A card reader is a data input device that reads data from a card-shaped storage medium. The first were punched card readers, which read the paper or cardboard punched cards that were used during the first several decades of the computer industry to store information and programs for computer systems. Modern card readers are electronic devices that can read plastic cards embedded with either a barcode, magnetic strip, computer chip or another storage medium. 

An important feature for memory card readers is the speed with which they can transmit data. Readers with USB 3.0 compatibility will be faster than USB 2.0 technology (as long as your computer has a USB 3.0 port). As mentioned earlier, there are various types of memory cards, so having a reader than can communicate with more than one interface will be beneficial, especially if you find yourself using multiple memory cards.
In the 1-to-many mode a user presents biometric data such as a fingerprint or retina scan and the reader then compares the live scan to all the templates stored in the memory. This method is preferred by most end-users, because it eliminates the need to carry ID cards or use PINs. On the other hand, this method is slower, because the reader may have to perform thousands of comparison operations until it finds the match. An important technical characteristic of a 1-to-many reader is the number of comparisons that can be performed in one second, which is considered the maximum time that users can wait at a door without noticing a delay. Currently most 1-to-many readers are capable of performing 2,000–3,000 matching operations per second.
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Most card readers are highly portable and versatile in their ability to read more than one type of memory card. The most common types of memory cards are Secure Digital (SD), microSD, SDHC, microSDHC, CompactFlash (CF), Memory Stick (MS), MS Duo, Mini SD, and MMC. Before buying a reader, make sure it's compatible with the memory card you are using.
The advantage of using barcode technology is that it is cheap and easy to generate the credential and it can easily be applied to cards or other items. However the same affordability and simplicity makes the technology susceptible to fraud, because fake barcodes can also be created cheaply and easily, for example by photocopying real ones. One attempt to reduce fraud is to print the barcode using carbon-based ink, and then cover the bar code with a dark red overlay. The barcode can then be read with an optical reader tuned to the infrared spectrum, but can not easily be copied by a copy machine. This does not address the ease with which barcode numbers can be generated from a computer using almost any printer.