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Posts Tagged ‘printed’

Wooden USB Flash Drives should you Engrave or Print them

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Some of our most popular USB flash drives at the moment are our wooden versions. It’s not just professional and wedding photographers that are buying them either (although they do buy a significant number) but a growing number of large corporate companies that like the “eco-credentials” of the wooden and bamboo USB sticks we sell.

We have eight different wooden and bamboo styles to choose from and they typically come in dark and light wood options and of course they come in a wide range of memory sizes typically starting at 128MB and going all the way up to 32GB. The most popular models are our Woodland USB Flash Drive and our Wooden Twister USB Drive.

Wooden-USB-Twister-Printed

Wooden-USB-Twister-Printed

The Woodland version is rectangular, incredibly tactile and the cap is held in place with two small discrete magnets that are carefully recessed into the cap. The Twister version has no cap to lose, it’s a little smaller than the Woodland but it has equally strong eco-credentials and style.

The biggest decision facing anyone buy any of our wooden USB models is whether to get their logo printed onto the USB stick or engraved onto the USB stick – both options (as the images here illustrate) produce excellent results but they have their own benefits:

Woodland Engraved USB Sticks

Woodland Engraved USB Sticks

Engraving onto a wooden product somehow just seems the right thing to do, it seems more sympathetic to the core product and because no ink is being applied to the product it maintains the integrity of any “eco” message that you want to push.  You also get a very tactile finish and robust finish that isn’t going to chip or fade.

The compromise though is that no colours are involved when they are laser engraved – the image is created by cutting away at the surface of the wood and because of this you will get some variation across the USB sticks – this is simply because you’re dealing with a natural material with different grain effects and slight variations in colour. Arguably this adds to the appeal albeit some “brand managers” are put off by the absolute lack of control you get with engraving on wood.

If you want the benefits of a wooden promotional USB stick but you need your logo reproduced in full colour then you’ll need to opt for the printed option – the results can look striking and they’ll keep the brand police happy. The only compromise is that the print will eventually chip off unlike an engraved logo which is there to stay!

Whichever option you choose we can typically supply these from UK stock in as little as 24hrs! Call us for latest availability and prices.

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Wedding Photographers Guide To Buying Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

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

 

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Professional Photographers – USB Lambs to the Slaughter

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

With more and more professional photographers taking the plunge and abandoning CD’s and DVD’s in favour of branded USB memory sticks the challenge for them is to make sure they get a product that is fit for purpose.

It’s far too simplistic to just take to the web, punch in the term “branded USB sticks” into a search engine, select a few suppliers, get quotes from them and go with the cheapest quote.

The problem with this approach is that the vast majority of printed (or engraved) USB stick suppliers are principally supplying products that are designed for the promotional sector – in other words whilst they may look great the core components of the USB sticks are usually towards the bottom end of the speed and reliability curve.

As a professional photographer when you’re looking to buy a PC or Mac you don’t just look at the outer case and make a buying decision based on how pretty it looks, you quite rightly want to know how much memory it’s got, how much RAM it has, what graphics card it has, whether it has a decent processor and what storage the HDD has.

When you’re buying printed USB sticks that will carry your brand on you need to adopt the same approach to buying them as you would to buying a new PC or Mac – don’t just think about the outer case (the outer shell of the USB stick), make sure the internal components are going to be up to the job.

Inside a USB stick are three key element; the flash memory, the controller chip and the capacitor. The quality and grade of all of these can vary. Some are branded (Hynix, Samsung, Toshiba) others are cheaper OEM products – these components will determine the read/write speed of the USB stick, the reliability of the USB stick and ultimately how long it will last (the number of read/write cycles it can support before it fails)

If you buy on price and price alone then typically you’ll end up with a USB stick that was designed to support the general promotional sector: OEM flash, OEM controller and cheap capacitor. Hopefully all Grade A, but often (despite promises to the contrary) they will be Grade B recycled components.

They’ll more often than not work and they’ll be fine for a few small PDF’s but put them under any pressure with lots of large image files or videos and you’ll soon notice that they start to fail at an alarming rate – tell tale signs are images that break up, images that have lines across them, videos that won’t load or run or images that look as though they saved OK but aren’t there when you re-insert the USB stick.

