Best USB Flash Drives - USB memory sticks for all your data storage needs
Last updated: 9 October, 2021
Think for a minute that your documents are safer on paper, you better think again.
Having a USB drive opens up all the possibilities and allows you to share information with your colleagues, friends and others.
The world identifies USB ports as a technology that will probably never become obsolete, and we'll explain why in this guide, after showing you the top ten drives on the market.
From start to finish, we've covered everything you need to know.
Compact and durable shape, 64 GB capacity, Large keyhole, Compatible with PC, Windows, Vista and MacRead Our Review
Ready-to-use operation, Compact and durable, Read speeds up to 130mb / sRead Our Review
1. Samsung 32GB Metal USB Memory Stick - Best Overall
- Dimensions: 1.57 x 0.48 x 0.43 inches
- Weight: 0.304 ounces
We cannot stay away from Samsung. This USB stick is so cool that we fell in love with it. First of all, it's totally minimalist; there are no slippery or fragile pieces of overlapping plastic.
It's all metal, and slips right into your USB slot without any hassle. It has USB 3.0 connectivity, but in an odd turn of events it writes much faster (212 Mbps on average) than it reads, which sits at 150 Mbps.
While it's a little weird, we like the mix of staying slim and small to stay out of the way, while still being simple to plug in and play, or push straight out of the port.
Samsung also wanted a SanDisk one-up, so they slammed a five-year warranty on it. There are few or no reports of problems on arrival.
So put this warranty aside for rainy days, and let the data transfer begin. And don't forget not to leave it on your desk when you leave the house.
2. SanDisk Extreme 3.0 Flash Drive USB - USB 3.0
- Dimensions: 0.45 x 0.84 x 2.79 inches
- Weight: 0.64 ounces
Did you expect less? SanDisk is a leading supplier of USB drives and SD / MicroSD cards, wherever you look.
They have managed to stay on top thanks to their build quality and attention to detail.
This comes with USB 3.0, but is also backward compatible with 2.0, although keep in mind your Mbps will drop as a result.
The chassis is quite large, so it can be difficult to comfortably fit into your laptop's USB port.
You get up to 64GB of storage, with an average write speed of between 250Mbps and 190Mbps read, allowing you to achieve the full capacity of this USB drive in just four minutes.
SanDisk, of course, builds one of the highest quality USB drives out there, evident by their huge consumer base, known reliability, and stellar warranty policies on all products.
Be sure to check out our e-gift guide for more great great items like this.
3. SanDisk Cruzer 2.0 USB - Best Adjustable
- Dimensions: 2.31 x 0.8 x 0.4 inches
- Weight: 0.035 ounces
SanDisk is back on track with another killer USB drive: Cruzer. You buy this to store information, maybe sensitive data to store elsewhere, and that's good: it works great for that.
With good read and write speed in Mbps, it does its job, all at a very low price. We picked the 128GB model for the best cost / GB ratio.
Which gives you immense value (you won't believe the price they've been keeping it for a few years, which got them over 18,000 reviews. on Amazon).
However, anything on our pro / con lists has a flaw or two. This one is pretty minor - it comes with a few extra features like password protection for your files, but it's basically useless.
It's so easy to get around that it doesn't weigh on any purchasing decision. While that was a bit daunting, you get the sturdy exterior construction with a sliding feature.
Keep the internal components safe, and hang it around a lanyard to keep it flashy (maybe our worst pun yet).
4. 128 GB Samsung 128 GB USB 3.1 Flash Drive - Best Read Speed
- Dimensions: 0.9 x 0.7 x 0.3 inches
- Weight: 0.112 ounces
You may have noticed how small and portable this Samsung device is and how easy it seems to get lost.
However, the Samsung MUF-128AB / AM USB 3.1 USB flash drive is elegantly designed to stay nicely inserted into the system by storing the files and serving as a reliable backup device.
Have this remarkably compact device that exudes an unobtrusive and unified look on your desktop at all times.
This is the best way to add additional storage to a cramped computer system without risking damage to the external device.
It securely and reliably stores video, photo, music, and document files for easy 24-hour access.
By staying fixed in the system, it saves time and provides additional file storage space with speed. Reliable playback speed of up to 300MB / s.
Of course, this speed varies depending on the host system, but without any limitation, this compact USB drive makes it easy to transfer a full 3GB UHD movie in a quick ten seconds.
This small, compact and compact device is a reliable storage medium for vital and important files over time.
