Certainly, it never hurts to have one always at hand. In fact, how many times have you missed having one just when you need it most? You probably also have one that is packed and with no more free space. Whatever the reason you find your self buying one, in this handy guide we will tell you everything about the handy USB keys.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best USB drives on the market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about USB keys
- 3.1 What is a USB memory stick exactly?
- 3.2 What are the main applications for USB Flash Drives?
- 3.3 What are the advantages and disadvantages of flash sticks?
- 3.4 How to use a USB memory stick?
- 3.5 How long do flash drives last?
- 3.6 Who are flash drives recommended for?
- 3.7 What care do USB drives require?
- 4 Purchase Criteria
- 5 Summary
- They are very light and versatile. Ideal for a world where everything just keeps getting getting smaller and smaller. You can carry them in your pocket, on a keychain or in your backpack.
- It’s memory capacity has not stopped growing since the first models appeared.
- They have multiple applications: from installing an operating system to backing up important documents. Some models have security systems to prevent their contents from falling into the wrong hands or an unintended audience.
Ranking: The best USB drives on the market
Below we offer you our complete ranking with the five best USB Flash Drives currently available on the market. Each one of them stands out for some particular reason. However, they all give you very good value for your money. All you have to do is choose the one that best suits your needs.
No. 1: SanDisk Ultra Fit, USB Flash 3.1
A real bestseller that also receives great ratings from its buyers. An extremely small, low-profile but high-speed USB 3.0 flash drive. It’s perfect for notebooks, game consoles or in-car audio equipment. It has a capacity ranging from 16GB to 256 GB and it offers a reading speed of up to 150 Mbs.
This is an ideal USB memory for non-professional use, with a fairly establish price and good performance. The manufacturer states that you could load a full-length HD movie into it in less than 30 seconds, this is a great guarantee with a brand like SanDisk.
No. 2: Corsair Flash Voyager GTX
This USB stick comes with 512 GB of storage capacity, which is more than many external hard drives, while maintaining the fast speeds of an SSD. According to the manufacturer, it reaches reading speeds of up to 440 Mb/s and writing speeds of 440 Mb/s. It also supports USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 standards.
This product is designed with high quality materials that make it solid, but also elegant. For added strength, the housing is made of zinc alloy and aluminium. You can use it on most operating systems without installing drivers. It works perfectly on Windows 7, 8.1, 10, macOS and Linux.
No. 3: SanDisk Cruzer Fit
If you want a very simple USB stick at a really cheap price, then SanDisk Cruzer Fit is what you are looking for. It has a storage capacity of 16 GB to 64 GB and USB 2.0 connectivity technology. It also includes SanDisk SecureAccess software to protect the files stored in it.
Thanks to its design with a super small size, it goes completely unnoticed. In fact, it’s about the size of a nickel. This makes it ideal for continuous storage of computer notebooks, tablets or other small devices. And all for less than 15 bucks.
No. 4: Lexar P20, USB 3.0 JumpDrive
A very good value for your money with the guarantee of a brand like Lexar. It has a capacity of 16-256 GB of storage. It offers read speeds of up to 400 Mb/s and write speeds of up to 270 Mb/s. You can transfer a movie in HD format in less than 40 seconds. It also supports USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 standards.
It is compatible with PC and Mac systems. It also comes in an elegant black design that you’ll love. It is made from a metal alloy base, although the top has a high gloss mirror finish. In addition, it has a security encryption system to protect files. You won’t have to worry about them falling into the wrong hands.
No. 5: SanDisk Extreme Pro
This is an ultra-fast USB 3.1 flash drive. According to the manufacturer, it achieves a reading speed of up to 420 Mb/s and a writing speed of up to 380 Mb/s. To give you an idea, you can copy a movie in 4K in less than 15 seconds. It has a capacity that ranges from 16 GB to 512 GB of storage.
Its simple and elegant design incorporates a protective metal casing made of aluminium. It’s designed to offer a long life. It also has the possibility of password restricted access for more security with the guarantee and trust of a brand like SanDisk. Keep in mind that quality has a cost, that is to say, this is not a cheap USB stick.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about USB keys
In order to acquire a USB memory stick or pen-drive it is advisable that you take into account a series of questions. Not all USB Flash Drives are the same. For this reason, in this section we address the most frequently asked questions of buyers. That way, you’ll be more likely to make the right choice and be satisfied with your purchase.
What is a USB memory stick exactly?
USB Flash Drives (Universal Serial Bus) or Pen drives are small storage devices. Any kind of information can be stored in them. To save data, they use flash memory. Its origin dates back to the year 2000, when the first units went on sale. They are also known as pen drives, USB keys or memory sticks.
What are the main applications for USB Flash Drives?
Even in the face of a growing trend to store information on the cloud, USB Flash Drives continue to have a multitude of applications. They can be used to install an operating system or to back up important files or documents. They are also very practical for moving very large files.
Another interesting use is installing portable applications. They can also be used to play audiovisual content on i smart televisions and cars. You could even use them to record a program, series or movie if the television allows it. Similarly, it can be used on game consoles to save games or even videos.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of flash sticks?
Undoubtedly, their main advantage is that they are easy to transport and they take up very little space. These products can fit in a pocket, in a backpack and can even be carried as if they were a key ring. In addition, they allow information to be exchanged between devices in a fast and efficient way. Considering all of this, the ticket price for these items is not usually very high.
However, its use may have some drawbacks. They are very vulnerable to voltage changes or blows. In addition, older ones often experience problems after prolonged use.
And of course, as they are so small, it is very easy to lose them. If you are an absent-minded person, be very mindful.
