Memory sticks

The Best USB Flash Drives of 2023

By Eric Schad StorageNo Comments

Despite the increasing use of online approaches such as cloud storage, instant messaging, and email to share digital files, there’s still a place for old-school methods like USB flash drives.

They’ve long been a reliable, compact way of sharing and storing information while you’re on the go, especially for large files or when internet access isn’t available.

When buying a USB flash drive, consider what your primary needs will be and who is going to use it. If you’re a business traveler, for instance, you might want to go with a more security-minded USB flash drive.

If you give your equipment a hard time, a metal or waterproof version is worth considering, while videographers and others who need to store and move large files around should look for drives with high transfer speeds.

What to Look for in a USB Flash Drive

Speed & Compatibility

Compatibility with the devices you plan to use is obviously a key factor when buying a flash drive, so it’s worth checking the specifications of both the drive and the USB ports on your computer to make sure the read and write speeds suit your level of patience.

Whether you use Windows, Mac, or Linux also makes a difference, not so much for which drive to buy, but how you choose to format it. Sticking with the same operating system won’t cause any problems, but switching between file systems can result in read-only or compatibility issues when switching between computers.

If you’re hoping to use the drive with your phone, or tablet, look for an Android drive with On-the-Go (OTG) support.


USB flash drive storage ranges from about 32GB to 1TB, and typically goes up in price as the capacity gets larger. Some people need more storage than others: video files, for instance, need more space than photos or standard workplace documents.

When choosing which drive to buy, consider how much data storage you might need. It’s worth buying a bit extra if the price difference isn’t too high, but the highest-capacity models often cost a lot more. It may make more sense to buy two 500GB drives, for example, than a single 1TB model.


The style of the USB flash drive is also something to consider. Do you want a smaller, more compact device? If so, you might be sacrificing capacity or transfer speed for size. Metal versions usually look better, but often cost more (sometimes, a lot more) than their plastic counterparts.


While flash drives have gotten faster, smaller, and higher-capacity over the years, their durability hasn’t always kept pace. These are sensitive electronic items that can get damaged when they’re knocked around.

Most flash drives on the market last a few years on average, but exposure to heat, impact, and moisture can substantially lower their lifespan. As a result, you may want to look for water resistance in addition to a durable housing.


Device security is (or at least, should be) a concern, especially if you’re storing sensitive information on it. If keeping your files safe from anyone who gets their hands on your flash drive is important, look out for a model that encrypts and protects your data with a fingerprint reader, pinpad, or similar.

Taking all these factors into account, here are our picks for the best USB flash drives in 2023.

Best USB C Flash Drive on a Budget: MOSDART Type C Thumb Drive

Best USB-C Flash Drive: MOSDART Type C Thumb Drive
  • Capacity: 64-256GB
  • Compatibility: USB C, USB-A 3.0
  • Speed: up to 90MB/s read, 40MB/s write
  • Extra features: Lanyard

USB C has become increasingly common on phones, tablets, and computers in recent years, and for good reason. It lets you charge at high speed, copy files, and connect accessories all from the same socket, with a plug that’s reversible and easy to insert.

USB C flash drives, however, have been quite slow to appear, which seems odd: offering faster transfer speeds than older models and with that handy reversible plug that means you’re not endlessly fumbling around trying to connect it, they should be more popular than they are.

The MOSDART Type C Thumb Drive doesn’t need any additional apps, offers up to 85Mbps read speed, and has two connectors: USB C for newer devices, and USB-A for older machines.

The plug on this flash drive is long enough to work with most phone cases and includes a lanyard for convenience of carrying. It’s available in capacities from 64-256GB.

It’s not the fastest USB 3.0 drive we’ve come across, but it’s fine for normal use, especially for the money. If you’re just looking for a USB flash drive that works well with both new and older devices at a reasonable price, this is the one to go for.

