Best fast, high capacity usb drive?
March 18, 2008 7:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in a fast, high-capacity (at least 4GB) usb flash drive. Does anyone have any suggestions? Speed and reliability are important.
posted by cahlers to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
IronKey does 4GB, with 30MB/s read and 20MB/s write with built in hardware encryption. It's waterproof, and encased in stainless steel.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:12 AM on March 18, 2008

If an ultra-secure flash drive is also important, I'll second the IronKey. Security Now had a podcast recently in which they interviewed the CEO. I came up away pretty impressed.

Otherwise, I'd go with the Patriot Xporter XT. It's pretty cheap right now also.
posted by jaimev at 10:58 AM on March 18, 2008

I have an OCZ 4GB drive that I like. By the way, the built-in hardware encryption on some (if not all) USB keys can be bypassed. If I were you, I'd just get whatever is cheapest and looks solidly built.
posted by zippy at 11:09 AM on March 18, 2008

jaimev: "Otherwise, I'd go with the Patriot Xporter XT. It's pretty cheap right now also."

From the first NewEgg review in that link:

Anyway, I'll suggest the SanDisk Titanium 4GB. It's a little more expensive than the Patriot (NewEgg link), but it claims to have a crush resistance of 2,000lbs. While I haven't tried that myself, it's mighty reliable (I keep one on my keychain and never have problems with it bumping up against things or getting wet). And the connector retracts so you don't have to worry about losing a cap. Oh, and THERE'S NO RUBBER MATERIAL SO IT WON'T GET KIND OF DUSTY WHEN YOU PUT IT IN YOUR POCKET WHICH WOULD MAKE THE DRIVE LOOK OLD. BUT EVEN IF IT DID, IT'S ALL GOOD.
posted by booticon at 11:13 AM on March 18, 2008

Unfortunately, you're going to pay a LOT for a high speed 4GB or 8GB drive now. Samsung (who supplies much of the flash memory market with chips) recently changed their manufacturing process, and started focusing on slower, higher-capacity chips (Multi Level Cell, or MLC), rather than the high-quality, fast (Single Level Cell, or SLC) chips that they used to make. So the price of the real high-speed stuff has nearly doubled in most cases, if you can find it at all!

My first recommendation would have been the Corsair Voyager GT. I've had a 4GB model for nearly a year, and it has been great. Very fast, reliable, and semi-rugged. Unfortunately Corsair discontinued them (the 2, 4, and 8GB models) earlier this month (due to the cost increase on the SLC chips), and most places are out of stock already. seems to have them in stock, but at a price about $25 HIGHER than I paid a year ago. You might be able to find it slightly cheaper by looking around, but they're going to be gone QUICK. The 8GB models seem to only be in stock at smaller resellers through and amazon, not directly through either. The 16GB Voyager GT is NOT as fast as the smaller capacity models; it uses MLC chips to reach its capacity, and consequently the write speeds are nearly half of the 4GB model I have. The read speeds are comparable, though.

Lexar's JumpDrive Lightning is at about the same price level. I'm guessing by the speed (and price) it uses SLC chips too. They have a decent name in the flash memory industry, so I'd say they meet the reliability requirement.

IronKey, as blue_beetle mentioned, is wonderfully rugged and has great encryption, with speeds comparable to my Corsair GT and the Lexar Lightning... but they're also wildly expensive compared to other drives.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the comments so far. Encryption is not important, but speed is.

What is the optimum size for you?
posted by cahlers at 11:29 AM on March 18, 2008

It all depends on what you're copying. If you're copying a whole DVD's worth of data at a time, a 4GB won't cut it. 8GB (if you can find an SLC chipped one) will be the highest capacity you can get with the faster write speeds. 16GB and 32GB drives, as far as I know, will all use MLC chips. Corsair's 16GB Voyager GT is among the fastest of the larger capacities as far as write speeds are concerned, but it tops out at around 13-15MB/s versus up to 25MB (or sometimes higher) in an SLC chipped 4 or 8GB.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 12:29 PM on March 18, 2008

Response by poster: I just want to use the drive for general everyday use. I want to have the largest capacity possible, but probably wouldn't pay over $50. Copying a DVD's worth of data is not important.

I guess I'm just curious what size drive most people are using.
posted by cahlers at 12:47 PM on March 18, 2008

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