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is buying flash memory online a good idea?


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#1 Double44

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 06:30 AM

I've bought electronics online before, but ever since I found this section on the Kingston website (Kingston is a flash/memory manufacturer), I have questions.

Avoid U.S. Postal Service radiation scanning of mailed packages.

 

According to the CompactFlash Association, X-ray scanners at airports will not damage CompactFlash cards but radiation scanning by the U.S. Postal Service may damage them. Because of this warning by the CompactFlash Association regarding mail irradiation by the U.S. Postal Service, it may be preferable to use a commercial service such as FedEx, UPS or other private carrier as an alternative to mailing Flash storage devices by U.S. mail

I wanna buy a USB flash drive off Amazon, but also want to take advantage of free shipping (USPS). The flash drive would be new, but I'm still wondering, would it be safe to store data on there afterward? How long does radiation stay embedded after it has been emitted? Is it even anything to be concerned about?


Edited by Double44, 01 January 2014 - 06:32 AM.


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#2 dls62

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 07:20 AM

Hi,

 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency 'currently only mail to the White House, Congressional offices, and federal government offices in the 202-205 Zip Code exchanges is being irradiated. Irradiation is taking place at facilities in Ohio and New Jersey'.

 

You should be OK, unless the above applies to you!



#3 Platypus

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 07:25 AM

Also:

 

http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb01/mail-irradiation.html

 

Damage to the flash memory is the concern rather than any radioactivity remnant, which is not the "radiation" being referred to.


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#4 Double44

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 07:57 AM

Damage to the flash memory is the concern rather than any radioactivity remnant, which is not the "radiation" being referred to.

Damage by what is the concern? I seem to be reading this sentence incorrectly.


Edited by Double44, 01 January 2014 - 08:09 AM.


#5 JohnC_21

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 09:29 AM

Not really an issue. Thousands of people have bought flash drives online from stores like Newegg without any problems. If it is DOA, then just get an RMA and ship it back for new one. Buy the way, if you live near a Staples office supply they are selling Sandisk 8GB flash drives for $5.88 and 16GB flash drives for $7.88. And, never store your critical files on only one device. Always have a secondary backup and you should be fine.



#6 Platypus

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 09:48 AM

From the link:

 

"The irradiation process sterilizes mail by passing it through a high-energy beam--an electron beam or x-ray. This beam is ionizing radiation that delivers in a dose approximately 2 million times more potent than a chest x-ray."

 

The x-rays used to check parcels etc by Customs will also be more powerful than those for a medical x-ray, but can still leave electronic circuits undamaged, e.g. a laptop is scanned for drug concealment without suffering harm. However the sterilizing beam used to kill any biological threat like Anthrax in mail is powerful enough to damage the chemical bonds and even some of the atomic particle bonds that make things like flash RAM work, destroying it, or degrading it enough to cause premature failures.

 

"Radiation" is just transmitted energy. Our consideration is the type of damage it can do to matter it encounters, which is governed by how much energy the radiation possesses. Radiation from visible light to longer wavelengths such as infra-red is not considered to do damage, and is called non-ionizing radiation. Radiation beginning from mid Ultraviolet has enough energy to start causing changes to chemical bonds, the very shortest wavelength UV begins to be able to break atomic bonds, thus doing things like knocking an electron out of a atom producing an ion. This is called ionizing radiation, which continues up through x-rays and gamma rays with increasing energy.

 

With all of these described so far, a damaging source of energy only exists whist it is being supplied from an external source. Once this stops, the damage (i.e. to organisms like Anthrax) progresses no further. That's where the assurance on the website link comes in: "Irradiation does not make mail radioactive"

 

If an extremely high energy source is supplied, such as extremely energetic Gamma rays, some materials can undergo nuclear transmutation and acquire induced radioactivity. This is what we may hear of as nuclear radiation or radioactivity in objects or substances, such as radioactive Iodine in food. Even after the external source of energy is removed, atoms that were changed continue to emit (radiate) particles with enough energy to change nearby atoms, continuing to damage more chemical or atomic particle bonds for some time.

 

However, as long as the original irradiation is only as strong as it needs to be to kill biological threats, without taking the energy high enough to cause nuclear transmutation, nothing becomes radioactive.


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#7 Double44

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 03:03 PM

Thanks John_C21, appreciate it. Platypus, you overdid yourself. Thanks ;)



#8 goldfist

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 09:06 PM

I work for the USPS as an Electronics Tech, and there is very little risk with it getting damaged. The machines sort the mail into bins that are per destination = main hub for outgoing mail and then when it gets to the main hub it is then sorted specifically for the zip codes of the area of which that hub provides delivery services to. So this device making its way to this process would only happen if it was destined to one of the zip codes that has this process. All other mail goes through an alternate process that I can not disclose specifics about but is related to chemical/biological threat detection and prevention after the ricin and anthrax problems, but it does not damage electronic devices.

 

I have received lots of electronic devices by mail with no problems that I order from tiger direct or newegg etc.






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