Last updated: July 1, 2020

How we pick our products

19Products analyzed

18Hours invested

5Studies researched

95Comments collected

USB flash drives offer additional data storage space in a small, fast and transportable package. Their popularly is on the rise, as people amass countless documents, photos, songs and more. Luckily, this device fits right in your pocket or on a keychain. It’s always a good idea to have one on hand—you never know when you might need it!

In fact, you can probably think of a time when you needed one and didn’t have it, right? Or maybe you had one, but it was full. Regardless, if you’re ready to get a new USB flash drive, this guide will provide you with all the necessary information and tips.

Key Facts

  • USB flash drives are so small, lightweight and versatile. They’re ideal for the tech-filled world in which we live. You can keep one in your pocket, on a keychain or in your bag.
  • The memory capacity of these devices has continued to grow since the first models were developed.
  • Flash drives have many applications, from installing an operating system to backing up or transferring crucial documents. Some drives even offer specialized security systems to prevent their content from ending up in the wrong hands.

Our Selection: The Best USB Flash Drives on the U.S. Market

In this section, we’ve put together a list of the best USB flash drives currently available on the US market. Each one has some unique features, but all offer great value for price. We hope you’ll find one that suits your needs.

The Best USB Flash Drive for Smartphone Use

The EATOP 128GB USB Flash Drive can be easily used with pretty much any device, as it comes with three different ports: iPhone, Micro USB and USB 3.0. Storing and transferring your favorite photos, music and documents couldn’t be any simpler. This device offers USB 3.0 transfer speeds, writing up to 30 MB/s and reading 80 MB/s. With the iPhone port in particular, the speeds are bit lower, at 30 MB/s for reading and 10 MB/s for writing.

The EATOP drive is extremely light, weighing just .28 ounces, and it’s small enough to keep in your pocket or bag with no trouble. Just load it up with your videos and music, so that you can save precious storage space on your most-used devices.

The Best Value USB Flash Drive

SanDisk is a global leader in flash memory products, such as memory cards, solid-state drives and, of course, USB flash drives. Their Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive comes in a range of sizes to suit your storage needs and budget. Choose from anywhere between 16 and 256 GB.

The SanDisk Cruzer is a reliable, easy way to store photos, videos and music. Leave your cumbersome laptop at home, and instead take this lightweight, pocketable drive. To make sure your most important files are safe, this item includes a SecureAccess software download, which allows your to password-protect your data. This device can be used with Mac and Windows operating systems, and it comes with a 5-year warranty.

The Best USB Flash Drive for Portability

The RUICHENXI 64GB USB Flash Drive offers not only high-quality storage, but also style and durability. The nickel-plated aluminum surface looks great and withstands the elements. This drive is waterproof and resists duty, static, magnetism and high temperatures. It even comes with a metal buckle, so you can easily attached it to your keys or a lanyard.

With USB 2.0 speeds, transferring, sharing and storing files happens in a snap. This drive offers write speeds of up to 50 MB/s and read speeds of up to 100 MB/s. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. It also comes with a lifetime warranty! Don’t miss out on this great item.

The Best USB Flash Drive Pack for Frequent Users

You may want to invest in a pack of USB flash drives right from the start. It’s always good to have a few on hand, especially because they’re easy to lose. They’re also great for distributing documents or other files to colleagues or clients. Enfain sells this 10 pack, which comes in sizes ranging from just 128 MB up to 32 GB.

Each drive in this pack features a different stunning color, allowing you to color code the drives. It also comes with labels that you can use to stay organized. A 360-degrees rotating aluminum cover protects the USB port, but can be easily adjusted for use. Just plug the drive in, and you’re ready to go. These drives will work with Windows, Mac and Linux.

Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Should Know About USB Flash Drives

When purchasing a new USB flash drive, also known as a memory stick, it’s important that you ask a handful of important questions. Not all USB flash drives offer the same features. In this section, we’ll go through some of the most frequently asked questions from buyers just like you.

Storage

USB flash drives are storage devices that can be used to exchange or transfer data very easily.
(Source: Lassedesignen: 36588464/ 123rf.com)

What exactly is a USB Flash Drive?

USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash drives are portable data storage devices. They use a technology called flash memory to save data. This type of technology dates back to the year 2000, when the first units of this kind were released publicly. Flash drives may be referred to as pen drives, USB sticks or memory sticks.

foco

Before USB sticks were developed, CDs were commonly used to transport data and information.

What are the primary applications of USB flash drives?

Although there is a growing trend to store data in the virtual ‘cloud,’ USB flash drives still offer a number of important applications. They can be used to install operating systems, back up files and transfer documents.

USB drives can also be used to play audiovisual content on a smart TV or to record programs, series or movies on TVs that allow for it. Similarly, USB drives can be used with game consoles to save games.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of USB flash drives?

The main advantage of flash drives is certainly the fact that they’re transportable and take up a very small amount of space. They also allow information to be exchanged from one device to another in a quick and easy manner.

