With the convenience of cloud storage, USB flash drives might seem like old news, but the best are portable, fast, near-indestructible and offer tons of space — enough that they're worth having. Here are five of the best, with links to Australian deals.
What males a perfect USB thumb drive? Maybe you want something super tiny but with plenty of capacity for those files that are just too big for cloud storage. Maybe you carry them around to access important files on the go. Or maybe you just want something cheap that gets the job done without any fuss. Here are five of the best, in no particular order:
Kingston's Digital Data Traveller line of USB 3.0 flash drives are affordable, high-capacity, and highly portable. The photo above kind of tells the tale, too. The all-aluminium casing makes it just durable enough to go on a keychain and stand up to the drops and bumps your keyring might take, but it's small enough to fit smoothly into a USB port anywhere without blocking adjacent ports. It's fast and backwards compatible, thanks to the requirement that all of our contenders be USB 3.0, and it even comes with a five year warranty. The model above is Kingston's 64GB version, which will set you back $37 at Kogan. If you prefer, you can also get 16GB, 32GB or 128GB variants.
SanDisk is better known for its SD cards, but the company also makes some of the fastest USB 3.0 flash drives on the market. The SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 64GB flash drive (shown above) boasts transfer speeds of 245 MB/s read and 190 MB/s write; pretty speedy even compared to some of SanDisk's other drives (and more on that later.) The drive is on the large side, and definitely a stick you'll want to keep in a bag until you need it plugged in, but the retractable USB port makes sure that it's never damaged and kept safe for when you need to use the drive. If you're interested, the 64GB version costs $58.50 at MobieCity, with 32GB and 16GB versions also available.
PNY is well known for affordable storage and memory, and its USB 3.0 flash drives are no exception. PNY's Turbo USB 3.0 line of flash drives are portable and tiny, easily stored in a pocket or anywhere in a laptop bag, boast solid and speedy transfer rates, and come in sizes big enough to carry just about anything you might need. We're highlighting the 64GB version above, which will set you back $34.99 direct from PNY. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles here but that's fine — it's simple, affordable storage in a plastic housing with a cap to keep the USB plug clean while you carry it around with you. If you need more storage, there's a massive 256GB version available for $129.
If you're looking for a USB 3.0 flash drive that works well with your computer, whether it's a Mac or a PC, and with your Android phone or tablet, the Corsair Voyager Go is a great option. You get 64GB in a tiny, rugged package with an aluminium case and a carrying strap that can connect to your keychain, or is small enough to fit pretty much anywhere you need to take it. (It measures just 37mm long.) It also comes with an included adaptor that switches the USB 3.0 port to micro USB, so any Android device that supports OTG (On-The-Go) will work with it and see it as added storage. Best of all, the cross-compatibility between desktops (and desktop operating systems) and mobile devices, storage, and portability won't cost you more money — you can pick one up for $58.98 from MWave Australia. If you don't need as much space, you can save a few bucks with the 32GB of 16GB versions. Hell, the whole thing even comes with extra caps in case you lose the included one. That's a nice touch.
For the ultimate in portability — the kind that I remember seeing mockups of on tech blogs years ago wondering if "flash drives could ever get that small," — the SanDisk Ultra Fit is an amazing option. So small it barely sticks out of the USB drive you plug it into (its size is akin to the Logitech Unifying Receiver, if you're more familiar with that), the Ultra Fit comes in a variety of storage options, none of which change the basic form factor. The 64GB version shown above is $38.99 at MWave Australia, while the more massive (and more popular) 128GB version is $88.99 from the same supplier. All models are USB 3.0 and boast great transfer speeds, carry a five year warranty, and even come with a little protective cap to keep the USB jack clean when it's not in use.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Don't just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is — and make your case for it — in the discussions below.