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Welcome to our guide on how to choose the best USB flash drives!
Have you already owned a pendrive for a long time? Well, actually these little devices have existed for many years now, and they are actually widespread … So most of us already know what we’re talking about!
I honestly don’t even remember how many years ago I bought my first USB pen drive, but it certainly was a long time ago.
What’s for sure is that the capacity of these USB keys grows constantly, and the relationship between price and available capacity is constantly getting better and better.
Even just this makes us understand that it’s good to always be up to date on the latest technical features of the best USB flash drives, e.g. to avoid buying one that is already outdated.
What Are USB Flash Drives For?
The ever better technical features of USB keys go hand in hand with our growing needs in terms of the size of the files we want to take with us. Think that a few years ago we were talking about pendrive capacity in terms of Mega bytes. I still have a Kingston flash drive in the drawer that has a capacity of 256 Mega Bytes. Today we are used to USB flash drive capacities starting from 8, 16 or 32 Giga Byte!
It is therefore clear that you must try to find the best USB stick for your personal needs.
But a 16 or 32 Giga Byte stick won’t last you long, for example if it needs to transport files like:
- a large number of high-resolution photographs
- many Full HD (high definition) videos
- Ultra HD or 4K videos
Today 128 or 256 Giga Byte USB sticks are common on the market, and there are even bigger ones!
Flash Drives: USB Standard and Read / Write Speed
As important as the USB flash drive capacity is the USB technology version supported by your pen drive. Depending on the supported USB standard, the theoretical maximum data transfer rate varies. We strongly recommend flash drives that support at least the USB 3.0 standard.
Be careful though, because now things get a bit more complicated. The USB standard supported by your key is not the only parameter that affects the actual file transfer speed!
First of all file transfer speed also depends on the USB standard supported by the device to which you connect your pendrive. For instance, if you connect a USB 3.0 key to a laptop that only has USB 2.0 ports, data transfer will work correctly but at the speed allowed by the USB protocol 2.0.
Remember, therefore, that the USB 3.0 and 3.1 standards are backward compatible. But if you want to connect a USB 3.0 key to a device that only supports USB 2.0, file transfer will take place at the speed allowed by the slower of the two devices.
It is equally clear that, if you transfer data between a fast USB 3.0 flash drive to a magnetic hard disk with low rotation speed (for example 5400 rpm), the transfer will take place at the speed granted by the old rotating hard disk. In this regard, if you are interested in a quality hard disk, please refer to our HDD guide.
You didn’t guess that simple USB keys hid all these technical details, did you? Now let’s see together a list of the best USB sticks for NextLevelTips.com!
What Are the Best USB Flash Drives?
How To Choose the Best USB Flash Drive?
When choosing the best USB pen drive, you should carefully consider the following:
- Supported USB standard
- Input Output Speed
- Value for Money
What is the Capacity of USB Flash Drives?
The capacity, as we have already seen above, determines the amount of data you can store on your pendrive.
So you should try to guess the capacity you need based on the type of use you intend to do. If you make a “normal” use of your new USB stick, then 32 or 64 GB would probably do. If you work with lots of high-resolution photos or videos in Full HD / 4K, it’s better to focus on larger 128 or 256 GB pendrive.
Pendrive USB Standard
As we mentioned in the introduction, the supported USB standard is a fundamental aspect in choosing the best pendrive. It determines the maximum data transfer speed allowed (at least in theory).
Let’s see together the different types of USB that were released over the years, and their maximum theoretical speeds:
- USB 1.0: 1.5 Mbps (187.5 KB / sec)
- USB 1.1: 12 Mbps (1.5 Mb / sec)
- USB 2.0: 480 Mbps (60 MB / sec)
- USB 3.0: 4.8 Gbps (600 MB / sec)
- USB 3.1: 10 Gbps (1.25 Gb / sec)
The best USB keys are updated to at least USB 3.0, which guarantees an excellent maximum transfer speed, and is therefore also good for very large files.
What is the Speed of USB Flash Drives?
Now we need to go a bit deeper into the Input/Output speed of pen drives. We said that the supported USB standard determines the theoretical maximum speed at which file transfer can occur. But what can we say about the real reading/writing speed?
The real input / output speed of USB keys depends on the quality of the components they are built with.
In particular the type of flash memory chip mounted on the key is decisive.
A more advanced flash memory type will guarantee greater speed but will also cost you more.
To be sure to get the most advanced components (flash memory, controllers, etc.) you should rely on the best brands of USB sticks.