The metal body is reinforced to resist water spills and submersion as well as high temperatures.
He also braves the shock, permanently retaining all information even after a dangerous fall.
Still not sure about the size? The included keyhole should help protect you from easy loss and more easily keep it with you when not plugged into the computer.
5. Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 32GB USB 2.0 USB 2.0 Flash Drive - Best 2 Pack
- Dimensions: 0.4 x 0.2 x 1.5 inches
- Weight: 0.608 ounces
Apart from large computers and laptops that don't take care of long or extra-large storage devices, the smaller counterparts that come with USB ports would definitely need something more portable.
Kingston's DataTraveler SE9 USB Flash SE9 is a small and compact model designed for small and large systems.
For tablets and laptops that are noticeably smaller, this portable device works great for a well-balanced look on these devices.
This USB comes with a metal casing that ensures increased durability and a sleek, easy-to-grip shape.
Whether thrown or dropped to the ground with the key fob, the sturdy, reinforced body can absorb shock without compromising the security of the data held in its memory.
It's handy enough to carry in a bag or even a suit pocket that slips in neatly and sits compactly.
There is no giving the extra-affordable price of this high-end device, it is one of the more affordable flash drives you will find that doesn't play on efficiency.
With a capacity of 34 GB, you have generous space to store photos, videos, music, work and school documents and other personal files.
The advantage of the Kingston SE9 is its wide range of compatibility with Windows 7-8.1, Vista and Mac computers.
For the price, this USB 2.0 flash drive is good for read / write speed, and with its large keyhole, it will easily make a great addition to your keychain.
6. SanDisk 128GB Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive - Best Hardware
- Dimensions: 1.17 x 0.56 x 0.2 inches
- Weight: 0.048 ounces
The SanDisk 128GB USB 3.1 Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive comes in a simple, compact form that would easily stick to your computer, acting as an excellent 24-hour backup and transfer agent.
Thanks to its large memory capacity , this flash can store a large number of images, videos and music files, as well as work / school documents and personal files with a simple tap-tap operation.
The flash is able to transfer files much faster than a conventional USB 2.0 key; File transfer is 15 times faster than standard USB devices, saving transfer time and using and enjoying content.
With a read speed of 130MB / s, a full HD movie can be transferred to the player in less than half a minute.
SanDisk Signature Secure Access ensures that your private data will always be protected and hidden from the public eye, unless the correct password is in place.
In addition to this, SanDisk recovery software ensures that lost files or mistakenly deleted documents are safely recovered and ensures that you never lose important content again.
From high speeds to extra space and reliable storage, this SanDisk with a keyhole makes a large and portable USB flash drive for that uninterrupted, day-to-day user experience.
7. Turbo PNY USB Flash Drive - Best Compatible
- Dimensions: 2.26 x 0.8 x 0.43 inches
- Weight: 0.198 ounces
PNY was the brand that you saw on the shelves of Wal Mart or Staples, thought about it and decided to buy it anyway.
The truth is, it was the mark of the underdogs, but their attention to detail and desire to deliver immeasurable quality really caught our attention.
First of all, it has a blazing read speed with the USB 3.0 connection, and is completely backward compatible with your 2.0 ports.
This is detected quickly, and gives you very quick access to your files.
On the other hand, the plastic cap that comes with it is actually a mess.
After the first use, it no longer sticks, and the space between it and the base of the reader allows it to be easily removed.
Without too much taste for the exterior, it gets the job done and saves you a ton of money in the long run.
PNY also offers free technical support, so if you have any issues, give them a quick call. A + to their customer service representatives.
8. Mini Fit 128 GB Samsung 128 GB USB stick - Stainless Steel
- Dimensions: 0.28 x 0.75 x 0.94 inches
- Weight: 0.109 ounces
Samsung is another tried and trusted brand that specializes in everything electronics. That's what brought us to this USB drive, and it fired on [almost] all of the cylinders.
First off, for a 3.0, it has a laughable data transfer speed. On average, it takes around 40 Mbps, which doesn't really get you where you need to go.
On the other hand, they don't mess around with this low cost.
They built this little beauty with 128GB of internal memory, while also making it waterproof and shockproof, which increases the bet a bit.
Most USB flash drive manufacturers ignore the environmental collateral damage that occurs, but Samsung was thinking of something else.
If you're okay with waiting a few more minutes for mega-sized files, you'll benefit from the thumbnail size and full capabilities.
