Cloud storage is quickly taking over as the dominant form of file transfer, but there's still no beating the speed and reliability of local storage. For quick and dead-simple transfer of everything from your vacation photos to your sales spreadsheets, keeping a flash drive around is a smart idea.
Depending on your cloud service and internet connection, syncing large files to the web can take hours. That's not really a problem for back-up purposes, but if you want to bring an HD movie or photo library with you wherever you go, a thumb stick is often much more convenient.
Of course, not all drives provide the same experience. Beyond the question of storage space, you'll also need to consider durability, speed, ports, physical size, and price. There are hundreds of pages of search results to sift through on Amazon, so we've selected six of the top rated flash drives you can buy online.
If you're in need of a sturdy thumb stick, this rugged model from Samsung is up to the challenge. It's resistant against water, shock, magnets, X-rays, and temperature changes, and it's even back up by a five-year warranty for peace of mind. Get it with 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage.
Whether you want low-profile storage for your custom Raspberry Pi rig, or you're simply looking for a drive that you can keep comfortably attached to your laptop at all times, the miniature Fit thumb drive from Samsung is a great option. And in spite of its minuscule size, it's surprisingly durable. Get it with 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage.
For those of us concerned more with the size and price of a flash drive than the max speed, this 256GB stick from SanDisk is an excellent value. It uses the older USB 2.0 standard, but this is a very affordable way to add a lot more storage to a Chromebook or ultrabook.
Keep in mind, removable storage isn't exclusively for use with laptops and desktops. Many smartphones and tablets can benefit from some extra photo storage. The Ultra Dual flash drive from SanDisk features both a micro USB connector and a standard type A connector so you can easily move files between your PC and mobile devices. Get it with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage.
With a growing number of computers making the switch to USB type-C ports, we're going to need to update our flash drives. And with the C80 model from Silicon Power, you won't have to sacrifice compatibility. With a built-in swivel mechanism, you can easily swap between a type-C connector and a standard type-A connector whenever the need arises. Various storage configurations available.
If you're willing to get a little bit spend-y, this 256GB drive from PNY doesn't compromise on storage space or performance. With transfer speeds approaching 10 times that of a comparable USB 2.0 drive, and an order of magnitude more storage than a single-layer Blu-ray disc, this is a solid addition to your laptop or game console. Get it with 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of storage.