Seeking bulk USB thumb drives.
September 5, 2010 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Trying to find cheap bulk USB thumb drives.

With many new computers and devices no longer having CD ROM drives, it's looking like USB is going to be the default way to transfer files and software to these devices, instead of CDs or DVDs. I can buy bulk blank DVDs (which hold 4.5 GBs of data) for well under $1 each. I'm sure there are places that sell bulk USB thumb drives (1-4 GB size) for around that price, but I'm coming up empty when I search.
posted by jcdill to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Flash memory prices are much higher than you think they are.

DRAM Exchange flash memory spot prices at market close Friday for bare chips holding 4GB (32Gb) average $6.43, and 1GB (8Gb) are $3.72.

There are plenty of USB connected DVD/RW drives available.
You also can choose a small USB hard drive ("Passport" type).
Or use something like DropBox to transfer data through the net.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:57 AM on September 5, 2010

Do you want 100 or more or a couple dozen? If you want a LOT, your best bet looks like it would probably be to fill out a quote request on a site that sells bulk flash drives for companies that want to put their logo on the front. In that case, would these sites work? Ebay might also be an option.
posted by phunniemee at 7:00 AM on September 5, 2010

USB thumb drives are more complicated than DVDs - they have more parts. If to get the two microchips, the printed circuit board, the USB connector, and the plastic case, and to assemble them all costs $3, you won't find them for less than that no matter how many you want to buy!

Almost all the software and music I've installed/brought in the last few years I've downloaded over the internet.
posted by Mike1024 at 7:03 AM on September 5, 2010

Best answer: At you can get 10 flash drives for about 60$.
If you need a lot of drives and want to cut middlemen as much as possible, try Found a dealer who will sell drives for 3-4$ a piece, min order 50 pieces.
posted by roerek at 7:09 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

The internet is now the default way to transfer files between computers.
posted by k8t at 7:20 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Dealextreme and Alibaba.
posted by zsazsa at 8:00 AM on September 5, 2010

I think what you want to do is focus on the thumb drive as temporary storage that will eventually live on an external hard drive.

In my office we mainly use thumb drives for old fashioned person-to-person data transfers ("here's those jpegs I wanted to add to the presentation") where the files are slightly too large to be emailed conveniently.

For things we want to store potentially forever and have constant access to, we use external hard drives. You could get a 250 gb external hard drive for less than the price of 10 1(?) gb flash drives roerek quotes at

The only reason I would order bulk flash drives would be to hand them out as corporate gifts. Not as a data storage strategy.
posted by Sara C. at 8:05 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you considered something like Dropbox? No hardware whatsoever. Everybody installs Dropbox on their machine, and then when someone needs to transfer a file, they upload it to Dropbox and then the transfer-ee downloads the file. You can set up a global shared folder for everyone in your organization, or you can set up folders that only certain people can see/download from, but it's really easy to use and requires no discs or drives whatsoever.
posted by pdb at 9:21 AM on September 5, 2010

What is it you're looking to accomplish? Your question makes it sound like you want to stockpile thumb drives against the coming trends in computing. This is valid in theory, but in practice you'd just be shooting yourself in the food.

Thumb drives get bigger and cheaper every year. The crate of thumb drives you buy today will be a crate of laughably pitiful junk five years from now.
posted by ErikaB at 10:10 AM on September 5, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. It looks like is what I need. :-)

Dropbox doesn't work due to the time it takes to upload and download. My clients aren't tech savvy enough to think about starting a download before they go to lunch. They want a CD/DVD or thumb drive they can just plug into any computer and get the data.

I'm not looking to stockpile - I'm just looking to get a better price in bulk than the individual prices I see in stores and online which regularly get down well under $10/drive, so I assumed that in bulk the prices would be much less. I'm looking to buy ~50 or per order, not thousands, but not just 1 or 2 (where I'd just go ahead and buy retail). I was trying to avoid those "fill out a form to get a quote" sites because my experience is that this leads to a ton of spam far more often than it leads to a good business quote.
posted by jcdill at 12:58 PM on September 5, 2010

this leads to a ton of spam far more often than it leads to a good business quote

Just make a one-off email account. jcdillbulkflash@gmail is currently available.

posted by phunniemee at 1:06 PM on September 5, 2010

If you are in Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus or Cleveland), check out Micro Center. They sell them dirt cheap.
posted by vkxmai at 7:45 PM on September 5, 2010

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