, shape, design or memory size of flash drive can be pre-loaded with data and pretty much any format of data can be loaded. Popular examples of data files that are typically used include; PDF’s, PowerPoint Slides, Excel Spreadsheets, Word Documents, Links to websites and media files.

If you buy your promotional USB memory sticks from us and you are interested in our offer of FREE data loading (T&C’s apply)then just mention this to your Account Manager and they’ll talk you through the options.

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3,000 Reviews for USB2U on Trustpilot

Posted by USB2U on 21st April 2015 | Permalink

We’re just about to break through 3,000 reviews on the independent 3rd party review site Trustpilot. To say we’re chuffed would be an understatement. Not only have we amassed these reviews in just a couple of years but our overall our rating is 9.7 (out of a maximum of 10) with a narrative score of “Excellent”.

Understandably not every customer has the time or the inclination to leave a review but for everyone that has we’d like to say a huge “Thank you”. We appreciate you are not compelled to review the service you’ve had from us and we know it takes time to do it which makes it all the more gratifying when customers make the effort to leave a review.

The design, manufacture and supply of promotional USB memory sticks is a highly competitive market so we encourage companies looking to place an order for custom USB’s or USB sticks with their logo printed (or engraved) onto them to look beyond just price and consider the overall level of service provided by the company that you’ve got a quote from. It’s all well and good shaving a couple of pennies off the price of our sticks but if the service you get is poor and the end products are poorly produced it’s your brand and reputation that will suffer because it’s your brand is printed on the USB sticks.

At USB2U we have always focused on providing a top quality service coupled with highly competitive prices. We’ve been supplying USB sticks since 2003, we know the market incredibly well and we know what products work with what types of brands and logos. Ours is a consultative approach where we work with our customers to really understand their needs, we then make a recommendations based on these and we work up a range of designs/mock-ups to illustrate what can be achieved. Tweaking and amending artwork is not a problem, handling the data-loading of files is just part of what we do and keeping our customer informed throughout the whole process right up until we deliver the finished job is fundamental to what we do.

If you’re looking for a trusted and proven UK supplier of promotional USB memory sticks then we hope you’ll give us a chance to work with you. Hopefully, if you like what we’ll do you’ll join the other 3,000 customers and post a review of our service on Trustpilot.

USB2U and relax

Choose USB2U and Relax -you’re in safe hands!

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10 Good Reasons Why You Should Buy Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 16th April 2015 | Permalink

Despite the continued growth in use of cloud based data storage services you can’t escape the fact that USB memory sticks are everywhere these days. Long gone are the dominant days of the CD and DVD. USB memory sticks are now the most popular way to save, store and carry data files. They remain a key business tool for many and they continue to play an important role in the daily life of hundreds of thousands of students.

The rise to dominance has not been quick. The first commercially available memory sticks hit the market back in 2002 and the first generation used the original USB 1.0 standard, they had a typical storage capacity of 16MB and they were typically boring, rectangular “lumps” of plastic – the focus then was on functionality and not design.

Skip forward 13 years and today USB sticks (or flash drives as some people prefer to call them) have evolved into a much more sophisticated product that is available in thousands of different styles, designs, colours. More fundamentally they use the latest USB 3.0 standards, they are fast and by comparison to the first generation products they carry HUGE amounts of data – basic models now have storage capacities of 4GB or 8GB but 256GB are available.

In the midst of all of this development and market growth Memory sticks have also become incredibly popular promotional giveaways. Here are just a few reasons why:

1.     Brand development and brand exposure – Branded USB Memory sticks are a fantastic way to get your brand in front of an existing or potential customer. They’re a popular product and people just like being given them

2.     Content delivery – With the vast amounts of storage on offer they are a great way to deliver content. The data can be passive (PDF files for example) which the user would need to click on to view or interactive for a more immersive experience.

3.     Keepsakes – Branded USB Memory sticks make excellent ‘keepsakes’ and there is a high probability that users will save their own information onto them thus making them a valuable asset with high-perceived value.

4.     They’re pretty cheap to buy – The cost of flash memory (the heart of any USB stick onto which the data is saved) has fallen dramatically over the past few years. As a result USB memory sticks have become a more attractive promotional option for many. If you buy in bulk they’ll cost less than £2 per stick (printed and with data loaded)

5.     There are now thousands of designs and styles to choose from and if none of the “standard” shapes are suitable its relatively easy to get a fully customised (bespoke) solution, you just need to build in a couple of extra weeks into the lead time and be prepared to pay a little more for them.

6.     Fast delivery – delivery times are now as little as 24hrs, which includes the printing of a logo so if you are pushed for a branded solution/gift in a hurry they might be suitable.