The only way to avoid these problems and is adopt the right mindset when you start the buying process:

  1. Don’t necessarily buy the cheapest USB sticks you can find. There’s normally a reason why they are so cheap.
  2. Buy from a local supplier that has a strong reputation (ask other photographers for their views and recommendations)
  3. Make sure you have guarantees for any purchase you make – 5 years should be the minimum.
  4. Try and get a clear statement about what memory and controller will be inside any USB drives you buy.
  5. Specify faster read/write speeds – promotional versions tend to have slow read/write speeds.
  6. Think about upgrading to USB 3.0 – this will guarantee you a high performance product but do expect to pay a higher price. Also bear in mind that most of your customers won’t have a PC that is USB 3.0 enabled so they won’t see any real performance improvements.

Do all of this whilst at the same time educating yourself about exactly what a USB stick is and you won’t become another photographer that has a difficult first foray into the USB market.

Wooden USB Memory Sticks

Wooden USB Memory Sticks

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Black NAND USB Flash Memory Sticks – What’s That All About

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

If you’ve been shopping around looking to buy printed USB memory sticks lately then you’ll no doubt have been pleasantly surprised by the number of companies that can now offer you a solution albeit you might have been left more than a little confused by some of the pricing on offer.

Our own research suggests that the price for USB memory sticks (printed or engraved) can vary wildly with some suppliers using the old favourite of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) to justify their own high prices. Comments that “black NAND” is often used by some suppliers and helps them drive down prices are designed to spook the buyer and encourage them to commit to higher priced products. But, are such suggestions fair and justified and just what is black NAND?

From the outside, apart from the aesthetics of the design, all USB memory sticks look equal but the real difference between them is often “under the skin”. It’s a bit like buying Ferrari from a non-Ferrari dealer without checking the engine specification only to find when it arrives that it’s powered by a Ford Focus engine. Sure it will look the part but it’s not exactly what you paid for and not exactly what you were expecting.

To continue the motoring analogy further if the USB memory sticks supplied were manufactured using black NAND then it’s likely that the engine would have failed Ford’s QA tests and was downgraded from a 1.6L to a 1.0L. Black NAND memory is not exactly re-cycled it’s just a memory chip that might have been destined to have been say a 2GB flash module but some elements of it failed the QA so it ended up as 1GB instead – it’s still new memory but it’s rejected memory because it’s not the original 2GB it was supposed to be. Because of this black NAND memory is cheaper and can occasionally have poorer performance and reliability issues.

The key thing when you’re looking to source printed or promotional USB memory sticks is to think about what you need – do you need Grade A, top quality, high speed flash drives that are underpinned with a good warranty from a top supplier or for your particular application perhaps it won’t matter if a small number of the flash drives fail and the read/write speeds of the drive are not particularly quick. If the latter is the case then you can simply buy on price and price alone. If the former is more the sort of thing you’re after then it’s critical that you get your prospective suppliers to define exactly what you’ll be getting – if you don’t do this you simply won’t be comparing “apples with apples”.

If you’re still not sure it’s always worth checking out 3rd party review web sites like Trust Pilot to see what other customers are saying about the service and product they get from any particular supplier of USB memory sticks.

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Some Great Packing Options for Printed USB Credit Cards

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Printed USB credit cards and printed USB business cards are incredibly popular at the moment. Partly it’s because they are a little bit different from the general range of USB memory sticks on offer and partly it’s because they allow you to print much larger images with much greater clarity.

The fact that they are only 2mm thick and therefore slip easily into a purse or wallet designed to take a regular credit card or business card also adds to their appeal. Surprisingly given how slim they are they still come in memory sizes all the way up to a whopping 16GB which is more than the storage that you used to get on some PC’s only a few years ago!

USB Credit Card Magnetic Boxes USB2U

USB Credit Card Magnetic Boxes USB2U

When these USB cards are printed to look just like a regular business card they typically have contact details on one side and the company logo and information on the other but unlike regular paper or card business cards the USB versions can also have lots of information about the company pre-loaded onto the card before they are handed out. This makes them particularly good for use at  trade shows and exhibitions because instead of printing and transporting lots of glossy brochures and then stapling a business card to them the business card has the brochure, web site details, video clips etc. pre-installed onto it!