How to use a USB memory stick?
Using a USB memory stick is very easy. On computers and similar devices, you just need to plug it into your computers USB port. Once this is done, you are now able to copy and move files or run and install applications. On smart TVs or game consoles, plug it in the same way and just follow the simple on-screen instructions.
How long do flash drives last?
In general, the duration of a flash memory is usually an average of about 3,000 – 5,000 cycles of writing. This is about 4 to 5 years of life if you use them about twice a day. It seems more than enough. In fact, you’ll probably lose it or lend it out it before it reaches the end of its life cycle.
Who are flash drives recommended for?
There are so many diverse applications and multiple advantages, that it could almost be said that they are recommended for anyone. In particular, you may need a flash drive if you own a computer. Since this device is handy for installing programs and backing up files.
It can also be useful if you often need to move a lot of documents from one computer to another. Or to record movies or collections of songs you want to play on different devices. Some companies even use them as advertising media and give them away in different promotions.
What care do USB drives require?
In the case of a USB key it is very important to avoid falls or strong blows, as this could make them stop working. Similarly, it is advisable to avoid humid environments and extreme temperatures. Of course, it is important to remove them from the computer to which they are connected by using the “Safely Remove Hardware” system.
Next, we’re going to study a number of important criteria that you should consider before purchasing a USB memory stick. This way, it is more likely you will be satisfied with your purchase. We wouldn’t want you to be disappointed after a few months with your new USB stick.
- Intended use
- Storage capacity
- File format
- USB physical construction
- Sensitivity of the data being saved
When choosing a USB memory stick, it is very important that you are clear about how you are going to use it. You may need a pen-drive for occasional use, such as installing an operating system. Or for frequent use, such as storing documents you’re going to use on different computers. Or to save and play back high quality videos.
Obviously, capacity is going to be a fundamental criterion to consider when choosing the flash drive you are going to buy. We live in a world that requires us to keep and store more and more information. Fortunately, today’s flash drives also offer increasingly higher storing capacities.
The era of 128 MB pen-drives is long gone. Today, the capacity of USB Flash Drives is measured in GB. It is even possible to find a 64 GB USB stick for less than 20 bucks. However, don’t think it makes sense to buy a flash drive with a much larger storage capacity than you need.
Data transfer speed can be an important issue if you need to copy a lot of heavy information. In this respect, it is important to distinguish between USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and, most recently, USB 3.1 standards. You can consult the following table to find out the transfer speed of each of them.
|USB 2.0||USB 3.0||USB 3.1|
|Transfer rate (theoretical)||480 Mb/s||5 Gbps||10 Gbps|
It is necessary to clarify that these are theoretical values and that in reality these can vary. Not all USB Flash Drives are going to reach those transfer rates. In addition, manufacturers sometimes provide peak data rather than average speeds. It is also important to distinguish between reading and writing speeds.
The format, or file system, is the way a memory unit organizes the content or information it stores. In general, to be able to use a flash drive or any other storage device it is first necessary to format it. Most often on pen-drives the file system is already an industry standard.
However, if this is not the case, you must choose the correct one for the device with which you are going to use it. To do so, there are different utilities and applications that will allow you to format it very easily and quickly. It may also happen that the factory format is not suitable for the equipment with which you are going to use it.
Nothing is more frustrating than losing the accumulated information stored in these devices because, out of nowhere, the flash drive suddenly stops working. It is true that there are programs that can help you retrieve this lost information. However, they are not always effective. So, as the saying goes, prevention is better than having to find a cure.
Because USB Flash Drives are designed for transport, it’s important that they are rugged. A fairly common problem with pen-drives is their low resistance to voltage changes. In addition, USB Flash Drives are often subjected to shock and vibration.
For this reason, you should choose a product made of good quality materials.
USB physical construction
Today, there are many different types of USB memory stick constructions. There are retractable, with or without lid, plastic, metal and keychain, among others. In this sense, it is good that you choose one that offers a solid body. If it’s plastic, it’s good that the plastic is hard and that it’s gummed.
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With flash drives, size does matter. Don’t forget that one of their main attractive features is that they take up little space. These are devices designed for easy transport. In fact, very large and thick pen-drives can cause space problems when connected to a computer, especially laptops.
In general, it may seem that a smaller USB memory stick is better than a larger one. However, this will not always be the case as this will depend more on the quality of it’s components. Nonetheless, it will be easier to transport as it will occupy less space. And, of course, depending on its intended use, this can be an important factor.
Sensitivity of the data being saved
The data you’re going to save on the USB stick may be very sensitive. In that case, it might be best to buy one with a Hardware security encryption system. This way, if you lose it, no one will be able to access the information stored in its memory. This way if it is lost, the only consequence will be having to replace the item.
Choosing the right brand is important. The brand of a product is closely related to aspects such as quality, warranty, durability and price. Some of the most recognized manufacturers’ brands are: SanDisk, Lexar, Trascend, Toshiba, Corsair, Verbatim and Kingston.
While we live in a hyper-connected world, USB Flash Drives are here to stay and will be with us for a long time to come. Not in vain, since they offer a series of advantages that no other storage medium can match. They are small, very manageable, versatile and keep getting more and more storage capacity.
In order to buy the best one for you, don’t miss reviewing all the frequently asked questions we discussed in this guide. Remember that of course, price is a key factor, as are storage capacity and transfer speeds. However, resistance and branding should not be overlooked, since these two factors will influence the durability of the memory.
We hope you found this guide helpful and helpful. If you think it has, we would be very grateful if you would share it with your friends.
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