6 Best Flash Drives That Validate Every Penny Invested In Them

There are the ones that look trendy, those that work well, and the inexpensive lot but these hand-picked few are truly worth their salt!

  • March 13, 2017

A 'Flash Drive' isn't something that one would ideally be much selective with when in need. In other words, if Jack sells flash drives and Jill sells women's dresses, it is not too hard to guess, which of the two has more energy to spare, after a full day of customer interaction. Of course, Jack occasionally has to cater to Tom – who likes his data transfer gadget to match his good looks too; Dick – who seeks the reliability of a battle tank and Harry – who hates Scotch, because it fails to give twice the kick, even for a fortune.

SO, WHO IS THE UNDISPUTED KING?

'Conflict of interests,' as we observe, is not restricted to international politics – Tom's “Wow” is Harry's “Ewww!”

Under such circumstances, crowning any as the 'Best Flash Drive' would indeed have denied justice. Besides, only the end user can adjudicate which product best fits his or her needs. However, we have sifted through hundreds of alternatives to arrive at a handful, which proved to be the most impressive on different parameters:

PARAMETERS A BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Pros Why it made it to our list
Cons Where it could have done better
Features An 'X-Ray Analysis' of the product
Disk Speed Time required to copy files
Versatility

Performance across various devices and platforms

Encryption standard How secure your data is in the device

SO THEN, THE 6 BEST FLASH DRIVES IN OUR OPINION ARE:

Device Name DISK SPEED VERSATILITY ENCRYPTION SIZE & WEIGHT Call to Action
SanDisk Extreme CZ80 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive - SDCZ80-064G-GAM46

245 MB/s (max. read speed)

190 MB/s (max. write speed)

Compatible with Windows (XP and up) and Mac (OS X 10.5 and up) 128-bit AES 2.8 x 0.8 x 0.5"; 0.07lb Check Price
Lexar JumpDrive P20 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive - LJDP20-64GCRBNA

400 MB/s (max. read speed)

270 MB/s (max. write speed)

Compatible with Windows (XP and up) and Mac (OS X 10.5 and up) 256-bit AES 2.5 x 0.88 x 0.41"; 0.15lb Check Price
SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ43-128G-G46)

150 MB/s (max. read speed)

70 MB/s (max. write speed)

Compatible with Windows (XP and up) and Mac (OS X 10.5 and up) 128-bit AES 0.8 x 0.6 x 0.4"; 0.04lb Check Price
 

LaCie XtremKey USB 3.0 (32 GB)

230 MB/s (max. read speed)

80 MB/s (max. write speed)

Compatible with Windows (XP and up) and Mac (OS X 10.5 and up) 256-bit AES 2.9 x 0.9 x 0.9"; 0.13lb Check Price
Leef Bridge 3.0 (16 GB)

35 MB/s (avg. read speed)

8 MB/s (avg. write speed)

Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS and Android NA 0.85 x 1.52 x 0.3"; 0.06lb Check Price
Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 (64 GB)

70 MB/s (max. read speed)

15 MB/s (max. write speed)

Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS and Android Not pre-installed (optional) 1.08 x 0.65 x 0.34"; 0.50lb Check Price
1. SanDisk Extreme CZ80 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive – SDCZ80-064G-GAM46 – ROI, EXEMPLIFIED!

SanDisk Extreme CZ 80 at a glance:

  1. Reliability and portability – packed into a solid state flash drive
  2. Works with USB 2. devices too - it adapts, while you upgrade!
  3. Loves to ‘drive’ on its own - simply plug-and-play!

The Pros

  • Amazingly fast
  • Great value for money
  • Reasonably priced
  • Lifetime warranty

The Cons

  • Unnecessary free software
  • Inconsistent performance

The SanDisk Extreme CZ 80 faithfully adheres to almost all the demands of flash drive users. It is an old war horse, that has got some great looks too!