Getting USB cards pre-loaded with brochures and other files is typically free providing you have the information ready before the cards are produced but even if you can’t get the information this early in the process the post-production cost to load data is only pennies.

USB Credit Card Wallets

USB Credit Card Wallets

If you really want to push the boat out with your USB cards then you can order them with a number of different packing solutions. Some of the more popular are plastic magnetic clip boxes and black leather style wallets. Both of these protect the card and certainly add to the overall aesthetic of the card as a “gift”. The plastic clip boxes are transparent so the logo of any printed USB card inserted in them can still be seen quite clearly but they are a little heavier and bigger than the leather style wallets that slip tightly around the USB cards.

Both options are available from USB2U. The magnetic boxes can be printed as well and the cards and boxes are available as part of USB2U’s standard rush service.

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Usain Bolt is Quick But We Reckon We Could Beat Him Printing USB Sticks

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

With the 100m Gold Medal from the London 2012 Olympics already in the bag and the 200m Gold Medal  looking nailed on (unless his training partner and fellow Jamaican, Yohan Blake can throw a spanner in the works) Usain Bolt is once again destined to be crowned the fastest man on the planet.

All eyes will be on him this evening to see if he can break the 19 second barrier in the 200m final and such has been his form in these Olympics that it would take a brave to bet against him pulling it off.  As Bolt himself said to journalists after winning the 100m Gold on Sunday;  “I really want to do something special in my 200m,” The world waits with baited breathe.

At USB2U we’ve got a few athletes amongst us; some of us are no slouches on a bike, we’ve got a couple of pretty good tennis players in the team and a good number of us work out regularly in the gym (does that count?) but in all honesty none of us, even in our wildest dreams, are ever going to challenge Usain Bolt in a sprint event. But, put us on our “turf” (printing USB flash drives) and we reckon we could beat him.

For the last year we’ve invested in the best print (and engraving equipment) money can buy, we’ve put ourselves though rigorous daily training sessions and we’ve worked long into the night and at week-ends to hone our skills. We’ve taken the advice of local nutritionists and adjusted our diets and we are now as fit as a USB print team can be. We like to think of ourselves more like the British rowing teams – honed to perfection, focused and pulling (or is that printing) in the same direction.

Whilst there are no Olympic medals on offer for us we treat every day as if we were rowing at Eton Dorney or on the track at the Olympic Stadium. Our “Gold Medal” is turning around orders for printed (and engraved) USB memory sticks in the quickest time possible and we’re confident that if there was an Olympic event for this that we’d win. The French might claim foul and challenge the superiority of our equipment, the Chinese would be a stern test but the Australians on current form would be a pushover.

Why are we so confident? Well, we are now consistently taking orders for printed USB sticks from customers in the afternoon, creating mock-ups and proofs and then printing the sticks within a couple of hours and then delivering the same USB sticks the following morning.  Our best total elapsed time from order to completed (printed) USB sticks is under 1hr! Beat that Usain!

So, whilst we’re clearly never going to win Gold in any sprint event we like to think that we could beat the best in the world at printing USB memory sticks – not sure? Then put us to the test, we like a challenge but don’t make it this evening because we’ll be watching a certain Jamaican athlete strut his stuff like only he can do.

USB Olymipic 200 meters results

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Photographers Love Black Flip Boxes for their USB Sticks

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

If you’re a professional photographer and you’re thinking of buying some USB memory sticks printed with your logo or name on then you’re in good company! Given the number of enquiries we are getting at the moment it seems like the initial trickle of photographers abandoning CD’s and DVD’s in favour of more stylish and professional looking USB sticks has become a torrent.

The rush to USB sticks has been fuelled partly by the recent dramatic fall in the price of the larger 8GB and 16GB sticks (some of these have dropped in price by 50% and more over the past few months) and partly by increased competition in the professional photography market.

Photographers Choice of USB Memory Sticks

Photographers Choice of USB Memory Sticks

If you’re a professional photographer and you want to stand out from the crowd then a good quality and well packaged printed USB memory stick can really help. Not only do they look professional but they’re a great way to promote your name/brand, they’ll inevitably get passed around giving you plenty of exposure and of course you’ll be able to generate an additional revenue stream by selling them.

