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Political Party Conference Time – USB Sticks at the ready

Posted by USB2U on 5th October 2015 | Permalink

The political party conference bandwagon rolls on this week with the Conservatives holding their annual conference in Manchester. The anti-austerity protesters have grabbed the early headlines with a reported 60,000 people showing their unhappiness at a broad range of measures that the Conservatives are looking to introduce.

On the plus side for the Conservatives last years ban on Champagne has been lifted and the resounding victory they achieved during the last election will no-doubt ensure that the overriding mood during the conference will be hugely positive.

Of course during any conference (political or otherwise) there is much serious business to attend to and lots of information to disseminate to the attendees. The main stages and theatres at any conference tend to be surrounded by lots of “pop-up” stands organised by lobby groups, commercial organisations and groups that want to promote and sell their ideas or promote and sell their products and services.

Many of these, including at the main parties at the political conferences, will use branded USB sticks as the vehicle to disseminate their message. Historically you might have been handed a CD or DVD but today with less and less PC’s and Mac’s being sold with a built in CD/DVD reader USB sticks have become the de facto alternative.

Branded Memory Sticks for Conferences

Branded Memory Sticks for Conferences

The beauty of a USB stick is that they look great branded up with a logo and strap line and they typically have loads of digital storage (8GB is the norm these days for a give-away USB stick). This amount of storage means you can pre-load onto the stick all of your conference slides, speaker notes, video clips, marketing brochures and any press releases you might have prepared for the event.

By putting all of this information onto a USB stick there is no need to print the material, there’s less paper used and printed, less stuff to lug around in boxes, less petrol and transport costs and less waste! All these savings mean that the cost of the USB sticks can be more than offset and as a company or organisation you look much more professional, you can play the “eco card” and of course everyone loves being given a “freebie” like a USB stick!

If you’re a conference organiser you’ll find that USB sticks can be a real saviour. By digitising your content and loading it onto a USB stick you can extend your copy dealines, you can give your speakers a little more time and you can make last minute changes that you simply can’t do with printed material.

Whatever your political leaning branded USB memory sticks at a conference make sense! Order them now from USB2U – please.


5 Common Mistakes People Make When Ordering Printed USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 10th September 2015 | Permalink

Printed USB memory sticks remain one of the most popular promotional give-aways with millions being handed out every year in the UK alone. The companies that buy these USB memory sticks often leave the buying decision right until the last minute with a growing number wanting their order printed and delivered within hours rather than days or weeks.

At USB2U we’re happy to oblige and turn around orders in whatever timeframe is needed and we’re fortunate enough to be able to print (and engrave) in-house from our own stock and of course we use our own design and print team to manage the whole process – keeping everything under one roof makes life that much easier and of course we have full control over the quality of the sticks, the printing and any data-loading that might be needed.

But, to achieve the often challenging deadlines we’re set it does help if a few simple things are done in advance and during the ordering/manufacturing process. If they can be then everyone’s stress levels and heart rates will easier to manage:

Here are the five most common issues that crop up that makes life more challenging that it needs to be:

