How to choose USB flash drive?

List of the main characteristics for USB flash drives selection

The amount of memory

The amount of memory is the main criterion when choosing a flash drive, measured in gigabytes (GB).

  • 2-4 GB - obsolete, suitable for text documents and a small number of photos.
  • 8-16GB - Many photos or 1-2 movies in high resolution, for example, for viewing on a TV with USB support.
  • 32 GB and more - despite the fact that such a flash drive can hold a lot of information, think about whether you need it: at a high price, flash drives often fail. You may want to buy two smaller flash drives.
  • 64-1000 GB - will accommodate even more high-quality video, music and photos. You can choose a flash drive for 64; 128; 256; 512 GB and 1 TB (1000 MB). The disadvantage is the high price.

USB Memory

To choose the right flash drive by volume, you should focus on the types of files that will be written on it:

  • text document - up to 1 MB;
  • photo, audio file in mp3 format - up to 10 MB; FLAC - 30-60 MB;
  • movie in AVI format - 700-1360 MB; HD 720p - 4 GB; Full HD 1080p - 6-8 GB; Ultra HD (4K 2160p - 30 GB; 8K 4320p - 120 GB) (when compressed).


Important: the actual volume of the flash drive is always less than stated. So, the real amount of memory of the device on 2 GB makes 1.86 GB, models on 4 GB - 3.72 GB, and gadget on 1 TB - 931 GB.

There are flash drives, whose actual memory is significantly different from the stated, and thanks to special firmware, the computer "will not notice" this difference. And only when you try to read the data, the actual amount of flash drive memory is detected. For example, a gadget with a nominal memory of 128 or 256 GB actually holds 16 or 32 GB.

Important: 16-64 GB flash drives are characterized by a balanced price-volume ratio. Smaller drives are much cheaper, and the price of models with more memory is close to the cost of portable external drives, the volume of which is much larger.


The second most important parameter, measured in megabytes per second. There are read speed and write speed.USB Write Speed
The higher the read / write speed, the less time it will take to transfer data from the drive to the computer / from the computer to the drive. These parameters are especially important when working with large data sets.

Keep in mind that the read speed is always significantly higher than the write speed. If the information on the flash drive will be updated infrequently, then these parameters are not essential.

On the cheapest flash drives, the read speed is about 10-15 Mb / s, and the write speed is 3-8 Mb / s. This is quite slow, for example, a 4 GB movie will be recorded for about 15 minutes, but is suitable for recording text documents, graphics and audio files.

More modern versions boast a read speed of 20-25 MB / s, and write speed - 10-15 MB / s. Such models are optimal for transferring video files in HD and Full HD.

There are models with a read speed of 30-90 Mbps and a write speed of up to 50 Mbps. This allows you to quickly transfer large amounts of information from the drive to the computer or vice versa. Most often, these are movies in Ultra HD format.

The most modern flash drives read and write speeds even higher - 420 Mbps and 380 Mbps, respectively


USB Type A connector.

USB microUSB Type C

Although the interface is called USB, there are different versions that differ in the maximum possible data transfer rate.

  • USB 2.0 - speed up to 60 MB / s, plug color - white. The most common option until 2012-2013. Today such flash drives are outdated.
  • USB 3.0 - speed up to 600 Mbps, the color of the plug - blue. Not supported by all devices, so when buying a high-speed flash drive, check the USB version on your computer (TV, media player, etc.). The reason is that although USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are physically compatible with each other, but if the interfaces of the flash drive and PC do not match, the advantage in the speed of a more advanced device (drive) will be lost.
  • USB 3.1 - an improved version of the previous standard, has a higher speed - up to 1250 Mbps.

Other connectors

  • USB Type-C - used in stationary and portable equipment. It has a smaller size and symmetrical shape - allows you to insert the flash drive on either side. Not compatible with older USB connectors.
  • microUSB - found in tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. Flash drives with this connector support the USB OTG function.
  • 8-pin (Lighting) - a connector typical of Apple technology since 2012. Drives with this connector are designed to work with iPad and iPhone.

Important: the actual drive speed is always less than the nominal value. For example, the actual speed of a USB 2.0 flash drive usually does not exceed 30 MB / s, and the limits of the USB 3.0 model are 80-150 MB / s.

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