Best USB Flash Drives

Last update March 16, 2017
A ton of data right there in your pocket, for work, studying, and personal use. USB flash drives are incredibly popular and so the market is overflowing with offers. Need a hand choosing the best one? Here we are! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
CAPACITY
TRANSFER SPEED (UP TO)
USB SPECIFICATION
PROTECTION
WARRANTY
 
PROS
With the purchase of this model you also get a free 1-year license for RescuePRO software, which allows restoring deleted data.
CONS
Can run a bit hot during long work.
OUR VERDICT
A brilliant USB flash drive with a large capacity, tight security system, and the ability to restore files. Will save the day in any situation.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
128GB (16GB, 32GB, 64GB)
TRANSFER SPEED (UP TO)
Read: 150MB/s,
Write: 60MB/s
USB SPECIFICATION
USB 3.0
PROTECTION
SanDisk SecureAccess 128-bit AES encryption software
WARRANTY
5-Year Limited Warranty
PROS
The flash drives of different storage capacities vary by cap colors; you will not get them wrong if you have separate ones for work and personal data.
CONS
A strap hole is located in the cap.
OUR VERDICT
This is a perfect choice for people who praise the security of their files above all. An extremely small size is also worth mentioning.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
128GB (16GB, 32GB, 64GB)
TRANSFER SPEED (UP TO)
Read: 150MB/s,
Write: 45MB/s
USB SPECIFICATION
USB 3.0
PROTECTION
EncryptStick Lite 256-bit AES encryption software
WARRANTY
3-Year Limited Warranty
PROS
Has a unique stylish BAR-design with a special strap hole, so you can use it as a key fob.
CONS
The surface of the device is a bit slippery.
OUR VERDICT
Total environmental protection and fast transfer speed make this USB flash drive a stellar choice for travelers and tourists of all kinds.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
128GB (16GB, 32GB, 64GB)
TRANSFER SPEED (UP TO)
Read: 130MB/s,
Write: 130MB/s
USB SPECIFICATION
USB 3.0
PROTECTION
Water /Shock /Temperature /Magnetic /X-ray protection
WARRANTY
5-Year Limited Warranty
PROS
SanDisc offers a wide range of models with different capacity.
There is a small metal rod for connecting to the key chain.
CONS
Сomparably low transfer speed.
OUR VERDICT
A good USB flash drive for those who are ready to forego some transfer speed in favor of larger storage. Has stylish design.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
64GB (8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 128GB, 256GB)
TRANSFER SPEED (UP TO)
Read: 20MB/s,
Write: 5MB/s
USB SPECIFICATION
USB 2.0
PROTECTION
SanDisk SecureAccess 128-bit AES encryption software
WARRANTY
2-Year Limited Warranty
PROS
The model has a Lightning connector for Apple devices.
The iXpand Mobile App serves as a built-in file manager.
CONS
Not very flexible in use. Aimed at Apple users.
OUR VERDICT
A perfect flash drive for Apple lovers.
Best Mobile App platinum award.
detailed parameters
CAPACITY
32GB (64GB, 128GB)
TRANSFER SPEED (UP TO)
Read: 90MB/s,
Write: 50MB/s
USB SPECIFICATION
USB 3.0
PROTECTION
128-bit AES encryption password protection software
WARRANTY
1-Year Limited Warranty

What is a Usb Flash Drive

The age of CD and DVD discs is falling into oblivion, slowly but surely. Today, it's hard to find a person who has never used a USB flash drive instead. USB drives are much sturdier than discs, offer considerably more storage space, and it's virtually impossible to find a PC or a laptop without any USB ports (whereas more and more laptops lose optical drives every year). In short, USB flash drives are the most convenient way to carry all your important data in your pocket.

Flash drives offer quite a lot of space but if it is not enough for you or you want to extend the storage of your PC/laptop, there are also external hard drives, solid state drives, external solid state drives, and portable hard drives.

What To Look For

Storage Capacity

Surveys claim that the most frequently bought USB flash drives range from 8GB to 256GB in capacity, although it is not as surprising today as it may seem to find a tiny drive of 512GB or 1TB either. The question here is whether you are ready to pay quite an amount of money for such a device when you can have the same capacity at a cheaper price and it will be in an only slightly bigger casing (external hard drive). But well, to everyone their own.

When selecting a storage capacity, consider what kind of files you are going to transfer. Most text files and office documents, even long ones, do not require a lot of space and a 32GB drive will be more than enough. The same goes for the majority of single-layer images. But if you are a graphic designer, a video editor, a programmer, you probably know that there are files that "weigh" a couple GB each. And for those choosing a USB flash drive for media like movies or music, the bigger the better, of course.

Data Transfer Speed

Data transfer speed is a performance parameter, and it often differs for reading and writing speed. Reading speed is in charge when we are talking about running apps and files. Say, you want to watch a 3GB movie stored on your drive. For it to play without lagging we recommend drives with reading speed of 150MB/s and higher. Reading documents, on the other hand, does not require so much.

