Which flash drive is best to buy?

With so many flash drives on the market today, it can be hard to know which one is the best choice for your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we will compare the top flash drives across various factors like storage capacity, speed, durability, security, portability, price and more to help you determine the best flash drive to buy.

What is a flash drive?

A flash drive, also known as a USB drive, thumb drive or memory stick, is a small storage device that uses flash memory to store data. Flash drives connect to computers and other devices via a built-in USB connector. They are portable, rewritable and able to hold large amounts of data despite their small size.

Flash drives are commonly used to transfer files between computers and back up important documents, photos, videos and other data. They offer a convenient way to take your files with you on the go.

Key factors to consider when choosing a flash drive

Storage capacity

One of the most important factors is the storage capacity of the flash drive. This determines how much data you can store on the drive. Flash drives come in capacities ranging from 1GB to 1TB.

Consider how much data you need to store and make sure to get a drive with enough capacity. A 16GB or 32GB drive is sufficient for basic document and photo storage needs. If you plan to store lots of media files or backups, a 64GB or 128GB drive may be better.

Speed and performance

The speed of a flash drive determines how fast you can transfer files to and from the drive. It’s measured by the read and write speeds. Read speed is how fast you can access files already on the drive, while write speed measures how quickly you can transfer files onto the drive.

Faster flash drives have speeds upwards of 200MB/s. Standard flash drives have speeds around 100MB/s, while budget drives may have speeds as low as 8MB/s. If you just need a basic drive for document transfers, a lower speed around 50-100MB/s is sufficient. However, faster speeds of 150MB/s+ are recommended for quickly transferring large files like photos, videos and games.

Durability and reliability

Since flash drives are portable and often carried around, their physical durability is important. You want one that can withstand some bumps and drops without the casing and components inside getting damaged.

Look for flash drives with strong, metal casings rather than flimsy plastic. Rubber or silicone cases can also help improve shock protection. The drive should also be water and dust resistant.

Reliability is also key – you want a drive that has good ratings and reviews for consistently working well over time without failing prematurely. Avoid cheap drives that may stop working after a few months.

Security features

The data stored on a flash drive may be sensitive or private in nature. To keep it secure, some flash drives come with encryption and password protection features.

Encrypted drives scramble your data so that no one else can access it without entering the correct password. This prevents unauthorized access if your drive gets lost or stolen. Some encrypted drives use hardware-based encryption for optimal security.

If you plan to store sensitive information, look for a drive with encryption capabilities. Some drives also have fingerprint readers or PINs for unlocking access.

Portability and design

Since flash drives are designed for portable use, their physical size and design also come into play. Smaller, more compact drives take up less space in your pocket or bag. Keychain drives have a hole so you can attach them to keys or backpacks for portability.

The shape and look of the drive also matter if you care about aesthetics. You can find drives in all sorts of stylish, cool designs today. There are also retractable designs that slide in and out to better protect the USB connector when not in use.


Make sure any flash drive you get is compatible with your devices. Most standard flash drives will work seamlessly with Windows PCs, Mac computers, laptops and modern tablets with USB ports.

There are also USB-C flash drives available if you have a newer device with only a USB-C port. Certain high-capacity drives may require reformatting before working with some devices, so check compatibility specifications.


Flash drive prices vary wildly depending on their specs. Basic smaller-capacity drives can cost as little as $5, while premium high-capacity drives go over $100. Set a budget and look for the best value drives that meet your needs. Sales and deals around the holidays can get you good prices.

Avoid the cheapest generic drives if you want good reliability. But you also don’t necessarily need to spend a lot for quality drives from reputable brands. The sweet spot for most people is likely around $10-$40.

The best flash drives to buy

Here are our top picks for the best flash drives across various needs and budgets:

SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1

Key Features:

  • Fast read speeds up to 200MB/s
  • Durable metal casing with rubberized texture for grip
  • SanDisk SecureAccess encryption and password protection
  • Retractable connector to protect USB port
  • Available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB capacities

The SanDisk Extreme Go is among the fastest USB drives available, with 200MB/s read speeds for quick file transfers. It has a tough, rubberized metal casing that can withstand water, drops and dust without damage. Encryption and password protection keep your data secure. The retractable design provides extra port protection. It comes in capacities up to 512GB. With stellar performance, great build quality and useful features, the SanDisk Extreme Go is the best overall flash drive option on the market.

Samsung BAR Plus USB 3.1

Key Features:

  • Durable metal casing with keyring hole for portability
  • Fast 130MB/s read and write speeds
  • USB 3.1 interface for quick data transfer
  • Available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB capacities

The Samsung BAR Plus drive has a sleek, premium metal design that comes with a handy keyring hole for attaching to keys or backpacks. It delivers excellent real-world speeds up to 130MB/s read and write, which is very fast for a USB flash drive. The USB 3.1 interface provides great performance. With capacities up to 256GB, the BAR Plus hits a nice balance between speed, design and affordability.

