Best way to mail a flash drive?

This is one of those posts that probably doesn’t need anything more than the subject line. But to elaborate slightly:

I have a teeny tiny 4GB flash drive that I need to send to someone in Portland. (I’m in New York.) I’m wondering what’s the cheapest/easiest way to send this, while still maintaining some semblence of safety. Would I be able to get away with a small padded envelope, and if so, could said envelope be dropped in a mailbox, or do I have to go to the post office?

Also, can I just mention how awesome flash drives are? This is the first time I’m using one – yeah, I’m a decade behind everyone else – and I just can’t believe that something that’s about the size of a Tootsie Roll contains four times as much data storage as my last office job’s entire server.

(Admittedly my last office job was in 1999, but still.)

I’ve mailed them in bubble mailers before without any problems. They’re usually the ones that are in between the size of a #10 envelope and a legal envelope I think. I normally just take it to the post office, but if you really don’t want to you could probably just stick two or three stamps on it and hope for the best.

You’re allowed to drop it in a mailbox if it weighs less than 13 ounces, which it surely does. But unless you have a good postal scale, you’re going to be guessing on the postage.

I just weighed my Disco “Edge” 4GB drive and it came in at 12.2 grams. The first ounce costs 44 cents. An extra ounce costs 20 cents. So 64 cents should well cover some light packing and the envelope. Generally, they won’t send it back to you if over weight as that costs too much. They apply the “postage due” at the receiving end.

Do not forget to unplug it from the computer first.
As for data integrity, I can only speak anecdotally, but I’ve had flash drives shipped all over the world from Switzerland to Swaziland without any problems. They typically travel by diplomatic pouch (whatever the hell that means, I just mean they probably don’t go through the same same channels and screenings as regular mail, though they do get screened).

Ooh thanks everyone for the info. This is encouraging! I have “forever” stamps – do you think adding a couple of them will do the trick? I’m not sure if one can use those for unknown weights. I probably should just shlep down the USPS and deal with it there. And they usually have envelopes for sale (er, I think… better check on that) so I can handle it all at once. (That’s what she said! Sorry…)

The best way is to load the contents onto your computer and e-mail it to the recipient. Or, copy it to a Dropbox.

Why use snail mail to send 1s and 0s?

Well, it’s 2.6GB of stuff. My connection isn’t very fast so I just figured the thumb drive would be easier. Also, I’d already promised this (now-ex) client that I’d use a flash drive and I don’t want there to be any more tsuris with him claiming I didn’t fulfill my part of the bargain blah blah b.s.

The Dropbox does appeal to me because it’ll mean taking up his time downloading the files, and frankly, the more inconvenience I can cause for this utter asshat, the better. Also, the drive is 4GB and since his files are 2.6GB that means he’s getting a bigger flash drive than he deserves. And that bugs.

(Yes, I am petty and vindictive, why do you ask?)

Most people’s download speed dwarfs their upload speed–you’re likely to have to babysit a several-hours-long connection while the rectalchapeau hits one or two links and is done a few minutes later. Go to the post office and find out how to send it $.05 postage due.

Email a computer? That will be tough. :slight_smile:

Yeah, i was going to suggest something like this.

One issue, i guess, might be exactly how full this 4Gb flash drive is. If it’s almost full, and the amount of information is a whole 4Gb, that might take quite a while to upload if the OP is not on a fast connection.

I can usually get about 3Mb/s uploading on my connection. That’s megabits. If my calculations are correct, that means i could upload 4Gb in somewhere around 3 hours. That’s assuming i can maintain the full upload speed for the whole time.

Back in Baltimore, when i had crappy DSL coming into the house through old wires, the best i could get uploading was about 125kb/s. Uploading 4Gb at that speed would take about 3 days, not 3 hours. And that’s without taking into account the fact that the person on the other end then has to download it. Probably quicker, in that case, to just send the USB key.
ETA: Now i see that the OP has chimed in on the amount of data he needs to transfer. Reduce the times i’ve calculated above by about one-third.

ETA #2: Also, i didn’t realize that the OP was trying to cause the most possible hassle for his recipient, rather than the least. That changes things. :slight_smile:

Your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

…it’s distributed on a flash drive. :smiley:

Ha! Awesome, Rhythmdvl. I didn’t even know they had “postage due” anymore. I never really knew how this worked–that is, I could understand it when I was living in 1970s suburban Long Island and the mail guy came up to our house, whereupon those of us who were home would say hi to him (it was always a him in those days), and got the mail from him personally. But in this busy world where many people never meet their mailman face to face, how does postage due or COD work? (I guess a quick Googling will answer this…)

This is a client who worked up a $3K bill from December - February, then fired me, then when I presented my invoice for the work I’d already finished (all of which was satisfactory), claimed he wouldn’t pay until I sent him “his” files. I told him that, to the contrary: I wouldn’t be sending “his” files until he paid what he owed me for work already concluded to his satisfaction. We played Dueling Lawyer Threat Banjo for a bit, and he blinked first (probably because my attorney actually existed).

So now that I have my money, I’m dutifully sending the files. Still, I wouldn’t mind causing him inconvenience in any way possible (and legal, natch) for being such an incredible putz while he’s apparently going through some mid-life crisis where he’s cutting off contacts with his former workers.

2.6GB should fit on a DVD, right? Just as simple to mail as a flash drive.

Crap. I don’t have a computer.

Q) 44¢ for the first ounce?

Maybe before the recent postage rate hike of Sunday, 01/23/2012.

The current rate for the first ounce of domestic first class is 45¢.

Additional ounces are 20¢.

The post office also charges for thick envelopes.

The best policy is not to guess but to boogie to the post office and have them tell you how much your envelope will cost to ship by USPS.

Yep, I’m thinking you’re right. Time for me to pick up some more “forever” stamps anyway. I don’t mail stuff very often but it’s a pleasure to know I’m covered, postagewise, regardless of rate hikes.

Yes, no problem. They’re good for 45c each until the next price hike, at which point they’ll be worth even more. You just have to use them for domestic mail only. (International treaties require the denomination to be printed on the stamp.)

On the other hand, as others have said, there are extra fees for thick envelopes, so I think going to the post office is indeed the best idea.