WiFi, cloud storage, and fast cellular connections have helped transform the way we get digital data from one place to another, but that doesn’t mean you should only rely on them exclusively.
I’m a huge advocate for cloud storage, but I still keep a couple of flash drives handy. The pocket-sized accessory, also referred to as a thumb drive, usb stick or usb key, is the perfect way to take large files (video projects, computer backups, high-resolution photos, high-resolution music, etc.) with you everywhere.
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The biggest benefit to keeping data on a flash drive is that your access isn’t limited by your internet speed. You may upload a big project to a cloud service at home, but downloading it in a hotel room or a client’s office may be hit or miss.
Unlike external hard drives, flash drives have no moving parts, so the chances of you losing any data by accidentally dropping it on the floor are reduced significantly.
If you haven’t used a flash drive in a long time, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We did some research and collected the best ones we could find below.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Flash Drive
There are many factors to think about when choosing the right flash drive for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Size: Flash drives come in many shapes and sizes, and we made sure to pick ones that can fit easily in a pocket, purse, laptop bag, or briefcase.
Connector: Until recently, all flash drives used a USB-A ports, which have been standard on all computers since the mid-Nineties. As some computer manufacturers have moved away from USB-A in favor of USB-C (All of Apple’s MacBooks, for instance), some flash drives have USB-C connectors instead. Our guide has options for both, so you can find one that works best for your computer.
Storage Capacity: All of the flash drives on this list have can store at least 64GB (gigabytes) of data. That’s enough storage to hold hours of HD video, hundreds of pictures, or thousands of documents.
Compatibility: You can use all of the flash drives in our guide with either a PC or Mac. If you have Apple’s Camera Connection Kit, you can also plug them into an iPhone or iPad.
Data Transfer Speed: The flash drives in our guide all support the USB 3.0 standard, which has a maximum data transfer speed of 640MB/s (Megabytes per second). Most flash drives can’t hit that sustained speed, but still top out at around 150MB/s. For reference, most internet speeds cap out at roughly 37.5MB/s.
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