USB flash drives are a great option for photo packaging and tool for providing your clients with digital images. They also double as an effective marketing tool; they’re eye catching and customizing them with your logo will help promote your brand. There are several factors to consider when choosing a flash drive, like speed, appearance, and size. One of the most important criteria to consider is size; not just the physical size of the USB but how much data the drive itself can hold.
Flash drives come in a variety of storage capacities. 2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB are common sizes used by photographers. When selecting the appropriate size flash drive for your needs, consider two things: 1) what is the average size of the digital images that you share with your customers, and 2) how many images do you typically load on to each flash drive. For example, digital images can range in size but are typically between 3 MB and 12 MB, depending on image size and quality. Assuming the average photo size of 3 MB, then:
- A 4 GB flash drive will hold approximately 1,150 photos
- 8 GB : 2,300 photos
- 16 GB: 4,600 photos
- 32 GB: 9,200 photos
It’s also important to consider the type of photography for which the flash drives will be used. A flash drive for wedding photography for example, will require more storage capacity than a flash drive being used for headshots, senior portraits, newborn images or family portraits, simply because the volume of images is very different.
Tip: when you plug a USB into your computer, you may notice that there is less storage capacity on the flash drive than advertised. This is not a mistake or a defective drive. About 5-10% (or 75 MB per GB) of the drive’s total storage space is unusable—set aside for firmware. Firmware is required for the flash drive to function properly; it provides the necessary operation instructions to enable the drive’s features and processes. This means the larger the drive capacity, the more space that is required for the firmware. You should take this into consideration when estimating your storage space needs.