Writing speed is, namely, a speed your data will be transferred to the drive at. It is usually lower than reading speed as the processes differ. You won't necessarily need 150MB/s for writing data to the drive. The same 3GB movie file will be transferred to the drive in 90 seconds at a writing speed of 45MB/s!

To increase the data transfer speed, manufacturers create new technologies and new standards. USB 3.0 is faster than USB 2.0 but before buying check the standard in your laptop/PC interface as it also affects the speed, naturally. Also, although most USB 3.0 devices and interfaces are forward/backward compatible, some sockets might not fit a plug of a different standard so look into this too.

Data Protection

The last but not the least important parameter to consider. Data can be protected from theft and from destruction. If you need a drive for personal data, look for the one with encryption and password protection. And to protect the drive you take when you go hiking, for example, there are technologies that make the casing water-, dust-, impact-proof, etc. There are also drives that feature software to restore deleted data.

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Review of SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive

SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive

SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Nothing Perishes

Probably, every person once or twice accidentally deleted something valuable from the USB drive. Ever got the folders mixed up? Or maybe your hand slipped? Forgot that the data might come in handy later? Just didn't see it coming? So many opportunities to mess up, really. So for the most valuable files, buy this SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive. In addition to the selection of storage capacities, good write and read speed, and encryption, this USB flash drive offers you a free one-year subscription to RescuePRO (available for PC and Mac), a software created to restore your lost data. Do not let accidents catch you off guard.

Review of SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive

SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

USB flash drives are made to connect to PCs and laptops as smartphones and tablets do not usually feature bulky USB ports. To get the files from a flash drive to your mobile gadget, you usually need a computer to use as an intermediate. And if you have a computer at hand, why open files on the smaller phone display? But there are times when there is no laptop at hand, or using one is simply inconvenient and you need to show photos or videos to your friends, for example. For situations like this some time ago SanDisk presented their Connect Wireless Stick. This is a USB 2.0 flash drive that can also connect to up to 3 gadgets at a time wirelessly. A tiny built-in battery will provide up to four and a half hours of wireless operation, and the drive can be set to automatically backup the files on your devices. The drive is offered in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 200GB storage capacity.

SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive in the use

Another Option

While USB flash drives are used with computers, digital cameras may need SD cards to store files. If you still do not have one, we can help you make a choice.

Detailed review of SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Additional Info

User Manual


SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive
SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive
 
Review of Lexar JumpDrive S45 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Lexar JumpDrive S45 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Lexar JumpDrive S45 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Security Above All

USB flash drives are tiny devices that can be easily lost or stolen, so when you use such a drive for work, it is often vital to protect the data on it. Most flash drives manufacturers know it and incorporate software or hardware encryption. Lexar is one of such manufacturers and they went to great lengths to provide security for your personal data. JumpDrive S45 comes with an EncryptStick™ Lite software, a high-level security solution based on FIPS 140-2 compliant 256-bit AES ciphers. Now it is pretty simple to keep your files really personal: you just create a password-protected vault that will automatically encrypt all the data. Additionally, we see it important to point out that the software also allows safe data removal in a way that no one can restore it afterward.

Review of Lexar JumpDrive S45 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Piece of Jewelry

The selection of USB drives on the market often forces the manufacturers to go out of their way and create devices that catch your eye when you simply pass by. When there are tons of options with similar capabilities, design might be that one thing that tips the balance. Some companies take it to the extreme. Swiss jewelry company La Maison Shawish offers its clients a truly luxurious USB flash drive designed by the company founder Mohamed Shawesh. The drive casing looks like a mushroom with a golden stem and a cap covered with diamonds and rubies/sapphires/emeralds. Open the cap and you will find a USB plug there. The storage capacity here is only 32GB but, sincerely, storage is hardly the thing that will bother you when you can pay up to $37,000 for a flash drive.

Lexar JumpDrive S45 USB 3.0 Flash Drive in the use

Expand the Connectivity

Netbooks and Ultrabooks, and recently some laptops, have fewer USB ports that we might find necessary. When the need to switch between the drives and devices all the time starts to set you on edge, it is time to consider a USB hub.

Additional Info

User Manual


Lexar JumpDrive S45 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
Lexar JumpDrive S45 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
 
Review of Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Outstanding Durability

Traveling and business trips sometimes find us in unexpected places and unpredictable weather conditions. If you bring your USB flash drive when you go hiking, for example, you might want to protect it from water, drops, impacts, extreme temperatures, UV or magnetic actions. This Samsung model, in addition to a very good data transfer speed, has a 5-level protection against aforementioned dangers. Now your valuable data is behind a sturdy shield; even if you drop this USB drive in water it will still work (up to 30 minutes 5 ft down underwater is safe). The casing is able to endure pretty hard falls and throws just fine, you won't accidentally break this drive. Finally, the temperature range in which Samsung BAR operates without lagging is quite wide too, 32°F to 140°F (0°C to 60°C) for a working temperature and 14°F to 158°F (-10°C to 70°C) for a non-operating one.

