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Best Flash Drives 2021: USB-C, USB 3.0, 1TB & more

Pny Turbo Attache 3 Usb Flash Drive Pile
Pny Turbo Attache 3 Usb Flash Drive Pile (Image credit: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

Choosing a USB flash drive can be a difficult prospect. There are tons of options, and it's not always clear what sets them apart. We've reviewed a number of USB flash drives and have a sense of what separates a great one from a good one. Here, you'll find a collection of some of the best USB flash drives, from low-profile to rugged, to make your search a little easier.

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Samsung FIT Plus USB 3.1 (opens in new tab)

Low-profile speed

The Samsung FIT Plus is one of our favorite flash drives because of its premium design and sheer speeds. The drive can hit up to 400 MB/s with USB 3.1, and it can even act as semi-permanent added storage in your laptop thanks to its small stature.

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SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.1 (opens in new tab)

Speed demon

The SanDisk Extreme Pro is one of the fastest full-size USB 3.1 thumb drives you can buy, complete with the reliability behind the SanDisk name. Speeds of up to 420 MB/s read and 380 MB/s write make it an excellent choice, and free encryption software keeps it secure.

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PNY Turbo Attache 3 USB 3.0 (opens in new tab)

Everyday budget pick

The PNY Turbo Attache 3 isn't the fastest drive out there, but it's a solid choice for an everyday drive that can handle your documents, photos, and music. Even better, it's a modestly priced memory stick and has features like an activity light and retractable design.

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SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 (opens in new tab)

Slimmest storage

If you want one of the slimmest drives available, then you can't go wrong with the SanDisk Ultra Fit. USB 3.1 speeds keep things moving at up to 142 MB/s, and an extremely slim design makes it the perfect pen drive to set and forget.

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GorillaDrive USB 3.0 (opens in new tab)

Rugged beast

Need a jump drive that'll stand up to anything? GorillaDrive's USB 3.0 option is impact resistant, water resistant, and can withstand temperatures from freezing to boiling hot. This one is tough.

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SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Luxe (opens in new tab)

USB-C star

The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Luxe is a premium flash drive that packs both USB-C and USB-A ports into a sleek metal shell. You can get up to 1TB of storage here, along with blazing-fast USB 3.1 speeds among a bevy of different capacities.

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SanDisk Cruzer SDCZ36 USB 2.0 (opens in new tab)

Legacy pick

If you have a very specific need for a legacy USB 2.0 memory stick, you can't do much better than the SanDisk Cruzer. This classic drive is what many think of when they think of a USB drive, and that's because it's been as reliable as it gets for year.

What makes a good USB flash drive?

When you're looking to pick up a flash drive, you'll first want to evaluate what your specific needs are. That can range from a low-profile drive that you can just pop in a laptop and go, to a durable drive that can stand up to abuse, and everything in between. You also want to consider the brand your buying from. All of the drives listed above are excellent options in different categories, and they all come from reliable, recognized brands.

If I were to pick the absolute best, it would be the Samsung FIT Plus. Not only does it provide incredibly fast speeds, but it does so in a tiny package. There are a wide variety of capacities available, and it doesn't come anywhere near hurting your wallet.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.