Important Features to Consider When Buying a USB Duplicator


The optical drive is nearly dead – they are no longer found in laptops and rarely found in tower PCs.  With that said, the trend for giving out data is shifting to USB flash, not CD or DVD media.  Because of this shift, many companies are taking a closer look at buying a USB duplicator. 

There are several factors one must consider before spending thousands of dollars on a USB duplicator.  We have broken down the most important considerations into four categories.  After reviewing these four categories, you should have an excellent idea of which type of duplicator is best for your organization.

USB Duplication Speed

Speed is the first area you should analyze to figure out which direction you should go.  When considering speed, we are not simply talking about the copy speed of the USB duplicator, but other factors as well, such as number of USB sockets and the user interface required for feedback during operation.  Questions you should ask, include:

#  How many USB drives will you need to copy in a day or week?

#  How large is the data load in MBs or GBs?

#  What kind of turn-around time do you have between a duplication request and when that request should be completed?

#  Is there printing, or branding required, on the outside of the USB?

#  Do you need proof of performance via a log file?

Answering the above questions will give you an idea of what type of USB duplicator to consider.  The type of duplicator will be size, how many USB sockets, copy speed of the duplicator and what type of software, if any, your organization will need.

Your Production Crew

Your next step is to consider the production crew who will be running the equipment.  Will there be non-technical people running the equipment, or will a more hands-on approach be required?  Is the IT department looking to restrict user access to the equipment or restrict access to the data content during the duplication process?

Much of the above depends on how the data is received before copied to the USB flash drive.  For example, a duplication company might receive a physical master from a client; where-as a fulfillment house may get content delivered from a server from an on-line order submission process.

Will the organization require multiple USB duplicators located in different parts of the world?  Said another way, many global companies standardize on one manufacturer so the user experience is the same across multiple locations.  This also makes production easier as both support and experience can be shared between divisions to streamline processes on a global scale.

Knowing the production crew, their capabilities and responsibilities will help narrow the search for the right piece of equipment.

Read-Only or Read-Write

The third category worth investigating is asking the state of what the USB should be once sent delivered.  Is the organization looking to ship out a read-only flash drive?  By default all flash drives are read-write.  Because of this, many organizations fear a virus could jump onto the drive and spreading to other computers.  With that fear in mind, most companies are looking for a USB duplicator which creates a read-only drive product.  This means the USB drive is locked, or write protected.  The files cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive, and more importantly, files cannot jump onto the drive.

Nexcopy is world leader in read-only flash drive duplicators and therefore used as an example of a duplicator system worth considering.

Not all duplicators have the ability to create read-only flash drives, so this is a key feature which a company should strategize for.  It is important to note; there is no universal way to make a flash drive read-only.  This is true because a specific vendor command must be sent to the USB controller itself to make it write protected.  Keep this in mind, it will help you zero in on the right piece of duplicator equipment.

Computer Based or Standalone

The last step is concluding which type of USB duplicator best fits your needs.  PC based systems and standalone systems are both great, and both have their distinct advantages. 

When using a USB 3.0 PC based system in conjunction with USB 3.0 media, the copy speed is the same, if not faster, for a PC based system as with a standalone system.  Knowing the speed difference between a PC system and standalone system is negligible, most opt for the PC based system because the solution provides a greater number of options for data loading.  However; if your flash drives are USB 2.0 product, the standalone systems do copy extremely fast and a great choice.

The copy method is a very important aspect when considering a duplicator model.  The standalone systems are binary copiers.  Meaning, they copy only binary and have no ability to read or understand file structures or format structure.  Standalone USB duplicators will require a physical master to copy from.  The physical master must be the same partition size.  For example, with a standalone system you cannot use a 32GB master to copy 10GBs of data to a 16GB stick.  This is an important distinction to make.  In this example you will need a 16GB master to copy to 16GB targets.  PC systems do not have this limitation with certain copy methods.

PC based systems often have multiple ways of copying data to a flash drive.  Using a Nexcopy PC based USB200PC USB duplicator, the company offers six copy methods:

#1)  File Copy

#2)  Copy Add (add files to existing flash drive)

#3)  Unique data streaming (different files to each drive)

#4)  Device Copy, short image (only the data clusters)

#5)  Device Copy, full image (copy entire drive, regardless of data on drive)

#6)  Image Copy, copy from a master IMG file to flash drives

This software also provides a feature for data-collection.  This feature allows a user to copy files from the flash drive back to the hard drive – think of reverse duplication.  One example for this would be law enforcement who need to copy data collected on flash drives in the field, back to a server at the main station.

Typically PC based systems and standalone systems have passwords a user may enable to limit the use of the equipment in production.  In addition, both types of systems have a one button type operation to begin a copy process.  With these features in mind, it makes for a level playing field on which equipment is best suited for your needs.

On a closing note; the PC based systems are required if your goal would be a read-only flash drive.  The PC units have the necessary commands to set the USB stick as write protected.  Standalone systems do not have this function.  Given there is no universal way to write protect a flash drive and make it read-only, be sure to contact the duplicator manufacturer and talk about the requirements you have.  Direct communication with the manufacturer is always the best method to insure the equipment you intend to buy, will provide the features most required.

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