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Best Artwork for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 13th August 2015 | Permalink

If you want to order some USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them then expect one of the first questions from your supplier(s) to be about the quality and format of your artwork.

Whilst printed USB sticks can look amazing and there are some brilliant examples of them all over the USB2U website they’ll only look this good if you can supply decent artwork for your supplier to work with. The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is commonly by computer programmers as a mantra to remind themselves that a computer will process whatever data you load into it – the quality of the result however depends almost entirely on the quality of the code/data used.

Garbage in and garbage out can be applied just as easily to the printing of promotional USB memory sticks. Print them using low quality artwork, particularly artwork that has been digitally compressed (JPEG’s) then on the whole the results will be very poor.

So, before you think about ordering USB sticks with your logo printed on (or any promotional item for that matter) it is strongly recommended that you first make sure the logo or design you want printed can be supplied in one of the following formats:

  • EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
  • RAW (Raw Image Formats)
  • Vector File Formats

Artwork in this format will allow your logo, design or artwork to be rendered properly, printed correctly and printed to a sharpness you would expect. What you cannot do is take a JPEG image (that you have for example simply “grabbed from a web page”) and convert it to an EPS file. You need the original high quality image.

If in any doubt talk to the suppliers designer or get your designer or design agency to talk directly to the suppliers designer. It’s worth spending the time in the early stages of your order to get it right rather than be disappointed with the results when the printed memory sticks arrive on your desk!

We know that JPEG are popular and a common way of saving images from cameras (even top end cameras tend to default to JPEG images rather than RAW files) but, JPEG images (named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group who created the standard) are typically compressed to a ratio of 10:1 so you lose as much as 90% of the image content during the compression process.

This process is known as “lossy” and as the name implies when an original image is converted into a JPEG file many of the original elements of the image cannot be recovered. To the naked eye, particularly when viewed on a web page, there will be no perceptible difference to the image pre and post compression.

Compressed JPEG image files are ideal for web pages because they are smaller and therefore load more quickly but they’re rarely suitable for print, which is why we always ask our customers to supply artwork in any of the 4 image types listed above.

USB Buttons from USB2U

USB Buttons from USB2U


Re-formatting Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 14th May 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been lucky enough to be given a promotional USB memory stick then there’s a strong likelihood that it will have lots of data already pre-loaded onto it by the company who’s giving them away. Typical files pre-loaded onto a promotional USB tend to include videos, copies of presentations, product data sheets, press releases etc. etc. Usually these files are not “locked” because to do this they’d have to be loaded onto the USB sticks during the manufacturing process so, they’ll just be normal copies of files that can be deleted.

If you want to remove these pre-loaded files so that you can use all of the available space for your own data (after you have fully read and absorbed the content put on the sticks of course – it’s only polite) then it’s pretty simple.

The best way to erase all of the files on a USB memory stick (including any hidden files) is to format the stick. At the end of the format process it will be completely clean of all data and you’ll then be able to create folders and sub-folders to transfer your own personal data back into it.

Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Promotional USB Memory Sticks

To format any USB Memory Stick just follow these simple steps:

Step 1 – Transfer any Data from the USB stick to your PC

We strongly recommend that you take a copy of the files on the promotional USB stick before you format it. Just drag and drop the contents from the stick to your PC (or Mac). Formatting your USB memory stick completely erases the memory stick so if you want any of your data then its critical you copy it first. Once you’ve started the format process there is no way back so please check any copies of the data before you start the process.

Step 2 – Formatting your USB Memory Stick on a PC

This is pretty straightforward but it does worry some people because if you get it wrong you can end up formatting the hard drive of your PC (Ouch!). To get started just “click” on the Windows “Start” icon in the bottom left hand corner of your PC and then click on “My Computer” (or “Computer” in Vista or Windows 7). Once done your PC will perform a quick scan and show you all of the drives (hard drives and external memory devices like USB Sticks) installed or connected to your PC.

You need to identify the drive that has a “Removable Disk” icon. – click on it to be absolutely sure it is your USB Memory Stick. Once you are sure right-click on the “Removable Disk” label. From here you will see a small drop down menu that includes the option to “Format” – click this.

