I bought a little Corsair Flash Voyager USB 3.0 16GB USB Flash Drive at Micro Center yesterday, since most of my machines now have USB 3.0 ports. It is also available online from places like New Egg and Amazon
For roughly $25.00 you can hardly go wrong here. One negative for the drive is that it is physically pretty large for a flash drive, both in length and width. The blue bulges on the side that make it “finger friendly” according to Corsair, can be a problem when you try to use it in a USB slot that is adjacent to other slots or ports on a laptop.
As with nearly all flash memory devices, smaller capacity models have much lower write performance than the larger models in the same product family. Keeping that in mind, you might want to invest in a larger capacity model, even if you think you don’t really need the extra space. For example, the 32GB version of this drive has nearly double the sequential write performance as the 16GB model.
I decided to run Crystal DiskMark on this drive while it was plugged into the USB 3.0 port on my Toshiba Portege R835-P55X laptop. You can see the results in Figure 1 below:
Figure 1: Corsair Flash Voyager USB 3.0 16GB USB Flash Drive
Just for comparisons sake, I ran the same Crystal DiskMark test on an older Patriot Xporter XT 16GB USB 2.0 flash drive plugged into the same USB 3.0 port on the Toshiba. The Patriot was one of the faster USB 2.0 drives, and I have been using it for a couple of years. It is likely to be much faster than the free USB drive that you got from some vendor!
Figure 2: Patriot Xporter XT USB 2.0 16GB USB Flash Drive
If you have not done it already, you really want to make the move to a machine that has a USB 3.0 port. Not only are USB 3.0 flash drives readily available and affordable, you can also easily find 1TB USB 3.0 external drives for less than $100.00.
In a similar vein, you also should be seriously thinking about having a fast SSD drive for a boot device in your machine. The difference in everyday, useful, real-world performance with both of these features is quite dramatic, and definitely worth the money.