Storing data like photos, videos, and documents is easier than ever thanks to the cloud. But given how easy it is to store things online, you might imagine that physical data storage would go the way of the Rolodex. And yet, flash drives remain an enduring, reliable and popular way to store information. That’s because cloud services simply can’t compete with physical storage in terms of security, which should make any security-minded person think twice about storing sensitive documents in the cloud.
In light of that, it’s perhaps not surprising that the flash drive is still one of the most popular ways to back up your files. Many things about flash drives haven’t changed, including some of the drawbacks. For one, flash drives have a limited lifespan in terms of the amount of rewrites you can do. But flash drives have improved, albeit gradually, in terms of physical size, data space, rewrite lifespan, and security features.
That’s why it’s worth actually spending money on a flash drive instead of just using those freebies you might get at a promotional event. And of course, if you’re using a flash drive to download programs, you need something powerful and fast.
The flash drives below boast details like large amounts of storage space in convenient and sleek sizes, as well as fast speeds through USB 3.0 and 3.1 There are also added security features like password protection. If you’ve got important data to save, whether that’s sensitive documents or photos of your cat, these are the flash drives to get.
1. Samsung BAR Plus Flash Drive
The look of your flash drive probably shouldn’t be the prime consideration, but it doesn’t hurt to have a cool-looking option. This pick from the perennially dependable Samsung is available in sleek champagne silver and dark gray. It has a loop for attaching to a keychain, and storage options range from 32 to 256 GB. This particular model is 128 GB.
Pros: Sleek look, USB 3.1 for fast speeds, resistant to shock, water, magnets, and X-rays.
Cons: Write speeds don’t always stack up to the advertised 300 MB/s speed.
Samsung BAR Plus Flash Drive
2. SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB Flash Drive
If you’re looking for a very compact option that won’t get in your way, it’s hard to beat this pick from SanDisk. It’s barely larger than the USB connector itself, but it’s still capable of holding up to 64GB of data. It’s USB 2.0, so it’s not going to be as fast as the USB 3.0 picks, but it should be sufficient for basic storage purposes.
Pros: The most compact option on this list.
Cons: USB 2.0, so not as fast as 3.0 or 3.1 options.
SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB Flash Drive
3. PNY Turbo USB 3.0
The advent of USB 3.0 makes data transfers over ten times faster than USB 2.0. If you have USB 3.0 port on your device, and you transfer files on a regular basis, the added speed on the PNY flash drive can be a big boost for getting things done (even if you have a USB 2.0 port, you can still use USB 3.0, but you won’t get the same speeds).
Pros: Fast file transfers, sliding protective casing.
Cons: Built-in external cover can get stuck easily.
PNY Turbo USB 3.0
4. Inland Micro Center USB Memory Stick
This unique looking option has a transparent colored case. That may not make it perform any better, but it does look cool. It’s USB 3.0, making it faster than many of the inexpensive 2.0 options. The detachable cap protects the connector when the drive is not in use. There’s also an LED light to let the user know that the drive is working.
Pros: Affordable USB 3.0 option, sleek-looking transparent case.
Cons: Inconsistent transfer speeds.
Inland Micro Center USB Memory Stick
5. SanDisk Cruzer Glide USB 2.0 Flash Drive
If you’re looking for a no-frills option for basic storage needs, it’s hard to go wrong with this 32GB drive from SanDisk. It connects via USB 2.0, meaning the transfer speeds won’t be as fast as the more expensive 3.0 options. But for basic needs like transferring a few documents and photos, it’s a great option. It has a slider to retract the connector and the ability to enable password protection.
Pros: Highly affordable option for basic needs, retractable connector to protect the drive from damage.
Cons: Slower USB 2.0 speeds.