At this point a dialog box will open giving you a couple of options; Leave the “Quick Format” option unchecked because this will make sure absolutely everything is deleted and deleted without errors. Click the “Start” button on the dialog and wait for your USB memory stick to be fully formatted.
Step 3 – Re-load your files

Once your USB Memory Stick has been formatted you’ll have a blank canvas to work with. Its recommended that you then create folders and sub-folders to copy your saved data back into to and that you then get into the habit of saving your data in a structured and organised way.
If you’re a Mac user you can still format your USB Memory Stick as follows:

Load up the “Disk Utility” program. You’ll find this in the “Utilities folder” which you access via the “Applications folder”. Your USB memory stick should be in the list showing a white drive icon. Click that icon and select the “Erase” tab on the main window to start the erase (format) process.


Wedding Photographers Guide to Buying Faster USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 2nd June 2014 | Permalink

If you’re a professional wedding photographer (or any professional photographer for that matter) and you’re thinking of changing from CD’s and DVD’s in favour of USB memory sticks with your logo printed or engraved on them then there are some basic things you need to be consider before you commit to buying them:

  1. Most suppliers of memory sticks printed with a company brand or logo are supplying then as “giveaway” promotional gift – the sort of thing that are handed out like sweets at trade and retail shows. Typically these memory sticks won’t get a huge amount of usage and the demands the sticks in terms of read/write cycles (the number of times the USB sticks is used) and the read/write speeds (the speed taken to transfer files onto the USB stick) are pretty light.

    Typical read/write speeds of a “standard” promotional USB sticks can be as low as 2MB per second (write) and 6MB per second (read). Whilst this is slow it’s fine if all you’re doing is loading up a couple of sales brochures onto the sticks but, if you’re a professional photographer or wedding video company you may (depending on what you are doing with the drives) need to specify certain minimum requirements – read/write speeds, grade of memory chip etc.

  2. If you buy standard promotional USB Flash drives and you then start to load very files or lots of high quality images onto them then pretty soon you’ll notice that they’re not the quickest of products. If you’ve been used to working on Apple Mac’s and you use top end Memory Cards with fast read/write speeds, or Firewire or Thunderbolt to move data around then by comparison a promotional USB flash drive is going to be a “horse and cart”.

    For example top end SD cards or CF cards have a read/write speed of around 40MB per second – X10 times the speed of standard promotional USB flash drives. Thunderbolt is on a different planet with transfer speeds of 10GB per second!

  3. All promotional USB memory sticks will be USB 2.0 rather than the latest and faster USB 3.0 The reason is cost – USB 3.0 memory sticks are still priced at a premium so unless you ask for USB 3.0 the prices you’ll be quoted will almost universally be for USB 2.0.
  4. If speed of data transfer is an issue for you then ask for a price for USB 3.0 memory sticks – these have read write speed of around 50MB – 100MB per second so they are blisteringly quick! The downside is cost and you need a PC or Mac that is equipped with USB 3.0 USB ports to take advantage of the speed improvements. They’ll still work on USB 2.0 PC’s but only at USB 2.0 speeds!
  5. A sensible compromise if you’re looking for decent data transfer speeds it to ask for “upgraded” USB 2.0 flash drives – they’ll be a little more expensive but you should get something that has a longer warranty period and better performance with speeds closer to the High performance products sold by brands like Kingston and Lacie. Remember if you don’t ask for this you will just get “standard” promotional USB flash drives which are fine they’re just slow! By default USB2U always quote professional photographers for upgraded USB 2.0 products.
  6. Ideally talk to your supplier about what you plan to use your USB memory sticks and get them to recommend a solution. If you’ve chosen your supplier well and they know their industry they should not only be aware of the issues but they should be able to put forward a range of different solutions.
Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers


Buying Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 20th March 2014 | Permalink

It’s understandable in today’s economic climate to make sure when you’re buying promotional USB flash drives that you do your research and get the best possible price you can for the flash drives you buy. So cheap is best right? The answer is “not necessarily”.

The problem with just using cheap as the benchmark against which you make your buying decision is that it can mask all manner of other issues and the potential problems of buying “cheap” can include but are not limited to damage to your brand and reputation. Ironically often the exact opposite of what most companies are trying to do when they hand out promotional products.

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

If all promotional USB memory sticks were manufactured to the same specification and all suppliers took the same degree of care and responsibility in the supply of your order then a decision based on price would be reasonable. But, buying promotional USB flash drives is not, for example, like buying a Samsung TV of a particular model where you know exactly what you’re buying because every reseller is selling exactly the same product and you can read not only the reviews on the product but on the supplier as well!

