USB Mass Storage / USB Drive-circuit
USB mass storage / USB drive
USB implements connections to storage devices using a set of standards called the USB mass storage device class (MSC or UMS). This was at first intended for traditional magnetic and optical drives and has been extended to support flash drives. It has also been extended to support a wide variety of novel devices as many systems can be controlled with the familiar metaphor of file manipulation within directories. The process of making a novel device look like a familiar device is also known as extension. The ability to boot a write-locked SD card with a USB adapter is particularly advantageous for maintaining the integrity and non-corruptible, pristine state of the booting medium.
Though most computers since mid-2004 can boot from USB mass storage devices, USB is not intended as a primary bus for a computer's internal storage. Buses such as Parallel ATA (PATA or IDE), Serial ATA (SATA), or SCSI fulfill that role in PC class computers. However, USB has one important advantage, in that it is possible to install and remove devices without rebooting the computer (hot-swapping), making it useful for mobile peripherals, including drives of various kinds (given SATA or SCSI devices may or may not support hot-swapping).
Firstly conceived and still used today for optical storage devices (CD-RW drives, DVD drives, etc.), several manufacturers offer external portable USB hard disk drives, or empty enclosures for disk drives. These offer performance comparable to internal drives, limited by the current number and types of attached USB devices, and by the upper limit of the USB interface (in practice about 30 MB/s for USB 2.0 and potentially 400 MB/s or more for USB 3.0). These external drives typically include a "translating device" that bridges between a drive's interface to a USB interface port. Functionally, the drive appears to the user much like an internal drive. Other competing standards for external drive connectivity include eSATA, ExpressCard, FireWire (IEEE 1394), and most recently Thunderbolt.
Another use for USB mass storage devices is the portable execution of software applications (such as web browsers and VoIP clients) with no need to install them on the host computer.