Since I work with computers all day, its important for me to have the best flash drive to quickly access the files I need while I’m mobile. I typically prefer cloud-based data storage, but having a fast and reliable flash drive in my bag proves useful quite often. Whether I’m helping a client transfer data or troubleshooting a server, I can never underestimate the power of a flash drive.
We actually have several different recommendations for the best flash drive to help address the various needs of our readers. Some of us may still need USB 2.0 devices while others want the fastest flash drive available. As always, we recognize that a single product isn’t perfect for everyone. That said, we start with our top recommendation and finish with some alternatives.
The Best Flash Drive
The best flash drive for most people is the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive. It offers great performance and costs less than a date at the movies. We usually recommend the 32 GB drive but the 64 GB version offers more storage per dollar. We don’t typically recommend the 16 GB drive because it has slower write speeds and costs more per gigabyte. Historically, the prices for this flash drive vary greatly. At the time of this review, the 32 GB version sat just under $30 and the 64 GB drive was about $45. If you get lucky, you may be able to find these drives for less than $20 and $30 respectively. As with all of our recommendations, we track the price and add an update to the Deals page any time it matches or beats the lowest historical price.
So why did we choose this drive? It has read speeds up to 245MB/s and write speeds up to 190MB/s — plenty of speed for most of our readers. However, you must have a computer with USB 3.0 ports to get even close to those speeds. We’ve also been using these drives for months and feel comfortable recommending them to our readers. My business owns about 15 of these flash drives, and we’ve yet to see one fail. As with any piece of technology, that will happen, but these have passed all our daily-use scenarios with excellence. They’ve earned the title of Best Flash Drive, as far as we’re concerned.
SanDisk has also established themselves as the portable storage kings in the last few years. In addition to their flash drives, their SD cards always rank near the top in the photography world. In fact, our upcoming SD card recommendation is a SanDisk product. Shocker.
Much More Storage, Speed, and Money
If our main recommendation isn’t fast enough or big enough for you, we recommend the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 256 GB drive. Please keep in mind that this drive is completely overkill and very expensive. You’re actually better off buying a 2.5-inch solid state drive and putting it into a USB 3.0 enclosure. That would save you a significant amount of money with added size the only deterrent. However, if you’d like something smaller and have some disposable income, this $200 flash drive nearly doubles the performance of our main pick. At 450MB/s read and 350MB/s write, this drive screams.
How do they make these drives so fast? Corsair actually uses a solid state drive controller to improve the speed of the flash memory. It does come with one major drawback: size. These drives are much larger than our main pick. If you have two USB ports right next to each other, you’ll only be able to use one of them. This device is too wide to plug something in right next to it. That’s why it’s not the best flash drive for most people, but it’s certainly the best choice for some.
The Best Flash Drive for USB 2.0 Computers
For most people, USB 2.0 is obsolete. USB 3.0 is supposed to be backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports… and it is for the most part. The best flash drive for USB 2.0 is actually our main pick, but there are rare instances where using these newer drives won’t work. If you need a USB 2.0 flash drive, we recommend the Transcend JetFlash 600. In real-world benchmarking, it outperforms all the other USB 2.0 flash drives still on the market with up to 32MB/s read and 20MB/s write. That’s actually good for a USB 2.0 flash drive. It’s available right now for about $20 in the 32 GB size.
We Update Our Reviews Regularly
Every product we recommend receives regular updates. When something new takes over the top spot, we test it and recommend it as necessary. You won’t need to look for a new post; we will update this article directly. We’ll send out update notifications via our social channels, so follow us to stay current!