Instead buying flash drives is a bit like entering a minefield – one wrong step and you could be looking at a very costly mistake.

Why is it so difficult? Well the fundamental problem is that although lots of USB sticks look exactly the same on the outside it’s what is on the inside that is important. Buy cheap and you’re likely to get something that looks pretty good but inside the shell will be cheap components (cheap flash memory, cheap controller chips and a cheap capacitor) that are likely to fail or will have very slow read/write speeds and might even be masked (this is an expression used to describe flash drives that have been “adapted” to make a 128MB chip look like a 4GB chip).

Over the 12 years or so we’ve been selling flash drives we’ve heard our fair share of horror stories and our advice is simple:

  1. Buy local because at least this way you can check out the supplier, you can read reviews on their service, you can spend a couple of £ and find out who’s behind the company and if things do go wrong then at least you have some recourse in law (in a jurisdiction you are familiar with).
  2. Get some assurance from your supplier on the type/quality of the components used inside their USB sticks (get this confirmed on the order as well as just the memory size).
  3. Read the terms and conditions of supply and ideally don’t part with any money until your USB sticks are ready to ship – if you have a good credit record then ask for payment terms. This way you’ll get your USB sticks before you have to pay for them and you can make sure they are exactly what you were expecting.
  4. Read the reviews sites and see what other customer are saying about the suppliers you’ve contacted.
  5. Check the length of any warranty and be clear about the process to invoke any claim under the warranty.

Yes the price is important but so is your brand so make sure you are buying from a supplier that you feel comfortable trusting your brand and your company’s reputation to.



Cheap Promotional USB Sticks Can Be a False Economy

Posted by USB2U on 1st August 2013 | Permalink

Everyone likes a bargain and it’s no different when people are shopping around for promotional USB memory sticks. The problem is when you get the prices back from the various suppliers you’ve approached how can you be sure that you’re really comparing like to like. We’re in our 11th year of supplying USB sticks and other USB products and at times we find it hard so if you’re buying them for the first time it’s incredibly easy to get bamboozled and quite frankly it’s easy to get ripped off.

Of course everyone you get quotes from is going to say that they are only supplying “new”, “Grade A” top quality products with a guarantee that’s as long as the sentence handed out to Bradley Manning by in the US this week. But, the reality is that whilst USB flash drives might look the same on the outside it’s what under the skin of them that really matters. So unless you are willing to take your USB sticks apart when they arrive it really is an act of faith that you are getting what was promised when you placed your order.

There are a few basic things you can do to protect yourself and your company – after all it’s going to be your company’s brand that’s printed on the USB sticks so if they do fail then it’s going to be your brand that takes the hit and not the brand of the USB supplier!

Our advice is as follows:

Buy Local – Of course we’re bound to say it but we strongly recommend that you buy from a local reputable supplier that has a proven and visible track record of delivery and happy customers. There are loads of review sites around today including sites like TrustPilot so use them to check what other customers are saying.

The added advantage of buying local (as opposed to buying directly from China) is that if things do go wrong then you have recourse in the UK. Trying to get a refund or resolution to a problem from a Chinese supplier you spotted on the web can be challenging to say the least!

Company checks – Do some basic checks on the company you’re planning to buy from. If you have access to Experian or Equifax run a company search. Check them out on Linkedin it’s surprising what information it can throw up.

Check the Terms & Conditions on Supply – Some companies write into their conditions that they can undersupply by as much as 5% of your order and you have no recourse.

Warranties – a lifetime warranty sound great providing the company offering it is still going to be around in 6mths or a year to honour it.

Basic Checks to do when your USB sticks arrive:

  1. Insert one into your PC or Mac and check the properties to make sure it’s the correct memory size.
  2. Load files onto the USB stick close to the stated maximum capacity of the USB stick
  3. Remove the USB stick and plug it into another PC and make sure the files you loaded are still there
  4. If they are not then it’s likely that you’ve been sold a “masked” USB stick– this basically means your say 2GB stick is only a 1GB stick that has been made to look like a 2GB. Send them back!

If you’re loading large images or videos it’s also worth checking several to make sure they have loaded properly – If the sticks have been made using cheap sub-standard components then images can have lots of white lines across them and videos either won’t work or will be very jerky.