Don't forget to combine it with a cool wireless keyboard from our list.
9. Kingston Digital Data Traveler USB Memory Stick - Standard Packaging
- Dimensions: 0.4 x 0.83 x 2.65 inches
- Weight: 0.364 ounces
Kingston was another one of those digital giants who turned into USB sticks, and who caused quite a stir.
This USB 3.0 key is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 technology and ports, while offering the best warranty on the market.
Kingston offers a five-year warranty directly on every USB drive, and that's no small feat.
There have been a few reviews we've seen with a DOA review, each citing that the warranty works like a charm.
When you get to the dark side, it seems like that's the problem a lot of these brands face: slow write speeds.
We had a sporadic number bouncing around so other than being generally slow he didn't seem to want to stay within the lines.
Now where else can you get 128GB of storage power for such a low cost, in a super durable case? Not a lot of places.
As with the others, if you're not very keen on transferring GB format files in the time it takes to snap your fingers, you're going to get by with Kingston's Data Traveler.
Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best USB C cables.
10. Patriot Supersonic Rage Series USB 3.0 - Up to 400MB/sec
- Dimensions: 0.39 x 0.83 x 2.09 inches
- Weight: 0.317 ounces
I mean, with a name like that, there must be some confident marketers, right? The only rage you are going to feel with this product is if you are a Linux user.
Although they market it as a Linux 2.4 compatible USB drive, that's not entirely true.
Many users have reported bugs that prevent it from reading and writing on Linux, but on Windows and Mac it was fine.
You have 128 GB of storage space, and we have to give credit where credit is due.
You'll be able to put that storage capacity to good use, as you'll actually get decent read / write speed.
400 Mbps read, 200 Mbps write, which allows transfers of five to six seconds in GB, which can be very convenient.
Apart from all that is internal, you want to be protected from the outside, don't you? Boom.
They've covered you with a rubber case that prevents spills and drops, so you can keep going, even when fate has prevented you from doing so.
And to protect your Mac, don't forget to also check out our list of the best MacBook Pro cases.
Reviews - Good and bad reviews from real users allow us to get a glimpse of a product before we buy it.
We go for the highest reviews first and comb through the different reviews in each star level (for Amazon products), in order to get a feel for our shortlist before ordering them ourselves.
Quality - It depends on the material of the case, internal speed (we'll get to that in a moment), as well as whether there are any covers, housings, or slide buttons. If it's built to last and gets the job done quickly and efficiently, then it's on our list.
Brand - Brand loyalty is a dying trait to own, so we see it this way: if Brand A and Brand B each produce ten products, but Brand A has more good quality products.
Then we are more likely to follow them. This is a simple calculation through a process of elimination, so we believe that brands no longer have the loyalty to hang on to what they used to do, and instead of this is based on data and performance.
Price - When does this not impact a decision? We would all like to live in a world where we can go for our favorite product or the "best" product we want, but the price will always be a determining factor.
We have kept a specific line going at the time of writing this list.
Features to look for in USB drives
Storage - After all, what's the point if you don't have excellent storage? If you're like us, you're carrying large files, photos, and editing tools on the go for your site and work.
A USB drive should never replace your hard drive for storage, but with some of them, they're big enough to be your digital home away from home.
Speed - We'll discuss the intricacies of speed later in the guide, but just be aware that you should be looking at USB 3.0 drives, with a high Mbps conversion rate.
Size - No storage: physical size. They called these USB drives for a reason, but now you can get them as small as the USB insert section and maybe 1/16 of an inch from an external enclosure.
However, we're still fans of big USB drives that can't slip through slots in the floor.
Ease of Use - No one does it right the first time: 50% of all attempts to plug in your USB will be backwards. It's just Murphy's Law.
However, we are talking about how quickly you can connect and open your PC / Laptop, how easy it is to eject, etc.
Design - Come on, there are some seriously epic designs out there.
While that's not the main factor you should consider, it doesn't hurt to want a USB drive that you're proud to pull out when it's time to plug it in.
What is a USB key?
These mobile storage banks allow you to access local files on the go, so whether you use it for work or personal use, you can store, access, and edit everything (with no major programs to open) right from your usb drive, eject it, and be on your merry way.
They are especially useful for IT professionals who need to have small programs and solutions in their pocket so that they can jump on a customer's computer and fix the problem in no time.
In today's technological landscape, the ever-changing information world, the use of USB drives is endless.