Whilst USB sticks on their own look good they look even better when made available in a custom branded gift box. The most popular option with photographers at the moment is our Black Flip Box with a custom black foam insert to match the chosen design of flash drive. The box can be printed (as shown) or we can engrave (etch) the lid as well which looks stunning.

The black boxes seem to work particularly well with our range of metal and wood flash drives. The overall package of a metal or wooden flash drive in a black gift box just looks classy and expensive. Even the best packaged CD or DVD is going to look dated alongside any of these options.

USB Sticks and Boxes for Professional Photographers

USB Sticks and Boxes for Professional Photographers

We carry lots of the USB flash drives in stock (including the wooden) options and we can print or engrave these and supply them in less than 24hrs if you’re in a hurry. We also carry lots of different packaging options (black boxes, tin boxes, magnetic clasp boxes and plain white cardboard boxes) many of which we can also brand and supply with your preferred USB sticks – just call us for details.

Of course, whilst supplying your images in this way will undoubtedly lift your profile and add to the overall professionalism of the service you offer there is no substitute for experience, natural flair and your ability behind a lens. Fantastic USB sticks might help you drive more sales and generate more revenue but it’s the quality of the photographs that will keep customers coming back for more.

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The Chronology of a Rush Request for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

If you find yourself up against a tight deadline for printed USB memory sticks then it’s worth knowing that USB2U offer a “rush” service that can often deliver them in under 24hrs. So whether you’ve been let down by another supplier, you simply “forgot” to order them or more likely your boss has decided at the last minute that printed USB sticks would be a good idea, don’t panic, there is typically always a solution.

Fortunately at USB2U we carry lots of blank stock (different models in different memory sizes) and we can print, engrave and load data in house so we have complete control of the end to end process. Because of this we can typically flex our print schedule to help customers who are in a real bind and need their flash drives the very next day.

Below is a real-life example of how we helped a rescue a London Agency who at the last minute realised they needed branded (and dataloaded) USB Sticks for a press event being run by one of their blue-chip clients the following day:

Day 1 – 3.00pm

Customer calls asking if there is any way we could print 250 x 2GB USB sticks with their clients’ logo and get them delivered to central London before noon the following day? Oh, and all 250 USB sticks also need pre-loading with a series of PDF’s PowerPoint Slides and a short video.

Day 1 – 3.10pm

The account manager checks with the design/print team to see if we can schedule the job and checks with the data loading team to see if they can “squeeze in” a last minute job. Everyone is up for it but with only 2hrs before our courier collects it’s going to be tight so to be on the safe side we agree with the customer that a same day van can be organised for the morning.

Day 1 – 3.20pm

Customer signs off the order confirmation form and emails through their artwork and data and arranges payment by credit card.

Day 1 – 3.30pm

Our designers send a mock-up back to the customer of how their printed USB sticks will look – all approved.

Day 1 – 4.00pm

All 250 USB sticks have had the customers files copied onto them and they are passed to the print team.

Day 1 – 4.45pm

The USB sticks are printed as per the mock-up

Day 1 – 4.50pm

The printed and data-loaded USB sticks are QA checked, virus checked and individually packed into small polythene bags. The order is then finally packed into a USB2U carton, a small “thank you” card and pack of Haribo sweets is include with the order.

Day 1 – 5pm

The customers boxed order for 250 printed and data loaded sticks is collected by our overnight courier just 2 hours after the initial enquiry. The customer is sent the tracking details by email (the order has been sent on a pre-noon service) and the same day van that was put on “standby” is cancelled.

Day 2 – 11am

The printed USB sticks are delivered to the Press Event venue in Central London and the day is saved! The London Agency and their client are delighted and just a little bit stunned that in just 20hrs from making a phone call they have the branded USB sticks they wanted.

Now, ideally we’d like a little more time to perform these miracles but we have proven time and time again that it is possible. Every day we print and data load USB sticks for delivery the following day, most customers call in the morning rather than at 3pm in the afternoon and these extra few hours do help but if you are really, really up against it then call us – we like a challenge and we’ll do everything we can reasonably do to help.

Rush Service USB Flash Drives

Rush Service USB Flash Drives

 

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New Apple Macbooks Ship with USB 3.0 – Flash Drives Still Lag Behind.

