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11 Best USB Flash Drives in 2023 (Up to 1 TB!)

Last updated: November 15, 2023 - 17 min read
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Having the best USB flash drive can solve many file-related problems. And it can often do it cheaply. You can transfer files quickly and easily between devices, even when you have no internet available. You can take your work with you without relying on cloud-based systems. Some can even back up your phone or automatically copy your photos.

There are many choices out there. Our top pick is the Samsung Fit Plus. It has a big capacity, fast speeds, and is very small.

Our Top 3 Choices for The Best USB Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB

 

What Is the Best USB Flash Drive?

We’ve selected a range of USB flash drives for you. Some will back up your iOS devices as well as work as an external drive. Some will do the same for devices using USB C.

All of them will prove handy for transferring files, sharing them with others, or even as a boot disk. Before we look at them in more detail, here is a summary of our recommendations.

Our Top Pick
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
  • Fast 300 MB/s read and write speeds
  • 256 GB capacity for storing large files
  • USB 3.1 connection for easy access
  • Durable and reliable design
Best Budget Pick
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
  • Reliable storage for photos and videos
  • Compact size fits easily in pockets
  • Easy drag-and-drop file loading
  • Protects data with 128-bit AES encryption
Best Value Metal Housing
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
  • Durable metal casing
  • Fast and reliable data transfers
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Superb price per GB
  • Up to 200 MB/s read speed
Best Value 1 TB Drive
SXINDE 1 TB Memory Stick
SXINDE 1 TB Memory Stick
SXINDE 1 TB Memory Stick
  • Amazing low price for 1 TB
  • Smart swivel design
  • USB 1.1 and 2.0
  • Stainless steel and ABS construction
  • Compatible with both Mac and PC
Best USB 3.0 Drive
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880
  • Blazing read speeds up to 420 MB/s
  • Durable and reliable
  • Shock and vibration resistant
  • High-grade encryption for data protection
  • Transfer large files in seconds
Best for iOS
SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C SDDDC2
SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C SDDDC2
SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C SDDDC2
  • Lightweight and easily fits in your pocket
  • USB C and USB A compatibility
  • High-speed transfers up to 150 MB/s
  • Easy to move files between devices
  • Durable metal design
Best for Rough Environments
Corsair CMFSS3B-256GB Flash Survivor Stealth 256GB
Corsair CMFSS3B-256GB Flash Survivor Stealth 256GB
Corsair CMFSS3B-256GB Flash Survivor Stealth 256GB
  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Rugged aluminum housing
  • USB 3.0 speeds up to 450 MB/s
  • Lifetime warranty
Best Budget USB 3.0 Drive
PNY 256GB Turbo Attache 4 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
PNY 256GB Turbo Attache 4 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
PNY 256GB Turbo Attache 4 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
  • Large capacity storage for plenty of photos, videos, and music
  • Fast transfer speeds of up to 400 MB/s
  • Portable, slim design for easy transport
  • USB 3.0 interface for wide compatibility
  • Password protection for secure data storage
Most Stylish USB Flash Drive
Samsung Bar Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung Bar Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung Bar Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
  • 256 GB storage capacity
  • 400 MB/s read and write speed
  • USB 3.1 interface
  • Durable metal construction
  • Shockproof and waterproof
Best for iOS Backups
SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive SDIX30N
SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive SDIX30N
SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive SDIX30N
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Automatically backs up photos
  • High speed USB 3.0
  • Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and computers
  • Free mobile app for easy file management
Best 1 TB Drive
Kingston DataTraveler Max 1TB
Kingston DataTraveler Max 1TB
Kingston DataTraveler Max 1TB
  • High-performance storage for large files
  • 1 TB capacity for maximum storage
  • Fast transfer speeds
  • Durable and reliable
  • Compact design for easy portability

Choosing the Best USB Flash Drive

Once you’ve decided on what you need from your flash drive, you can choose which one meets your needs the best. Here they are in detail.

 

1. Samsung Fit Plus

Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Brand
Brand
Samsung
Connection
Connection
USB 3.1
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
Tiny size, waterproof, shockproof, magnet, and X-ray-proof
Best For
Best For
Using as an additional drive

The Samsung Fit Plus USB drive is remarkably small. The drive itself looks no bigger than a wireless mouse receiver unit. Samsung has made it like this so that you can use it as a permanently attached drive. 