In summary when deciding where to place your order for promotional USB memory sticks don’t just go by the headline price unless you do so in the full knowledge of the possible consequences. Ideally choose a company that has an establish pedigree and can point to lots of repeat business and will offer guarantees and warranties on their products that have some meaningful recourse.

Buying on price and price alone is an easy option but to do so is to ignore the complexities and risks of what should, on the face of it, be a simple and safe transaction.

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier for Promotional USB Memory Sticks

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier for Promotional USB Memory Sticks



Advice for Buying Branded USB Memory

Posted by USB2U on 31st July 2013 | Permalink

Branded UBS memory sticks are an excellent way to promote your business, to support the launch of a new product(s), to distribute important news and/or press releases and finally to build brand awareness and customer loyalty.

There are lots of promotional products on the market to choose from including popular products like pens, cups, bags etc. but they simply don’t offer the same level of perceived value and usefulness. Don’t just take our word for it because there are plenty of surveys available (including one from the highly regarded BPMA) that put USB sticks at the top of peoples most wanted list.

If you’ve decided promotional USB sticks are for you then there are some basic rules to follow when buying them:

  1. Take time to choose a USB stick that will work with your brand: There are hundreds, if not thousands of different styles of USB memory sticks to choose from. Most are manufactured from plastic but they are also available in metal, cardboard, wood and some are trimmed with leather.

    The most popular types tend to be “cap-less” with one particular model – “The Twister” dominating the market.

    Photographers tend to choose more “upmarket” wooden or leather drives whilst lots of conference organisers choose dual purpose products like USB writing pens and USB paper clips.

  2. Memory capacity: The general rule is to buy the largest capacity you can afford (unless you plan to simply hand them out like sweets at a show).

    If you want people to hang onto your USB sticks and continue to use them then you need to make sure there is enough memory on the sticks for their daily needs. Give them something useful – a good size to aim for is a 1GB or 2GB.

  3. Choosing the right logo to print (or engrave): If you have a complex design or logo that includes graduated colours and/or tints then you will limit the range of USB flash drive that will take this type of print. Most USB sticks only have a print area of around 2cm-3cm so unless you are willing to simplify your logo it’s not going to look great on a USB stick.If you must print a complicated logo then choose something like a USB credit card because these can take a full colour print to both sides of the card.
  4. Artwork formats:  The general rule of thumb is to supply the best (highest resolution) artwork you can lay your hands on. Ideally you need vectorised artwork in .EPS or .AI format.

    If you just “grab” a logo from your web site or PowerPoint slides the final print will look very patchy and blotchy.

  5. USB Sticks look better in a box:  By default promotional USB memory sticks are supplied “in bulk” – this normally means in simply poly bags or plain white boxes. These “protect” the sticks in transit but they don’ really add to the overall impact when you hand them out.

    There are now lots of different USB packaging options to choose from so just as you take time to think about your USB sticks take time to consider how you want them packaged. Engraved wooden boxes or printed high quality white gift boxes look fantastic and don’t add much to the overall price.

  6. Make sure you can get them delivered in time: It’s critical that you allow enough time for your USB sticks to be manufactured, printed and delivered – ideally build in a day or so contingency. The typical lead time for printed USB drives is 10 working days so use this as a general rule of thumb.

    USB2U have over 20 different models of USB sticks they hold in stock in the UK and can deliver in as little as 24hrs so start with these if you’re working to a tight deadline.

  7. Cheapest isn’t always the best: There are lots of fake and sub-standard USB drives around at the moment and unless you’re an expert it’s difficult to tell what you’re buying. Even companies that claim to offer Grade A chips are often passing off masked and re-cycled USB’s as Grade A. The usual rules apply – if it seems too good to be true it probably is.
  8. Get references: Lots of suppliers of USB memory sticks seem to pop-up overnight and many disappear just as quickly. Before you place any order ideally get references from other customers or check out 3rd party review sites like Trustpilot. At USB2U we’ve been around for nearly 11 years and in this time we’ve supplied millions of USB sticks to tens of thousands of customers. We’re also rated as “Excellent” on Trustpilot where we consistently get 5* reviews. We’re also ranked No.1 in the Promotional Items Category in the UK.
Wooden USB Memory Sticks

Wooden USB Memory Sticks


Buying Cheap USB Memory Sticks – Not for the Fainthearted

Posted by USB2U on 24th April 2013 | Permalink

If you’ve been tasked with sourcing several hundred promotional USB memory sticks for your company or school and you’re only experience of buying them is picking one up during from your supermarket or PC World then you might find the challenge a little intimidating.

