The Best USB Flash Drive of 2023

A USB flash drive is the most convenient way to transfer data between devices. Check out these reliable options.

Although many of us now rely on cloud storage for our data, the fact remains that local storage, in the form of USB flash drives, has the advantages of speed and dependability. Flash drives are a good notion to consider if you want to transfer your images, movies, or data in a hurry. When it comes down to it, wireless access isn’t always the most dependable option.

The amount of time it takes to sync huge files to the web might vary widely depending on the cloud service you choose and the speed of your internet connection. That is not a problem for backup purposes; but, if you want to bring a collection of HD videos or images with you wherever you go, a USB flash drive is often a far more practical option.

Of course, not all drives deliver the same experience. In addition to the amount of space that can be stored on the drive, you will also need to think about its durability, speeds, the type of USB port that is being used, its physical size, and its cost. This review will walk you through different USB flash drive options to make your buying decision easier.

How We Picked

  • Capacity

    A larger storage capacity indicates that you can save huge files, such as videos, high-resolution images, and music.

  • Speed

    The speed indicates how quickly the Flash Drive can read the data (open it) or write the data (save it) per second. A faster speed will significantly reduce the transfer speed.

  • Connection Type

    The USB flash drive's performance, notably its maximum transfer rate, is limited by the connection type around which it is built.

  • Price

    The cost varies considerably depending on the amount of storage and the USB type.

Our Top Picks

Our Top Pick

Kingston

Kingston Flash Drive

This drive performs spectacularly thanks to a combination of quick TLC flash memory and a high-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connector.

Because it has USB 3.2, the Kingston DataTraveler Max 1TB USB flash drive is incredibly quick. Additionally, it is tiny and compact enough to fit in your pocket. With a 1TB disk capacity, it is like a standard portable SSD, but it doesn't cost as much as a standard portable SSD.

Buy Now for $112.53

A smaller and cheaper than a standard SSD.

Our Runner-Up

Samsung

Samsung Flash Drive

A flash drive with a low profile and a fast plug-and-stay functionality.

If you need a little bit more space on your laptop, the Samsung FIT Plus is an excellent piece of hardware that you can add to it. Because it is so small, all you need to do is plug it in and forget about it. Additionally, the price is very reasonable for each of the four capacities, which range from 32 GB to 256 GB.

Buy Now for $14.99

The Samsung Fit Plus is so small that you can plug it in and forget about it.

Most Cost-Effective

Verbatim

Verbatim Flash Drive

This is the most cost-effective USB 3.0 drive on the market in terms of price per gigabyte.

The Verbatim Pinstripe is an inexpensive flash drive that features a push-and-pull sliding function that covers the USB connection while it is not being used. This USB 3.0 is incredibly lightweight and has a compact design. This is an ideal option for those looking for a low-priced USB flash drive.

Buy Now for $19.99

It is cheap and does the job well.

Everything We Recommend

Our Top Pick

Kingston

Kingston Flash Drive

This drive performs spectacularly thanks to a combination of quick TLC flash memory and a high-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connector.

$112.53

Buy Now

Our Runner-Up

Samsung

Samsung Flash Drive

A flash drive with a low profile and a fast plug-and-stay functionality.

$14.99

Buy Now

Most Cost-Effective

Verbatim

Verbatim Flash Drive

This is the most cost-effective USB 3.0 drive on the market in terms of price per gigabyte.

$19.99

Buy Now

Who This Is For

The USB flash drive is helpful for those who need a place to keep their data and the ability to retrieve it quickly and easily even when they don’t have access to the internet. Because you don’t need to rely on the cloud to retrieve your data, with the small size it won’t take up much space.

Flash drive vs thumb drive

USB flash drives are a convenient alternative to traditional hard drives because of their portability and lack of moving parts. The standard interface between these and personal computers, USB A and USB C, is built in. To a large extent, you can write over them. It is also known as a USB drive or a solid-state drive (SSD). You can take them everywhere because of how compact and sturdy they are.

