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How do I Choose the Best Flash Drives?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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A USB flash drive is a portable memory device that uses flash memory to store data. It plugs into the computer through a USB port, where it can then be loaded with data, unplugged, and taken with you. Documents, computer programs, pictures, or music are just a few of the things that can be loaded onto a flash drive. All flash drives can be rewritten many times, but the best flash drives may even specify how many times they can be rewritten and erased, such as one million times over a number of years, for example.

These devices come in various sizes, so to choose the best flash drives, it will be necessary to determine how much space you will need. A flash drive with a small capacity may only be able to hold 1 to 2 GB of data, whereas a high-capacity flash drive may be able to hold up to 256 GB of data. Price is directly related to the size of the flash drive; though the physical size does not generally vary much in different flash drives, the devices steadily increase in price based on memory capacity.

There are many different brands of flash drives as well, and it may be helpful to read reviews online to find what other customers think are the best flash drives. All flash drives are very portable, and most are slightly smaller than a stick of gum. They may be easily attached to a keychain or tossed in a pocket or purse, because they have no moving parts as in a standard hard drive.

When choosing flash drives, you may also consider the color and design of the flash drive. Though most are very simple and similarly designed, as mentioned above, they are often available in many different colors. In addition, some flash drives are available in novelty designs, and may be shaped like a cartoon character, a tube of lipstick, or the cork from a bottle of wine, just to name a few. There are literally thousands of different novelty designs for flash drives, though the downside to these is that they are often bulkier and more difficult to attach to a keychain than a more standard design.

Another option when trying to choose the best flash drives is security. Some flash drives are now equipped with biometric scanners, or may be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access to data. If security is important to you, be sure to keep this in mind before purchasing a small flash drive or loading it with sensitive information.

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Discussion Comments

By literally45 — On Aug 01, 2012

If any of you are looking to buy flash drives for kids, I recommend getting ones with cartoon characters.

The appearance of a flash drive might not be very important for us adults, but it is important for kids. Kids these days are way ahead of us in terms of using technology. Both my kids, aged five and eight, know how to use the computer and use it regularly. So they need computer gadgets as much as we do.

I recently bought them both flash drives they could take to school and transfer their homework and projects back home. They both really like Sponge Bob, so I purchased flash drives shaped like Sponge Bob and Patrick the Star. They love it!

By stoneMason — On Jul 31, 2012

So does anyone have a flash drive with encryption? Can you tell me a little bit about how it works? And what was the cost like, do you think it was worth it?

I sometimes have to transfer work files with a flash drive and have been looking out for safer alternatives. The flash drive I have right now is a USB flash pen with a tiny on-off switch on the side. I do keep it on off when I'm not using it. But I don't think that's safe enough. It's not too hard to find the switch.

I've been considering getting a flash drive with encryption but I'm not sure it's worth the cost. As far as I know, they are priced much higher than regular flash drives.

By ddljohn — On Jul 31, 2012

@Izzy78-- I agree with you. The only thing I will look out for when I next buy a flash drive is capacity. Everyone wants best deals on flash drives, but for me, capacity is a bigger priority right now.

I have a couple of smaller capacity flash drives at home and those fill up so quickly. Especially when I'm trying to transfer a large media file like a film, I have the hardest time. Most films are around 700MB. If you have a flash drive with 1 or 2GB space and already have some files in there, you can't fit more than one film.

I bought a new laptop recently and was trying to transfer my old film and music files tomy new laptop. I had to transfer everything one by one. I would transfer a few files, then erase them from the flash drive and then transfer a few more. If I had a flash drive with a much larger capacity, I could have transferred everything in one go.

By titans62 — On Jul 30, 2012

@Izzy78 - I am on board with you. I have had several flash drives, and they have all worked fine. I just try to find the best prices on flash drives and buy those.

I know that some flash drives have special security programs on them. When I was in school, some people also bought flash drives that came with little games like Sudoku loaded on them. Those cost a little bit more, but you're getting something extra.

The only reasons I can think that some will cost more is brand recognition and durability. Like the article says, flash drives are rated for a certain number of uses, but that number is usually ridiculously high. I have had one of my flash drives for 7 years now. It was a cheap one, and it is still working fine.

By Izzy78 — On Jul 29, 2012

What is everyone's opinions on who makes the best flash drives? I have used several different kinds in the past, and to be honest, I don't understand what the difference is between any of them. As far as I can tell, you plug them all into the USB port of a computer, and you can put data on them and take it off. I could never understand why some of them cost more than others.

The article mentions some of them being encrypted or having some sort of special features. I can understand those costing more, but I am just talking about the basic flash drives. It seems to me that the only difference between flash drives today is what they look like, and I could care less about that.

By Emilski — On Jul 29, 2012

@TreeMan - Oh yeah, floppy disks were horrible to keep track of. When I was in college we had to store everything on floppy disks. Like you said, I remember having boxes and boxes of those things to keep track of. Also, you had to label every single one of them, so you didn't forget what was on it. The computers they make now don't even have a space to insert a floppy disk.

It is amazing how fast that technology can change. It's wild to think that any kids that were born in the mid to late 90s could very likely go their whole life without ever seeing a floppy disk let along realizing what a pain they were.

Once flash drives came out, I remember paying something like 50 dollars for a "cheap" flash drive that only head 256 MB of data. The flash drives that cost $50 today can hold hundreds of gigabytes of data.

By TreeMan — On Jul 28, 2012

I think flash drives are an awesome invention. I remember the early days of computers where all of your external data had to be kept on 3 1/2 inch floppy disks. And keep in mind that the floppy diskettes were an upgrade from the punch cards that the earliest computers used.

I am still fairly young, so I was in school when a lot of the changes came along for computer storage. When I was in grade school, I remember having several boxes of diskettes in our house to store all of our text documents and such.

If I remember correctly, floppy disks could only hold something like 1.5 MB of data, so being able to have a flash drive with 100+ MB of storage space was a huge upgrade.

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