Nonetheless, USB drives are vulnerable to voltage fluctuations and blowouts. In addition, flash drives may experience issues after extended use. They’re also easy to lose, because they’re so tiny!

How do I use a USB flash drive?

Using a USB flash drive is very simple. When using a desktop computer or laptop, just insert the flash drive into the designated USB slot on the side or back of the device. Then you can access the drive from your computer, in order to copy and move files or run and install applications. For smart TVs or game consoles, follow the on-screen instructions or check the manual.

How long will a USB flash drive last?

Generally, a flash drive lasts an average of about 3,000 – 5,000 writing cycles. That equals about 4 to 5 years of life if you use it about two times each day. That’s pretty good, considering you’ll probably lose it or loan it out before it dies on you!

Who should buy a USB flash drive?

These devices are so practical that really anyone can benefit from having one. Flash drives are perfect for moving documents and other files, like movies or songs, from one computer to another. Some companies even put their logos on flash drives and give them away during different promotions.

Advantages
  • Small and light
  • Practical and versatile
  • Affordable
  • Fast and secure information exchange
Disadvantages
  • Easy to lose
  • Vulnerable to shocks
  • Vulnerable to voltage changes

What care does a USB flash drive require?

It’s very important not to drop your flash drive or expose it to other hard impacts, as this may cause it to stop functioning. Similarly, try to avoid keeping a flash drive in a humid environment or exposing it to very hot or cold temperatures. Also, be sure to properly eject your flash drive before removing it from any device.

Woman hand plugging an usb pendrive on a laptop at home

Quality comes at a price, but it’s definitely worth it to invest in a quality drive. High end USB flash drives can reach into the hundreds, but you’ll find a variety of prices on the market.
(Source: Guillem: 34176532/ 123rf.com)

Shopping Criteria

Before you go out to buy your new flash drive, there are some important criteria that you should bear in mind, in order to make the right choice. We certainly don’t want you to be disappointed with your new USB stick after just a few days or months. Here are the criteria:

Intended Use

When purchasing a USB flash drive, you should be clear about what the intended use is. Maybe you need one for something specific, such as installing an operating system. Or maybe you plan to use it for transferring documents between computers. Whatever you decide, some clarity regarding usage will be helpful in the shopping process.

Storage Capacity

The capacity of a USB flash drive is fundamental. Luckily, today’s flash drives offer a relatively large amount of storage space for a reasonable price. You can find a 64 GB USB stick for under thirty dollars. Think about how much space you need, and remember, a bit more can never hurt!

USB thumb drive with hand holding on keyboard background

Because these drives are so small, you may want to look for one that can be kept on a keyring.
 (Source: Kongkiatpaiboon: 61724272/ 123rf.com

Speed

Data transfer speed can is a critical factor to consider if you need to copy a lot of information in a short amount of time. On that note, you should be familiar with the difference between USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and, most recently, USB 3.1 standards. The table below outlines the various speeds.

USB 2.0 USB 3.0 USB 3.1
Transfer rate (theoretical) 480 Mb/s 5 Gbps 10 Gbps

Please note that these are theoretical values. The real speed can vary. Some manufacturers advertise peak data rather than average speeds. Also be aware that there’s a difference between read and write speeds.

File Format

The format, or file system, is the way a memory unit organizes the content or information it stores. Usually, before you use a flash drive, or any similar storage device, it needs to be formatted.

Be sure to choose a drive that will function with your computer or other device, or look into different utilities available that allow you to format the USB flash drive easily and quickly.

Resistance

There’s nothing worse than losing your important files because a flash drive suddenly stops working. Even though there are some methods of recovering data, this doesn’t always work. So, as the saying goes, prevention is better than treatment.

A fairly common problem with flash drives is their low resistance to voltage changes. Additionally, USB flash drives are often subjected to shock and vibration. Because of this, you should look for a drive made from quality materials that can withstand some wear and tear.

Physical USB Flash Drive Construction

These days, you’ll find drives in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are retractable, some have lids, some don’t. They’re made of plastic, metal or even in the form of a key ring, among other options. Whichever design you prefer, just make sure it’s durable.

Sensitivity of the Data Stored

If you’re planning to save very sensitive data, you may want to look into drives with a hardware encryption system. That way, if you lose it, no one will be able to access the stored data.

Brand

The brand of a flash drive is often closely related to aspects such as quality, warranty, durability and price. Some of the most recognized USB flash drive brands are: SanDisk, Lexar, Samsung, Novoo and Kingston.

Summary

Even though we live in a hyper-connected, increasingly virtual world, USB flash drives are still an essential way to store and transfer data. They’re small, easy to use and versatile.

If you’re planning to buy yourself a new drive, you should keep some important factors in mind. Price is a key factor, as is the storage capacity and transfer speed. Durability and branding should not be forgotten either.

We hope this guide has been helpful. If so, please leave a comment with your thoughts, and share this article with your friends via social media!

(Source of Featured Image: Intaravichian: 57531878/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?