Review of Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Tie It Tight

One may think that high levels of physical protection would make a flash drive bulky and heavy, which is pretty inconvenient in a device created with a sole purpose of portability. But Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive is really lightweight, stylish and pleasant to touch. Ultrasmooth casing with laser pattern looks very hi-tech, and a large hole at the end is particularly convenient if you wish to use a flash drive as a keyfob or a phone strap. It can even hang on your bag or backpack, tied nicely. Having bought this USB flash drive, you get all in one, a reliable protection from damage, a stylish accessory, a lot of storage space for your data, and means to never lose it! A very practical choice, we believe. Good job, Samsung!

Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive in the use

Connectivity Means

Remember the times when you had to struggle to squeeze some music and pictures into your phone memory? Even now, with larger storage capacities, we sometimes find it lacking (after all, we now want movies to watch on the go). Today's tech world offers a way to connect a USB flash drive to your mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. An OTG (On-The-Go) connector has a USB port at one end and a miniUSB or a microUSB at the other. It is a moderately convenient option. Or you could purchase a microSD card and set it in your gadget as a constant storage. The choice is all yours.

Additional Info

User Manual


Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive
Samsung BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive
 
Review of SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

For Nearly Any Storage Needs

As we have already mentioned before, storage capacity is arguably the most important parameter we check when we choose a USB flash drive. It may happen, occasionally, that you find a drive that is good in every way possible, from technical specs to design, but there is a catch—the manufacturer did not include the very capacity you need. And you either close the tab and choose a different drive or you select between the smaller and larger storages. A smaller storage means you may need an additional device later, a larger one indicates overpaying some. It may not be too awful but it still leaves a sour aftertaste. And this will never happen with SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 flash drive as it is offered is one of the widest capacity ranges, from 8GB to 256GB (and all in-between options). What's more, you can bundle buy packs of 2x drives in 8GB and 16GB options. Care to buy "couple" drives for you and your sweetheart for Valentine's? Here's your profitable chance.

Review of SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

Slider

It happens all the time. The cap that protects a USB plug falls off and gets lost exposing the most important part of the flash drive to the dust and dirt of our environment. Or we can drop the drive into a backpack and then put something on it; the plug will bend under the weight. This results in malfunctioning and decreases the lifespan of your gadget. SanDisk solved this problem in Cruzer. The plug is not covered by the cap here, instead, it is retractable; with an economic motion, you can make it slide inside under the casing protection. No crumbs, no dust, no bending. This USB flash drive might not be the fastest option on the market but it is just perfect for students who carry their books and assignments together with their electronic copies on a flash drive. Reliable, efficient, comfortable.

SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive in the use

Everything In One Bag

Student or working adult, if you have a laptop it is definitely a necessity to have a special bag or a backpack with a variety of pockets to neatly organize all your gadgets and accessories. Never lose track of where all your things are.


SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive
SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive
 
Review of SanDisk iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive

SanDisk iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive

SanDisk iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive

Apple Users Will Love It

SanDisk iXpand flash drive is a perfect accessory for iPhone and iPad owners as it offers a possibility to free some space on your gadget in a blink of an eye without connecting it to a laptop. How so? Simple! While one end of a drive has a traditional USB 3.0 plug to connect to PCs and laptops, the other one features a Lightning plug to connect to your Apple devices. Push the Lightning plug into your iPhone and easily transfer photos, music, and video files to the flash drive. Then connect to your Mac or laptop to quickly free the flash drive when it’s full! Now you can take as many photos and record as many videos as your heart desires, the iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive will save the day when you run out of storage space.

Review of SanDisk iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive

Automatic Backup and Other Plus Points

The original iXpand Drive app (available in AppStore) can be customized to automatically backup any data on your iPad and iPhone every time you connect the drive to a gadget. This way, you won’t need to manually select every photo and video to copy. You simply connect the flash drive and it does all the work without bothering you.It is worth special mentioning that iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive incorporates an encryption software for you to share your data safely. Confidential information will stay confidential.You think that’s all? SanDisk disagrees. Here’s one more feature.With iXpand, you now can turn on the music and videos stored on a drive just like that, without having to transfer them to your iPhone or iPad. Save .wmv, .avi, .mkv, .mp4, .mov files on the drive and then play them right from there. Now this is some multifunctionality!

SanDisk iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive in the use

Classical Approach

There are still people and organizations all over the world that use optical discs but fewer and fewer laptops and desktop computers that feature an optical drive. When it is critical for you to record some data onto an optical disc but your PC is a new one (or an old one but the drive is dead), here is a solution — an external CD/DVD drive will take up pretty little space near your computer and it can be connected via the same USB port you use for your flash drives.

Additional Info

User Manual


SanDisk iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive
SanDisk iXpand USB/Lightning Flash Drive
 
Sources:

1. Guide to Choosing USB Flash DriveseBay. March 3, 2016.

2. Lisa Johnston 4 Tips For Buying a Flash DriveLifewire. June 18, 2014.

3. How to Buy a USB Flash Drive That's Right for You, wikiHow.

4. USB Flash Drive Buying Guide, Walmart

5. Ultimate Buying Guide for Custom Flash Drives,  Amsterdam Printing