Buy on Amazon

Best USB 3.0 Flash Drive: Patriot Supersonic Rage Pro

Best USB 3.0 Flash Drive: Patriot Supersonic Rage Pro
  • Capacity: 64GB-512GB
  • Compatibility: USB-A 3.1
  • Speed: up to 420MB/s read, 280MB/s write
  • Extra features: Rubberized housing, range of colors

A USB 3.0 Flash Drive transfers files more quickly than its 2.0 predecessor and can speed along at a maximum (theoretical) rate of 5 gigabits per second. With the Patriot Supersonic Rage Elite having transfer speeds of up to 420 MB/s and storage ranging from 64GB to 512TB, this flash drive lives up to its Supersonic name. 

This model also has a rubberized housing for increased durability, with a slide mechanism to protect the USB port and stop dust and debris from entering. It also comes in a range of colors. When speed is a top priority, the Patriot Supersonic Rage Elite should have you raging to pick one up.

Buy on Amazon

Best-Designed USB C Flash Drive: Samsung Duo Plus

Best-Designed USB C Flash Drive: Samsung Duo Plus
  • Capacity: 32GB-256GB
  • Compatibility: USB C, USB-A 3.1
  • Speed: up to 200-400MB/s read depending on model, 100MB/s write
  • Extra features: Water-resistant

Thanks to its USB C connector on one end and USB-A adapter slotted neatly into the other end, you’ll be able to use the Samsung Duo Plus with just about any computer or non-Apple phone.

It’s an attractive device, as these things go, but that doesn’t mean it can’t handle a bit of mistreatment thanks to a water-resistant design. Sleek and compact, this drive is is a great choice for travelling professionals or anyone else who can’t be bothered carrying extra adapters. 

You’ll typically pay a little more for it than our budget USB C pick above, but with up to 400MB/s data transfer speed from the higher-capacity models and a five-year limited warranty, it’s worth spending the extra money if you can.

The Duo Plus is an impressive performer, with good speeds and durability, reliability, and broad compatibility across a range of devices.

Buy on Amazon

Best USB Flash Drive With Fingerprint Reader: Lexar LJDF35

Best USB Flash Drive With Fingerprint Reader: Lexar LJDF35
  • Capacity: 32GB-256GB
  • Compatibility: USB-A 3.0
  • Speed: up to 150-300MB/s read depending on model, 100MB/s write
  • Extra features: Fingerprint reader

If security is a concern, the Lexar LJDF35 Jumpdrive has a fingerprint scanner included in its base that remembers up to 10 fingerprints.

This biometric safety feature secures your files with industry-standard AES-256 encryption and unlocks in under a second, but the accompanying app unfortunately only works on Windows computers. You can use it as a standard, unencrypted drive on other types of computer, however. 

This drive has a read speed of 150Mbps, which isn’t the fastest in the world, but isn’t bad for an encrypted drive. If you’ve got a Windows machine, the Lexar LJDF35 Jumpdrive is a secure investment for travelers thanks to both its fingerprint reader and a three-year warranty.

Buy on Amazon

Best Password-Protected USB Flash Drive: iStorage datAshur PRO 2

Best Password-Protected USB Flash Drive: iStorage datAshur PRO 2
  • Capacity: 4-512GB
  • Compatibility: USB-A 3.1
  • Speed: up to 169MB/s read, 135MB/s write
  • Extra features: Pinpad, encryption

If you thought passwords were only for typing on the computer screen, you thought wrong! This iStorage datAshur PRO 2 has a spy-like keypad included for ultimate data protection.

The drive is one of the best options for both business and recreational travelers who care about their data security, with inbuilt strong encryption and the pinpad providing some visual deterrent to thieves.

Entering the user PIN incorrectly 10 times results in that PIN being wiped, leaving data only accessible via the admin PIN. Enter that incorrectly 10 times, and the drive and encryption key are securely wiped, making any files permanently inaccessible.

Transfer speeds aren’t as fast as standard USB 3.0 drives thanks to the overhead of the encryption/decryption process, but at 168Mbps read/116Mbps write, it’s still pretty quick. Capacity options range from 4 to 512GB, so you’ll have plenty of space to store all your important documents.

