How to choose a USB stick

A flash drive is the smallest and most affordable storage device, compatible with almost all computers and laptops. There are hundreds of different options in stores – how not to get lost? In order not to get confused, clearly define what you need a flash drive for. And we will tell you about the most important selection criteria in this guide.

USB standard
One of the key parameters for any USB device, including a USB flash drive, is the interface standard. It is he who determines the maximum possible speed of reading and writing data. You can find products of the following types:

2.0 is an outdated standard, read / write speed is up to 60/25 MB / s. Most laptops and system units are still equipped with 2.0 ports, so this is considered the most common.
3.0 is one of the latest standards, read / write speed – 420/380 MB / s. Backward compatible with version 2.0. Typically, third generation ports are blue or red.

However, the latest standardization of the USB-IF organization from 2019 introduced some confusion. USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 are now officially on the market, as well as USB 3.2. In fact, all of these are third-generation sub-standards, but with certain restrictions:

USB 3.1 Gen 1 = USB 3.2 Gen 1 = USB 3.0 (up to 5Gbps);
USB 3.1 Gen 2 = USB 3.2 Gen 2 = Dual USB 3.0 (up to 10Gbps).
Don’t confuse Mbps and Mbps. The first usually indicates the theoretical transfer limit of the interface. The actual transfer rate is most often measured in MB / s and depends on the specific device

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Double USB 3.0, although it offers a higher speed, is mainly used on motherboards to connect SATA drives or in external boxes with a real speed of up to 900 MB / s, it is not found in ordinary flash drives.

Whichever USB standard you purchase, you need to understand that the maximum available read and write speeds will also depend on the port into which the flash drive is inserted. If we add 3.0 to 2.0, then the indicators will be slightly higher, but not at the same level as when connecting the device with the native 3.0 connector.

Whichever USB standard you purchase, you need to understand that the optimization of the read and write speed will occur only when connected to the corresponding port. If we add 3.0 to 2.0, then the indicators will be slightly higher, but not at the same level as when connecting the device with the native 3.0 connector.

Memory
Most of us, when choosing a USB flash drive, pay attention only to this parameter. First, greed works – you want to take the device with the largest memory capacity. Today there are flash drives from 4 GB to 2 TB. The latter are still very rare due to their price and the lack of the need for such a volume. You can conditionally divide all flash drives into several groups:

4–8 GB – budget, but low-volume, such flash drives are needed mainly in order to print documents for study and work;
16–64 GB – affordable, but wider application possibilities;
128 GB and above – the cost is high, but necessary for certain purposes. If the budget allows, you can safely take this option – it will be in the feast and in the world.
The most important thing here is to understand that a large volume is not always justified and is not at all synonymous with quality and performance.

These are only indicative indicators – much depends on the sampling rate, the number of channels and other parameters of video and music files.

Maximum throughput
It is the maximum reading speed with which the device reads information that allows you to freely watch movies directly from a USB flash drive or quickly transfer information to a computer. The available value of this indicator can vary from 5 to 400 MB / s and above. If the reading speed is too low, then you will not be able to use the flash drive as a removable disk – it is recommended to first transfer information to the hard disk of a stationary device, and then work from it. At low speeds, movies jerk off, accounting and graphics programs slow down so that work becomes hell.

The maximum write speed will allow you not to waste a lot of time when copying files to a USB flash drive. For example, you need to write an image to a drive – the higher the write speed, the faster this process will take place. In practice, the write speed ranges from 2.5 to 120 MB / s.

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On the boxes of serious brands, you can find both indicators. You should not trust unverified manufacturers, since it is not known what you will run into when buying. Especially beware of large flash drives with the indicated solid read and write speeds, but with a low cost – most likely, the declared parameters will not correspond to reality.

Design features
If it seems that there is nothing difficult in choosing a case, then you are only partly right. The USB stick’s workspace – which plugs directly into a PC or laptop – is highly vulnerable to damage. Therefore, you need to choose a case based on your lifestyle and the likelihood of damage. There are several basic types of enclosures:

The body is connected to the cap – the most practical type of protection. The caps are usually made from the same materials as the body – rubber, plastic or metal. Rubber ones are better fixed and protect the device from moisture and dust.
Swivel case – the whole structure looks like a bracket that is fixed from the outside and can be rotated from side to side, which makes it possible to cover the USB connector. Here, the protection is very dubious and only from mechanical damage.
Retractable connector – the connector is hidden inside and removed using a movable key. The main drawback is that the latch can break, so it will be inconvenient to use the drive. It is worth mentioning the auto-close slider here, it is a more modern look of the sliding connector, but the disadvantages are the same.
Carabiner – the working surface of the device is hidden inside the case according to the principle of a folding knife. The disadvantages of protection are the same as with the rotary housing.
A flash drive with a compact body does not have protection from wagging and mechanical damage, but it is convenient to use. It can be used for work, but not for long-term storage of files, since it has open contacts.

Body material is different: plastic, rubber, metal. Plastic models are lightweight, cheap and durable, available in a variety of colors. The main disadvantage is that they are vulnerable to strong blows. Rubber has an anti-slip effect, but over time the material becomes covered with small scratches and abrasions. Metal is the most reliable, but such flash drives are more expensive.

A flash drive often has an indicator light that indicates that the device is connected correctly and is working, as well as a hole for attaching to a key fob or bracelet.

 

Additional features
OTG support is a universal device that can be connected to both a computer and a smartphone, which is very convenient. That is, it has two connectors on both sides. Otherwise, its indicators are selected in the same way as for a regular flash drive.

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Hardware encryption function. The drive contains a special chip that encodes data. To access them, you will have to enter a special PIN. This is one of the most reliable ways to protect your data. Even if you lose your flash drive, an outsider will not be able to view its contents, because without entering a password, it will be encrypted.

Fingerprint protection . One of the latest trends that has been picked up from the smartphone market. On sale, you can already find models that have a built-in fingerprint scanner. In this case, encryption is not performed, and the section is simply hidden until the correct fingerprint is activated.

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Moisture protection . Some drive models can withstand not only water ingress, but also full immersion. For example, Samsung for some of its models of flash drives promises up to 72 hours in seawater without damage.