Are you looking for a USB flash drive that you can bring around with you? There are a number of super small, ultra portable USB flash drives available. Read on to explore our choices of six of the best portable USB drives.
1. Transcend JetFlash 710
The JetFlash 710 by Transcend is a USB 3.1 compatible flash drive that weighs in at a mere 3.3 grams. It’s so small, that it barely protrudes from your computer’s USB port. This minimizes the chance someone may bump into it and break it on a desktop PC. Furthermore, it means you can leave it plugged into your laptop without having to worry about stowing it away when moving from place to place.
Furthermore, the drive is housed in a sturdy metallic casing. This not only makes it robust but also helps with heat dissipation, ensuring steady performance. That being said, the JetFlash 710 isn’t the best when it comes to transfer speeds. Transcend claims the drive’s read speed is approximately 90 MB/s, whereas its write speed is only 24 MB/s. Obviously, one can expect that real-world speeds will differ. With all that aside, it is an attractive piece of tech that won’t break the bank. At the time of writing, you can snag a 32GB for $10.99 and a 64GB for $14.99.
2. SanDisk Cruzer Fit
The SanDisk Cruzer Fit is one of the smallest portable USB flash drives on the planet. This ultra-compact model measures a measly 0.69 x 0.5 x 0.03 inches! However there is one major caveat: it is only USB 2.0 compatible with a read/write speed of approximately 4 MB/s. This bottleneck on transfer speed is bound to be a dealbreaker for many people, simply because USB 2.0 is too slow for everyday transfers. Yet, there are scenarios where this drive is fairly useful.
For example, if you only need to transfer a handful of files from one place to another, you probably wouldn’t notice the slow transfer speed. This is especially true if you primarily deal with smaller file sizes like Word documents. Furthermore, if you intend to simply store data on the drive just to be read – for example, MP3 files to be played back on a car stereo with USB support – then you shouldn’t have any issues. Whether or not this drive is for you is going to depend on whether you can tolerate the relatively slow transfer speeds. But if you’re solely interested in the smallest USB you can get your hands on, the SanDisk Cruzer Fit ticks that box!
3. SanDisk UltraFit
If you were bummed by the fact that the SanDisk Cruzer Fit is only USB 2.0, let us introduce you to the SanDisk UltraFit. This little drive has USB 3.1 support, which is approximately 15 times faster than USB 2.0 drives (under ideal conditions of course) with a read speed of 130 MB/s.
The UltraFit is a super small, ultra compact drive modeled after the Cruzer Fit. However, there is a little extra bulk to it due to the plastic key ring connector the drive sports. The drive is still pretty flush with your PC, so you don’t have to worry about damage if something knocks into it. To top it off, the SanDisk UltraFit offers excellent performance for the money. A 256GB model will only set you back about $30.
4. Samsung Fit Plus
Aesthetically, the Samsung Fit Plus flash drive is very similar to SanDisk’s UltraFit drive. Both are designed to be unobtrusive, so you can leave them in your device to permanently expand storage. The drive is also USB 3.1, meaning you’ll achieve read speeds up to 300 MB/s.
Furthermore, the Samsung Fit Plus has been designed for reliability. It is a robust drive that can shake off virtually anything thrown at it. It can be submerged in seawater for up to 72 hours and is shockproof up to 1,500 gravitational acceleration. It is magnet proof up to 15,000 gauss and X-ray proof up to 50 Roentgen. We can’t imagine a scenario where a flash drive would need that sort of protection, but you can rest assured that your data will be safe and sound with the Samsung Fit Plus. Of course you’ll pay a little extra for all that peace of mind. The 256GB model of the Samsung Fit Plus is slightly more expensive than the SanDisk at $38.
5. Silicon Power Jewel J50
If you’re looking for a flash drive that combines performance and pleasing aesthetics, the Jewel J50 by Silicon Power may fit the bill. The cap-less design is a unibody zinc-alloy that looks great hanging off a lanyard or plugged in to a computer. The Jewel J50 is not just a case of style over substance, however. The SP Jewel supports USB 3.2 Gen 1 to ensure fast performance, particularly with larger files like 4K UHD video.
The metal body of the drive not only looks good but helps with heat dissipation. This allows for more stable transfer speeds, as the risk of heat throttling is minimized. The biggest downside to this drive is that the largest capacity offered is 64GB, which is not ideal if you need a ton of storage space. At least it won’t break the bank to be super fashionable. The 64GB model retails for about $16.
6. PNY Elite-X Fit
As with the other portable USB flash drives on this list, the PNY Elite-X Fit is super small and designed to be “plug n’ stay.” It’s compact and low profile enough to be inserted into your computer and left there, with no need to eject it. Measuring only 0.83 x 0.6 x 0.25 inches, the drive remains relatively flush with your computer. This form factor eliminates the danger of knocking into the drive and damaging it or your computer.
Furthermore, the Elite-X Fit also supports USB 3.0 and boasts read speeds of 200 MB/s. In terms of sheer value for performance, the Elite-X Fit is one of the better buys available. The PNY Elite-X Fit is available in multiple capacities. The 64GB model can be purchased for only $10.99, the 128GB for $19.99, the 256GB for $36.99 and the 512GB for $64.99.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are flash drives SSD?
Both flash and SSD are non-moving (and fast) forms of memory, and technically most SSDs are a form of flash memory. This means both benefit from extremely fast read/write speeds. However, high-end SSD drives will always beat USB flash drives for speed.
Are flash drives and memory sticks the same thing?
Yes, flash drives, USB sticks, memory sticks are all the same thing. “Flash drive” is probably more accurate as “memory stick” actually stems from older videogame consoles (like the PlayStation 1 and N64). However, the terms are interchangeable.
Is flash memory volatile
No, flash memory is non-volatile, which is pretty handy for storage devices as that means it doesn’t lose its content when the device is disconnected from a power source. RAM is an example of volatile memory, designed for short-term rather than long-term data storage.
Are flash drives good for gaming?
Some people resort to flash drives for gaming when they lack internal storage capacity. First up, we’d say that you should just get an SSD if at all possible. If you wish to run games off a flash drive, you should stick to older, small and less demanding games (emulated games, for example) and definitely not more recent ones as your poor flash drive will be forced to work too hard to run them and probably won’t last very long!
Super portable USB flash drives don’t sport great transfer rates, but what they lack in speed, they make up for in portability. Read more about the SSD vs. HDD vs. flash comparison to be clear on the differences in the three formats, then learn how to format your USB drives in Windows 10.
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