In order for that to work, it needs to be fast and large enough. And it is both these things. It has up to 300 MB/s data transfer and up to 256 GB capacity. It’s a simple solution to expanding the storage capacity of your older laptop. And it won’t snap off if you knock it when transporting your computer.

It’s also built with robustness in mind. Water, shock, magnets, and X-rays won’t adversely affect this drive. And it will function in temperatures far beyond your own tolerance.

The Samsung Fit Plus USB is cheaper than upgrading your laptop’s hard drive. And it adds the flexibility of transferring files between machines.

 

2. SanDisk Cruzer CZ36

SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
Brand
Brand
Sandisk
Connection
Connection
USB 2.0
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), password protection
Best For
Best For
Cheap, everyday use

The SanDisk Cruzer is a perfect everyday USB flash drive. It is available in a range of capacities. It connects via USB 2.0. This is not the fastest of protocols, but it offers decent transfer speeds.

One of the problems with a small flash drive is it is easy to lose. They get left in computer USB ports or they fall out of pockets. The last thing we want is our data drifting about, vulnerable to being exploited. 

But this SanDisk has two protections built in. There is SanDisk’s own Secure Access software. This allows you to create a private, password-protected folder on the drive. The second protection is the AES protocol used to encrypt the data.

The drive itself will easily fit in your pocket and the USB plug is protected. It slides in and out of the drive body with a simple slider. Finally, the price of the SanDisk Cruzer makes it almost a disposable item. If you do lose it, a replacement won’t cause much financial pain. It’s a quick, cheap, and simple way of transferring files from one device to another.

 

3. Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB

Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
Brand
Brand
Kingston
Connection
Connection
USB 3.2
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
Stylish metal construction, fast USB 3.2 interface
Best For
Best For
Someone who needs a durable flash drive

The Kingston DataTraveler Kyson looks like it means business. Its stylish brushed metal case is complemented by a key ring loop. It’s one of the smaller drives on our list. There’s no sliding mechanism, as the case forms the outside of the USB plug. This helps protect it from damage.

If you do keep it on your key ring, it will be vulnerable to accumulating dirt and dust in the plug. That’s not impossible to fix but it’s worth remembering if it appears to malfunction.

This USB flash drive has a maximum capacity of 256 GB. It’s not the largest in our review, but it’s adequate for most needs. And the USB 3.2 allows the drive to use speeds of up to 200 MB/s. Overall, the Kingston DataTraveler Kyson offers a pretty tough drive at a good price. You can keep it on your key ring so you always have a USB drive with you.

 

4. SXINDE 1 TB Memory Stick

SXINDE 1 TB Memory Stick
Brand
Brand
SXINDE
Connection
Connection
USB 2.0
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
1 TB
Key Features
Key Features
Neat design and a bargain price
Best For
Best For
Massive capacity at a bargain price

There aren’t many frills to the SXINDE 1 TB memory stick. But there don’t have to be, when your 1 TB drive costs less than 30 bucks. That being said, it’s a neat stainless steel and ABS unit. And it swivels away to protect the business end from dirt and damage.

It’s a budget drive, so you don’t get blazing speeds for all that data. But if you understand those limitations, you’ll be hard pressed to find more storage-per-dollar in a thumb drive.

Set it up as an extra hard drive back-up, because it’s so affordable. That alone would make the SXINDE 1 TB worth the money.

 

5. SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880

SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880
Brand
Brand
SanDisk
Connection
Connection
USB 3.2
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
1 TB
Key Features
Key Features
Maximum 420 MB/s transfer speed, metal body
Best For
Best For
Frequent transfer of large files

The SanDisk Extreme Pro offers some premium features. It has a sleek, stylish metal case. The key ring loop is part of that metal case. So it won’t easily get broken. There is a maximum capacity of 1 TB. That was unthinkable for a flash drive only a few years ago. And USB 3.2 speeds allow incredibly quick transferring. SanDisk says a full-length 4K movie will transfer in less than 15 seconds.

