- The Universal Serial Bus System, or USB, has been around since 1996. Four generations have come out to date, including USB 1, USB 2.0, USB 3, and USB4. When new versions are released, new connectors come into play and faster transfer speeds. The most current option is USB-C, and it’s the only one not deprecated.
- Compatibility shouldn’t be an issue as long as the device you’re trying to use has a USB-C port. There can be issues with devices from Android and Apple, although you can check for USB OTG support beforehand.
- Samsung’s thumb drive is backward compatible with a sleek modern design that serves a purpose. It has a cap, and slots for a ring or lanyard, but is also waterproof.
- Each new USB generation typically comes with higher speeds. To match those speeds and achieve fast transfers, you’ll want a drive with the latest standard. DataTraveler Max has a rating of 1,000MB/s – the 3.2 standard and the tech from Kingston.
Moving files from one device to another is easier with the right flash drive. The Best USB-C thumb drives can transfer photos or files in seconds. Many interesting form factors are available.
While USB-C is the new standard on many smartphones and PCs, the selection of flash drives is still slim. With that in mind, we found five thumb drives we feel stand apart from the pack whether due to pricing, design, or features.
- Best Overall: Samsung USB-C Flash Drive
- Most Durable: Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth
- Best 1TB Flash Drive: Kingston DataTraveler Max
- Best Micro Duo: Kingston DataTraveler Micro Duo
- Best Budget: SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive
|Kingston Data Traveler Max
|Kingston Data Traveler Micro Duo
|SanDisk Ultra Dual
|64GB, 128GB, 256GB
|32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 1TB
|256GB, 512GB, 1TB
|32GB, 64GB, 128GB
|32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
|1.33 x 0.63 x 0.32 inches
|3 x 1 x 1-inch
|3.24 x 0.87 x 0.36 inches
|1.18 x 0.65 x 0.33 inches
|1.5 x 0.79 x 0.37 inches
Best Overall: Samsung USB-C Flash Drive
- Transfers 4GB files in just 11 seconds
- Up to 400MB/s USB 3.13 read speeds
- Backward compatible with USB 3.0/2.0
- Enough space for 63,730 photos or a maximum of 12 hours of 4K video
- Up to 256GB of storage space
- 5-year limited warranty
One of the better-looking flash drives, the Samsung USB-C Flash Drive is our top choice for those who need a fast and affordable flash drive.
This flash drive is small enough to fit on a key ring although not quite as small as the tiny Samsung Fit Plus. It certainly won’t weigh you down at .12 ounces and the compact device has plenty of speed. Read/write times on the Samsung MUF-128DA/AM come in at around 400MB/s.
Samsung’s thumb drive is backward compatible with a sleek modern design that serves a purpose. It has a cap, and slots for a ring or lanyard, but is also waterproof. This drive can handle the weather with ease along with extreme temperature swings and intense vibrations.
This slim thumb drive only comes in a few sizes but has an attractive price tag across the board. The only drawback is if you’re looking for something with more storage than 256GB, otherwise, the Samsung Type-C USB flash drive is one the best drives for the price and size.
- Compact design
- Speeds up to 400MB/s
- Waterproof housing
- Limited sizes
Check out the Samsung USB-C Flash Drive on Amazon.
Most Durable: Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth
- 128GB flash drive is perfect for backing up and transferring valuable digital photos, music, and documents
- Connectivity: USB 3.0. Plug-and-play compatible
- Comes with 5 year warranty
- Dimensions: 3"H x 0.9"W x 0.9"D
- USB standard-A connector works with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports
- Encased in extremely strong CNC-milled, anodized aircraft-grade aluminum, water proof to 200m through the use of an EPDM waterproof seal
- Comes in Black
- Shock: 40G
- Compatible with Mac, PC. Operating system: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Mac OS X v9.x and above, Linux Kernel 2.4.2 and higher
Corsair’s unique line of Survivor Stealth flash drives are fast and solid and undoubtedly, the best durable USB drive on the market.
Corsair designed this line of flash drives to survive almost any condition. It’s resistant to extreme vibrations and shocks but is also waterproof up to 200 meters thanks to an EPDM seal. Your data is kept safe through an aircraft-grade aluminum shell that’s sturdy and stylish.
This line of USB 3.0 drives is lightweight at less than half an ounce. They have full USB 2.0 support and come in five different sizes at 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 1TB. That covers a wide range of needs and it will be the last drive you buy for a while thanks to the 5-year warranty and the build quality.