Buying a large quantity of branded USB sticks is not for the fainthearted because there are lots of things to consider (and learn) and there are some real “gotchas” to be careful of.

On the face of it you might think it’s as simple as visiting a few web site and comparing prices and designs but the first thing you’ll quickly discover is that very few companies that sell promotional USB’s put any prices on their web sites and those that do typically only have a very small range and the prices will seem expensive.

The reluctance to put prices on web sites not so much to do with hiding the prices and making it harder to comparison shop rather it’s because the prices changes so frequently (daily in some cases) that it’s just not sensible to put them on any website – consequently to get prices you’ll need to fill in a quote request on every website or pick up the phone and call them.

When you do get your prices you need to be clear that you are comparing quotes on a “like for like” basis. Again, you’d think this would be straightforward but some companies will quote fully inclusive of print set-up, print, data-loading and delivery but others will unbundle some or all of these charges. Some will include different lengths of warranty and others will build in the ability to “short ship” by up to 5% with no recourse!

The real challenge is trying to work out exactly what you’re being quoted for. You’d think for example that a price for say a standard 2GB Twister Style USB stick would mean you’re getting the same product from every supplier but the reality is that whilst a USB stick might look the same on the outside it can have very different components (of different quality grades) on the inside and it’s the internal components that really determine the quality of what you’re going to be supplied with.

Inside each USB memory stick is a flash memory chip, a controller chip (which issues instructions to the flash memory), and a capacitor that manages the power used by the USB. Each of these components is, as you might suspect, available from different manufactures and you can buy “cheap” low spec versions and high performance versions (and some in between)

So, the prices you are presented with could be based on a USB stick manufactured using cheap, bottom end memory and controllers or it could be based on better quality, more stable components – unless you break the USB sticks open when they arrive or you run some diagnostics on them you’re unlikely to be able to tell!

To compound matters further it’s not unheard of for some suppliers to use “masked” memory chips – if you end up buying these then the 2GB USB sticks you think you’ve bought might actually only be 512MB or 1GB sticks that have been “masked” to look like they have 2GB of storage – difficult to spot because when they are plugged into a PC they will show 2GB of space available but if you try to load 2GB of data onto them and then take them out and plug them back in again the data won’t be there.

Masked USB memory sticks or memory sticks assembled using cheap(er) internal components will have a high failure rate, very poor read/write speeds and a short life span. But they will be cheap but like most things in life you get what you pay for!

Our advice is to buy from a local reputable supplier (check review sites to see what other customers are saying about them and the USB sticks they’ve bought from them), get as much information as you can on the technical details of the USB sticks you’re being quoted for and read any T&C’s carefully so that you understand what warranty you’re being offered, what recourse you have if things go wrong and finally test them when they arrive! Good Luck!

USB2U - Your Trusted USB Memory Sticks Supplier

USB2U - Your Trusted USB Memory Sticks Supplier


Wedding Photographers Guide To Buying Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 6th March 2013 | Permalink

If you’re a professional wedding or portrait photographer and you’re thinking about moving away from CD and DVD’s in favour of engraved or printed USB memory sticks then there are some basic facts you need to be aware of before you make the move:

  1. The vast majority of companies in the UK that supply customised USB memory sticks that are typically supplying them to schools, universities and companies that are looking for cheap promotional giveaways. Often they are used as free giveaways at open days, seminars, conferences and tradeshows and as such price tends to be key determining factor when universities and companies are buying these USB sticks

    Because price is the driver performance is sacrificed so typical read/write speeds of a “standard” promotional USB memory sticks are at best around 2MB per second (write) and 6MB per second (read). Whilst this is “OK” if all you’re doing is loading up a couple of sales brochures onto the sticks but, if you’re a professional wedding photographer and you want to load lots of high quality images onto the sticks they are unlikely to be good enough for you.

  2. If you do decided to buy standard promotional USB memory sticks rather than high specification sticks that are recommended for professional photographers then you’ll notice that they’re not the quickest of products. If you’ve been used to working on Apple Mac’s and you use top end Memory Cards in your cameras with fast read/write speeds, or perhaps you use Firewire or Thunderbolt to move data around then by comparison a promotional USB memory stick is going to be painful in the extreme!