There’s a thumb slider to make the USB plug available for use, but no cover. Like other SanDisk drives, you get the reassurance of their AES 128-bit encryption software. There is also a free (downloadable) data recovery app in case of accidental file deletion.

The transfer speeds and capacity mean that the SanDisk Extreme Pro is a good choice as a swappable working USB flash drive. You can transfer your work between devices without needing online cloud storage.

 

6. SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB C SDDDC2

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C SDDDC2
Brand
Brand
SanDisk
Connection
Connection
USB 3.1 and USB C
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
Fits both USB A and USB C ports, Android backup capability
Best For
Best For
Anyone switching between devices with different ports

The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive is particularly handy if you have an Android mobile device. You can connect the USB C plug to your compatible phone or tablet. And back up files directly to your flash drive.

The two plugs on this flash drive make it ideal if your hardware covers older and newer technology. The latest Macbooks only have USB C ports. That’s a problem if you want to transfer files to and from your older USB A computer. But this SanDisk has you covered.

The different plugs are at each end of the drive. A simple thumb slider lets you select which one is deployed. This means a traditional eyelet for a keychain is not possible. But there are two slots at the edge of the drive to allow easy attachment.

There are some really good deals to be had with this USB flash drive, making it a great choice. The easy cross-compatibility of the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive makes it a really attractive solution to file transfer problems.

 

7. Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth

Corsair CMFSS3B-256GB Flash Survivor Stealth 256GB
Brand
Brand
Corsair
Connection
Connection
USB 3.0
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
Waterproof to 200 m, vibration and shock-resistant
Best For
Best For
Users needing a USB drive that will withstand rough usage

With the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth, you don’t have to worry about dirt and dust getting into your drive. Not even water can penetrate its aircraft-grade aluminum housing. The drive is protected in a screw-down tube. This is the source of its impressive waterproof rating of 650 feet (200 m). 

Attach a floating keychain and you have the perfect solution if you’re a digital nomad who lives on the water. And even if you’re not, the flash drive will survive a trip through the washing machine. Personal experience has taught me that this is not true of every USB drive.

There are many benefits to having a compact USB flash drive. They won’t be uncomfortable in your pocket. But the size and shape of the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth mean you won’t lose it easily. And there’s a lot to be said about that.

 

8. PNY 256GB Turbo Attache 4 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

PNY 256GB Turbo Attache 4 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
Brand
Brand
PNY
Connection
Connection
USB 3.0
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
Sliding cover for protection, compact size
Best For
Best For
Cheap transferable storage

The PNY Turbo Attache 4 is a no-frills solution to file transfer and storage. Its simple plastic case has a translucent cover. This slides back to reveal the USB plug. It won’t stop gunk from getting in the plug, but it offers some protection.

USB 3.0 speeds are not as quick as the 3.2 speeds. But they’re reasonable and will allow you not to grow frustrated. If you’re going to be using a drive to work from, then a faster connection would be wise.

But you won’t find 256 GB of storage much cheaper than the PNY Turbo Attache 4. As a basic USB flash drive for file transfer, it’s got a lot to recommend it.

 

9. Samsung Bar Plus 256GB - 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive

Samsung Bar Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Brand
Brand
Samsung
Connection
Connection
USB 3.1
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
Waterproof, shockproof, magnet, and X-ray-proof
Best For
Best For
Frequent users who travel a lot

The Samsung Bar Plus adds useful functionality to the stylish design. It’s a solidly built bar design (hence the name). But its edges are curved and the keychain attachment is elegantly integrated into the body.

If you’re a frequent flyer that’s worried about all the X-ray treatment dished out to your keys, it’s ideal. This Samsung should give you peace of mind. It is protected against X-rays. But the protection doesn’t stop there. It will survive immersion in seawater for up to 72 hours. And it is shielded against shock and magnetic interference.

You might think this level of ruggedness comes at a premium price. But this is not the case. Put together, the Samsung Bar Plus is a very attractive package at an appealing price.

