Despite the growing popularity of online ways for sharing digital data, such as cloud storage, instant messaging, and email, there is still a place for old-school techniques like USB flash drives. They’ve long been a dependable and compact means to take, share, and store data while on the go, especially for large files or when internet connectivity isn’t accessible.
Consider what the drive’s primary use will be and who will utilise it when purchasing a USB flash drive. If you’re a frequent business traveller, a more secure USB flash drive may be preferable, while if you abuse your equipment, a metal or waterproof version may be worth considering.
What to Look for in a USB Flash Drive
Speed & Compatibility
One of the most important considerations in your USB flash drive choice is compatibility with the systems you intend to use. As a result, check the specs of both the flash drive and the USB ports on your computer to ensure that the read and write rates are appropriate for your patience level. It also matters whether you use Windows, Mac, or Linux, as switching between machines may result in read-only or compatibility issues.
USB flash drive storage capacity ranges from 32GB to 1TB, with prices increasing as the capacity increases. Some users may require more storage than others: video files, for example, require more storage than images or normal business documents. Consider how much data capacity you’ll require when selecting a USB flash drive.
If the price difference isn’t too great, it’s worth buying a little more, but the higher-capacity ones can rapidly blow your budget if you’re not careful.
It’s also worth thinking about the USB flash drive’s design. Do you prefer a device that is smaller and more compact? If this is the case, you may be losing capacity or transfer speed in order to save space. You can pay quite a bit more for a more elegant, professional-looking, and sturdy USB flash drive, such as a metal one, than for a plastic one.
While flash drives have become quicker, smaller, and more capable over time, their longevity has not always kept up. These are delicate electronic devices that can be harmed if bumped around. Most flash drives on the market endure a few years on average, however, they can be significantly shortened by heat, impact, and moisture.
As a result, in addition to a more durable casing, you may wish to search for water resistance.
Anyone who uses electronics while travelling should be concerned about device security (or at least should be). Look for a device that encrypts and secures your data with a fingerprint reader, pinpad, or password security if keeping your contents safe from anyone who gets their hands on your flash drive is vital to you. Here are our selections for the best USB flash drives in 2021, based on all of these considerations.
1. Best USB C Flash Drive on a Budget: MOSDART Type C Thumb Drive
In recent years, USB C has become increasingly prevalent on phones, tablets, and PCs, and for good reason. With a reversible and easy-to-insert plug, you can charge at high speeds, copy files, and connect accessories all from the same socket. USB C flash drives, on the other hand, have been sluggish to materialize, which seems odd given that they offer quicker transfer speeds than older models and have a handy reversible connection that eliminates the need to fumble around trying to connect them.
The MOSDART Type C Thumb Drive requires no additional software, has a read speed of up to 85Mbps, and comes with two connectors: USB C for newer devices and USB-A for older ones. This flash drive is compatible with most phone cases and comes with a lanyard for easy carrying. It comes in capacities ranging from 64 to 256GB.
It’s not the quickest USB 3.0 drive we’ve seen, but it’ll be enough for most purposes, especially given the price. This is the one to get if you just want a USB flash drive that works with both new and older devices at a fair price.
2. Best USB 3.0 Flash Drive: Patriot Supersonic Rage Elite
A USB 3.0 Flash Drive transfers data faster than its 2.0 predecessor, with a maximum (theoretical) transfer rate of 5 gigabits per second. With transfer speeds of up to 400 MB/s and storage capacities ranging from 64GB to 1TB, the Patriot Supersonic Rage Elite lives up to its name.
This variant also has a rubberized shell for added durability, as well as a slide mechanism that protects the USB port from dust and debris. It’s also available in a variety of colours. When it comes to speed, the Patriot Supersonic Rage Elite should have you raging to get your hands on one.
3. Best-Designed USB Flash Drive: Samsung Duo Plus
Buyers may use this drive with almost any computer or non-Apple phone because it comes with a USB C connector and a USB-A converter. This sleek and tiny USB flash drive features a water-resistant construction and is ideal for business travellers or people who don’t want to carry extra adapters.