Those looking for a flash drive that can take a beating should search no more as the Corsair Survivor. It’s incredibly durable, but not as snappy as other drives even if it’s been tested at speeds exceeding what’s advertised.
- Shock rated to 40G
- Waterproof to 200 meters
- Aircraft-grade aluminum construction
- Read/Write speeds
Check out the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth on Amazon.
Best 1TB USB Thumb Drive: Kingston DataTraveler Max
- Advanced USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C USB
- Unique ridged casing with keyring loop
- Up to 1,000MB/s read speeds
- Capacities up to 1TB
Whether building a custom PC with external memory or looking for portable storage, the USB 3.2 compatible Kingston DataTraveler Max has you covered.
The DataTravaler Max is a snappy USB thumb drive with a write speed of 900MB/s. The read speed is listed at 1,000MB/s, which makes it one of the faster drives on our list. That’s a bonus, but so is the capacity and the forward-thinking design from Kingston.
Kingston’s drive is slender and comes in two styles with a black USB-C model and a red version designed for USB-A ports. Both of these USB-C thumb drives have a USB 3.2 Gen 2 rating and a ridged case that’s simple, but sleek and attractive.
Data Traveler Max is available in your choice of 256GB, 512GB, or the 1TB model. We feel it provides the best bang for the buck, although all three drives perform as advertised and sport the same 5-year warranty from Kingston.
- 1,000MB/s read speed
- USB-C or USB-A
- USB 3.2 Gen 2
- Plug length with phone cases
Check out the Kingston DataTraveler Max on Amazon.
Best Micro Dual Drive: Kingston DataTraveler Micro Duo
- Versatile DT Micro Duo 3C works with newer USB Type C devices such as smartphones and tablets and is also compatible with USB Type A Ports on existing USB host devices.
- Store more extra storage for the latest smartphones, tablets, PC and Mac computers with Type C Ports.
- Fast USB 3.13 performance for speeds up to 100MB/s and 15MB/s write so you're not waiting for content rich files to transfer
While not the fastest flash drive, the Kingston DataTraveler Micro Duo is discreet and can handle two different ports.
Most people own multiple devices, even if they need a new drive for a USB-C port. The MicroDuo solves that problem with its unique design. On one side is a USB-C plug, while the other has a USB-A plug, although it doesn’t swivel like comparable drives. This flash drive is ideal for those who need to transfer large amounts of data quickly.
The design helps keep the size down as well. This USB-C thumb drive is a bit thicker than the smallest drive on our list, the Samsung USB-C drive, but considerably shorter. The size does impact the speed, however, so you can only expect a speed of 100MB/s write and 15MB/s read times.
What we like about this drive is its dual-purpose nature. Its smaller than similar flash drives for USB-C and USB-A. The price per GB is reasonable. Kingston MicroDuo is available in 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB.
- USB-C and USB-A
- Compact design
- Rotating cap
- Limited capacity
Check out the Kingston DataTraveler Micro Duo on Amazon.
Best Budget: SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive
- The flash drive for USB Type C devices
- Easily transfer files between smartphones, tablets and computers
- Free up space on your Android smartphone (mobile device requires USB Type C port and on the go (OTG) support)
- Retractable design with a reversible USB Type C connector and a traditional USB connector
- High speed USB 3.1 performance of up to 150MB/s read speeds (USB Type C port with USB 3.1, Gen. 1/USB 3.0 support required; Based on internal testing; performance may be lower depending upon host...
The Cruzer has long been a fan favorite and their SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive is our best budget pick as well.
SanDisk took a completely different approach with the design of the Ultra Duo. It has a modern design, but with the company’s familiar slide system still intact. You can slide the dial back to retract the USB-C connector or reveal the USB-C plug on the other end.
While this flash drive is rated with read speeds of 150MB/s, the company did not give write speeds on the Ultra Duo. Those will vary by the file type and are lower by capacity according to the company. SanDisk offers this drive at 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage.
If you need a drive that can handle two types of ports but don’t want to splurge, the SanDisk Dual Ultra should be top of your list. More data on the write speeds would be appreciated.
- USB-C and USB-A compatible
- Sliding design
- Nice price point
Check out the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive on Amazon.
How to Find the Best USB Thumb Drives
Anyone can pick a new USB thumb drive for file transfers in a few minutes. How well it works depends on a number of variables. Nobody wants to spend hours transferring a few hundred photos. Storage capacity is the first area to consider, but far from the only one.