 

10. SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive SDIX30N

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive SDIX30N
Brand
Brand
SanDisk
Connection
Connection
USB 3.0 and Lightning
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
256 GB
Key Features
Key Features
Dual plugs for connecting to iOS devices and USB A
Best For
Best For
Backing up iPhones and iPads and easy file transfer

The SanDisk iXpand USB Flash Drive brings easy file transfer to the iOS world. SanDisk’s proprietary app allows easy password-protected data transfer possible. Simply connect the drive to the Lightning port of your device and your data will back up automatically.

The drive’s cover pivots around a central point. This keeps the Lighting plug’s exposed contacts covered when you’re carrying the drive. And it also has a loop for keychain attachment.

The cost per GB is relatively high for this drive. But given the lack of internal expandability in iOS devices, it might be the only way of easily freeing up space on your phone or tablet. As such, the SanDisk iXpand is a neat solution to file transfer needs with iOS.

You can also take a look at our guide to transferring photos from your iOS device to your Mac or PC.

 

11. Kingston DataTraveler Max 1TB High Performance USB Flash Drive

Kingston DataTraveler Max 1TB
Brand
Brand
Kingston
Connection
Connection
USB 3.2
Maximum Capacity
Maximum Capacity
1 TB
Key Features
Key Features
Maximum read speed of up to 1000 MB/s
Best For
Best For
Transferring large files quickly

The Kingston Data Traveler Max offers a remarkable maximum capacity of 1 TB. Just another sign of how quickly technology advances. Although it is physically the largest drive in our review, it’s not obtrusive.

Size isn’t everything, of course. Having 1 TB of data on a disk is frustrating if you can’t access it quickly. This flash drive has speeds of up to 1000 MB/s courtesy of its USB 3.2 interface. This makes large files fly, assuming your device has comparable speeds.

The cover slides over the plug to protect it in transit. And there is a loop for connecting a keychain. The Kingston Data Traveler Max is a great choice if you’re looking for maximum capacity and speed.

 

How to Choose a USB Flash Drive

What Size USB Flash Drive Should I get?

A good rule of thumb when buying technology is to get as big and as fast as you can afford. Moore’s Law is the name given to the phenomenon that computing power tends to double every two years. (Some people say 18 months). So the cutting-edge flash drive you buy now will likely be the third tier in four years or less.

As photographers, we know that picture file sizes are growing all the time. Today’s 24 MP sensor will be replaced by a 50 MP sensor or bigger. Your need for storage is only ever going to increase. So get the biggest you can reasonably afford.

What Are USB Flash Drive Speeds and Will They Work on My Machine?

Things get a little complicated here. At its simplest, USB 3.0 is faster than USB 2.0. And USB 3.2 is faster than 3.0.

The speed of the drive is one thing, but the speed of your USB port is the other. If you have a USB 2.0 port, you won’t get USB 3.2 speeds. However, it’s always best to get the fastest you can, so if you upgrade your machine, you make full use of the extra specs. USB 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2 devices are usually backward-compatible with USB 2.0.

When the USB 4.0 protocol was announced, it demanded the new shape USB C plug and port. They’re not backward compatible without an adapter. And even then, only some devices will work. But they are fast.

And just to make things more complicated, Apple’s iOS devices use their own Lightning connector. Except for the latest iPads—these use a Thunderbolt 4 interface. Which is the same physical size and shape as the USB C.

All of this is to say that you need to check compatibility with your receiving device to see if the USB flash drive will work. If you need help with that, we’ve got an article on transferring files from a Mac to an external drive.

 

What Other Features Should I Look out for?

Perhaps the most significant extra feature is data encryption. If you lose your USB flash drive, or it is stolen, how safe is your data? How important this is will depend on what you will store on the drive.

Another consideration is ruggedness. Some of the drives here are waterproof and have built-in protection against shock and magnetic fields. Again, your expected use will determine how much priority you put on these factors.

 

Conclusion: The Best USB Flash Drives

The winning aspect of the Samsung Fit Plus is its tiny size. You can use it to give a new lease of life to an old laptop. But it can also be used for file transfers and backups. All of its features combined with its compact size means it wins our top choice.

Our Top 3 Choices for The Best USB Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
Samsung FIT Plus 256GB – 400MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
SanDisk Cruzer CZ36
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB
Kingston DataTraveler Kyson 64GB