  1. Poor Artwork – garbage in garbage out is a phrase more synonymous with the computer industry but it’s equally appropriate when it comes to printing anything – if the artwork you supply is poor then then final printed product will be poor. We’re good and we have some fantastic state of the art printing equipment but even we can’t get a good print from an image “grabbed” from your website or “cut and pasted” from Microsoft Office document. Before you place your order it really helps if you could make sure you can get high quality vector artwork files in any of the following formats; .eps. .ai, .pdf, .cad or .swf.
  2. A common attempt to “work around” this request is to cheat and save a .jpg or .gif file as vector file. Sadly this won’t help – all you do is create a low quality image that will result in a low quality print.
  3. Pantone references – if you need an exact representation of the colours in your logo then we’ll need you to supply the Pantone reference numbers for each colour. Without these the only option is to “best match” the colours. If you’re using our digital print service then the colours will always be “best match” because that’s how digital printers work. If this is likely to be an issue we can silk screen print the individual pantone colours for you but we can’t do this on any of our “Rush Services”
  4. Please be available – once you have committed to an order for printed USB sticks there are several stages that your order will go through and at each stage you (or a colleague) will need to be available to sign off the proof, to sign off any data that is being loaded onto the sticks and finally to make payment for the sticks. If you or another member of your team can’t be reached it may delay things and you could miss your preferred delivery date.
  5. Delivery address – please think about where your USB sticks are going to be delivered to. We ship 99% of our orders with UPS on a next day service but if you live in certain Post Codes this actually means two days. If for example you live in the Highlands or Islands or other remote parts of the UK then allow an extra day for delivery. Equally, make sure you double check the address you supply for delivery, offer a contact phone number and make sure someone is going to be in on the delivery date to receive the printed USB sticks. If you need delivery on a Saturday then please let us know because our standard deliveries are Mon-Fri.
Printed USB Sticks

Printed USB Sticks


School DT Project Idea – Design & Build Your Own USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 9th September 2015 | Permalink

Could you be the next James Dyson or Richard Branson. Have you got an urge to design and build your own products or perhaps you’re happier dreaming up creative ways to market and sell your product ideas. Perhaps you hanker after trying out your ideas on sites like Kickstarter and trying to raise some financial backing – with the emergence of the Internet there are now loads of way to get your ideas supported.

At many schools in the UK you’ll be given the chance during your Design and Technology classes to come up with a new product idea – you’ll be challenged to design something, produce a prototype, think about the manufacturing challenges, think about your target customer(s), think about how you’ll brand it, market it, sell in and hopefully make money from it. Think of it as a Dragon’s Den for the classroom!

If you’re struggling for ideas (and lots of people do) then you might want to think of designing and building your own custom USB memory sticks? It’s easier than you might think, it’s great fun and there are lots of different creative ways to use these familiar products. USB sticks are commonly used as promotional give-aways but they are also used to load baby 3D and 4D scans onto, to load MRI scans on, to record track day data on at places like Silverstone, to market new housing developments – the list goes on and one!

A very simple idea is to just design a USB stick to be sold at your school but rather than just buying standard factory designed USB flash drives and printing your school crest or logo one why not get the sticks made in a design unique to the school. Anything is possible and some great results can be achieved relatively easily because if you can get your hands on the core components its really just an assembly job.

Inside most USB Memory Sticks are three core components; a memory module, a controller chip and a capacitor – these are typically pre-assembled onto a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and connected to a USB interface. The PCB can then be embedded into any outer casing to create a unique USB flash drive. Just like any commercially available (and assembled) USB flash drive you can buy the PCB’s in a range of memory capacities starting at 128MB all the way up to 32GB.

If you fancy having a go at building your own USB sticks (perhaps as part of a school project) then we can supply you with all the components you need including any accessories your might want for your finished product including key ring attachments, lanyards and gift-boxes.

We have a minimum order of 50 pieces for the PCB USB’s so if you did want to get a project off the ground and you’re not a school or company then get your entrepreneurial hat on and start raising the capital you need.

Build Your Own USB Stick

Build Your Own USB Stick



Wooden USB Memory Sticks – Ideal for Jenga

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

Small, uniformly shaped wooden blocks are commonly associated with the brilliant family game Jenga but at USB2U we tend to associate them with professional photographers. The reason? Well, wooden USB memory sticks have become the go to product of choice for the majority of thousands of professional photographers that we supply.

We’re don’t think it’s because as a sector they’re all secret Jenga fans who while away hours furtively playing Jenga with each other in secret club venues. No, we think they’re buying the wooden USB sticks because they look and feel fantastic, because they’re not the sort of thing you can get down your local Tesco store and because when combined with an attractive gift box they make a brilliant “package” to hand a professional portfolio out on.

USB Jenga

USB Jenga – Wooden USB Sticks

Wooden USB sticks have undergone a bit of a renaissance lately with interest fuelled by their strong “eco” credentials and the launch of lots of new designs and styles but it’s the photography sector that have really taken them to their hearts.