USB Generations Explained
Let’s face it. USB generations can be confounding, even if you know you need a USB Type-C drive. While many dual-purpose drives can work with multiple ports, it’s a good idea to know about generations before picking a new thumb drive.
The Universal Serial Bus System, or USB, has been around since 1996. Four generations have come out to date, including USB 1, USB 2.0, USB 3, and USB4. When new versions are released, new connectors come into play and faster transfer speeds.
14 connector types are produced with the USB standard including mini connectors or smartphones and the newer micro connector standard for portable tech. The most current option is USB-C, and it’s the only one not deprecated. USB 3.2, the newest version, was released in September 2017.
How many files do you need to transfer or store? If you only need to take a few files on the road, you won’t need a 1TB USB-C flash drive. However, you would need such storage to back up your PC or store files permanently.
You can purchase an 8GB flash drive in the 2.0 standard, but reputable brands generally start at 16GB. several companies produce 32GB thumb drives, and nothing under that capacity.
A 64GB or 128GB drive provides the best balance of price and storage. 1TB is overkill for most, while 256GB is the sweet spot for many power users. 512GB drives are also an option, but not nearly as popular as other capacities.
Read and Write Speeds
Just like storage, read and write speeds are more critical in some case. It something you’ll want to seriously consider before choosing a new USB-C flash drive.
Write speed lets you know how fast you can transfer data onto a thumb drive, while read speed tells you how quickly you can access or see it. Read speed is always higher than write speed, and you’ll notice that manufacturers have a wide range of speeds with USB-C flash drives.
Each new USB generation typically comes with higher speeds. To match those speeds and achieve fast transfers, you’ll want a drive with the latest standard. DataTraveler Max has a rating of 1,000MB/s – the 3.2 standard and the tech from Kingston.
If you transfer few files every other day, speed should be less of a concern. However, for frequent transfers and large files, you will definitely want a drive with good speeds.
Flash Drive Design
USB flash drives have come a long way design-wise from the early versions and popular plastic models like the Cruzer. It’s not uncommon to find USB thumb drives made from metals like Titanium or Aluminum, which can increase the price but also increases their durability.
This is another area that depends on your usage to a degree. Unless you plan to travel with the drive, durability may not be a concern. If you do need one that can handle extreme conditions, there are options including the rugged Corsair Stealth.
While you can find flash drives with a futuristic design or feel, consider functionality first. If the connector is stubby, it may not clear a thick phone case and sliding drives can jam over time. If a flashy thumb drive catches your eye, think about how you’ll use it and its size. Smaller thumb drives can be easy to lose or misplace.
Transfer speeds are the main feature on flash drives, but not the only one. While these devices don’t have as many bells & whistles as a portable hard drive, there are a few noteworthy options.
Caps are simple, but a great way to keep the end of a flash drive protected. We also found several waterproof USB-C thumb drives, which are ideal for wet areas like the beach, pool, or even camping outdoors.
Want a drive with additional security? That’s an option with an encrypted drive, and there are even ones with built-in keypads like the Apricon Egis 3NX. Biometric flash drives are also an option, although some of these features haven’t found their way to USB-C drives quite yet.
What to Know Before Buying a USB-C Thumb Drive
Storage capacity may be the first thing to dwell on with a USB-C drive, but it’s just as important to think about the files themselves and how often you’ll use the drive.
All flash drives have a warranty, but the best USB-C thumb drives typically come with a 5-year guarantee. Over that period, file formats can change along with the size of the files themselves. A 4K UHD movie takes up far more space than one recorded in FHD – something most of us didn’t think about a decade ago. If you’re unsure about the size, it’s better to buy the next step up.
Compatibility shouldn’t be an issue as long as the device you’re trying to use has a USB-C port. There can be issues with devices from Android and Apple, although you can check for USB OTG support beforehand.
Using a USB Thumb Drive: What it’s like
If you’ve never purchased or used a USB thumb drive before, you won’t have any problem getting started. They are “plug-and-play” devices in most cases. That means you may be able to plug in the drive and simply drag over the files in a few seconds after formatting.
Some USB drives come with special software which you may need to install to take full advantage of the features. Using the drives is simple, however, considering you only need to plug it into a port, transfer your files, and unplug it when your transfer is complete.
Always make sure the transfers are 100% complete before removing the drive or you risk corrupting the data.
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