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USB flash drives are one of the coolest inventions for those who love computers. It’s made our lives convenient with its many functions, both simple and uses you wouldn’t have thought of. It just makes sense to have a flash drive or two with you at all times.
So we checked out reviews of USB flash drives from across the Web, figuring out the fastest, most rugged, and overall best ones you should buy without spending a ton. Here’s what we came up with.
Note: For uniformity, we compare 64GB versions of each of the drives; USB flash drives’ speeds relate (in part) to the quantity of memory. Yes, some drives feature different read and write rates for various amounts of memory.
Fastest: Lexar JumpDrive P20 64GB
When it comes to pure speed, this is as fast as you’re going to find right now. Lexar promises read speeds up to 400MB/s. It has a sleep, shiny design that’ll look quite nice in your pocket, and it even comes with 256-bit AES encryption so your files will stay safe. And like the next drive we’re going to look at, it comes with a slider that protects the male USB end. It comes with a 4.4-star rating on Amazon with hundreds of reviews, so you can certainly rely on it being as good as it is fast.
- Data Transfer Speed: Up to 270MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $0.55
All Around: SanDisk Extreme 64GB
Just like our last round-up of flash drives confirmed, there’s no doubt about it: the SanDisk Extreme remains one of the fastest USB flash drives out there. You’d expect it to cost a pretty penny with that claim, but the SanDisk Extreme is surprisingly affordable at around $45 for the 64GB version. Plus, it has a slider, so you don’t have to worry about losing a cap either. For the going price, it’s a steal! And even the lower-priced versions with smaller capacities are worth every dollar.
- Data Transfer Speed: Up to 190MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $0.47
Since this article was published, SanDisk has released a new version of the flash drive, the SanDisk Extreme Go SDCZ800.
While a lot of rugged drives come wrapped in rubber or some other durable material, Samsung opted to make a little metal tank with no frills. And while it doesn’t have the traditional ruggedized look, Samsung promises a drive that’s waterproof, shockproof, magnet-proof, temperature-proof, and even X-ray-proof. You do lose a little speed compared to the drives above, but that’s the trade-off for being able to take a beating.
- Data Transfer Speed: Up to 130 MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $0.31
Isn’t this the cutest little thumb drive you’ve ever seen? Don’t let its small form-factor scare you off, because this drive features the same capacity as the other ones on the list, while achieving minuscule dimensions of 0.75 x 0.63 x 0.34 in. It’s not much bigger than your fingernail, but I’m willing to bet it can fit substantially more data (unless you’re a member of the X-Men with the power of data-storing fingers, in which case I stand corrected).
- Data Transfer Speed: Up to 150 MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $0.28
Remember what I said about getting a drive that doesn’t cost a lot in the intro? Well, forget that when it comes to this one. This drive is only meant for people who need to transfer sensitive data regularly or anyone for whom security is more important than price. This Kingston is FIPS 197 certified and TAA compliant. It also comes with 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption in XTS mode, and it’ll protect 100 percent of data stored on it. It manages to do all that without losing too much speed, as well.
- Data Transfer Speed: Up to 85MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $0.28
How Do You Use USB Flash Drives?
There are several ways to put a pen drive to use. You might play games directly off it or run a whole operating system from it. So we want to know, how do you usually use flash drives? How much storage do you need on the go? Comments are open!