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A good USB flash drive makes a big difference



USB flash drives are a dime a dozen these days. Their commonality makes them almost throwaway devices. That was my general mindset, especially after getting a bunch at CES. However, I’ve found that build quality can really make a drive stand out from the crowd.

I have a couple of flash drives that fit this description, but if I’m going to focus on one, it’s a Dell 1GB drive I got at CES. I got a few with the swivel cap, which is a big convenience compared to removable cap models, but only a couple of them are made from steel, as tested on my magnetic storage system. That makes them extra convenient for me now that I’ve started using magnets to keep office gear at hand. Having a flash drive at my side just waiting to be plucked from the wall is complete luxury but one that is terribly useful.

In addition to being ferrous in nature, the drive is also noticeably responsive. With cheap drives, I’ve found they usually take a few seconds to be recognized by my work desktop, even if I’ve used them repeatedly. But the Dell pops up almost instantly after being connected. The file transfer speed is better too, but since I normally only transfer one or a few small files at a time, that recognition time is the big sweet spot for me. Plug it in, look up, and it’s on the screen. I guess you don’t waste good steel on a slow flash drive.

While I still like having a bunch of cheap drives to hand out data or loan out for use, going forward, I’m going to be sure to keep one or two high-quality drives around for my personal use. Anyone else getting dazzled by quality over quantity in USB flash drives?



  1. Joe

    04/07/2010 at 9:19 pm

    bMy favorite is my 8GB LaCie iAmaKey. I’ve got a 16GB Sandisk one, but the LaCie is just the perfect form, and is always with me.

  2. Tim

    04/07/2010 at 9:22 pm

    I’m still a big fan of SanDisk’s usb drives. To me, their slider design has always been more intuitive than swivel caps for quick one handed opening and entry. Not to mention, U3 utilities, which I don’t use terribly often, can be an incredible boon, especially if you spend a lot of time using different computers and want programs always with you and always with the same settings.

    I’m not sure if their higher end models are actually magnetic, or just shiny.

  3. Doctor_Roe

    04/07/2010 at 9:35 pm

    I used to carry the 32gb Kingston as my *keep all the stuff that I am working on here* drive and moved work from laptop to office desktop and back again. I now use Dropbox (thanks to Warner’s suggestion). The best use of my 3 – 8gb PNY drives are bootable OS install drives. I have Win 7 Pro installed on one since I have recently gone through 3 laptop upgrades (don’t ask). It’s simple to just put it in when I need to either repair / recover OS issues, or simply begin a fresh install.

    Ok, stupid question. Wouldn’t the magnet tend to interfere with the data on the drive?

  4. Lee

    04/07/2010 at 10:31 pm

    I am a SanDisk fan as well. Definitely would have thought a magnet would have ruined the drive.


  5. GoodThings2Life

    04/08/2010 at 4:16 am

    @Doctor_Roe… Flash drives aren’t affected by magnets, however, standard hard drives most certainly are. I actually had a coworker fry 8 laptop hard drives before finally figuring out why… he had a magnetic money clip in his pocket and would take his laptop home and rest it on his lap on the couch.

    @Sumocat… I’m a Kingston DataTraveler fan myself. The cap is removable, but can be attached to the opposite end of the device for safe keeping. I have enjoyed the performance and durability (mine has been through the wash AND dryer a few times).

    • Doctor_Roe

      04/08/2010 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for the info on magnets. I was always careful where I put them.

      • Lee

        04/08/2010 at 5:16 pm

        Ditto on the magnet info, thx

  6. Eric

    04/08/2010 at 9:18 am

    I agree. A good thumb drive is a blessing. I like to keep a couple small ones around to just give to people (example, photos from the Masters my friend took are now with him back at his home).

    However, my favorite thing about this particular post was that it had nothing at all to do with the iPad. I can’t wait for the hysteria to die down. I mean, if some schmo in Timbuktu writes a program that let’s you use the iPad to tie your shoes, we’ll see a post about it :-)

    Have a great day everyone!!!

    • Doctor_Roe

      04/08/2010 at 10:32 am

      Great comment. I am on a train to NY for business from Baltimore. I am on Verizon MiFi with no issues except, as walking to find a seat, counted 13 iPads……..

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