We purchased the The 9 Best USB Flash Drives so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full products reviews.
The best USB Flash Drives can hold a lot of data and transfer it quickly and easily to and from your computer, all without relying on wireless connectivity. Wireless connectivity can be unreliable when it comes down to it. A device that connects to your computer’s USB port is about as safe as it gets. In the end, if you need to keep a large number of files on hand or transfer them between computers quickly and securely, a flash drive is the best choice.
The size, cost, and portability of USB Flash Drives all work in their favor. If you frequently switch between work and home, or if you frequently install apps on multiple computers, or even if you have a large number of files to distribute, a bag full of flash drives is a cost-effective way to do so. Even the best external hard drives are less portable than flash drives, which are faster than wireless transfers.
Size, the types of ports they plug into, storage capacity, read/write speed, and price are all things to consider when purchasing a flash drive. Prices for USB Flash Drives have dropped significantly, so you won’t be overpaying regardless of your choice. However, our experts have reviewed a variety of flash drives and have compiled a list of our favorites below.
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Best Overall: SanDisk Extreme PRO 128 GB Drive
The SanDisk PRO () is an easy top pick, because of its capacity and read/write speeds. With read/write speeds of 420/380 Mbps, you’re getting roughly three times the speed of USB 3.0. Our reviewer Eric discovered that about halfway through a file transfer, the read speed would slow down. It was aggravating and inconsistent, making it difficult to track.
The drive itself is encased in a premium-looking aluminum casing. A single LED light and a keychain loop make it easy to carry. This drive appears to be a professional tool. On the inside, you’ll find 128-bit file encryption and USB 3.1 connectivity. Because the drive is backward compatible, it can also be used with older machines.
SanDisk’s RescuePRO software is preloaded on the drive and can help you recover lost files. In addition, SanDisk backs up this drive with a full lifetime warranty if anything goes wrong. The drive is one of the more expensive drives available as a result of all of this, but the extras you get here make it worthwhile.
Capacity: 128 or 256GB | Interface: USB-A (3.1) | Read speed: 420 MB/s | Write Speed: 380 MB/s
Best for Multiple Devices: SanDisk Ultra 128GB Dual Drive
People not only use computers at work, but they also carry pocket computers with them. The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive () is named after the fact that it has a USB-A and USB-C connector, making it compatible with computers, smartphones, and other devices. This is a good option if you have computers with different types of USB ports or if you frequently transfer files between your computer and Android phone.
The drive’s read/write speeds are only 150 megabytes per second. We like how both data connectors can be retracted into the drive’s body, reducing the risk of damage. This can be stuffed into a backpack or a pocket without causing any problems. Because the data connector is often the most vulnerable part of the USB Flash Drives, it’s reassuring to pull it back into the body. The dual connectors provide a lot of flexibility, which we like. This drive will support you whether you have a new computer, an old computer, or an Android phone.
Capacity: Up to 256GB | Interface: USB-A and USB-C (3.1) | Read speed: 150 MB/s | Write Speed: 150 MB/s
Best for iPhones and iPads: SanDisk iXpand 128GB Flash Drive
While the rest of the world switches to USB Type-C, Apple continues to use its lightning connectors. We’re not judging, but those who want to transfer files between a computer and an iPhone will need a different type of connector. The SanDisk iXpand 128 GB Flash drive () is also a good option. The lightning connector curls up on the end to form a loop, giving it an unusual shape. Because the lightning connector is exposed on the end, our reviewer, Eric, is concerned about the drive’s long-term durability.
If your computer has a USB-A drive (not all Macs do), you can use it to transfer files from your computer to your iPhone or iPad. SanDisk’s iXpand software is included with the drive, allowing you to backup your phone quickly and easily by simply plugging it in. You can also transfer individual files rather than a complete backup if that is your preference. If you have an iPhone and need to back it up on a regular basis, this is a great device to use.
Capacity: Up to 256 | Interface: USB-A (3.0) and Lightning | Read speed: 150 MB/s | Write Speed: 150 MB/s
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Best for Macbooks: Silicon Power C80 64GB Flash Drive
Depending on which Macbook you have, you may require a USB-A or USB-C cable. Both are present on this USB flash drives. Furthermore, the design is made of zinc alloy, which complements your Macbook beautifully, making it an ideal companion. Although this flash drive has a USB 3.2 interface, Silicon Power () does not provide read and write speed specifications, which is disappointing. It’s also a letdown that storage capacity is limited to 64GB.
However, the ring design is attractive, and the drive is simple to attach to a keychain or lanyard. The USB-C port is protected by a zinc alloy shell, and the other end, while sticking out, is also zinc alloy, making it fairly durable. If you want to use it, the device also comes with free file management software. Otherwise, you’ll receive a stylish USB Flash Drives with a lovely design that will complement your Mac.
