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What is a Jumpdrive?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne

JumpDrive® is a Lexar brand name for a Universal Serial Bus (USB) storage device, also called a USB flash drive (UFD). As is sometimes the case with brand names, the term is sometimes used by consumers when referring to any USB flash drive, in the same way Kleenex® is often used to refer to any brand of facial tissue. Technically, the industry refers to these devices as UFDs, though consumers are mostly unfamiliar with the acronym, more often using terms like memory stick, thumb drive, or flash drive.

A UFD is a small, portable device about the size of a lighter or package of gum. The body is an encased circuit board with a memory chip, with one end featuring an integrated USB connector. This connector can slide into a port on nearly any computer, making the drive ideal for quickly transferring data or programs. USB ports support “plug and play” functionality so that a computer does not have to reboot to recognize the device or to disconnect from it. Modern operating systems also have built-in support for memory sticks, negating the need to load device drivers.

JumpDrives are used in computers to transfer and store large amounts of data.
JumpDrives are used in computers to transfer and store large amounts of data.

A JumpDrive® has no moving parts and requires very little power. Nearly impervious to casual abuse, the UFD has replaced the less robust floppy drive and a handful of other storage, transfer, or backup devices. Memory storage varies according to model, ranging from megabytes (MB) to gigabytes (GB). Light, small and tough, flash drives are a useful compliment for any computer user.

Flash drives have replaced floppy discs.
Flash drives have replaced floppy discs.

Many newer motherboards have the option in the BIOS settings to boot from a USB drive. A bootable UFD is referred to as a “live drive.” Some flavors of popular operating systems, including a scaled down version of Linux™, are designed to work on a flash drive. Creating a live drive can be a great way to test out a new operating system without installing it on the computer’s internal hard drive.

Whether backing up data files, archiving programs, or building a portable music library, the USB flash drive is a great investment with a humble price tag. They are sold everywhere electronics are sold.

Discussion Comments


I love how cheap most jumpdrives are. I can get a 4GB jumpdrive for less than $5.

The cost goes up as the memory increases. For me, the cheap ones have plenty of space for storage, though.

I also love the fact that I can fit one in my pocket. It's so much easier than carrying around a CD or a removable disk.

@giddion – Don't feel bad. I used to be a stranger to jumpdrives, too, and my boss looked at me a little weird when I asked him where it went!

After I saw how simple they were to use, I began using them all the time. I never had to put much on one until I decided to transfer some fonts, and since I had always heard that USB jumpdrive memory was awesome, I thought I'd have room for hundreds of them.

I suppose that font files were bigger than I had assumed, because I could only fit a few dozen on the jumpdrive at a time. It took me several days to transfer all the fonts.


Jumpdrives are great if you frequently work on more than one computer. Since my dad and I have different programs on our computers and I sometimes need to use both of them, I just save my files on a jumpdrive and plug it into his computer when I need to use it.

Then, I save the altered file again on the jumpdrive and carry it over to my computer. I can go back and forth this way as many times as I need to, and I can save over the file again and again.


I can remember a time when USB jumpdrives were completely alien to me. I worked at a newspaper as a graphic designer years ago, and I had never seen one before.

A customer brought in a jumpdrive with a file on it that I needed to access in order to build her ad. I was really embarrassed, but I had to ask her how the thing worked! I had no clue where to plug it in.

I was a bit relieved that she didn't know, either. She was just the messenger. I got a coworker who was tech-savvy to show me how to use the jumpdrive.


"UFD" is not an acronym (see your own WiseGeek definition) - it's an abbreviation.


yes it can. as long as a jump drive has a virus on it and it is connected to a computer the computer will get infected.


Yes. If the jumpdrive is infected. One way to minimize this risk is to turn off Auto Play in Windows.


can a jump drive infect a computer with a virus once its plugged in and played?

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    • JumpDrives are used in computers to transfer and store large amounts of data.
      By: Aliaksandr Dobysh
      JumpDrives are used in computers to transfer and store large amounts of data.
    • Flash drives have replaced floppy discs.
      By: sdubrov
      Flash drives have replaced floppy discs.