This Pro version of the drive is made of metal and both dust and water-resistant to protect you from Mother Nature. There’s also a cheaper Personal model that’s made from sturdy plastic and doesn’t have the same protection from the elements.

We reviewed the Personal version of this drive in the past, and came away impressed.

Buy on Amazon

Best Metal USB Flash Drive: Sandisk Ultra Luxe

Best Metal USB Flash Drive: HP USB 3.0 Metal Hook Flash Drive
  • Capacity: 32GB-512GB
  • Compatibility: USB-A 3.1
  • Speed: up to 150MB/s read, 40MB/s write
  • Extra features: None

Style is the name of the game with the attractive Sandisk Ultra Luxe. Don’t let those sleek lines fool you, however: the metal construction not only looks good, but helps keep your precious data protected from bumps and knocks.

Small and light, the Ultra Luxe has a hole at the top so you can slip it onto your keychain and take it with you on the go. Available in capacities from 32GB to 512GB and with the backing of a well-known brand name, it’s a solid choice for travel in every sense of the word.

Just be prepared to wait a while if you’re copying large amounts of data to this drive: while data reading speeds are about average for a USB-A flash drive, write speeds aren’t the best we’ve seen.

Buy on Amazon

Best Budget USB Flash Drive: PNY Elite-X

Best Budget USB Flash Drive: PNY Elite-X
  • Capacity: 64-512GB
  • Compatibility: USB-A 3.1
  • Speed: up to 200MB/s read, 30Mb/s write
  • Extra features: None

While there are thousands of very cheap flash drives from no-name brands out there, I’d strongly recommend not buying them. In our experience they’re slow, unreliable, and in the worst cases, have their storage capacity mislabeled as well.

Spend just a few bucks more on a model you can rely on, like something from the PNY Elite-X range. At up to 200MB/s, read speeds are faster than many drives that cost noticeably more. Don’t expect to be as excited by the write speed, however: that’s more in line with what we expect from budget models.

The stubby design is unobtrusive enough that you could comfortably leave the drive inserted in your laptop for extended periods if you like. When you do take it out, though, put it somewhere safe: it’s easy to lose a drive as small as this!

If all you need is an inexpensive USB flash drive with a useful amount of storage space and fast read speeds, from a brand with a proven history, the PNY Elite-X is the way to go.

Buy on Amazon

Best High-Capacity USB Flash Drive: Sandisk Extreme Pro

Best High-Capacity USB Flash Drive: Sandisk Extreme Pro
  • Capacity: 128GB-1TB
  • Compatibility: USB-A 3.0
  • Speed: 420MB/s read, 380MB/s write
  • Extra features: Bundled software

With four capacities ranging from 128GB to 1TB, the Sandisk Extreme Pro offers enough space for pretty much any portable file storage needs.

Ideal for videographers, photographers, and anybody else dealing with huge files, this USB 3.0 flash drive is also noticeably faster than most, with speeds of 420MB/s read and 380MB/s write. That’s fast enough to copy a full-length 4K video file in under 15 seconds.

The durable aluminum case provides plenty of physical protection, and your data is equally protected thanks to the Sandisk SecureAccess software that’s bundled with the drive.

If you’re looking for hardy yet high-performing USB flash storage with huge capacity, look no further than the excellent Sandisk Extreme Pro.

Buy on Amazon

There’s no lack of variety in the USB flash drive market in 2023. From the security of a fingerprint scanner to massive capacities for storing and sharing all of your pics and video footage, USB flash storage provides an unbeatable mix of portability, versatility, and transfer speed at very affordable prices.

Cloud storage might be the way of the future, but there’s plenty of life left in flash drives yet! 

Main image via EsaRiutta, product images via Amazon

About the Author
Eric Schad

Eric Schad

Eric Schad is a well-versed writer who has been penning articles about travel, tech, remote work, and cars for a decade. Since 2013, he's lived in and visited over 20 countries.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.