The 10 Best Flash Drives

Updated September 19, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Flash Drives
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. External hard drives used to be the only way to transfer large amounts of data, but not anymore. Need a pocket-sized device to transport and store your music, pictures, and videos? One of these flash drives will do the job -- and fast. They're tiny enough to stick in your pocket and come in a whole range of designs and capacities that add a new meaning to "flash". When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best flash drive on Amazon.

10. Silicon Power Blaze B30

The Silicon Power Blaze B30 has a swiveling cover, allowing it to open in four different positions with just the push of a thumb. It has an LED indicator light to track your data transfer status and the company guarantees it to last through 50,000 uses.
  • diamond cut pattern
  • free file recovery software
  • heats up transferring large files
Brand Silicon Power
Model SP128GBUF3B30V1KBT
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Corsair Voyager Slider

From a company that made its name making high-quality computer memory, the Corsair Voyager Slider offers high performance speed and a convenient one-piece design at an affordable price. It works with all major operating systems including Windows, Mac, and even Linux.
  • highly tactile feel
  • led indicator light
  • large size may block other usb ports
Brand Corsair
Model CMFSL3B-128GB
Weight 0.2 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Patriot Supersonic Boost XT

If you're going to be doing data-transfer in the muddy jungle, than you'll want to pick up the Patriot Supersonic Boost XT. It's wrapped in a durable rubberized housing that safeguards this choice from shock and makes it water resistant.
  • removable cap for protection
  • very fast read speeds
  • cap can be easily lost
Brand Patriot
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Lacie Xtremekey

The Lacie Xtremekey is for those who always find themselves in precarious situations. It's protected in a metal cone that's engineered to withstand 10 tons of pressure. So even when your dad accidentally runs it over, you can rest assured your data will stay intact.
  • robust 256-bit encryption
  • waterproof to 200 meters
  • free cloud storage
Brand LaCie
Model LAC9000445
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. PNY Pro Elite

Coated in a premium gunmetal finish, the PNY Pro Elite is an exceptional storage accessory. The retractable casing protects the data inside when not in use, and it's slim enough to not touch any adjacent devices plugged in next to it.
  • compatible with macs and pcs
  • solid and sturdy metal construction
  • read speeds up to 400mb per second
Brand PNY
Model P-FD128PRO-GE
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Samsung Bar

At first glance, the Samsung Bar appears to be a prop out of a science-fiction movie. Its sleek and modern casing is solidly constructed out of a single piece of metal, and the large ring makes it easy to slip onto your keychain.
  • shockproof and waterproof
  • 5-year warranty
  • nand flash technology
Brand Samsung
Model MUF-64BA/AM
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Sandisk Ultra Dual

The Sandisk Ultra Dual is a storage device built for next generation machines like the new Apple MacBooks and high-end smartphones. The new Type-C connectors are symmetrical, so you won't be fumbling to figure out which side is up anymore.
  • backup software available
  • traditional usb port on other side
  • retractable connectors
Brand SanDisk
Model SDDDC2-064G-G46
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Lexar C20C

For those browsing for future-proof choices, this Lexar C20C is truly versatile, with a standard USB Type A connector on one end and a Type C on the other. The convenient cable configuration also means it doubles as a charger for your smartphone or tablet.
  • reads up to 150 mb per second
  • kickstand for smartphones
  • comes with cable clip
Brand Lexar
Model LJDC20c-128BBNLK
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Kingston Micro Duo 3C

Even staring at it, it's hard to believe that the Kingston Micro Duo 3C can store over 30,000 photos in its minuscule body. The ultra-compact design is a good choice if you are looking for a semi-permanent storage solution that you can leave plugged in to any device.
  • usb type c and type a connectors
  • very fast read speeds
  • ideal for smartphones and tablets
Brand Kingston
Model DTDUO3C/64GB
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. SanDisk Extreme Pro CZ88

The SanDisk Extreme Pro CZ88 is one of the fastest selections on the market yet it remains remarkably affordable. It has a write speed up to 60 times faster than standard 2.0 drives, so you'll be able to transfer a lifetime of photos and videos in the blink of an eye.
  • 128-bit aes encryption software
  • durable aluminum metal casing
  • limited lifetime warranty
Brand SanDisk
Model SDCZ88-128G-G46
Weight 1.9 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Technological Versatility In A Very Small Package

Less is more when it comes to storing large amounts of data and information in something small and portable. One must understand that as useful as external hard drives can be in certain circumstances, they aren't always the optimal solution for compact file storage. For example, if you've been tasked with a marketing presentation or sales pitch to a group of potential investors in a conference room using nothing more than a laptop and a projector screen, then a flash drive will eliminate the extra time required to fuss with an excess of cords, cables, and connections to a portable hard drive just to access your presentation files. The flash drive will have you up and running in no time.