Capacity: Up to 64GB | Interface: USB-A and USB-C (3.2) | Read speed: Not Listed | Write Speed: Not Listed
Best for Security: Kingston Data Traveler Vault
It makes sense that a whole industry has sprung up around flash drive security. When you have a flash drive in your hands, the data on it is easily accessible. Some USB Flash Drives have fingerprint readers, while others have built-in keypads. These features are nice, but it all comes down to encryption, and the Kingston Data Traveler Vault () has AES 256-bit encryption and built-in antivirus.
A managed version of SafeConsole, which includes additional management tools, can beef up this “business-grade” security even more. The USB Flash Drives are TAA compliant, meaning they adhere to government guidelines. They come in sizes up to 64GB, but they’re extremely expensive, and the security means slower transfer speeds, so keep that in mind.
Capacity: Up to 64GB | Interface: USB-A (3.0) | Read speed: 165 MB/s | Write Speed: 22 MB/s
Wouldn’t it be humiliating if you needed your flash drive to survive 200 meters underwater but didn’t have one? Although it is admittedly a niche market, there is a distinct group of people who require a rugged USB drive, and the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth flash drive () is designed specifically for them. Camping enthusiasts, construction workers, and first responders could all benefit from a flash drive that is as tough as they are.
The drive is made entirely of aluminum and features an EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber) seal. Because the plug is a little higher up than the average flash drive, the screw top housing can make it a little difficult to plug in the flash drive, so keep that in mind. Aside from that minor flaw, and the fact that the price is slightly higher than average due to the construction, this is an excellent choice if you need a flash drive that can withstand extreme conditions.
Capacity: up to 256GB | Interface: USB-A (3.0) | Read speed: 85 MB/s | Write Speed: 85 MB/s
Best Capacity: PNY Turbo 256GB
PNY () is a leader in flash drives because their drives typically have a higher capacity for a lower price. That’s tough to beat, but the PNY flash drive can go up to 1TB while still fitting on your keychain. Although you may not require a full terabyte of storage, having 256GB in your pocket for a low price is a compelling reason to recommend it.
The read and write speeds are 140/80, which isn’t particularly fast, but the USB 3.0 architecture ensures backward compatibility regardless of the age of your computer. To be honest, we’d like to see a better build for this much data. You can lose 256 GB of data if you make one bad move, but if you take care of it, you can get a lot of use out of this drive.
Capacity: Up to 1TB | Interface: USB-A (3.0) | Read speed: 140 MB/s | Write Speed: 80 MB/s
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Best Budget: Kingston DataTraveler SE9 G2 Flash Drive
The Kingston DataTraveller SE9 () is a great option if you need a lot of storage on a tight budget. With this series of flash drives, you get a great GB to dollar ratio regardless of the size you choose, all the way up to 256GB. At 200 and 60 MBps, the read and write speeds are respectable.
The drive is housed in a solid metal casing that is both attractive and durable. We’d like to see a cap on the end to protect the USB connector, which is usually the weakest part, but we understand why it’s not included. Regardless, if you put 256GB on a device, you want it to be as secure as possible. However, there is a five-year warranty, which is beneficial. However, the Kingston DataTraveler is a fantastic buy in terms of value for money.
Capacity: Up to 256GB | Interface: USB-A (3.2) | Read speed: 200 MB/s | Write Speed: 60 MB/s
Best for Phones: SanDisk iXpand Luxe Flash Drive
The iXpand Luxe flash drive () has a unique design and configuration, with lightning and USB-C ports on both ends. This is a good option for families with multiple devices, such as those with Android and iOS devices. It’s also a good choice for those who have iPhones or iPad Pros with USB ports. This is the drive for you if you use a lot of different mobile devices.
Andrew, one of our reviewers, had issues with the iXpand app and his iCloud photo library. “In my case, the iXpand Luxe saw some 55,000+ photos ready to be backed up—even though they aren’t all locally stored on the device—because of my years of iPhone photos saved to iCloud,” he writes. Apart from that, this is a fantastic USB stick that works with iOS, Android, and even PCs with USB-C ports. As a result, it’s about as adaptable as they come.
Capacity: Up to 256GB | Interface: USB-C and Lightning | Read speed: 90 MB/s | Write Speed: 60 MB/s
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The Final Word
Overall, we like the SanDisk Extreme Pro, which is our top pick. It has the best combination of style, storage, and affordability that we look for in a USB drive. You also get fast transfer speeds and a professional appearance. Aside from that, we like the Kingston DataTraveler SE9 because of its low per-GB price. The Kingston’s solid construction should keep it safe for many years.