A thumb drive is a compact data storage device that stores information using flash memory chips. Typically, it measures no more than two inches in length. It utilizes USB to link up with personal PCs. As its name suggests, the thumb drive is rather small.

There is a significant technological distinction between a flash drive and a thumb drive. Thumb drives are solid-state drives (SSD), while flash drives use compact flash (CF). Since compact flash has magnetic properties, it can read, write, and save data quickly using flash memory. In contrast, a solid-state drive (SSD) doesn’t require a magnetic read/write head since it stores data in a flash memory that can be accessed electrically and read/written without moving parts.

There are a lot of thumb drives on the market, but only a handful of them are built to survive for a long time. On the other hand, flash drives have a long lifespan and can withstand being dropped accidentally, being subjected to mechanical shock, and being under extreme pressure.

The best option for you is one that is tailored to the tasks at hand. Nevertheless, despite these distinctions, they are not the same as a competitor because each one is designed for a certain kind of task.

Is it worth the splurge?

The reality is that USB drives serve a variety of purposes that are unlikely to go out of favor very soon. Even while it’s feasible to store, move, and exchange data rapidly in the cloud these days, the privacy and security offered by USB sticks remain unmatched.

Moreover, in addition to their use in storing and transferring files, USB devices may perform other functions. Their many benefits include the safe storage of passwords and the ability to lock and unlock a computer, smartphone, or other mobile devices with a physical key.

Spend money on trusted brand names and the level of performance needed for each task at hand. Paying extra for a flash drive that offers faster speed and better durability is often worth it.

Why You Should Trust Us

A USB flash drive allows you to save and protect your vital information and documents in a little thumb device. And, unlike external SSDs or hard drives, they are not costly. As a result, we’ve identified the best flash drives based on a variety of criteria, including storage space, connectivity preferences, read and write speeds, and encryption ability. We also looked at things like portability, general performance, and cost.

How We Picked

A good flash drive may help you save money whether you need to back up data, transfer large files, or just add more space to your computer. Even better, the data transmission rates and storage capacities of modern flash drives may go up to 256GB, making them suitable for storing media files such as movies, photos, and songs. Many of them include built-in data encryption and security features to safeguard your documents.

However, it’s not always simple to pick the best USB drive. This is because there are currently four distinct USB connection protocols, such as USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, and USB 3.2, each of which is significantly quicker than the one before it. It is very helpful to have fast read and write rates while copying huge files.

Each new protocol supports the older ones, so even if your current gadgets can’t handle the quickest data-transfer protocols, your future purchases can. If you’re worried about your USB drive becoming lost or stolen, it could be a good idea to invest in one that has built-in encryption.

There are also a variety of connections to choose from. The rectangular USB-A plug on most modern flash drives is still compatible with the vast majority of computers (including Windows PCs and older Macs), printers, smart TVs, routers, and other electronic gadgets.

However, if your drive has a rounded USB-C connection, you may use it with modern Macs, current iPads, and even the newest Android smartphones and tablets. In addition to the standard USB connector, some USB flash drives have a supplementary lightning connector for use with iPhones and iPads.

Here are our top picks for USB memory sticks to help you make an informed decision. They range in cost, format, speed, size (both actual and potential), and storage capacity. Whichever USB drive you end up going with, it should be able to store all of your most important files while yet being simple to use.

Our Picks For You

Our Top Pick - Kingston Flash Drive

Our Top Pick

Kingston

Kingston Flash Drive

This drive performs spectacularly thanks to a combination of quick TLC flash memory and a high-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connector.

Because it has USB 3.2, the Kingston DataTraveler Max 1TB USB flash drive is incredibly quick. Additionally, it is tiny and compact enough to fit in your pocket. With a 1TB disk capacity, it is like a standard portable SSD, but it doesn't cost as much as a standard portable SSD.

Buy Now for $112.53

Who It's For

The Kingston DataTraveler Max, which offers 1TB of storage, 1,000Mbps read speeds and 900Mbps write speeds, is ideal for anybody who needs a lot of capacity on the move.

