Tuesday, July 3, 2012

SanDisk 2GB Cruzer Micro Flash Drive




Rating: 2 out of 5
Pros: Dependable, slider mechanism instead of a cap
Cons: Ridiculously slow speeds, U3 software auto-install

The 2GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro is a flash drive that I've owned for a long time. I've upgraded flash drives a few times since owning it, and it's currently still in perfect working order and in the possession of my fiancee who keeps her documents on it along with a lot of pictures. While I'm not a big fan of the drive, it has been dependable, so the main reason I upgraded was because of the size; 2GB was enough space when I originally purchased the drive, but as time went on I found myself needing more.
 
The total drive capacity is 2,047,442,944 bytes (1.90 GB), which is enough for somewhere around 500 photos taken with the Motorola DROID 4's camera). This has been plenty of space for her thus far, but now that we have a child she's quickly filling up that room with pictures of him so I will likely have to pick her up a larger drive in the near future.
 
The main design feature worth noting about the Cruzer Micro is the fact that it has a sliding mechanism on the top of the drive, and pushing this forward extends the device's USB port out of the plastic housing. Pushing the mechanism back retracts the USB port back inside, effectively eliminating the need for a cap that can be easily misplaced. While you can still get a little bit of dust inside the end, it really takes no time to blow it out once in a while and not have to worry about a cap.
 
The Cruzer Micro is black in color and measures about 2.5" long, just under 1" wide and about .25" thick. While the drive is made entirely of plastic and feels a bit like a toy, at least it's a decent quality toy because everything is tight and sturdy. The matte black finish doesn't collect fingerprints at all, though between the white sliding mechanism and all the printed text (brand, model, U3,, U3 Smart, FCC and CE markings, etc) the surface looks pretty noisy and busy. The sliding mechanism even has an obnoxious bright amber glow when the drive is plugged in. Sigh.
 
My Cruzer Micro came with a dark blue lanyard to hang the device around your neck or whatever. When I was the primary person using the device I used to hang it from a tack on the wall near my computer, but then I removed the lanyard entirely and opted to use the tiny keyring on the bottom of the drive instead.
 
The SanDisk Cruzer Micro is a pretty slow drive though. Check Flash 1.16.2 records this USB 2.0 flash drive having a read speed of only 17.45 MB/s, and an even slower write speed of 7.37 MB/s. It's a pretty dismal showing as far as performance goes, easily the slowest of any of my flash drives. Obviously this isn't going to work for Windows 7/Vista ReadyBoost, and even filling the drive up is going to be painful. Best used for a lot of small files that you don't need to copy back and forth all at once.
 
One last notable thing about the Cruzer Micro is the U3 software that comes installed on it. This creates a virtual CD drive with autorun that pops up a little icon in your system tray every time you insert the drive. This icon acts like a miniature start menu, allowing you easy access to any U3 portable programs you have installed on the drive. Not exactly what I wanted when I purchased the drive, but I thought it was a novel concept that was worth further experimentation.
 
The drive came with some synchronization program, Skype and some type of antivirus installed for the U3 platform by default. I chose to also install OpenOffice, Firefox, 7-Zip, Notepad++, VLC Media Player and a number of other programs that I thought I might use at different times. It sounded like it would be really handy sometimes, but I realized a couple months later that I hadn't used a single one of those U3 programs even once. I really only use programs on my own computers, and if I'm somewhere else with my flash drive I'm there to copy files back and forth and not use random programs just because I have them.
 
At least the software could be uninstalled with a utility on SanDisk's website, though it did require a reformat of the flash drive. The U3 software automatically installs itself on every Windows computer that you plug the drive into (it thankfully does nothing in Linux or on a Mac), and why they opted to make their software act like a trojan and go installing itself willy nilly is beyond my comprehension. At least a little "Would you like to install U3 software?" box would have been nice.
 
The Cruzer Micro is Plug & Play on Windows 2000+, and apparently also in Linux (tested various versions of Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Debian over the years). It has a long-expired 2 year limited warranty and is made in China.
 
While the Cruzer Micro isn't a terrible drive, it's not something I would recommend. Between the U3 software and the ridiculously slow speed, there were much better options back when it was new. These days that goes doubly so, as you can pick up a 16 GB drive for around $10 or a 32 GB drive for around $20 online at retailers like Newegg.

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