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The best USB flash drives: What are your options?
USB flash drives may have lost some ground to cloud storage in recent years, but they still have important roles to play. They’re still one of the best ways to store your files locally and move files between devices. If you’re looking for some portable, pocket-sized storage, here are the best USB flash drives to consider.
Read more: Best external portable hard drives
Because folks use USB flash drives as temporary storage, it makes sense not to spend too much on one. In fact, they can be more expensive than external hard drives on a per-GB basis. However, spending a bit more than the average will get you options with surprising performance.
The best USB flash drives:
Editor’s note: We will update our list of the best USB flash drives over time.
1. Samsung Bar Plus
The Samsung Bar Plus is unlike any USB flash drive you may have used or owned. It features an all-metal casing, and the Bar Plus is a USB 3.1 flash drive capable of up to 300MB/s transfer speeds for the 128GB and 256GB versions. Transfer speeds lower to 200MB/s for the 32GB and 64GB versions, but that’s still fast for a flash drive.
Better yet, the Bar Plus is surprisingly rugged. It can survive up to 72 hours in seawater and is supposedly shock-proof, temperature-proof, magnet-proof, and X-ray-proof. That means you won’t have to worry about the Bar Plus tossing and turning in your bag.
The Samsung Bar Plus is available in 32, 64, 128, and 256GB versions.
2. SanDisk Extreme Pro
If you thought the Samsung Bar Plus was fast, wait until you check out the SanDisk Extreme Pro. Encased in aluminum, the Extreme Pro boasts read and write speeds of 420 and 380MB/s. The speeds make the Extreme Pro faster than most external hard drives and almost as fast as some portable SSDs.
Elsewhere, the aluminum casing is nice to see, and the flash drive comes with a lifetime limited warranty. You’re out of luck if you accidentally damage or misplace the Extreme Pro, but at least the warranty covers manufacturing defects.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro is available in 128GB and 256GB models.
3. Kingston Data Traveler Vault
You don’t get the Kingston Data Traveler Vault to get the fastest speeds from a flash drive. Instead, you get it for the peace of mind it gives you.
The Data Traveler Vault offers 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption. Getting the “Managed” model gives you a complete set of management tools and SafeConsole to support the aforementioned tools. There’s also an “anti-virus” version with built-in ESET anti-virus software.
The Kingston Data Traveler Vault starts at 4GB. It’s also available in 8, 16, 32, and 64GB sizes.
4. Apricorn Aegis Secure Key
If you want even more security protection from your USB flash drives and are willing to spend some money, check out the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key drive. Not only does it have 256-bit AES XTS hardware encryption, but it also has physical number/letter keys on the drive itself. You can unlock the drive by typing in a 7-16 character PIN before connecting the drive to your PC. In theory, this should keep any hidden key logger software on your PC from stealing your PIN.
This drive’s internal components are also protected as well. They are covered by a tough epoxy compound that should keep people from getting into its encryption circuitry. Other security features include support for self-destructing PINs, an auto-lock that keeps the drive safe if unattended, and the ultimate security of a full drive reset that clears all of the drive’s data and PINs.
These features mean that the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key is much more expensive than any of the USB flash drives on this list. In other words, don’t be surprised by the prices you see. It comes in 16, 30, 60, 120, 240, 480 and 1TB models.
5. Samsung Fit Plus
If you need an ultra-compact flash drive, take a look at the Samsung Fit Plus.
Barely smaller than my thumbnail when in use, the Fit Plus features transfer speeds of up to 300MB/s for the 128 and 256GB versions. The 32 and 64GB versions see a step-down to 200MB/s, but the speed remains impressive for a flash drive this size.
Also read: Here are the best Samsung Galaxy chargers
Even with its compact size, the Fit Plus is just as rugged as the Samsung Bar Plus. That means it can survive up to 72 hours in seawater and will do just fine in the elements.
The Samsung Fit Plus is available in 32, 64, 128, and 256GB versions.
6. SanDisk iXpand Go
The SanDisk iXpand Go is unlike most other flash drives you’ll come across. That’s because of the swivel design, which features USB Type-A and Lightning connectors. Yes, you can plug the iXpand Go directly into your iPhone or iPad.
Using the iXpand Drive app, you can transfer files back and forth between your iPhone and the iXpand Go. You can also use the app’s built-in camera viewfinder to save photos and videos onto the flash drive directly.
The SanDisk iXpand Go is available with 128 and 256GB of storage.
7. Corsair Flash Voyager
It’s far from the most cost-effective flash drive available, but the Corsair Flash Voyager isn’t for everyone to begin with. Instead, it’s for those who want near-portable SSD speeds in the size of a typical flash drive.
According to Corsair, the Flash Voyager delivers read and write speeds up to 440MB/s. Those are ridiculous speeds for a flash drive, but those speeds have been tested and verified. As a nice bonus, the Flash Voyager features a zinc-alloy housing with aluminum accents and an LED light to notify you when it’s in use.
The Corsair Flash Voyager is available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of storage.
8. Patriot Supersonic Boost XT
If you want a no-frills flash drive with a different aesthetic, the Patriot Supersonic Boost XT fits the bill nicely.
Instead of plastic or metal, the Boost XT features a rubberized housing with protection against water and other elements. Sequential read speeds supposedly reach up to 150MB/s, though speeds differ across the storage configurations.
The Patriot Supersonic Boost XT is available in 16, 32, 64, 128, and 256GB models.
9. Silicon Power C80
Featuring a metal exterior, the Silicon Power C80 features a 360-degree swivel cap with connectors for USB-C and USB-A 3.0. The swivel design protects whichever connector is not in use.
The keychain-friendly design keeps the C80 ultra-portable, while the plug-and-play nature keeps it easy to use. There’s an optional file management app if you want to improve your organization.
The Silicon Power C80 is available in 32, 64, and 128GB models.
10. PNY Turbo Attaché 3
The PNY Turbo Attaché 3 is a USB 3.0 drive with a collapsable USB-A port. That means that you can keep the USB connection nice and covered when it’s not in use. It also offers solid file transfer speeds as well.
You can get the PNY Turbo Attaché 3 in a variety of storage sizes. It comes in 32, 64, 128, and 25GB models. You also have the option of purchasing the 32GB flash drive in three-pack and five-pack bundles, which will save you some money.
That’s it for our list of the best flash drives available. Again, we will update this list when other USB flash drives are released.