In case you haven't noticed, the USB format isn't going anywhere: restaurants, hospitals, and even external access ports all put USB outlets right in the wall.
Desktop USB power strips sell better than AC adapter power strips. This format and the unlimited use of a USB stick are here to stay.
What are the advantages of a USB key?
Here are the top reasons why most people like to have a USB drive, and their top benefits.
Compatibility: Almost every device on the planet will recognize and become compatible with your USB drive.
This puts the power in your hand, whether you go from Mac to PC using a multi-format drive to extract your files, your USB drive is going to be applicable just about anywhere.
More durable than hard drives: No, we're not talking about floppy disks. Your hard drive is made up of moving parts and disks, but your USB, in part because it doesn't hold a metric ton of data, doesn't need all of these to function properly.
It is an unused miniature hard drive that stores data without being in constant motion.
File transfer speeds can be crazy: In a moment, we'll break down 2.0 and 3.0, but whatever version you use, USB drives offer a much more reliable and faster transfer speed than most speeds.
Even over very fast Internet connections. You rely on hardware right in front of you: it won't crumble or drop due to weather conditions or your connection, and it provides more reliable and robust transfer ETAs.
Safely Backup: Using multiple USB drives is famous among editors who want to back up their data, keep it away from the prying eyes of the internet, and have some reassurance when other storage media or backup methods.
In the clouds do not work. It's rare, but if that fails, you have local storage in a slot in your desk drawer. Their only kryptonite is magnets.
What is the difference between a USB 2.0 and 3.0 flash drive?
There is a fantastic difference between 2.0 and 3.0, starting with compatibility. If you are using a PC with multiple USB ports, they are not all the same.
You have a few 2.0 ports and maybe one or two 3.0 ports, which only work with 3.0 configurations.
While most of these can be applied to external devices like HDMI adapter cables and others, they also allow your USB 3.0 drive to spread its wings and live up to the potential of ultra transfer speed. fast.
USB 2.0 drives usually have a file transfer speed limited to 480 Mbps (which is still great), but your 3.0 can be ten times faster than 4.6 Gbps.
Yes, you can transfer entire video game files of 40 GB or more in less than fifteen seconds. It's pretty amazing, isn't it?
Now, as we said earlier, it depends on a number of factors. While these 3.0 transfer rates can be blazingly fast, that's as long as you have everything in tip-top shape.
More generally, you're going to see an average speed of between 100 Mbps and 250 Mbps from a USB 3.0 drive, which still puts that mega-sized video game file at 3-7 minutes for transfer, maximum.
When the conditions are right, immediate satisfaction is within your reach. When it doesn't, it's still much faster than any other form of convenient data transfer.
Over time, most of the data gets bigger and bigger, flashier and flashier (pun intended), and provides us with more resolution and graphical improvements.
This means that larger files require higher transfer speeds to make your USB drive worth the time and money.
What is the lifespan of the data on a USB stick?
Your USB drive storage isn't made of diamonds; it will degrade eventually, but not the way you think.
A lot of sites (looking at you, eHow) scared people to death with this ten year old thing. In truth, it's more technical than that.
The plastic housing and metal interior parts will not deteriorate in ten years. If so, we wouldn't have a pollution problem, would we? You only get a limited number of write cycles.
So the more you write to that USB drive and erase it, the less time you'll have to do so in the future.
Think of it like a bowl of crackers, and every time you use your USB drive to write or delete data, you're eating a cracker. The bowl is going to dry up eventually, right?
This is why multiple backups are good. You can store a lot of files on a USB drive, put it away, and it will still work twenty years later. Write cycles, not time.
THE TEAM THAT WORKED ON THIS REVIEW
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- Comparison Table
- Best Overall Samsung 32GB Metal USB Memory Stick
- USB 3.0 SanDisk Extreme 3.0 Flash Drive USB
- Best Adjustable SanDisk Cruzer 2.0 USB
- Best Read Speed 128 GB Samsung 128 GB USB 3.1 Flash Drive
- Best 2 Pack Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 32GB USB 2.0 USB 2.0 Flash Drive
- Best Hardware SanDisk 128GB Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive
- Best Compatible Turbo PNY USB Flash Drive
- Stainless Steel Mini Fit 128 GB Samsung 128 GB USB stick
- Standard Packaging Kingston Digital Data Traveler USB Memory Stick
- Up to 400MB/sec Patriot Supersonic Rage Series USB 3.0
- Buying Guide