Why It's Great

With up to 1TB of capacity and USB 3.2 Gen 2 capability for up to 1,000Mbps read and 900Mbps write speeds, this USB-C flash drive is well-equipped. You may trust this flash drive to give amazing speeds thanks to a combination of a high-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connection and quick TLC flash memory from Micron TLC.

Potential Flaws

For individuals who desire greater security or durability, it might not be adequate. Customers have complained that it lacks extra security measures and water resistance which sometimes can be found on USB flash drives in this price range.

Other Features

Although Kingston also provides 256GB and 512GB models, the 1TB device will let you bring all of your most crucial data with you. Even though this USB flash drive won't work with many older devices due to the USB-C connection, it will work with the majority of current Android handsets. It's perfect for people who frequently need to transport large files. It's also ideal if you prefer a flash drive over an external solid-state drive because it's small and portable. It may be attached to a key ring thanks to a little loop at the top.

It includes a retractable Type-C USB connector that can be used with one hand and a body that is nearly completely constructed of plastic.

While not the cheapest, this Kingston flash drive is fast enough to compete with many much larger portable SSDs that typically require an additional cable to connect. Its portability and ease of use should also help it rank highly on the list of those looking for a capable, quick external storage option. Its attractiveness as a USB flash drive is clear given that it strikes the ideal combination between affordability, speed, and extreme mobility.

Our Runner-Up - Samsung Flash Drive

Our Runner-Up

Samsung

Samsung Flash Drive

A flash drive with a low profile and a fast plug-and-stay functionality.

If you need a little bit more space on your laptop, the Samsung FIT Plus is an excellent piece of hardware that you can add to it. Because it is so small, all you need to do is plug it in and forget about it. Additionally, the price is very reasonable for each of the four capacities, which range from 32 GB to 256 GB.

Buy Now for $14.99

Who It's For

This is the device for you if you are searching for a flash drive that has a low profile yet has a rapid read/write speed. Because of its low profile form, it is also suitable for use as a semi-permanent storage solution.

Why It's Great

One of the best USB flash drives that you can get your hands on, the Samsung FIT Plus combines a small profile with fast transfer speeds. It is a low-cost alternative that should work well for anybody searching for a semi-permanent piece of additional storage to add to a laptop, PC, or even network storage, and it is an option that anyone looking for this should consider.

Potential Flaws

Consumers would have liked an activity light on this drive. This isn't a huge absence, and it may be a benefit if the drive will dwell in a laptop USB port. But the light is to prove the flash drive isn't doing anything if you're going to remove it without ejecting it first.

Other Features

There are four distinct sizes available for the Samsung FIT Plus. You have the option of purchasing it in sizes of 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB.

The Samsung FIT Plus is almost as small as a flash drive can get while still maintaining its low-profile design. Because of its tiny size, the Samsung FIT Plus is a perfect option for any situation in which you would want to install removable storage that is only semi-permanent.

This is a versatile and compact drive. In addition to that, it has a very durable construction. Because it is so little, it cannot be stressed in the same way that bigger drives can. Despite this, Samsung has managed to imbue the drive with some of the expensive qualities associated with luxury products. It is designed to fit in seamlessly, whether it is on a low-cost laptop or a high-end personal computer.

The quickness of this device is another plus. Using a simulated benchmark via USB 3.1, the drive achieved its claimed maximum read speed of 400 MB/s. In a synthetic benchmark and a more realistic test including the transfer of a 5GB file, write rates reached about 60 MB/s.

Most Cost-Effective - Verbatim Flash Drive

Most Cost-Effective

Verbatim

Verbatim Flash Drive

This is the most cost-effective USB 3.0 drive on the market in terms of price per gigabyte.

The Verbatim Pinstripe is an inexpensive flash drive that features a push-and-pull sliding function that covers the USB connection while it is not being used. This USB 3.0 is incredibly lightweight and has a compact design. This is an ideal option for those looking for a low-priced USB flash drive.

