The Best USB Flash Drive

I’ve always been pretty compulsive about the hardware I buy. Several times I’ve documented it on this blog, most recently keyboards, in the past flash drives.

I’m now revisiting flash drives as my current one, a SanDisk Cruzer Titanium is 4+ years old and tiny by today’s standards (2GB). It’s also not exactly speedy. Here’s why I choose the one I did back in 2006:

  • It’s made with “Liquidmetal”, which is insanely tough and can be driven over by a car.
  • Retractable means no cap to loose
  • Reasonable size for what it offers.
  • SanDisk is generally pretty reliable.

Now my needs are generally unchanged. Keep in mind I keep my main flash drive in my backpack which I carry with me most of the time. Last year my travel had me doing 40,916.4 miles. Cheap plastic is out of the question. Same goes for a cap. I use it virtually every day so memory quality is important too.

So my requirements are roughly:

  • Rugged.
  • No cap! Why they aren’t all retractable is beyond me.
  • Reasonable read/write performance.
  • Small size.
  • 8GB+ capacity.
  • Good memory quality. I use it regularly.
  • Did I mention rugged?

SanDisk at least until recently still sells the Cruzer Titanium though it’s no longer using Liquidmetal, and overall is cheaper in quality based on all the reviews I’ve seen. Presumably since Apple now has exclusive rights to Liquidmetal in electronics, it was discontinued. Availability is also limited as well making this not a viable upgrade.

IronKey is way to expensive for what it is, but I like the rugged hardware with the exception of having a cap. Seriously, why aren’t they all retractable? Lexar has the JumpDrive SAFE lineup but it’s got pretty much the same problems. I don’t need the security stuff from either, so it’s not worth it.

Corsair has the affordable Voyager series, but “rugged” to me means more than a rubberized coating on a plastic drive. They also have a Survivor series but that doesn’t really work for me either due to it being fat and somewhat heavy which puts stress on USB ports. That’s also a pain to carry. Being water resistant to 200M is nice, but for practical purposes not really necessary. On the plus side, it’s rather affordable.

So far the leader is the Corsair Survivor. I can’t believe I’m the only one who requires a more rugged flash drive than the typical $5 plastic toys commonly found. I don’t want to be replacing it every few weeks, and want to rely on it. Anyone else in this group? Suggestions?

One thought on “The Best USB Flash Drive

  1. COMPLETELY agree with you and am with you on this one! I, too, have a SanDisk Liquid Metal drive (a 4gb version) and am in need of an upgrade. I cannot seem to find anything like this trusty old SanDisk Cruzier Titanium. My requirements are, like yours, a retractable tip, metal case, reasonable size to carry on a keyring, and hopefully 16 or 32GB. I’m hoping that you get some replies on this thread…

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