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TLC chip USB flash drive really has a short life? Just use it this way if you want it to function longer
post @ July 28, 2021 09:09 George Wiseman

TLC chip USB flash drive really has a short life? Just use it this way if you want it to function longer

Have you ever bought a USB flash drive in a small shop on the side of the road and it just break down after maybe used for only twice? Have you ever won a company-customized USB flash drive that cost you a whole year of luck in an event such as an annual meeting, but later pissed at its quality? Well, if you have the above unfortunate experience, then you should know that USB flash drives also have good ones and bad ones, and the most important part is the USB flash drive chip...  

There are currently two types of mainstream USB flash drive chips. One of them is a mid-range MLC chip, which can be completely flashed for more than 3000 times; the other one is a low-end TLC chip, which generally can only be flashed for about 300-500 times. As long as it is a normal retail USB flash drive, we can generally use the ChipEasy program to detect whether the chip used by the USB flash drive is a cheap TLC or a reliable MLC.


The advantages and disadvantages of USB flash drive with TLC chip

There is only one advantage in TLC chip USB flash drives, that is, it is cheap and can reduce the production cost of the USB flash drive.

In fact, there is only one shortcoming TLC chip USB flash drives, that is, the number erasing and writing time is relatively small, which, in plain word, means it is relatively short-lived. 

At present, the flash memory chips used in the fingerprint USB flash drive products produced by mrt3c are all Samsung MLC’s original Class A chips. Reading speed and writing speed: Tested with H2testw v1.4, the writing speed of Samsung MLC: 4.28-5.59 MByte/s, reading speed: 12.2-12.9 MByte/s. The write speed of Samsung SLC: 8.5MByte/s, reading speed: 14.3MByte/s.

TLC chip USB flash drives are really short-lived?

Maybe many friends will ask, are TLC chip USB flash drives really short-lived?

The answer is rather relative. Compared to those bad quality USB flash drives that has expanded capacity or chips with quality problems, the USB flash drives with TLC chips are actually quite long-lived. At least a TCL with more than 4G capacity will never have any quality issues when used in a normal way.

But when compared to those USB flash drives with MLC chips, the USB flash drives with TLC chips are much short-lived. If other faults are eliminated, the lifespan of an MLC chip USB flash drive is 5 to 10 times longer than that of the TLC chip USB flash drive.

Let's put it in another way.

For people who frequently erase and write data every day, the "TLC" USB flash drive is really short-lived. Assuming it is erases and wrote twice a day, it would be scrapped in less than a year... After writing this down, I suddenly know why some USB flash drives only have one year warranty.

But for users who barely uses USB flash drives in a week, assuming twice a week, a low quality "TLC" USB flash drive can last 250 weeks, which is about 5 years. After writing this down, I suddenly realized why the USB flash drive can have warranty for up to 5 years.

What does it mean that the "TLC" USB flash drive can only be written 500 times?



"TLC USB flash drive" can only be written 500 times, but it doesn't mean that the USB flash drive is scrapped after it is unplugged and inserted for 500 times! For a simple example, suppose we have an 8G USB flash drive, write 8G into it, count it as the first time; clear and write in 3G, count it as the second time, clear and write in 5G, still count as the second time; write in 1G again, now it is counted as the third time.

To understand it from another angle, assuming that an 8G USB flash drive can only be erased and written for 500 times in a lifetime, then theoretically, this USB flash drive can load 4000G files repeatedly in its lifetime. And the USB flash drive with MLC chip can load at least 24,000G to 80,000G in its lifetime. This is why we say the USB flash drive with TLC chip is relatively short-lived.

There is a huge drawback in the USB flash drive with TLC chip

In fact, there is a problem with the TLC chip USB flash drive that everyone ignores, that is, if you repeatedly delete and write data to the same area of ​​the USB flash drive chip (the USB flash drive does not have a write balance algorithm), once the number of times reaches 300-500, then this USB flash drive is almost dead (maybe it can be read normally, but it may not be able to continue to write data)...

 Of course, we can bring the USB flash drive back to life by "mass production" USB flash drive (automatically shield those bad areas in the chip).

Although the chips used in SSD and USB flash drive are the same in some way, SSD will automatically balance writing blocks, and USB flash drive will not. Therefore, this is the reason why TLC is said to have shorter lives.

Will it affect the life of the "TLC" USB flash drive if it is only be read but not be written?

The life of the USB flash drive is only related to erasing and writing, not to reading. Therefore, theoretically, no matter how many times you read the USB flash drive, as long as the quality of the USB flash drive is ok, the USB flash drive chip will be fine, and the USB flash drive will be fine too. (Remember, this is theoretically speaking)

How to extend the life of TLC chip USB flash drive?

If there is a way to extend the life of the TLC chip USB flash drive, there is only one, that is, do not delete data after writing it down, delete them all after the memory is full, or just directly format it (equivalent to a one-time complete erasing). This can avoid the possibility of repeatedly writing data on a certain location.

How to choose a non-TLC chip USB flash drive?

At the end, let me tell you about my experience of buying a USB flash drive.

For men and women who like good-looking things, there is only a little experience -- buy the one that you think is pretty.

For netizens who like to be tricked by professionals like me, the advice is, ask the customer service about which chip the USB flash drive chip uses, TLC or MLC, and then take a look at the USB flash drive writing and reading speed test list posted by other netizens.

It is important to ask questions before buying a USB flash drive

Take a look at the USB flash drive writing and reading speed test list posted by other netizens

There is another experience for reference. The writing speed of an ordinary USB flash drive under USB 2.0 is generally only 5M/s. USB flash drives that can run at 8M/s is of high-quality, if the speed is 10M/s, it is sure the best! Because many USB flash drives that support USB3 cannot reach 10M/s (the editor myself have one of this crap).

George Wiseman Recommended articles at 2021-09-26

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post @ July 28, 2021 09:09 George Wiseman views(204) comment(0)
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