USB flash drives

Updated: 12 Jun 2012
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Introduction

What can survive being baked in an oven, a trip through the washing and being run over by a car? Some of these rugged little USB drives.

Not too long ago a computer with 1GB of memory was amazing. Now you can carry 16GB of storage in your pocket. Welcome to the future.

Small flash (solid state) USB drives have replaced writable CDs as the simplest form of physical data transfer. We took a hard look at eight 16GB drives.

Models we tested

This report contains test results and recommendations for the following USB flash drives:

About our test

We tested the drives’ speed and durability. We checked how they performed in normal use and how they stood up to some rigorous tests designed to mimic everyday (if extreme) situations.

Performance

We timed the read and write speed of each drive by copying two 5GB folders of different-sized files multiple times. One folder contained large files and the other many small files. The average read and write speeds are shown in our Test results in Megabits per second (Mbps).

All performance tests used the FAT32 file system.

Durability

We simulated potentially damaging scenarios a flash drive might encounter in everyday use. And we didn't go easy on them.

We dropped them repeatedly from 1.5m, put them through washing machine and clothes dryer cycles, baked them in an oven for an hour at 60°C (to simulate the interior of a hot car glovebox), and finally ran over them with a car. Twice.

See the Test results for full details of how all the drives performed.