Measuring 2.8 x 0.8 x 0.5" / 71.0 x 21.0 x 11.0 mm, and weighing a paltry 0.07 lb, the Extreme is a heart-winner at the very first glance. Possibly assuming that this little beauty could someday, be of some value to Mr. Bruce Wayne, the makers have decided to launch it in black – only! Additionally, with a matte finish over a durable plastic body, they have done it quite aesthetically!

The FAT 32-formatted, 64GB drive also offers password protection for private folders and a secure partition, with a 128-bit AES encryption program - 'SanDisk SecureAccess,' which is included in the product. 'Club SanDisk' on the other hand, that is also included in the drive, contains only offers for sponsored downloads, and nothing much to write home about! The 2GB free online backup, provided by the company, with this product is an appreciable gift. (Nowhere is it mentioned that the Extreme is indestructible!)

So far, so good? Hold on; it is going to get irresistible!
The SanDisk Extreme CZ 80 USB 3.0 flash drive comes for a very affordable $35 (approx.) - considering what it packs in.

Speed is where it certainly leaves many of its high-flying competitors behind. The CZ 80 claims to offer an exceptional read/write speed of up to 245/190 MB/s respectively. This means that it is capable of transferring a 5GB file in under 35 seconds! However, our tests revealed speeds of 105 MBps (read) and 110 MBps (write). This may have fallen short of what was said about it, but it still gets the SanDisk Extreme qualified as a best-in-class.

Where this 'stiletto' slightly lags is in its consistency. Under varying real world conditions, CZ 80 does not perform as well, as it does in the other departments. Otherwise, with something in it for Tom, Dick, as well as Harry; there is no reason why either would not want to own it.

2. PRODUCT NAME

Lexar JumpDrive P20 at a glance:

  1. Easy plug-and-play functionality – transfer files on the go!
  2. Even balance of price and performance
  3. Has not forgotten old friends (USB 2.0 devices) !

The Pros

  • Lightning fast
  • Plug-and-play functionality
  • Solid metal-alloy body
  • Sleek design

The Cons

  • Absence of fancy features
  • Write performance could have been better

The Lexar-JumpDrive-P20 replaces an earlier model from the stable – the P10. During its reign, the P10 was among the fastest flash drives out there, and the P20 claims to be even better.

Does that sound like a cliché? Perhaps it does. We are, but humans! Made of bone, flesh, blood, x, y, z,.....and doubt! We have never heard of a product version that is not better than its predecessor! That reminds us that 'Bluetooth' has replaced 'Infrared.' So let us feed the other side of being human – curiosity!

I have seen nail-artists weaving magic. In that regards, 63.9mm x 22.5mm x 10.6mm is quite a 'territory' for creativity. However, this is only a flash drive – built to transfer files and hence can get the past without killer looks. In any case, the subtle metallic base and modest white branding across the top, with a key ring loop and thumb-retracted connector, gives the P20 a clean look, with a sleek finish.

In any case, beauty is only skin deep. In the 21st century, speed is the name of the game. With incredible speeds up to 400MB/s (read) and 270MB/s (write), nothing beats the Lexar JumpDrive P20! At that speed, the super P can transfer a 5.5 GB full HD movie in 40 seconds! Picture those infinite Hollywood moments when the 7-foot sidekick of the bad guy was getting closer, while our heart-throb was still at his task – breaking into the database of some Escobar-reincarnate. Of Course, the job would have been done, clean as a whistle, by the time the giant stepped in, but with the P20, the mission would have been accomplished eight years earlier! Back to reality! There is no secret mission, no suspense.....no 400/270 MB/s either. We registered transfer speeds of 270.909MB/s (read) and 121.123MB/s (write), using our HP Z620 workstation testing platform. Guys, that is super fast still!

Considering that the amazing Lexar costs about $30, many would not care to look any further.

Since we are so obsessed with security, we cannot give this aspect a miss, and neither did the P20. EncryptStick™ Lite, a robust software with 256-bit AES encryption, which helps protect your important files against corruption, loss, and deletion is included in the JumpDrive. This useful tool automatically encrypts data by letting you create a password-protected vault. Files deleted from here cannot be recovered either, as they are securely and permanently erased.