If you check out our Facebook page, our Flickr pages or our Pinterest pages you’ll see loads of great example of our wooden drives – some printed but most engraved with nearly all of them supplied in one of our range of complimentary wooden gift boxes. Lots of the photos are sent to us by delighted photographers who have gotten great feedback from their clients – we’re always delighted to get these photos and happy (with permission) to share them.

Wooden USB Memory Sticks

Wooden USB Memory Sticks

As you can see from the images we supply a range of different styles and most of them come in a light wood or dark wood option (all from sustainable sources) and some are available made from bamboo – an ideal choice if you really want to push the eco message.

If you choose a wooden USB flash drive you don’t have to compromise of storage capacity or performance – they are available in memory sizes from 128MB all the way up to a massive 32GB. The ones we supply to the photography sector all have upgraded components (flash memory modules, controller chips and capacitor) or they can be supplied as a USB 3.0 drive (the latest and fastest USB specification)

To really appreciate just how good these products are it’s worth seeing them in the flesh. Ask our team to send you some samples – get enough and you’ll be able to play Jenga (actually, no, don’t do that we don’t want to encourage that)

USB2U Wooden USB Memory Sticks

USB2U Wooden USB Memory Sticks


Financial Crisis in China no risk to USB Stick supply but Forthcoming Holidays are

Posted by USB2U on 25th August 2015 | Permalink

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks you’ll have noticed there’s a little bit of trouble brewing in China – the financial markets are in turmoil, share prices are in freefall and its anyone’s guess where its all going to end. Depending on what you read or who you believe it could be anything from a bit of a “bump” to financial Armageddon!

Damian McBride a former advisor to Gordon Brown appeared to suggest that the stock market dip could lead to global civil disorder or other situations where it would be unreasonable for someone to leave the house. Amongst his many suggestions is stocking up on bottled water and tinned food!

One of the many things China needs to do to address its current problem is to continue trading and demonstrate strength in its own capabilities as the manufacturing powerhouse in the world. The global centre for the production of Promotional USB Memory Sticks is in Shenzhen City in Guangdong Province, China and the USB factories have continued to churn out USB sticks in the tens of thousands every day during the “crisis”.

The clear message coming from the USB memory sticks factories is that its business as usual!

BUT, and it it’s a big BUT there is a something looming on the near horizon that will bring production to a grinding halt and that’s the National Holiday. From the 27th September to 8th October China effectively closes for business. Nothing will get manufactured, nothing will get shipped and no new orders will be accepted.

Irrespective of the turmoil in financial markets China is going on holiday!

So, if you are thinking of ordering some promotional USB memory sticks for an event in late September or October then you either need to get your order in now (so your sticks can be produced and shipped before the holidays start) or you may have to wait until the factories return after their holiday – if you take the risk and wait do bear in mind that it takes a couple of weeks for the factories to catch up with the inevitable backlog that will have built up!

As usual during these holidays we’ll be stocking up on a wide range of blank USB sticks that we can print/engrave in-house. This allows us to continue to offer a 24hr “rush service” but of course it will be on a much narrower range of products than shown on our website.

We’ll also be “tweeting” out lots of offers and promos during the holidays so it might be worthwhile following us on your Twitter account if you’re not doing so already.

Choppy waters for USB Stick Supply

Choppy waters for USB Stick supply


Limited Time offer – FREE Printed USB Gift Boxes with Our Glide USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 18th August 2015 | Permalink

We’re expecting this offer to be popular so if you want to take advantage of this cracking deal then you’ll need to move quickly. We’re only running it until the end of August and then if you want printed USB gift boxes with your order after this date our usual charges will apply.

It’s not just “Free” printed magnetic boxes that are included in the offer. Order our popular Glide USB memory stick before then end of August 2015 and we’ll upgrade your order to our “rush” 5 day service, we’ll print them on both sides (for free) and if you need a bit of help with the artwork set-up we can do that to!