PNY Turbo USB 3.0

Key Features:

  • Budget-friendly price point
  • Decent speeds up to 100MB/s read
  • Simple, capped design with integrated loop
  • Available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB

If you just need basic functionality without fancy features, the PNY Turbo is a great value choice. It provides USB 3.0 speeds of up to 100MB/s read, which is fast enough for most users’ needs. The capped design offers basic protection, and there’s an integrated loop for attaching to keychains. It’s affordably priced, especially at lower capacities. The PNY Turbo is the best option if you want a simple, cheap flash drive that gets the job done.

Patriot Supersonic Rage Prime USB 3.2

Key Features:

  • Blazing fast 400MB/s read and write speeds
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 interface for max performance
  • Rubber coated metal housing for durability
  • Retractable design protects USB connector
  • Capacities from 64GB up to 1TB

Demanding users who want the absolute fastest external storage should look to the Patriot Supersonic Rage Prime. It uses a cutting-edge USB 3.2 Gen 1 interface to deliver blistering speeds up to 400MB/s for both reading and writing files. The durable metal and rubber construction absorbs shocks and impacts. With huge capacity options up to 1TB and best-in-class performance, the Supersonic Rage Prime is the top choice for tech enthusiasts.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Luxe

Key Features:

  • Dual Lightning and USB connectors work with mobile devices and computers
  • Seamless transfer between iPhone, iPad and PCs
  • Encrypted password protection and file management app
  • Stylish durable metal housing
  • Available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB capacities

The iXpand Flash Drive Luxe features both Lightning and USB connectors so you can easily transfer photos, videos and other files between iPhones, iPads and computers. The stylish metal design is durable and portable. It includes password protection and the iXpand app for managing and accessing files. With both mobile and PC compatibility, encrypted security and up to 256GB capacity, the iXpand Luxe is the best flash drive for iPhone and iPad users.

Corsair Survivor Stealth USB 3.0

Key Features:

  • Virtually indestructible aluminum housing
  • Shock and water resistant with EPDM seal
  • Quick 130MB/s read and write speeds
  • Five-year warranty for peace of mind
  • Available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB

The Corsair Survivor Stealth is built like a tank to withstand even the most extreme conditions. It has an anodized aluminum housing that can survive being run over by a 2-ton vehicle. The EPDM seal makes it totally waterproof. Drop it in the ocean or a puddle and your data will still be protected. With 130MB/s speeds and capacities up to 256GB, the Survivor Stealth may be the most durable flash drive money can buy. If you work in harsh environments and need uncompromising protection, this rugged drive is second to none.

Kingston IronKey D300 Encrypted USB

Key Features:

  • Military-grade 256-bit AES hardware encryption
  • Tough epoxy coating for water and dust resistance
  • Sturdy metal enclosure for durability
  • Available in 4GB – 128GB capacities
  • Optional anti-malware protection

The Kingston IronKey D300 offers unparalleled security with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. It has FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation to meet strict government security standards. The tough epoxy coating and metal case make it highly durable and resistant to water and dust ingress. Capacities range from 4GB up to 128GB. It’s also available with optional anti-malware scanning. With hardcore encryption and construction, the IronKey D300 is the most secure flash drive around.

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Luxe USB Type-C

Key Features:

  • Reversible USB Type-C and traditional Type-A connectors
  • 150MB/s read speed over USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Premium metal casing with retractable design
  • Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB capacities

With a reversible USB-C connector on one side and standard USB-A on the other, the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Luxe lets you easily transfer data between USB Type-C smartphones, tablets and the latest PCs. Read speeds reach an impressive 150MB/s in USB 3.1 mode. The premium metal housing looks great and helps dissipate heat. Retractable connectors and capacities up to 512GB make this an excellent high-capacity flash drive for both new and legacy devices.


With so many options on the market, choosing the best flash drive involves prioritizing your needs – whether that’s maximum speed, huge capacity, ultra durability or strict security. We hope these recommendations have helped highlight great choices across the spectrum.

For most people, the SanDisk Extreme Go offers the best blend of fast USB 3.1 speeds, high capacities, durable build quality and security in one affordable package. But enthusiasts may want specialized drives like the Patriot Supersonic Rage Prime for sheer performance or the armored Kingston IronKey D300 for data protection.

There are also great flash drives for working seamlessly across mobile devices and PCs, like the SanDisk iXpand Luxe or Ultra Dual Drive Luxe. And you can’t go wrong with the Samsung BAR Plus for portable everyday use. As long as you choose a reputable brand and avoid the cheapest options, any of these best-in-class flash drives makes transferring and backing up data a breeze.