Users hell-bent on not buying the Lexar, here's the Achilles heel: The P20 weighs 0.15 lb, which is a caution sign for those advised against heavy weights! (Hee hee...I love David Letterman!)

3. SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ43-128G-G46) – LITTLE WONDER

SanDisk Ultra Fit at a glance:

  1. The tiniest, cutest USB 3.0 flash drive in the world!
  2. Get generous storage space – without being generous with your budget

The Pros

  • 15x faster than standard USB 2.0 drives
  • Compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports
  • Unique design

The Cons

  • Thumb-drive heats up when used for a while
  • Can get lost easily

With 'vital stats' of 0.8 x 0.6 x 0.4" / 19.0 x 15.9 x 8.8 mm, the SanDisk Ultra Fit is the tiniest USB 3.0 flash drive in the world. Those, for whom 'Small is beautiful,' this 0.04 lb dude is an immediate winner!

However, the Ultra Fit is much, much more than an eye-candy!

Formatted with FAT 32 file system, this 'little wonder' is fast, but not the fastest. While the top read speed can reach up to 150 MB/s, while the write speed can only clock up to around 70 MB/s – which is not the most impressive of all.

However, where it grabs the eyes is its competitive price. At around $32, this member of the giant SanDisk family costs what many 64 GB flash drives do.

Now that is a bargain!

There is more! The included SanDisk SecureAccess software also facilitates the creation of a password-protected private folder, secured with 128-bit AES encryption on your flash drive. And, with free subscription to RescuePRO software, recover lost, deleted or corrupt files for up to 1 year! Repentance is awful. SanDisk knows it.

Big things indeed come in small packages – and there lies the downside! This BIG one is so small that it could just vanish into thin air! Keep a sharp eye!!

4. LaCie XtremKey USB 3.0 (32 GB) – MUSCLES OF IRON, NERVES OF STEEL

LaCie XtremKey at a glance:

  1. Corrosion-resistant zinc+magnesium+aluminium+copper-alloy body, that withstands almost anything
  2. Irreplaceable for users who live life to the extreme

The Pros

  • Unbelievably tough
  • Sleek design
  • Speedy
  • Efficient backup tools
  • Useful free online storage

The Cons

  • Tends to heat up
  • On the heavier sidekick

To be honest, we have been quite biased so far – looking nowhere beyond the requirements of Tom, Dick, and Harry. Despite their difference in outlook, what binds them is their environment. Taking those sales reports home, sharing the latest episode of Game of Thrones, submitting the assignments – it does not get too different from it. Does it? Also, when all of that is going on, the Sun shines bright, the food tastes good.

Nonetheless, discounting some of the theatrics, we have James Bonds, Jason Bournes and Ethan Hunts in our society too. The LaCie XtremKey is the only reliable flash drive for those who live life to the extreme!

The ZAMAC metal alloy body of the XtremKey immunizes it to severe shock, acute drops, crushing pressure and extreme temperatures: -30°C (-22°F) to 200°C (392°F). Besides, the IP-68 Level 8 certified XtremKey, with a 2mm casing, shielding the memory modules, is watertight up to 200 meters (656 feet). No other flash drive can withstand this insane amount of torture.

If you seek to protect your data with your life, this is for you. If you commute to the office on a V-Rod, where a 100cc motorcycle would have sufficed too, the sleek 2.9 by 0.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD) LaCie XtremKey, again, is for you.

Does it read/write data too? Oh yes, it does; and hence is on this list.

While LaCie claims read/ write speeds of up to 230/80 MB/s, the XtremKey managed 101 MBps (read) and 67 MBps (write) in our timed file transfer tests. This is not dizzying fast, but speed is not normally the USP of big, bad guys. If you are stealing into Escobar reincarnate's files, make sure you move quick – the XtremKey, well-aware of its muscle-power, doesn't care much about getting caught.