    For example mid-range SD or CF cards have a read/write speed of around 40MB per second which is 10 times the speed of standard promotional USB memory sticks.

  3. Top end, high performance USB 2.0 USB sticks from the likes of Kingston and Transcend will have read/writes speeds of around 20MB per second which is significantly faster than the promotional versions but these high performance USB sticks carry a hefty price tag and they can’t be printed or engraved with a logo – if you use them you’ll have to settle for a USB stick that carries the manufacturers brand rather than your own.
  4. Another option is to consider getting prices for USB 3.0 USB sticks. This is the very latest USB standard and USB 3.0 sticks are capable of read/write speeds of 50 – 100MB per second. This makes them incredibly quick but they are expensive and to get the speed benefits you need to use them with a PC or Mac that has USB 3.0 ports.  They will work on USB 2.0 PC’s but only at USB 2.0 speeds!

    But, if you buy USB 3.0 sticks and you have a Mac or PC that can support them you can dramatically reduce your own data-loading times and time is a precious commodity so it’s definitely something you should think about.

  5. A compromise that lots of professional photographers settle on is to opt for a upgraded USB 2.0 flash drives – some reputable USB suppliers will proactively suggest this if they know you are a photographer. Others won’t because they know the costs will be higher and they are therefore less likely to win your business.

    Upgraded USB 2.0 flash drives will use better quality components (faster flash memory, better controller chips and better capacitors) they’ll be a little more expensive but they’ll have better performance levels, they support more read/write cycles and they’ll have a longer life – effectively you’ll be getting something close to the high performance products sold by Kingston and Lacie but without paying their prices and with the flexibility to add your brand or logo to the sticks.

  6. Remember if you don’t ask for high performance or “upgraded” USB sticks then you will just get “standard” promotional USB flash drives which are fine but they’re going to be slow!
  7. Ideally talk to your supplier about what you plan to use your USB flash drives for and get them to recommend a solution. If you’ve chosen your supplier well and they know their industry they should not only be aware of the issues but they should be able to put forward a range of different solutions.
USB Memory Sticks For Wedding Photographers

USB Memory Sticks For Wedding Photographers



Why we recommend Professional Photographers buy High Performance USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 30th August 2012 | Permalink

One of the big trends in the professional photography sector is the move to supply customer portfolios on USB memory sticks. Typically the memory sticks are printed or engraved with the photographers’ logo/brand although occasionally the sticks are personalised with their clients’ details.

A good example of this is where the sticks are personalised with details of a wedding and then photos, video clips, details of the service and the speeches are then pre-loaded onto the sticks before being sent to the wedding guests as a memento of the day.

Whilst some professional photographers still prefer to use CD’s and DVD’s the move to use USB memory sticks has been hastened by the recent drop in the price of customised USB sticks, the availability of higher storage capacity sticks and the relative ease of finding local suppliers of customised sticks. Coupled with this CD’s and DVD’s are falling out of fashion, many of the latest laptops and ultra-thin notebooks are sold without a CD/DVD reader and frankly, no matter how well you print a CD they don’t really enhance the overall value of the brand printed on them.

Custom USB flash drives on the other hand can help photographers differentiate their service, improve their image, enhance their professionalism and provide a new revenue stream.  However for this statement to be true it is important that photographers ensure they buy USB sticks that are fit for purpose – externally (apart from the aesthetics of the different casing options; leather, wood, metal, plastic etc.) all USB sticks are pretty much the same. They have a standard USB connector on one end and the internal flash memory and controller is housed inside a case and it’s the case that is printed or engraved.

The real challenge when buying custom USB sticks is to make sure that the components that are inside the case (the flash memory and the controller chip and the capacitor) are good enough to support the use that photographers will put them to. If they are not up to the job then it can take hours to load images onto them (because the read/write speeds they support will be slow) and images loaded onto them can “fragment” – see the example shown here:

Fragmented Image

What can happen without high-spec chips!

Bear in mind that most companies selling custom or printed USB flash drives are providing them to the promotional sector where “cheap” is the fundamental requirement. Typically promotional drives are bought in the thousands with an expectation that they’ll be thrown away or rarely used once given out – let’s face it a corporate sales brochure that are stored on a USB drive are  not as important as Wedding photos. Whilst the drives are still Grade A the internal components are right at the bottom end of the performance spec – If you think of it in camera terms these are like Grade A disposable cameras that you can buy for a couple of pound when what might be needed is a decent Digital SLR Nikon or Canon.

