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The best USB sticks of 2020

USB sticks

There was a time when USB or pendrive storage units were very similar in terms of speeds and type of connection offered. The only differentiating element between them was the storage capacity they offered. 

This has changed considerably since new USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 or USB Type-C connection ports emerged. As the specification standard increased, so did the supported transfer speed.

In this way, now we must not only look at the data of the storage capacity, but we must also take into account the type of USB connection used, its supported read and write speeds, and the security and encryption measures.

You can consult in this other article a list of the best external hard drives and SSDs if what you need is a greater storage capacity.

In an era in which cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive or iCloud, among others, there are times when it is still necessary to have physical access to your files without depending on an Internet connection.

It is also the case that current pen drives or USB flash drives support large file sizes that many cloud services resist. And no less important is the security factor, especially if we handle company documents.

There are also other factors to take into account, such as the design, its size, or the type of support used. We will talk about all these factors below in the compilation that we have made of the best USB memories of 2019.

If it turns out that you have bought one of these memories to make a backup of Windows 10, take a look at this article where we show you how to make a backup of your files and the system.

The best USB sticks of 2020

SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive

  • From $ 7.99
SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive

The design of the flash memory units discussed here can be directly linked to the use that you are going to make of it. In this way, the SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 is designed to connect to a computer and leave it fixed, in a way that expands its storage capacity.

It slides into the USB port and barely protrudes slightly, just enough that you can pull it up and out at any given time. It is the closest thing to the typical Bluetooth adapter that usually accompanies wireless mice or keyboards.

With a USB 3.1 interface and read speeds of up to 130MB / s, it is capable of writing up to 15 times faster than standard USB 2.0 drives. You can move a 1.2 GB movie in just over 30 seconds.

SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 Flash Drive

  • From $ 32.99
SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 Flash Drive

Physically, the SanDisk Extreme Go drive is neither sleek nor compact. Anyone would say it’s from years ago, however the finger-operated slide switch system to hide or remove your USB 3.1 connector is still very practical.

USB memory supports read speeds of up to 200MB / s taking advantage of its compatibility with the latest connection standard. The Extreme Go can be found in capacities of 64 GB (€ 25.99), 128 GB (€ 46.71) or 256 GB (€ 172.99).

Toshiba TransMemory U365

  • From $ 16.79
Toshiba TransMemory U365 USB Drive

If you are looking for a large capacity USB memory stick, Toshiba’s TransMemory U365 may be a great option given the brand’s long track record in the NAND Flash manufacturing arena.

Its performance offers us a sequential read speed of 210 MB / s, ranking among the fastest that we have tested. For its part, the writing speed drops to a value of just 33 MB / s.

The TransMemory U365 uses the same slide switch system to hide its connector, so that you do not leave the typical protection cover forgotten anywhere. Its size is more compact than SanDisk, another factor to consider.

PNY Duo Link OTG USB-C

  • From $ 14.99
PNY Duo Link OTG USB-C

Another flash drive that falls into the compact category with USB 3.1 and USB-C connectivity that guarantees the highest data transfer speeds. To use it, simply slide the control to either end and select the desired port.

We tested the 32GB PNY Duo Link version which is quite inexpensively priced. Aided by the Crystal Disk Mark program, we achieve read speeds of 133 MB / s, slightly above what is indicated by the brand’s specifications.

Kingston Duo DataTraveler Bolt

  • From $ 59.99
Kingston DataTraveler Bolt Duo

This model of USB flash memory is designed for users of iOS devices (see iPhone or iPad) that have a Lightning connection, since on the one hand we have a USB 3.1 port and on the other the usual one of Apple devices.

You can find the Duo DataTraveler Bolt with typical capacities of 32, 64 or 128 GB , with a starting price for the lower figure of € 31.93. With Bolt, all those iOS devices that have limited capacity can supply the storage with this unit.

Plug it in, download Kingston’s Bolt app and launch your iPhone’s camera mode. You will see how it is possible to store the captured photos and videos here to free up the memory of your phone or tablet . This app works with versions of iOS 9.0 onwards.

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C

  • From $ 12.99
SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB-C

The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive model is one of the most sought after USB memory drives today due to its great versatility. As its name suggests, it offers double connection possibilities: support for USB-A and connector for USB-C.

In this way, everything you have stored inside, you can handle instantly both on a computer with a typical USB port, as with a smartphone or tablet that has a USB-C port, the new standard that the vast majority handle .

In terms of speeds, it is in line with the other USB 3.1 drives from other brands. Its capacities vary from 16 GB to 256 GB, with a price for the 128 GB model quite interesting.

You can use the SanDisk Memory Zone app to manage the content you store inside and easily back up your smartphone.

Storage capacity

Because flash storage has become cheaper, we have reached a point where buying a 16 GB USB memory will only cost you € 15, so it is not worth buying a lower capacity pendrive .

You should bear in mind that if you want it to create startup drives for the operating system, transfer videos in 4K quality or similar, or high-resolution RAW photos, you should spend a little more.

You can find models with capacities of up to 2 TB on the market, but it seems clear that for quality and price, the range of 64, 128, or 256 GB is the most demanded by users , with prices that will not exceed € 60.

USB formats

USB 3.0 is currently the industry standard, so we recommend that you at least consider this when purchasing a new one. You will still find USB 2.0 drives in stores, and they will work fine, but if you have a state-of-the-art computer, the transfer speed will be altered.

And is that to take advantage of the speeds offered by each specification (USB 3.1 for example), you must use the USB memory together with a port that is compatible. If the port is colored blue, it means that it supports USB 3.0 speeds.

Some memory devices support USB 3.1 which is even faster. Basically, it is twice as fast as that offered by USB 3.0, so if you can afford it and your equipment supports it, go for this choice.

Within the range of USB memories, you will also find devices that have USB-A and USB-C connectors so that you can access the same files from a greater variety of devices, either from your mobile or from a computer. There are even Lightning types to connect them to the iPhone or iPad.

Do you need an extra USB port, a card reader, an HDMI connector or a LAN adapter? Keep reading to know what a hub is, what it is for and what are the keys to consider before buying a multiport hub.

Transfer speeds

Without a doubt, it is a fact to take into account. But reality tells us that there is a lot of room for variation between different flash storage units from each manufacturer. Also even between the different ranges that the same brand can offer.

Read speeds are important to consider if you plan to play files from devices. They are useful if you want to watch a movie that you have saved on the pendrive . By cons, write speeds count if you transfer a large number of files.

We have used the CrystalDiskMark 6.0 program to test the read and write speeds of each USB memory stick. This tests both the sequential speed (reading and writing of large blocks of data), as well as the performance when transferring small files.


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