If you have ever used a piece of electronic equipment for an extended period of time, you might have noticed that it heats up. This is considered normal for most electronics. Many of them even have cooling devices or fans inside them to help keep them cool. But what about USB drives -- why do they get hot?
There are actually quite a few reasons a USB would get warm or even hot to the touch. First, we must say that a USB drive heating up is not out of the ordinary. Some USB drives become warm after hours of use, or others after only a couple minutes. Heating up is normal and almost all USB flash drives that are produced by manufacturers do heat up a little.
So what causes the USB to get hot? Well, one reason is through consistent use. USBs are used to store and transfer information between the USB itself and the host computer. This constant transferring of information causes the USB to heat up. The reason it heats up is because it takes energy to transfer your files. Often times through repetitive use, excess energy is used and transferred into heat.
Another reason why it might get hot is because metal is much better at absorbing heat than the majority of components that make up a flash drive. Metal USB drives are often the culprit and tend to become warmer than other plastic or natural USB drives. But don’t worry though - the metal shouldn’t get too hot to handle.
If everything is working correctly, then you should never have a problem with heat and a USB; however, there are a few things that can make a USB exceedingly hot and can cause physical harm. The first is that you have plugged your USB into a defective port that is receiving too much power. This excess power, just like above, gets transferred into heat and can make the USB port and anything plugged into it very hot. Be careful, as often times the device will become very warm and in some cases the USB connector can burn you.
The other reason is that for some reason, a component inside the USB has failed and too much electricity passes through the USB. This causes it to heat up and, much like the defective port, makes the USB too hot to handle.
If you experience a USB drive that is hot enough to burn you, then carefully remove it from the computer with a thick piece of cloth of heating pad and let it cool down. Try plugging in another USB device into the same port and see if it too heats up. If the second device heats up then you more than likely have a defective USB port. If it does not, then you know the problem is with the USB flash drive.
It's important to keep your drive at a moderate temperature at all times, because the electronics inside the drive are EXTREMELY susceptible to temperature. The memory chips and controller chips hidden inside the body of the USB drive can degrade and become completely corrupted if they're exposed to excess humidity, searing temperatures, or freezing cold. Nothing will kill your USB drive faster than burning it through prolonged exposure to heat. So even if your drive isn't heating up unnaturally due to being plugged into a port or having a malfunctioning part, it's important to limit its exposure to natural heat in the great outdoors.