Gifts for Geeks - In search for the best USB flash drive

Summary:For years I've been in search of the "ultimate" USB flash drive. Up until recently the capacities were too small or the prices too high, but now I've found three USB flash drives that come close to claiming the "ultimate" tag.

For years I've been in search of the "ultimate" USB flash drive.  Up until recently the capacities were too small or the prices too high, but now I've found three USB flash drives that come close to claiming the "ultimate" tag.

Here are the three drives in question:

Each of these three drives shares a number of similarities:

  • They're all 1GB or bigger
  • They're all fast (fast enough to be used as a Windows Vista ReadyBoost drive)
  • They all come with a lanyard carry strap that attaches to the drive and not the cap (so you don't end up losing the drive if it becomes separated from the cap - a small point, but one I wish all USB flash drive makers would take on board)

But the similarities pretty much end there - each drive has features that make is pretty desirable - shame that I can't find one drive that has all the features!

[poll id=50]

Kingston DataTraveler Elite Privacy

Kingston Data Traveler Elite Privacy
 

There are two features that I absolutely love about my Kingston DataTraveler Elite Privacy:

  • Blazing speed
    Read speeds of 24MB/sec and write speeds of 14MB/sec.
  • 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
    All the data I drop into the protected zone on this drive is automatically protected without having to mess about with separate programs or having to remember to re-encrypt a file after decrypting it.  While most USB flash drives come with encryption software, none match the simplicity and ease of use of the Kingston DataTraveler Elite Privacy.

The Kingston DataTraveler Elite Privacy is the largest of the three drives - 3.1" x 0.9" x 0.4" (77.4mm x 22.1mm x 10.1mm) - so it's not going to fit into tightly spaced USB ports

SanDisk Cruzer Titanium

Sandisk Cruzer Titanium
 

There's one feature of the SanDisk Cruzer Titanium that totally stands out the - the "Liquidmetal" titanium alloy body that is capable of resisting crush forces over 2,000 lbs.  I've really hammered my drive (stood on it, placed it under a chair leg and then sat on the chair, that kind of stuff) and it still looks like new (even the laser-etched finish is still like new). 

This model doesn't have a cap over the USB connector, instead is retracts into the safety of the titanium alloy shell, which is a nice idea but it does leave the connector open to muck getting into it, although I have to add that this so far hasn't been a problem.

Performance-wise this drive is also pretty good, achieving read speeds of around 15MB/sec and write speeds of about 9MB/sec.

The SanDisk Cruzer Titanium comes with a number of U3 compatible programs installed.

Memorex Mini TravelDrive

Memorex Mini TravelDrive
 

The one feature that I absolutely love about this drive is how small it is, or more precisely, how thin it is. 

This model measures in at 2.25" 0.85" x 0.27" (57.2mm x 21.6mm x 6.8mm) which, by USB flash drive standards is pretty small.  The SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB flash drive is about the same size but the Memorex drive has one advantage - the contoured shape makes it easier to remove from those tight USB ports (I have a SanDisk Cruzer Micro too and the problem I find with that is that I end up having to yank it out of the USB port using the lanyard.)

The encryption software requires installation on the PC which is perhaps one downside, but overall this is a low price, high quality drive that is sturdy as well as stylish.

Topics: Developer

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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