Looking for a USB 3.0 flash drive which is worthy of carrying all your files around?
Here are five of the best to choose from.
1. Corsair Flash Voyager 32GB USB 3.0 - £59
With great disk space comes great responsibility, Uncle Ben could have said. If he had, then maybe Peter Parker wouldn't have become Spider-Man, but instead pursued a career in Currys. Due to their high capacity, USB flash drives end up holding a vast amount of data that can be incredibly important, and would prove to be irreplaceable if something were to happen to the device.
Because they are easier to be carried around, they are more likely to be damaged, and Corsair has taken this threat seriously with the Flash Voyager, encasing it in a durable and largely shock-proof rubber outer casing.
The Flash Voyager has a healthy 32GB capacity; which is enough to hold a lot of files. Transferring the 700MB test file took 23 seconds, which although much faster than USB 2.0 devices, isn't the fastest.
On average you're looking at 32.6MB/s average. It's not the fastest USB 3.0 flash drive then, but if you want your data protected, the Corsair Flash Voyager is still worth considering.
2. Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 16GB - £40
The DataTraveler Ultimate isn't a particularly pretty device, looking a little like an art deco carbuncle compared to its sleeker rivals. It's added bulk does mean that it is more robust than other flash drives though, which will be a major selling point to anyone who has lost a drive due to it being crushed at the bottom of a bag, or sat on when placed in a pocket.
The writing speed of this disk is less solid: taking 25 seconds to transfer our 700MB test file over, with an average write speed of 31.5 MB/s.
The drive comes formatted using FAT32, so if you want to use this drive for transferring large files above 4GB then you'll need to quickly reformat it as NTFS.
Given the lowly performance and relatively high cost per gigabyte, this is a drive that's hard to recommend.
3. Lacie FastKey 120GB - £359
As you can probably tell from both the capacity of this USB stick and the price, this is no ordinary USB flash drive. In fact the LaCie FastKey bridges the gap between traditional USB drives and external hard drives. This in turn come with a number of pros and cons.
In the plus column it means that the flash drive has fast transfer times (taking only 16 seconds to copy our test files across, with an average of 93MB/s) and a huge storage capacity. The operating system also treats it as if it is a standard internal hard drive, making it a much more versatile device. This is especially useful for system backups due to the added protection of by its Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256 encryption.
The big downside to the Fastkey is its price (quite obviously). There are cheaper, lower capacity models, and the fact that once plugged in, you have to fiddle about in Windows to get it recognised and visible as a hard drive, has us looking elsewhere. One for speed-freaks only then.
4. Patriot Memory Supersonic 64GB - £130
Web: www.patriot memory.com
There's a hell of a lot to like about the Patriot Memory Supersonic. The no nonsense design is simple but functional, making it easy to carry around while not catching the attention of magpie-like thieves.
Then there's the capacity: at 64GB this is one of the largest USB drives you can get before you start shelling out mega bucks, as is the case of the LaCie FastKey. This is a huge amount of data to carry around, and for most of us this will prove to be more than enough disk space.
Finally, there's the performance. This is a fast USB 3.0 flash drive, with average write speeds of 70MB/s. It might not be supersonic, but it's pretty damn fast. Our test files flew over in 17 seconds, and overall this disk was one of the fastest on test.
The price seems high, but at a shade over £2 per gigabyte, it still offers strong value for money. Quality.
5. Transcend JetFlash 700 32GB - £49
Considering the large amount of storage space the Transcend JetFlash 700 packs, it's amazing how small it is. It's easily the smallest device in this test.
Looks can be deceiving though, and this little wonder can still compete with its more flashy rivals. It's a mark of Transcend's quiet confidence in this product that it hasn't felt the need to plaster USB 3.0 branding everywhere, or design the casing to scream 'THIS IS A POWERFUL AND IMPRESSIVE PRODUCT'.
Transcend has relied on the product's performance to sell it, and it's a trust that has paid off. The 700MB file transferred in a speedy 18 seconds, with an average speed of 38.9MB/s. It's not the fastest here, but in real terms its speedy enough.
Of course, the small physical size of the drive could prove to be a problem, as you're entrusting a lot of files to a device that could easily be lost. On the flip side - it's certainly convenient.
First published in PC Format Issue 255
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