USB Flash Drive Buyer's Guide

Written by:  • Edited by: Rebecca Scudder
Updated Sep 13, 2008
• Related Guides: Usb Flash Drive
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There are many different brands of USB Flash Drives out there. How do you know which brands you should look into, and which ones to avoid? This guide will briefly review ten different brands of USB Flash Drives, and will give you a better idea of which brands you should consider when you make your next purchase.

Brief Intro

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It has never been easier, more affordable or more efficient for personal data storage than in the present day. For those of you who have used computers for a long time, you'll remember exactly how many of those you've gone through. Fortunately, those days are long gone. Nowadays, one of the most convenient and cost-effective manner of data storage over the past several years has been the use of the USB Flash Drive.

What is it?

A Flash Drive is a small electronic device that is capable of holding mass amounts of data. How it's used is by plugging it into a free USB slot. From that point, you can either transfer data to the device, or load data from the device. It is perfect for storing documents, pictures, music and anything else that you need to transfer.

What are the benefits?

Portability and capacity are the main features of any USB Flash Drive. They are lightweight, and depending on how much storage space you require, you can select from a drive that holds between 1GB and 64GB of storage space. They're perfect if you have a few documents that you wish to back up for peace of mind in the unfortunate circumstance of something happening to your computer, or data you want to move between computers.

What are the drawbacks?

USB Flash Drives can be expensive, depending on brand and storage space. Like any other type of storage device, you always risk the likelihood of data corruption, which could be caused by improper data transfer, or device failure (in other words, if it dies). In addition, because they are lightweight and small, they can easily be lost and/or damaged.

Recommended brands and devices

Typically it's a good idea to go with brands who specialize in working with memory devices. This guide will list the assets and setbacks of the following brands and devices. This general list should give you a better idea before purchasing a USB Flash Drive.

The order of this list does not imply that some devices are recommended more highly than others.

10.) Centon Drives

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Centon DSP4GB-007 Data Stick Pro

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty;
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac

Cons:

  • Tends to deliver more duds than working devices;
  • Data is easily corrupted;
  • Does not always format correctly

9.) Corsair Drives

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Corsair Flash Voyager 4GB

Pros:

  • 10 year + 1 month warranty;
  • Solid performer: decent reading and writing speeds

Cons:

  • No protection on the device at all;
  • Drive can be easily manipulated physically (bends under some minor pressure)

8.) PNY Drives

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PNY 8GB Optima PRO Attaché

Pros:

  • Reasonable pricing;
  • Performs in different weather conditions (wet and dry) and extreme temperatures (hot and cold);
  • Transfers quickly and effectively;
  • Compatible for PC and Mac

Cons:

  • Only offers a 1 year warranty compared with other products which offer 2 years or more;
  • Cap is not always secure; can easily come off;
  • Flimsy design;
  • In event of product failure, consumer will have to pay to have product shipped to be examined by PNY

7.) Transcend Drives

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Transcend 8GB JetFlash V10

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty;
  • Enables user to password protect files;
  • Can compress files

Cons:

  • Does not deliver on speed, and is actually much slower than it claims to be

6.) Hewlett-Packard Drives

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HP V100W 4GB

Pros:

  • 2 year warranty;
  • Works quickly and efficiently;
  • Overall a steady performer

Cons:

  • Not the fastest drive available, but works well enough

5.) SanDisk Drives

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Sandisk Cruzer Slide 4GB (ReadyBoost compliant)

Pros:

  • 2 year warranty;
  • Sleek design, and a loop allowing one to wear it around the neck;
  • Solid performer

Cons:

  • Not particularly environmentally friendly, as most SanDisk flash drives are over-packaged with plastic;
  • Tends to be selective with specific USB devices, resulting in compatibility issues;
  • It is not the fastest device around for what you pay for it

4.) Kingston Drives

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Kingston 8GB DataTraveler

Pros:

  • 5 year warranty;
  • Incredibly light;
  • Solid performer

Cons:

  • A rather expensive device for a standard unit, but it works

3.) A-Data Drives

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A-Data 4GB PD30

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty;
  • Reads data quickly;
  • Sleek design protects drive;
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux

Cons:

  • Writing speeds could be better

2.) Patriot Drives

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Patriot Xporter XT Boost 4GB

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty;
  • Works without installing drivers for Windows, Mac or Linux;
  • ReadyBoost compatible;
  • Solid reading rates - quite fast;
  • Overall a steady performer

Cons:

  • Writing speeds could be faster;
  • Bulky design

1.) OCZ Drives

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OCZ Rally2 8GB

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty;
  • Impressive transfer speeds (up to 35MB/second) for reading, 15MB/second for writing - one of if not the fastest of any flash drive available;
  • Compatible with Macs;
  • True Plug and Play - no drivers to install

Cons:

  • Protection cap is not always secured, and can easily be lost;
  • Expect to have a lighter wallet after purchasing a drive from this brand

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