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The Thumb Drive RAID Experiment
Author: Jason Kohrs
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The Thumb Drive RAID Experiment
December 30, 2005

Somewhat out of the blue one day I got the idea that it might be interesting to try creating a RAID array out of thumb drives. It seemed like a reasonable enough idea, and one that could easily be analyzed with some fairly basic hardware/software.

I anticipated connecting four identical thumb drives to a compact USB 2.0 hub, and being able to create a variety of different RAID arrays in an assembly that would easily fit in the palm of my hand. Then with the same minimal effort required to create a hard drive RAID array, I could switch my thumb drive array between speed (striped) and redundancy (mirrored).

The practical uses for such an array might be few, but extra speed is always welcome, as is data redundancy. One setting where I can see a thumb drive RAID array being appealing is with mini-ITX systems. Flash drives are becoming a popular option in these systems, as they are compact, solid state, bootable, generate no noise, and add minimal heat to a system. Take all of these features and add redundancy and/or a speed boost and you may get the attention of at least a few people.

My idea for this experiment in thumb drive RAID was made possible thanks to It is where I purchased the compact USB 2.0 hub to be used, and they also sponsored the key ingredients, the four indentical thumb drives.

USB 2.0 Hub Basics:

The USB 2.0 Hub is also from, but is something I purchased months ago and use on a regular basis. At $6.79, it can't be perceived as the top of the line, but it has worked well for me in daily use. The images below show the somewhat generic packaging that it is sold in.

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Below we see an overview of the device, which is fairly attractive with its silver braided cable and translucent hub housing.

Click Image For Larger View

In the next two images we see the hub housing, which features an external power connection (not necessary and no adaptor is included), a red LED power indicator, and four USB 2.0 ports.

Click Image For Larger View Click Image For Larger View

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