The Samsung Duo Plus is an all-around top pick for speed, durability, reliability, and broad compatibility across a range of devices, with up to 400MB/s data transfer speed and a five-year limited warranty.
4. Best USB Flash Drive With Fingerprint Reader: Lexar LJDF35
If you’re concerned about security, the Lexar LJDF35 Jumpdrive includes a fingerprint scanner in its base that can store up to 10 fingerprints. This biometric security feature encrypts your files with AES-256 encryption and unlocks in under a second, but the accompanying app is only compatible with Windows machines.
On other computers, though, you can use it as a conventional, unencrypted drive. The read speed of this drive is 150Mbps, which isn’t the fastest in the world but isn’t bad. The Lexar LJDF35 Jumpdrive is a safe investment for travellers if you have a Windows machine, thanks to its fingerprint security and three-year warranty.
5. Best Password Protected USB Flash Drive: iStorage datAshur PRO 2
You were mistaken if you assumed passwords were solely for inputting on a computer screen! For maximum data security, this iStorage datAshur PRO 2 includes a spy-like keypad. Strong encryption and the pinpad provide a visual deterrent to thieves, making the drive one of the best solutions for business and recreational travellers concerned about data protection.
When the user PIN is entered incorrectly 10 times, the PIN is erased, leaving only the admin PIN as a means of accessing data. If you type it incorrectly 10 times, the drive and encryption key will be permanently erased. Because of the complexity of the encryption/decryption process, transfer speeds aren’t as fast as normal USB 3.0 devices, but at 168Mbps read and 116Mbps write, it’s still rather fast.
You’ll have plenty of room to store all of your essential papers with capacity options ranging from 4 to 512GB. To keep you safe from Mother Nature, this Pro version of the drive is composed of metal and is dust and water resistant. There’s also a less expensive Personal variant that’s built of strong plastic but lacks the same weatherproofing. We previously evaluated the Personal version of this drive and were very satisfied.
6. Best Metal USB Flash Drive: HP USB 3.0 Metal Hook Flash Drive
With the heavy-duty build of this lightning-fast flash drive, durability is the word of the game. The HP USB 3.0 Metal Hook Flash Drive is tough enough to withstand the rigours of rigorous travel for individuals afraid about losing, cracking, or injuring their device—and losing the data it stores.
It comes with a spring-loaded clip so you can attach it to your keychain and take it with you on the go, and owing to its tough metal case, you won’t have to worry about it breaking. It’s a solid pick for travel in every sense of the term, with capacities ranging from 16GB to 128GB and the backing of a well-known brand name.
7. Best Budget USB Flash Drive: SamData USB Flash Drive
If you’re looking for compact storage at a low price, this flash drive should satisfy your needs. This simple drive is plug-and-play, so no additional software is required. The SamData 32GB USB flash drive is available in bundles of two or four and works on a variety of platforms (Linux, Windows, and Mac).
Each drive in most packs is a different colour to make it easier to differentiate them. Because it’s just USB 2.0 compatible, don’t expect lightning-fast rates, especially when writing huge files. This SamData model, on the other hand, will suffice if all you need is a simple, no-fuss USB flash drive with a useful quantity of storage space at a low price.
8.Best High Capacity USB Flash Drive: Sandisk Extreme Pro
The Sandisk Extreme Pro comes in four capacities ranging from 128GB to 1TB, making it suitable for almost any portable file storage requirement. This USB 3.0 flash drive is ideal for filmmakers, photographers, and anybody else working with large files, and it’s also substantially faster than others, with read and write rates of 420MB/s and 380MB/s, respectively.
That’s fast enough to copy a 4K movie file from start to finish in under 15 seconds. The rugged aluminium shell provides lots of physical protection, and the Sandisk SecureAccess software included with the drive ensures that your data is similarly safe. Look no further than the superb Sandisk Extreme Pro if you’re seeking for a tough yet high-performing USB flash storage device with a large capacity.
In 2021, the USB flash drive market will be a plethora of options. USB flash storage offers an unequalled combination of portability, versatility, and transfer speed at very low costs, from the security of a fingerprint scanner to large capacity for storing and sharing all of your photos and video recordings. Cloud storage may be the way of the future, but flash drives have a long life ahead of them!