Is it Safe to Buy Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives

As a nation of shoppers it can be difficult to resist a bargain but when it comes to buying promotional USB flash drives is it sensible to buy based on price and price alone.

When you consider that any promotional item that is printed with your company’s brand on effectively becomes an ambassador for you company it’s important that you don’t compromise on the core quality of the product by buying cheap. The odd few pennies saved here and there are nothing compared to the huge sums that are poured into brand development – don’t do it. Don’t risk your brand and your company’s image by buying and giving out cheap/shoddy products, it’s just not worth it.

Nowhere is this truer than with USB flash drives. Anyone given a printed USB flash drive is going to want to trust it to store and carry data their data on safely and securely. Expectations of how a good USB flash drive should perform will have already been set by High Street brands like Kingston, Sony or Transcend. It’s important that any printed USB flash drive you give away performs just as well as these USB sticks. The worst thing you could do is to distribute sticks that underperform, fail, crash and lose the users important data  - do this and your brand will become associated with a negative experience and this is something you want to avoid.

The core components of any UBS flash drive are:

  • The flash memory module – this is where the data is stored.
  • The controller chip – this manages and controls the access to the flash memory module.
  • The housing that encases the above components – lots of different styles and models are available.

All of these components can be purchased in different grades and from different manufacturer and as you might expect the cheaper the grade the poorer the performance and the greater the likelihood of failure.

When the flash sticks have been assembled they will all look the same and it will be difficult to tell exactly what’s inside. You might have been promised decent quality “Grade A” memory and top quality controllers but unless you perform tests on the sticks you’re not going to know what’s been supplied. A trick often used by suppliers who offer sticks at “rock bottom” prices is to supply re-cycled or masked flash memory modules.

At face value these sticks will look OK, when you plug them in they’ll appear to have the memory capacity your asked for but if you load large files onto them and then plug them into another PC the files won’t be there! Even if they do work they’re likely to have a short shelf life and fail after a few uses. A good quality flash drive should last for at least 1,000 read/write cycles and be guaranteed for a minimum of 12 months.

Promotional USB Flash Drives

If you are being offered prices below the general market price ask yourself why but more importantly ask your supplier why. Ensure you get some guarantees on the grade of chipset being used and check the credentials of the supplier.
In reality the only safe way to reduce the cost of branded memory sticks is to:

  1. Buy memory sticks with a smaller capacity, e.g. 512MB instead of 2GB.
  2. Plan ahead to ensure you allow sufficient time to get them printed at the point of manufacture e.g. in China. Rush orders mean your supplier will have to print them locally and this add to the cost significantly.
  3. Avoid times of high demand and limited supply when the prices are driven upwards. Typically this is during Chinese New Year and in the run up to Christmas.

As with everything in life you get what you pay for and promotional USB flash drives are no exception!

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