7.     The minimum order quantity for fully printed/customised USB drives is only 25 pieces.

8.     CD / DVDs are now seen as old hat and are a technology that few companies now want to associate their brand with whereas USB memory sticks are seen a new, innovative, and to some degree “sexy” and are the “new kids on the block”

9.     The technology that USB memory sticks are built on is well established and is highly reliable.

10.  There are lots of suppliers of branded USB memory sticks in the market today so they are relatively easy to source and the increased competition has kept prices low and quality high.

 

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

USB2U – Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

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Election Uncertainty Drives USB Stick Prices Higher

Posted by USB2U on 14th April 2015 | Permalink

The financial markets don’t like uncertainty and the forthcoming UK General Election on the 7th May 2015 is looking so close that uncertainty is the only one thing that is certain! The recent reports of a slowdown in the UK economy haven’t helped and the one big loser is the Pound (GBP), which has continued to slide against the Dollar (USD).

Today the Pound has slipped to $1.465, it’s lowest level against the Dollar since May 2010 – it is now trading 15% lower than it was less than a year ago.

For the Promotional USB Memory Stick market this is a painful time. All USB sticks are manufactured in China and the factories that sell them to the rest of the world expect to be paid in US Dollars. Consequently, the fall of the Pound against the Dollar effectively means that prices have gone up by around 15% in the last year! Worryingly it looks as though the trend is set to continue right up until the results of the election are known – even then there is no certainty that the Pound will recover so months or uncertainty lie ahead.

 

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Scottish Election Worries

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Scottish Election Worries

If you need to buy promotional USB memory sticks now then it’s just a question of “sucking it up” and getting your order placed. There’s little point in speculating what may or may not happen over the next few weeks and if you leave things too late then you’ll either miss your deadline or you’ll end up paying lots more for a rush order of printed USB sticks that are finished in the UK rather than in China!

The daily fluctuations in the value of the Pound against the Dollar are why you see so few companies posting firm prices for printed flash drives on their websites – competition in this market is fierce, margins are slim and putting prices on a website (unless they are changed daily and reflect the movements in the currency exchange market) is a recipe to lose money.

The best advice is to get a few quotes from some of the market leaders, check how long the price is valid for (typically it’s about 3 days) and then check when you’re expected to pay for your order (some companies ask for full payment with the order, some ask for 50% and some, like USB2U, only ask for payment when your order when your USB sticks have been produced and it is ready to ship).

If you can wait until the elections are over and hopefully some calm returns to the market then this “might” be the best course of action but there’s no guarantee. It all depends on who wins and how the markets react to the results.

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Important Company Wide Announcements – USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 26th January 2015 | Permalink

It’s been interesting to see a rise in the number of companies using branded USB flash drives over the last few months as part of high profile, cross company announcements to their staff. The challenge is how do you give a disparate employee base (not all of whom have access to PC’s at work) critical information at the same time and in a format they can all use. It’s not as easy as you might think!

Say for example you need to announce fundamental changes to your staff’s terms of employment, or changes to their pension scheme arrangements – how, other than trying to get everyone together for a companywide meeting do you manage it? And the company in question employs thousands of staff in different locations; working different shift patterns a “company meeting” is never going to be possible. Do you stream or broadcast the message to televisions at each location, do you send out a letter and brochure explaining the changes, or do you send out teams of senior managers to each location of run a series of co-ordinated presentations? If you do the latter how do you control the message in terms of constancy and “tone” and how do you make sure questions are fully answered with examples and illustrations?

USB Flash Drives for Businesses

USB Flash Drives for Businesses

Until recently one option was to consider using CD’s or DVD’s and sending these out as part of a pack or handing them out as part of a co-ordinated roadshow. These could include comprehensive notes, videos, copies of presentation slides/packs and tons of other supporting information. But, the problem today is that a large number of new laptops don’t ship with a CD/DVD player!

As a result what we are seeing is a move towards the use of a USB stick, typically branded with the company’s logo and normally pre-loaded with lots of multi-media content. USB sticks or flash drives (as some people prefer to call them) are arguably easier to use, they can be plugged into TV’s as well as lots of PC’s Macs and Tablets and they’re reasonably cheap. When they’ve read/used them there is of course the added benefit of being able to use the branded USB sticks for storage of their own personal data.

They can be pre-loaded with their data right at the last minute and because of their size and weight distribution is relatively easy. As such they make the ideal alternative to CD’s and DVD’s and most staff members will have something they can use to read (or watch) the content on them.

If you’ve got an important cross company message you need to get out to your staff then you might want to consider using a USB stick with your logo printed on it and your presentation material pre-loaded onto the.

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Looking Back at 2014 and Forward to 2015

Posted by USB2U on 1st January 2015 | Permalink

What a year 2014 was for us at USB2U. In the last 12 months we have seen record sales of promotional USB sticks, enquiries from new customers have never been higher and the feedback from customers on Trustpilot has exceeded all expectations.