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Earlier this week Apple took the wraps off new versions of its range of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air range of laptops and for anyone with a penchant for speed they’ll have been delighted to hear that every model across the range now ships with USB 3.0.

In fact not only are they shipping with USB 3.0 but Apple have included two USB 3.0 ports on every MacBook (Pro and Air) as well as at least one Thuderbolt port.

The inclusion of USB 3.0 is as significant and the exclusion of any USB 2.0 ports that we’ve all become familiar with over the past 5 years or so. But given that you can still plug any old USB 1.x or USB 2.0 product into a USB 3.0 port then it makes sense if you’re going to commit to USB 3.0 to drop the earlier versions completely.

USB 3.0 has been a long time coming. Development started on the new standard in 2007 to have the same ease-of-use and plug and play capability offered by USB 2.0 but with a whopping 10X performance increase in data transfer rates. The speed improvements are achieved by using a technology that has been dubbed “SuperSpeed” – this allows multiple streams of data transfer and boosts its peak bandwidth to 4.8 Gb/s (~572 MB/s).

USB-3.0 Flash Drives

USB-3.0 Flash Drives

To put the speed improvements into context if you transferred 100 albums from a MacbookPro to and iPod using a USB 2.0 the transfer would take around 2 minutes but if you use USB 3.0 (then assuming everything in the chain uses USB 3.0) then the transfer drops to around 15 seconds!!

The only slight challenge in the short term is to get the benefit of speed improvements on offer from USB 3.0 everything you use must be USB3.0 (cables, peripherals, ports etc.) If anything uses the older, slower standard (2.0) then you simply won’t get the speed benefits but at least things will still work/transfer – just more slowly!

Like any new technology there is always a premium to pay for being one of the first to buy it so for the next year or two or so expect to pay more for USB 3.0 cables, USB 3.0 peripherals and USB 3.0 flash drives.

Whilst USB 3.0 flash drives continue to attract a premium price they are unlikely to be used for promotional purposes.  There is simply no point in paying a premium for a product that for most people will only work at the slower speeds. For the foreseeable future your average PC (and Mac) user will, unless they have invested in a new MacBook, happily continue to work at USB 2.0 speeds. So whilst there is lots of buzz and interest in USB 3.0 it’s not really relevant if you want to buy printed flash drives to give away at a trade show, an event or an seminar (unless you are giving them away to an audience of hard core, early adopter “techies”).

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USB2U Adds More USB Flash Drives to its “Printed in 24Hrs Service”

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

If you need printed USB flash drives in a hurry then there are very few UK suppliers that can help. Lots offer a “fast” or “rush” service but the reality is that typically means a 5-day wait which is hopeless if you really do need them quickly. After all, if you’re looking to get them at the very last minute then you’re more often than not going to want them the next day (or at the very least within 48hrs) and you’re going to want a fair degree of certainty that nothing is going to delay their delivery.

If the “rush” service you’re being offered is based on products being airfreighted in from China (where most of the flash drives are manufactured) then alarm bells should ring – not because the supplier is necessarily being disingenuous but simply because products imported in a hurry are always subject to potential freight and customs delays and no matter how good the supplier is they have no control over these issues.

Remember the travel chaos caused during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. It wasn’t just passengers that were delayed but freight as well (including branded USB sticks). It’s also likely that Customs inspections will increase in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics again leading to delays.

So, if you need printed USB sticks in a hurry your safest bet is to use a supplier that holds stock in the UK, can print in the UK and can turn the stock around in 24-48hrs. USB2U is one such supplier and up until now it has offered its USB credit card, Twister, Chic and Trident models on a 24hr service. Today it has added its Probe model (see image below) to the growing portfolio of sticks that are now available on a genuine “rush” service.

Probe UBS Flash Drive - Printed and Delivered in 24hrs

Probe UBS Flash Drive - Printed and Delivered in 24hrs

As well as a growing range of styles that are available to order USB2U also hold them in a range of different colours and memory sizes so you’ll have lots of choice and as you can tell from their TrustPilot feedback they don’t sacrifice quality for speed.

USB2U – the first choice for anyone looking for USB flash drives (in a hurry or otherwise).

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