Of course if USB sticks are only going to be used to market your services then standard promotional grade versions might be fine but, if you’re entrusting them to carry important portfolios from events that can never be repeated and have a huge emotional significance then it’s worth making sure that you buy better quality sticks.

Our advice is to ask question not only about the Grade of the flash but the manufacturer of the flash memory (ideally chose a Samsung or Hynix memory and not an OEM look alike). Ask if better quality controller chips can be supplied as well and finally get details on the read/write speeds of the drives and any warranty that comes with the drives. Do remember though that warranties only get you replacement drives they won’t help deal with unhappy customers whose images are corrupted.

Finally choose a supplier with a proven track record, get views from other photographers than have bought from them, check out their Twitter feeds to see what other photographers are saying about them, check 3rd party review sites – 10 minutes homework before you buy could save hours or days of grief if you end up with the wrong product from a supplier that does not care once they have your order.


Some Tips for Photographers looking to Buy USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 15th August 2012 | Permalink

Lots of professional photographers are now looking to use printed or engraved USB memory sticks to promote their business or to use them as a convenient and attractive way of distributing their client portfolios. Even relatively small capacity USB sticks (4GB) allow photographers to make hundreds of photographs available to their clients without the hassle of printing them. This of course also gives the client the flexibility of printing their favourite shots and/or sharing them with their friends and family on social networking sites like Facebook and Google+

There are lots of “standard” USB memory sticks available from companies like Kingston and Lexar and whilst they’ll do the job they won’t exactly make anyone’s heart miss a beat when if they are given their wedding or family portfolios on one of them! Great photographs work on an emotional level so if you are going to use USB sticks it’s best to use one that looks as though some care and thought has gone into its choice, use one that reflects your own style and approach and works in harmony with your photographs and your typical clients.

Lots of wedding and “people” photographers seem to choose wooden USB sticks because they look great engraved or printed, they’re tactile and because they’re made from a natural material they just seem to work really well. Other popular choices include top end metal or leather USB sticks – the reality is if you’re handing out a portfolio that you’ve taken great care to shoot and edit then you want to hand it out on a classy looking USB stick that helps underpin what you stand for as a photographer – “bog standard” USB drives you pick up at Tesco’s or PC World just won’t cut it in a highly competitive market where reputations are hard fought for but easily lost.

USB Sticks for Photographers

USB Sticks for Photographers

When shopping for printed or engraved USB memory sticks here are some basic tips to help you:

  1. Buy a product that is fit for purpose – the vast majority of USB memory sticks suppliers are mainly selling them to companies that give will them away at trade shows and exhibitions or they might be handed out by their sales team.

    The typical read/write speeds of these “promotional USB sticks” is usually little more than 2MB per second (write) and 4MB per second (read). This is fine if they are just being data loaded with a couple of PDF sales brochures but, if you’re a professional photographer you may need to get USB sticks with better (upgraded) flash memory and better controller chips. If you don’t then be prepared to spend several hours copying your photographs onto each USB stick.

  2. Find a supplier that is well established, understands the market and works with professional photographers already – any supplier you work with  should not only be able to offer higher a range of photographer specific solutions but they should be able to talk you through the best way to package your USB sticks.
  3. Consider using USB 3.0 sticks. These have read write speed of around 50MB – 100MB per second so they are very, very fast! They will cost more than equivalent USB 2.0 sticks and to take advantage of the speeds they offer you’ll need a PC or Mac that is equipped with USB 3.0 USB ports.  Even if your clients only have USB 2.0 PC’s or Macs the sticks will still work, they’ll just work at USB 2.0 speeds. The real benefit is the time you’ll save loading the images onto the sticks.
  4. Get Mock Ups – Get your supplier to work up various mock-ups and examples for you. Again, a good supplier will have an in-house design team and they should be able to suggest and illustrate a number of options that will work with your brand or logo. Don’t pay for this. Mock-ups should be free and will not (should not) bind you to placing an order.
  5. Don’t forget the packaging – the style and type of box you choose can help lift the overall impact your USB sticks make when you hand them over to your client. Printed or engraved boxes are relatively inexpensive providing they are purchased with your USB sticks so make sure to ask about the available options.