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Flash Forward

Your data won't miss a beat with one of these super-portable drives.

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This story appears in the November 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

USB flash drives and micro hard drives are more than just a flash in the pan. They're portable, affordable and can hold a ton of data. They're sold everywhere from department stores to big-box retailers. You might have a few tucked into your pockets, laptop case or desk drawer. Sorting through the masses of super-portable drives to find one that fits your needs may be as simple as getting the most storage space for the fewest bucks. Or you may look to some of the extra features that are cropping up in these popular devices. We'll sort through a pile of drives to see what's shaking.

There are some differences between micro hard drives and flash drives. Micro hard drives are typically slightly larger than flash drives but are still tiny compared to regular external hard drives. The $140 (all prices street) 2GB Imation Micro Hard Drive, for example, weighs less than 2 ounces. Another difference is that micro hard drives tend to read and write more slowly than flash drives. This can be an issue if you're planning frequent transfers of very large files. The $120 8GB PNY MaxFile Attach� micro hard drive is admittedly cool-looking with its swiveling USB connector and clip-on carrying case. And 8GB gives you a lot of space to work with at an affordable price. An included extension USB cable lets you use it with hard-to-reach USB ports, and it's truly plug-and-play.

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