Re: USB Travel Drives, are they reliable?
A foreword...there are several types of flash memory. As may be no surprise, the variety that can fail suddenly are cheaper than the ones that tend to last until the storage capacity is uselessly small.
Some have more error correction than others. Some are faster than others.
Read the reviews on the products you're buying, and know that for example, sandisk<>sandisk when talking about two fairly similar products. Speeds, error correction and quality of the flash itself might be very different between a 256MB and 512MB product from the same company. So keep it apples and apples.
if you see a lot of poor reviews for a particular product, say from amazons reviews, epinions or neweggs review sections...obviously avoid.
Do know that when a flash drive fails, its usually quite sudden and frequently quite complete. Disk drives make some noises and might still be somewhat usable when they're on their way out. Once you exceed the error correction of a flash drive, if it has any, and if it gives you any warnings, poof.
So get two or more. Preferably smaller ones that are cheap or FAR, that way any damage done is minimal. And backup anything critical twice.
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.