Nevertheless, it is not just the armor that makes it so secure. The drive, when configured with the downloadable LaCie Private-Public password protection, is secured with 256-bit AES software encryption. This is the same security standard that is employed by the government to protect top secret classified files. Besides, the XtremKey offers 32GB of free Wuala Secure Clouds Storage for one year. LaCie Genie Timeline and Intego Backup Assistant – software, available for free download, also provides free Windows and Mac backup.

Of Course, the LaCie XtremKey, alike the V-Rod, being designed for a particular niche, comes for a steep price, at around $45. However, if you belong to that club, would you complain?

5. Leef Bridge 3.0 (16 GB)

Leef Bridge at a glance:

  1. 2-in-1 USB connectors for easy transfer of files between smartphones, tablets and computers
  2. Plug-and-Play - simply connect as you would a standard USB Flash drive

The Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Inexpensive
  • Serves as additional storage for hand-held devices

The Cons

  • Does not work with iPhone
  • Inconvenient key-ring attachment

While some of its counterparts operate at blazing speeds, some fight harsh conditions, the Leef Bridge, belonging to a world of its own, makes data sharing between mobile devices incredibly easy. With a dual USB and micro USB connector simplifies the shuttling back and forth of files across different devices. For instance, how would you normally transfer a file from your phone to PC?

A. Mail/upload on the cloud from the phone, then access it from the PC. (That requires internet)

B. Bluetooth (If the two are close enough)

C. OTG to the phone, pen drive to OTG, pen drive to PC (Phew!)

With the Leef Bridge, simply use one head to connect it to the phone, copy the files, then slide the connector across and insert it into the PC. Done!

When at rest, the dual plugs of this 0.85 by 1.52 by 0.3 inches (HWD) midget is protected by a sliding cover, with a push-button lock – intelligent design, smart functionality!

The FAT 32 -formatted versatile flash drive is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS, as well as Android 4.1 and up – making it accessible by most smartphones and tablets. However, since the Leef Bridge only works with phones that support USB on-the-go (OTG), iPhone users will be disappointed here.

Regarding its speed, the Leef Bridge does not amuse much. It averaged read speeds of 35MB/s, and write speeds of 8MB/s in our timed data transfer tests. However, considering the time, it would have taken to transfer files from phone to PC, if you were not using the Leef Bridge, these speeds are acceptable. Especially because, priced at under $15, this one is indeed light on the pocket!

For owners of smartphones and tablets with very limited amount of storage, the Leef Bridge 3.0 is a useful buy.

6. Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 (64 GB) – MOBILE FRIENDLY USB STORAGE

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo at a glance:

  1. Ultra-small, pocket-sized design for easy transportability
  2. Transfer files easily between computers and Android devices

The Pros

  • Compact design
  • Fast data transfer
  • Offers both USB and micro USB

The Cons

  • Tends to heat up
  • Occasional compatibility issues with Android

While the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 may not be the mightiest of them all, it is one of the most viable options out there, when it comes to dual-function flash drives.

The microDuo 3.0 is almost a replica of its previous (2.0) version with regards to its appearance. At 1.08 by 0.65 by 0.34 inches (HWD), it has not at all grown in size!

Unlike many of its competitors, there is no software or encryption preinstalled in this Kingston. The device is FAT 32-formatted and compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux operating systems and Android devices (4.0 and higher). However, it does not work with Apple iPhone and iPad devices. (These devices are equipped with a 'Lightning Port' instead of a micro USB port).

The microDuo is also among the fastest mobile drives around, averaging with speeds of 38 MB/s (read) and 12 MB/s (write) in our file transfer test on a PC. Though, when connected via micro USB, the speeds were much slower.

At around $26, with a 5-year warranty and free technical support covering the device, Kingston, famed for its reliability, eventually, delivers a knock-out punch.

Verdict

The best USB flash drives provide sufficient flexibility in the way you manage your data. While some can be incredibly fast, others can be rock-solid, giving you the durability that you may need. Some extent of data protection is vital to look for in the product, to keep your data safe from infiltrators. We have attempted to evaluate the best flash drives available, each a top-performer in its segment, and compared them so that you can make a pick that best fits your needs.

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