Buy Now for $19.99

Who It's For

This low-cost USB flash drive would be ideal for you if you don't want a lot of features or a particularly rapid transfer rate and are searching for an economical and practical USB flash drive to buy.

Why It's Great

The Verbatim Pinstripe USB flash drive is great for making backup copies of your media files. The storage demands may be readily met by using a Verbatim flash drive, which has an excellent reputation for quality and dependability. It's reasonably priced and has a lifetime guarantee, making it a great purchase.

Potential Flaws

Unfortunately, this USB drive does not have an indicator light. It's not dustproof or waterproof, but the retractable design keeps out dirt and debris. However, these features are usually available in more expensive USB drives.

Other Features

There is sufficient storage on this memory stick for everyday use. In terms of speed, it can read at about 30MB/sec and write at about 14MB/sec. This flash drive works with Macs, Linux, and Windows computers. The functionality is enough for typical daily use.

There is also a lifetime guarantee on the Verbatim Pinstripe. The sleek black design slides in and out easily and features a key ring attachment for portability. The dust-proofing of this USB drive is negated by its retractable shape, but it is neither shockproof nor waterproof like some others.

This USB flash drive is a great buy because it doesn't break the bank and works as advertised.

Almost Made The Cut - SanDisk iXpand Luxe Flash Drive

Almost Made The Cut

SanDisk iXpand Luxe

SanDisk iXpand Luxe Flash Drive

Great for Android and iOS

To complement a newer iPhone or iPad, the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive is an absolute must. Each end of the swiveling design is equipped with a different type of connector: a USB-C port for one end and a Lightning port for the other. It is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones and includes easy-to-use file transfer software.

Buy Now for $59.99

Who It's For

The SanDisk iXpand Luxe is an excellent choice for anybody in need of a flash drive to store and transfer media files from their mobile device. At one end, it features a Lightning socket for iPhones and iPads, and when you flip it over, the other end reveals a USB-C plug, which enables you to transfer data to and from Android devices as well as PCs.

Why It's Great

SanDisk iXpand gives the option to connect a flash drive to your iOS device making it much easier to store images, play movies, create backups, and transfer information between your computer and iOS device. The process of file copying and transfer is also simpler.

Potential Flaws

Although it's nice that it works with both Android and iOS devices, many customers mentioned that the transfer rates are slow considering the price. Considering this is a USB 3.0 drive, the speed is not up to par. And according to some, it is slower on iOS than on Android.

Other Features

The SanDisk iXpandFlash Drive Luxe is available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities. It is quite compact and features a metal case with a loop for a keychain. Because of this layout, one of the plugs is constantly on display, but SanDisk thoughtfully provides a removable plastic cover that simply slides on. It features a metal finish, which increases its durability, and because it is connected through USB 3.0, the gadget will give quick data transfers.

The Lightning connection is the most crucial feature of the iXpand flash drive since it enables users to connect the device to an iPhone or iPad and transfer data to and from such devices. This functionality alone might be a key selling point for the iXpand, considering how difficult it can be to move data from such devices without the assistance of Apple.

For usage with an iOS device, the iXpand app is necessary (not required for Android devices). It takes very little time to load. Any new data you add can be backed up immediately, or you can choose to save a copy to a separate location. In addition to saving your phone's data to the flash drive, you'll also have the option to remove the data that was just copied over.

Care and Maintenance

If your USB flash drive isn’t working properly, one possible solution is to “clean” the disk and remove its partitions. This can correct issues with a disk that either cannot be formatted or displays the incorrect capacity of the storage it contains.

Keep your flash drive stored away in a safe place while it is not being used. In addition to the obvious hazards such as fire, water, and dust, you should also keep it away from extreme temperatures and any other devices that could emit magnetic emissions (like your cell phone). If the USB came with a cover, you should be sure to keep it on while it’s not being used so that it doesn’t get damaged or broken. This will also guarantee that there is no accumulation of dirt and dust within the device.