The only catch is that there is a minimum order of 25pcs but with prices for 4GB Glide USB sticks in the offer starting at £4.65 for 25 and dropping to £2.20 for 500 or more any order is hardly going to break the bank!

We always advocate buying your promotional USB sticks with gift boxes because they look much more professional supplied this way. If you don’t order gift boxes then we supply them in a thin polythene bag as standard but these bags are really just to protect the print on the sticks and make sure they don’t get scratched in transit.

The most popular USB Gift box we sell is the one included in this offer – the magnetic clasp box. These attractive boxes are strong, robust, they are easy to open and they stay firmly shut when closed by virtue of the integrated magnetic clasp.

Typically (and it’s the case with this offer) these magnetic clasp boxes are supplied with a custom foam insert that’s precision cut to match the shape of the USB flash drive that it’s used with. This not only helps with the overall presentation but also keeps the USB disks firmly in situ when they are transported or mailed out.

You could simply repeat the logo or design you’re having printed on the stick printed on to the top of the gift box or you might choose to use the larger print space available on the box to print a broader marketing message – there is NO charge for having a different image printed on the boxes!

The list price of our magnetic clasp boxes starts at 40p each (unprinted) so there’s a huge saving with this deal – whilst it lasts!

Free USB Gift Boxes

Free USB Gift Boxes Offer from USB2U



What Happens to Your USB Stick Order Before we send it out

Posted by USB2U on 14th August 2015 | Permalink

When you order promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U you need to be confident that what you’ve ordered is what actually arrived. Before we even start the production of your order we’ll have taken you through a comprehensive mock-up and proofing process because it’s easier for everyone to make sure things are right before any production takes place.

Despite these rigorous pre-production checks we also put every single order through a very comprehensive set of post-production checks before it leaves us. To be fair it’s not a popular job because it can be a bit tedious but in a crowded and highly competitive market it’s incredibly important to us. After all, we want our customers to come back to us and we want them to be delighted with their order from USB2U.

Around 50% of our customer orders are “finished” (printed, engraved, data-loaded and packed) before they leave our factory in China and because of this lots of QA checks are done in the factory. BUT, in addition to the QA checks that our factory make our own Operations and Fulfilment team carry out the following additional checks before any order (including the other 50% of orders that are finished in the UK) leaves our hands:

  1. Every carton of USB sticks that arrive from our Chinese factory is thoroughly checked to make sure nothing has been damaged in transit. We look for anhy obvious signs of “crushing” and photographs are taken to record any damage or loss. If anything is found to be damaged or missing (it does happen albeit rarely) then we’ll alert the factory and ask them to prepare and ship replacements and we’ll notify the customer of any potential shortfall in their order. Where we can we’ll replace any damaged sticks from our UK stock so our customers are not inconvenienced.
  2. Every printed or engraved USB stick is checked visually against the signed off proof to make sure that it’s the right colour, that its printed correctly (the right colour, in the right place, in the right orientation and finally that there are no spelling mistakes). If accessories have been ordered, e.g. key rings or lanyards then we’ll also make sure these are attached.
  3. A random sample from each order (several samples if it’s a large order) is checked using the latest Trend Micro anti-virus software – this is particularly important where we have been provided with data to pre-load onto the USB sticks.
  4. A sample of each order is checked to ensure that the internal flash memory is the correct size. If a customer has ordered 8GB USB memory sticks we check to make sure the drives are 8GB.
  5. Assuming all of the above tests and checks are passed we record who undertook the various checks and then we carefully box up the order in a robust USB2U box. Whilst doing this we’ll count the USB sticks to make sure the correct number are being sent out and finally we’ll pop into the box a packet of sweets by way of a “thank you”!

We’ve been supplying branded and promotional USB flash drives since 2002 and these processes have been put in place and refined over the last 13 years to ensure that our customers can be confident that they get exactly what they have paid for every time.

QA Checked By USB2U

QA Checked By USB2U


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


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


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.