We’ve gained new resellers across Europe and the number of orders we now ship around the world has grown markedly and shows not signs of abating. All we can say is “Wow!” and a big “Thank you” to everyone who has entrusted us with their project, their business and their brand this year. We really do appreciate your order(s) and your faith in our ability to deliver your promotional USB sticks against what often look lime impossible deadlines.

Much of our recent growth has been underpinned by continued investment in new products, a top quality team of people and our own in-house printing and engraving kit. A significant number of our USB memory stick orders are now delivered within 72hrs from order! So whilst many of our competitors talk in of delivery timescales measures in days of weeks we’re, for a growing proportion of our business, are talking in terms of hours.

Customers clearly like the comfort of knowing that with USB2U they can place an order one day and their printed, data-loaded and boxed promotional USB memory sticks can be with them the very next day! It’s a service that de-risks everything because it uses stock we carry in the UK, it uses our own in-house design, print and data-loading capability – nothing is reliant on being “shipped in from factories in China” or on the use of 3rd party printers. It’s a service offering we will continue to expand in 2015.

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

We’ve also been bowled over by the support we’ve had from Professional Photographers over the last 12 months. When we exhibited at The Professional Photography Show at the NEC in March we knew immediately that it was going to be bonkers. Every day for the 4 days we were at the show people were queuing 4 deep to talk to us. It was crazy, exhilarating and exhausting. Keeping up with the demand from Photographers after the show has, at times, been challenging but again this was primarily down to an embarrassment of orders!

As we enter 2015 we’re absolutely determined to move thing up a notch or two so expect some exciting announcement from us during the 1st quarter of this year. We have already committed to exhibit again at The Photography Show at the NEC in March (but this time we’ll have a bigger stand, more staff, lots of exciting new products and we’ll have a better idea of what to expect!).

We’ve also just launched a new range of Power Banks thousands of which we hold in stock in the UK so they can also be delivered (printed or engraved) within 24hrs! Power Banks are just the start though so again keep an eye out for lots of new exciting products throughout 2015.

2014 was a cracker – bring on 2015

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Chinese New Year WILL disrupt supplies of Promotional USB Flash Drives – Please Plan Ahead

Posted by USB2U on 31st December 2014 | Permalink

We say it every year and every year we give the advice a little earlier because every year, without fail, Chinese New Year has a huge impact on the supply of promotional products like USB flash drives.

Don’t get confused, we’re not talking about the 1st of January which starts off the New Year on the Gregorian calendar that most of us use. No, we’re talking about Chinese calendar and in 2015, according to this calendar; New Year is on the 19th February!

The date that New Year is celebrated changes every year because it’s based on the Chinese lunar and solar calendars but it always falls somewhere between late January and mid-February. In 2015 it’s particularly late (in 2014 in was on the 31st January) and it will be the Year of the Goat (every new Chinese year is marked by an association with a zodiac animal).

Chinese New Year 2015 - USB Memory Sticks

Chinese New Year 2015 – USB Memory Sticks

Why is Chinese New Year an issue for us in the UK? Well if you’re a buyer of promotional products then it’s vital you understand the impact Chinese New Year has on the supply chain of promotional goods into the UK (and the rest of the world). Pretty much all promotional products are manufactured to order by factories in China and the finished items are then air-freighted in in a matter of days. Outside of New Year everyone gets used to lead times of 7-10 days but during the annual Chinese New Year “shut down” the lead times can be as much as 6 weeks or more!

So, if you have a sales event, a marketing campaign or a trade show scheduled for February or March 2015 and you are planning to use promotional items like USB flash drives then to make sure you get them you need to order them early!

Problems develop because China takes its New Year celebrations very seriously. We’re not talking about a 1 or 2 day break but rather a 2 week shut-down! Factories and offices close, couriers stop working and pretty much everything comes to a standstill. Employees travel thousands of miles to be with their families for the duration of the holiday and for once all things work related take a back seat.

In practice what this means is that everyone rushes to place orders on the factories before the holiday starts so the factories will typically impose a “last order day” around 2 weeks before the start of the New Year. This allows them to process all orders and get them shipped before they close. On their return to work 2 later they then face a huge backlog of orders and it can take several weeks before things are up and running smoothly again.

It’s the same with the International couriers and freight handlers – the closer it gets to the 19th February the more likely it is that it won’t go anywhere for 2 weeks.

Our advice and it’s the same every year is to plan ahead, get your order(s) in early and remove the stress from your life. If you do leave things too late then you’re going to have to find a local company that carries blank stock and has the capability to brand it up for you. Unfortunately , very few companies carry blank stock of flash drives in the UK and when they do the stock tends to be limited to a couple of standard models and memory sizes and your choice of colour will be limited.

At USB2U we’ve been supplying branded USB flash drives since 2002 so we carry the scars of past Chinese New Year’s! Because of this we always buy in lots of blank stock so if forward planning is not your forte give us a call.

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