USB drives are wonderful tools for storing large quantities of data outside of your computer system. If your computer crashes or gets lost, you can still access the data as long as you have a USB drive. However, customers often ask how many memories can a USB drive hold? How many USB drives will they need to complete their digitization project? 

 Let’s put the size of USB drives in the context of your photos, videos, and slides. Once you know how many pictures a 16GB flash drive can hold, you can plan out your storage needs for your digital scanning project.

USB Drive Sizes Are Measured in Gigabytes

USB drives have multiple names. You might call them flash drives, thumb drives, or pen drives depending on what you have used them for. USB stands for Universal Serial Bus because the drives can be plugged into almost any device that has an outlet to accept them. Indeed, USB drives have increased in popularity over the past few decades because users can share images, videos, and documents across computers without having to transfer the media over the web. 

USB drives come in different sizes which are based on the number of gigabytes they can hold. Some of the smallest flash drives only hold four gigabytes (4GB) of data. You can find a pack of these for only a few dollars each online. In today’s market, USB drives hold significantly higher amounts of data and you can easily find thumb drives that store up to 256GB of data. 

When they first debuted, USB drives were considered impressive storage tools. The average DVD can hold 4.7GB of data, but it’s nearly impossible to add and remove files once the content has been burned on a disc. A 16GB USB drive could hold four DVDs worth of information and the owner could add and remove files as many times as they needed to. 

The 16GB USB drive has become standard in most markets. This is the size we will use to discuss how many memories a modern USB drive holds.

A 16GB USB Drive Can Hold About 10,000 Photos

If you aren’t familiar with the world of technology storage then you might not be sure whether 16 gigabytes is impressive. It helps to break down what this concept means and how many memories your 16GB USB drive can hold. 

Digital information is measured in bytes. The higher the number of bytes used, the larger a file is. However, as digital files grow in size, it gets harder to report how large they are. This is where the concepts of kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes come in.

  • 1 Kilobyte (KB) is made up of 1,000 bytes
  • 1 Megabyte (MB) is made up of 1 million bytes or 1,000 kilobytes
  • 1 Gigabyte (GB) is made up of 1 billion bytes or 1,000 megabytes 
  • 1 Terabyte (TB) is made up of 1 trillion bytes or 1,000 gigabytes

This breakdown is no different from measuring length using the centimeter, meter, and kilometer system. It makes more sense to say a runner competed in a 500-meter dash instead of reporting the length as a 50,000-centimeter dash. Similarly, a tailor wouldn’t measure a client’s waist or inseam in kilometers. 

What does this mean for your photos? On average, 16 gigabytes can hold around 10,000 photos. This means that each photo you have is roughly 1.6 megabytes (MB). Some photos might be larger, while others are smaller. However, within our industry, we recommend a 16GB flash drive if you have around 10,000 photos to store.

A 16GB USB Drive Can Hold up to 2,000 Slides 

At Memory Fortress, we work with all forms of media to help people bring their memories to the modern era. We are able to transfer rolls of film into digital media and even turn 35 mm slides into online-compatible photos

If you have slides that you want digitized and saved on a USB flash drive, whether it’s through a slide digitizing service or on your own, you can estimate the size of the drive you need – or the number of drives you want – based on the slides you have.

Typically, a 16GB USB drive can hold between 1,500 – 2,000 slides. If you have 3,000 slides that you would like digitized, you would either request two 16GB thumb drives or select a 32GB drive to hold all of your memories in one place. At Memory Fortress, our largest USB drive is 256GB. If you need more storage, consider opting for an external hard drive, which can hold one terabyte of data – or four of our largest USB drives. 

One of the benefits of USB drives is that you can hold multiple forms of media in one place. For example, if you have 10,000 photos and 1,500 slides, you can plan to choose a 32GB USB drive to hold all of your memories on one device.

A 16GB USB Drive Can Hold 10 Hours of Video

USB drives don’t just hold photos. These devices can also store videos, which is ideal if you want to store your old VHS tapes or camcorder recordings digitally. 

Historically, most VHS tapes held 120 minutes (two hours) of video. The average 16GB flash drive can hold up to 10 hours of video, or roughly four VHS tapes. Similarly, a 16GB USB drive can hold up to four DVDs of information because the average DVD holds 4.7GB of data. 

You can use the number of VHS tapes that you want digitized to estimate how much USB storage you will need. For example, if you have 20 VHS tapes, then you likely have 40 hours of footage. You would need four 16GB USB drives to store that information or one 64GB thumb drive. 

Use This Information for Your Digitization Project

At Memory Fortress, we never expect our customers to master modern technology. You don’t have to be fully immersed in the world of gigabytes and megabytes to turn your favorite memories into digital files. However, we wanted to create this guide so you can have some context for the size of your project and your potential storage needs. With this information, you can estimate what size USB drives and other storage tools you should choose.  

If you are ready to start digitizing your photos, slides, and videos, let us know. Tell us roughly how many items you plan to send so we can prepare our staff to take on your project. You don’t have to know exactly how many photos you own or what size thumb drive you need, but an estimate is appreciated. 

If you are still worried about turning your print memories into digital files, let us guide you through the process. Learn more about how we help customers preserve memories or reach out to our team directly. You can call us anytime at (678) 579-2249 and one of our staff members will be happy to help you. 

Start your order today and let us help you preserve a lifetime of family memories in a secure format.

Michael B. – “Our large digital photo scanning job was handled with great care from start to finish. Keith and his team stayed in constant communication throughout the process. I will be using Memory Fortress for our future projects.”

We digitize everything right here at our facility in metro Atlanta, processed by US citizens.

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