Cloud services are very convenient. They allow us to keep our files safe and always have them available regardless of the devices we use. But they have two big problems: they offer relatively little space for data storage (unless you sign up for paid plans) and, working through the Internet.
They take a long time to transfer the most massive files. In short: if you are lucky enough to live in an area reached by optical fiber and you are willing to pay a subscription every month, there are no problems; cloud services are an optimal solution for sharing files between multiple computers and devices.
Otherwise, to transfer files from one PC to another, especially if it is massive files, memory sticks are even more comfortable.
Here we had selected some of the best and advanced models of memory sticks.
Buying Guide to Select the Best Memory Sticks
When you go to buy a USB stick, it is clear that the first things that come to mind are the capacity and the selling price. In reality, however, as we have mentioned before, many features must be taken into consideration before purchasing.
Although most USB flash drives use a type A connector, i.e., the standard rectangular and preferably a large one, in reality in recent months, other types of pen drives are spreading, capable of being used in the latest generation USB-C ports.
There are also some models equipped with a micro USB or Lightning connector, which can be used and connected directly to Android smartphones and iPhones and iPads. Some models integrate two types of connectors so that they can be used both with computers and with smartphones and tablets.
One of the first factors to consider before buying a USB stick is the standard of belonging because it is precisely this detail that determines its theoretical maximum speed.
Nowadays, most devices and sticks support the USB 3.2 standard, which is characterized by a theoretical maximum speed that can vary from 5 Gigabit / s, which equals 625 MB per second, to 20 Gigabit / s, which equals at 2,500 MB per second.
It is clear, however, that no pen drive is currently able to reach these real speeds. The higher the standard supported, the higher the data transfer speed (and the selling price).
The USB 3.2 Standard Is Divided Into Several Speed Sub-Classes:
- USB 3.2 Gen 1, which in the past was called USB 3.0 and is commercially called SuperSpeed USB: can reach data transfer speeds of up to 5 Gigabit / s, which equals 625 MB per second.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 is instead commercially called SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps and replaces USB 3.1 Gen 2: it reaches theoretical speeds of 10 Gigabit / s, equal to 1250 MB per second.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 × 2 is the fastest standard that guarantees speed of up to 20 Gigabit / s, therefore equal to 2500 MB per second.
- It is essential to always keep in mind, finally, that all standards are backward compatible.
Resistance to Water and Dust
This is a factor not necessarily useful to everyone, but it is essential to talk about it because, among you, there may be those who need to buy a pen drive capable of resisting water and dust. In technical jargon, these keys are called Rugged and are specially designed to withstand shocks, falls, and even diving in the water.
USB Sticks for I Phone and Android
As we have already mentioned, in the market, there are also particular models of USB stick equipped with double connector and able to be connected, as well as to the computer, even to iPhones, iPads, and all Android devices.
These are the so-called 2-in-1 models and are highly appreciated, especially by those who work on the move. With the same performance and capacity, however, the sale price increases significantly.
WiFi USB Sticks
In recent years, moreover, a new type of USB flash drive is spreading, which also integrates a WiFi module. With this feature, in addition to the physical connection, it will be possible to transfer files even wirelessly, which makes them compatible with practically all devices on the market. Though this type of pen drive has a higher price and this feature may not always be useful for everyone.
Speed of Data Writing and Reading
Earlier, we said that the USB standard supported by a stick determines the theoretical maximum speed with which it can transfer data, but it is not equivalent to its real rate in copying files.
To find out the real speed at which files are read and written on a stick, you need to check the technical specifications of the drive and look for the maximum read and write speeds.
But be careful, sometimes manufacturers make too optimistic estimates and therefore to find out the real performance of a pen drive you need to look for tests carried out by third parties.
For example, if you decide to buy a stick on Amazon, often in the comments you will find the tests made directly by the person who purchased the product (which may or may not be correct, always better to check different ones before drawing hasty conclusions on the quality of a product).
To influence the speed of data transfer, there are also the type of flash memory included in the stick and the controller with which it is equipped. This is why there are keys that look the same, have the same capacity but are sold at different prices, and ensure different data transfer speeds: the faster (and probably more expensive) ones are made with better quality components.
Note that the keys of the same brand and the same model often have increasing read and write speeds based on their capacity, so a 64GB key will often be faster than a 32GB key in copying data.
There is not much to say about this aspect. Knowing that the “nominal” value of the USB sticks never respects their real capacity (the actual usable space is a few Giga less than that declared by the manufacturer), buy the pen drive that seems more suitable for the types of files that you intend to copy on it.
If, for example, you need to transfer text documents, small quantities of photos, or other “light” files, also buy an inexpensive key less than 8GB. If, on the other hand, you have to transfer videos, extensive photo collections, document archives, and other slightly “bulky” files, buy a key of at least 16GB.
Remember, then, what I told you before: often the most “capacious” USB sticks are also faster in data transfer than the same model of the stick with a lower capacity.
Dimensions and Shape
Also, this characteristic concerns almost exclusively your taste. Now there are sticks of all sizes, shapes, and colors. There are even some that follow the way of famous people, animals, and more or less funny objects!
The only thing I can tell you about the size/shape ratio is that the ultra-compact and ultra-thin keys are often slower than the “bigger” ones, but has already said the values must be evaluated product by product, and you cannot generalize.
Other Features to Consider
What we have just analyzed together are the essential features that must be taken into consideration before purchasing a USB stick, but they are not alone. If you want to make an even more conscientious choice, also consider the following features.
- Led – imagine connecting your stick to a device that at that moment does not give you a visual output (so you don’t have a screen in front of it explaining what’s going on). How do you know if the key is working and is copying some data? The answer is an LED, a small light with which many pen drives are equipped, which, by flashing, lets you know when the unit is running.
- Wear Leveling – this is a technology that avoids the recurring writing of data on the same memory sectors. Considering that the recurrent essay of data on the same memory sectors can lead to damage to the latter, the USB sticks equipped with wear-leveling have a potentially longer life as they optimally distribute the writing of the data on all the memory (without “Fatigue” of specific sectors).
- Cloud Backup – some USB flash drives come with an accompanying app that allows you to backup your data to the cloud. This is not an essential function (also because often the space available on the cloud is small unless you pay for a more advanced account), but it can be useful.