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Cruzer Micro Skin

I’ve been using removable storage for a long time, and five years ago I moved from Iomega ZIP 250 MB disk cartridges to Cruzer Mini 256 MB thumb drives. I chose the Cruzer Mini line for a slightly weird reason: They fit comfortably in the pencil groove of my Northgate keyboards. Not all thumb drives do, and I’ve found it very convenient to have all of my active removable storage devices sitting there right where I can grab them.

Five years on, and not a single one of the Cruzer Minis has ever given me a lick of trouble, though I destroyed one once by working too fast. SanDisk no longer makes Cruzer Minis, and the ones I have are fairly small, some only 128 MB. This makes for lots of thumb drives lying around; for example, I had to put each one of the five Carl & Jerry books on its own Cruzer. It was time to scout out something else that would fit in my pencil groove, and with considerable delight I discovered the SanDisk Cruzer Micro Skin. They’re shorter than the Cruzer Minis, and a little narrower. No problems keeping them in the groove.

I bought them for their size, and didn’t understand the line’s gimmick until I had one in my hand: The Cruzer Skins are inside a flexible, tough plastic sleeve with an end cap of the same material. The skin and cap fit the metal body of the device very closely, enough so that if you dropped one in the sink the works wouldn’t even get wet if you pulled it out within a few seconds. (I’m guessing that they float, in fact, though I’ll let somebody else do the experiment.) You can remove the sleeve and apply a Brother-style label to the drive body, and then wiggle the sleeve back over it. This protects the label, especially if you drop it in your pocket with your car keys, as I’ve done a time or two. (Brother labels mar very easily.)

They’re yawning huge compared to my five-year-old Cruzer Minis. I recently bought several 4 GB units for $12 each, and an 8 GB (for $20!) to hold all five Carl & Jerry books, including high-res raw scans of all the 300+ illustrations. I’ve been able to consolidate several ongoing book projects from separate 256 MB cartridges onto a single 4 GB unit. The caps don’t fall off; you have to yank them. They don’t come with lanyards, but you know, I have yet to see anybody keep a thumb drive on a lanyard. (A lanyard loop is there at the end of the unit if you want to make your own, like we did at summer camp in 1965.) We’ll see how they hold up over time, but right now, I say highly recommended.


  1. Erbo says:

    Next time I see you, I’ve got some cute little USB keys for you. They make even the Cruzer Micro Skin look bloated, and yet they hold 512 Mb each, or more than your original Cruzer Minis. And these were given out as promo items. Dunno about their durability, but I have one on my keychain now, so we’ll see how well it holds up.

  2. zeph says:

    Don’t worry so much. I put a USB drive through the washing machine and dryer, once, by accident. It didn’t suffer the slightest damage. The data was all intact. I was a bit surprised…

  3. I’ve known a few sysadmins that wear a USB drive on a lanyard. I can’t bring myself to do it. My little Swiss army knife has one, and it’s in my pocket when I need it.

  4. Rich, N8UX says:

    My first USB drive was a 256mb cruzer mini. I chose it because I had seen it used as secondary drives in hotel vbn gateways that I serviced. I figured if it was good enough for them, it would be good enough for me. Plus, there is something inexplicably cool about that bright green light.

    Later I picked up a 1gb cruzer micro, and so far it has done fine. I have a habit of fidgeting with the slide lock when I’m on the phone – opening and closing it hundreds of times. I’ve seen others report that this slide lock sometimes fails, but brutha, I’ll tell you that I have given mine a workout, and it’s still locking.

    I also have a Lexar 1gb with this neat little lcd (or is it the new fangled electronic ink?) capacity meter – kind of like a fuel gauge.

    This past Christmas I found an 8gb PNY thumb drive in my stocking. 8gb of storage as a stocking stuffer! I geeked out old school and began telling tales of when it cost $1k for a 10 megabyte drive. Eyes rolled and heads shook, as they know how I tend to wax tech-nostalgic.


  5. Rich, N8UX says:

    Oh BTW, That 8gb PNY attache thumb drive is the same width as the old 256mb cruzer mini – you might want to check one out…R

    1. True enough, but what I like about the Cruzer Micro Skin is the skin, which is pretty substantial and affords the device a lot of protection. Smallness is good up to a point–the device has to sit comfortably in the pencil groove–but I schlep the little things around when I travel, and so I’d rather have a thumb drive encased in a rugged plastic skin than one another quarter inch shorter or eighth inch narrower.

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