Mr. Modem: Flash drive life expectancy

How long does it take for a flash drive to wear out?

There is no definitive answer to your question, though it will wear out eventually. (How’s that for precision?) The reason there is no definitive answer lies in how a flash drive works:

When data is stored on a flash drive, it is loaded into its memory and then a charge (flash) is sent to the device that causes it to retain that information. As soon as the memory is “flashed” (also known as a “write cycle”) it is capable of retaining that data even after the power has been removed from the device. The bad news is that a flash drive has a limited number of write cycles. The good news is that it’s a lot of write cycles.

Though most flash drive manufacturers place this number between 50,000 and 100,000, some studies estimate that current flash drives can withstand millions of write cycles before they wear out. This means that a newly purchased, brand-name flash drive will generally survive many years of daily use before it wobbles.

Even if your flash drive fails, it’s not the end of the world because you can generally still read data on the drive; you just can’t write any new data to a failed flash drive.

Please explain how I can look to see if I have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7. Thanks, Mr. M.

Click the Start button, right-click Computer, then select Properties. If “64-bit Operating System” is listed next to System type, you’re running the 64-bit version of Windows 7. (Duh!) If “32-bit Operating System” appears — care to guess what you’re running?

I’m going to get a new computer soon because I have Windows XP. Can you tell me if Windows 7 is easier than 8? Can I get a computer with a mouse and a keyboard instead of a touchscreen?

“Easier” is in the eyes and mind of the beholder, so let’s just say that you will probably find Windows 7 a bit more familiar than Windows 8. That being said, Windows 8.1 is a little easier to make look similar to previous versions of Windows. Generally, I find Windows 8 to be a fast and stable operating system, but the key is taking the time to become familiar with it. You might also consider purchasing an “Introduction to Windows 8” type book. Several are available through

While you can certainly use a keyboard and mouse with Windows 8, I prefer it with a touchscreen monitor, which it was designed for. But if you have a perfectly good older monitor, there is no requirement that you must purchase a touchscreen monitor.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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