The three main components of a flash drive's structure include the board, NAND flash memory storage chip, and the controller chip. The board holds all of the drive's internal components as well as the connector, which is the most recognizable part of the device. The connector plugs into a computer's USB port, while the board allows for bidirectional data and power transfer between the two devices. The memory storage chip is where all of the drive's files are stored. The memory capacity of the storage chip determines the memory capacity of the drive itself. The controller chip is a multi-tasking circuit that manages all of the drive's internal functions. It retrieves all information from the drive and determines how to read and write data to the storage chip.

Flash drives offer several benefits that set them apart from larger data storage solutions. Firstly, their lack of moving parts makes them quite durable and less prone to malfunctioning or overheating. Next, their compact size makes them easy to transport, which is beneficial for travel purposes. The average size of a typical flash drive is around two or three inches in length, so the device can slip right into a small bag or pant pocket. The data transfer speeds and memory capacities of USB flash drives often rival those of a portable hard drive, meaning that it's possible to quickly transfer large, high-resolution video files or other memory-rich media between devices using a flash drive without sacrificing much in terms of performance.

The flash drive also shines in terms of its degree of compatibility with other devices. Many laptops, desktop computers, and even televisions have at least one or several USB ports for convenient access to files. The flash drive is also extremely energy efficient because it doesn't require the use of additional cabling to supply the electrical power coming from a computer to something like a portable hard drive and its moving components. Finally, flash drives can be used for promotional purposes for copying and pre-loading marketing content, trial software, and other files for dissemination to a large group of people.

Choosing The Most Reliable Option

Flash drives are available in a variety of memory storage capacities, so the first thing one must consider is how the device will be used. If you plan to store and transfer a lot of music, photos, and personal documents, then it may be worth the extra expense to spring for a high-capacity option. Some flash drives store up to one terabyte of data, which adds up fast when you're transferring a volume of high-definition video and audio content to and from your computer.

It's also important to consider the drive speed of the device you plan to purchase. Transferring a lot of high-quality content means dealing with large file sizes, so a drive capable of speeds common to USB 2.0 or higher will make it easy for you to complete your transfers as quickly as possible. It is important to be certain that your other devices are compatible with the drive you choose, so being informed of the device's specifications is key. Many flash drives work seamlessly across both Mac and Windows operating systems, but it's always a good idea to read up on the option you're considering.

Data security is another important factor. Secure flash drives make use of either hardware or software-based data encryption technology, which comes in very handy when copying or transferring sensitive information (e.g. patient records at a hospital or details of a criminal court case).

Look for a flash drive with a sturdy, rubberized, and shock-resistant exterior in case it gets wet or dropped when you're in a hurry. Some drives are also available with an aluminum casing for extra protection from damage. Finally, if you're worried about losing the drive's top or cover, then consider an option with a retractable connector. This will provide an extra level of protection for the connector, given that it can be stored inside the drive's housing.

A Brief History Of Flash Drives

The first commercial flash drive was originally patented in 1999 by an Israeli company called M-Systems. This first device, known as the DiskOnKey, was released and sold in the United States by IBM on December 15, 2000. The drive had a memory capacity of eight megabytes, which was more than five times the capacity of the common floppy disk at the time.

By 2003, the majority of available flash drives were equipped with the USB 2.0 interface, which boasted a data transfer rate of around 480 megabytes per second. The backwards-compatible USB 3.0 technology would dramatically improve this transfer rate even further up to a maximum of five gigabytes per second on those consumer flash drives sold by 2010.

Today, flash drives are available with a range of storage capacities at relatively affordable prices. They are also capable of being written many times over, making them a truly useful form of technology for sharing large amounts of information across networks and platforms.

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Last updated on September 19, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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