Best Flash Drives For Under $20
It might seem like flash drives are going the way of the dinosaur with seamless Cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and the like available. However, offline and portable storage solutions are more important than ever, especially as privacy and security fears drive some people away from those online Cloud solutions. Flash drives can often be more efficient and faster than Cloud services as well — it’s as simple as plugging it into your computer, throwing a file on it and then plugging it into the computer you want to put the file on — there’s no Cloud software setup necessary. Or, you can just keep the file on the flash drive as a safe, offline solution.
The downside is that Cloud storage can sometimes be cheaper than a flash drive, but there are still flash drives out there you can snag for as much as a Cloud subscription or less. Follow along below, and we’ll show you the best flash drives you can get for under $20.
What to look for in a flash drive
There’s a few things you should look for when buying a flash drive. Most importantly, don’t cheap out on storage space — if you buy an 8GB flash drive, it’s cheap enough that you should buy a 16GB instead, otherwise you’ll be buying an additional 8GB drive down the road. It’s economically cheaper to buy the additional storage now rather than later. If you can, 32GB is probably the best option, as it allows you to have enough space for operating systems, photos, files and applications all at the same, but 16GB isn’t bad either.
You should also consider data transfer speeds. USB 3.0 is one of the fastest options on the market (USB-C actually is, but not many PCs support it yet), but it isn’t going to do you any good if your computer does not support USB 3.0 technology. Additionally, if you’re only picking up a 16GB hard drive, USB 3.0 won’t make much of a difference in data transfer speeds than USB 2.0 — generally, it does make a difference, but you won’t be transferring enough data to notice the performance differences.
Finally, consider security. The type of security you need will depend on what you’re storing on the flash drive. Most drives come with basic security and password protection. However, there are other options out there, such as fingerprint scanning, which can make the drive a little pricier. You should at least have a drive with basic password protection as well as a good manufacturer warranty — these are super useful if they come with the drive (don’t bother spending extra on an extended warranty), as they’ll protect you against manufacturer defects and sometimes even data loss at fault of the manufacturer due to those defects. Sometimes manufacturers will even off free technical support if something goes wrong software-side with your flash drive — for example, maybe a virus messed up its file system or made it inaccessible. This is something companies can usually fix through a remote connection, and good companies will do it for you for free.
Those are the best things you can look for in a flash drive, and considering those, we’re going to show you the best flash drives (that meet those requirements) that you can snag for $20 or under.
The SanDisk Cruzer is great value for money. At just $15 for the flash drive, you get 64GB of storage, password protection and 128-bit AES encryption. It comes with additional SanDisk SecureAccess software for keeping your files under lock and key. The one downside to the flash drive is that it’s only equipped with USB 2.0 technology, not the more modern USB 3.0. However, if you don’t have any devices that support USB 3.0, or maybe you don’t plan on storing a whole lot of files, you’ll be fine using the USB 2.0 capabilities.
You can get a cheaper 32GB model with the same setup for $10; however, paying the extra $5 for an extra 32GB of storage is definitely worth the price.
Buy it now: Amazon
Next, you have the metal-clad Samsung BAR. This is a flash drive with 32GB of storage and even has USB 3.0 technology built-in. It’s a little cheaper than the SanDisk Cruzer at $14, but has half the storage; however, you do get the upgraded USB 3.0 speeds. Being made of metal, this flash drive has some great durability — there’s no need to worry about dropping it on the ground. And, it has a key ring for keeping it with you during your travels so that you don’t lose it.
The durability of this flash drive is great. In addition to just being metal clad, it’s water proof, shock proof, magnet proof, temp proof and even X-Ray proof. It comes with a 5-year warranty as well for any possible manufacturer defects.
Check it out on Amazon below.
Buy it now: Amazon
You also have the PNY Turbo. This flash drive is great value for money. At just $10, you get 32GB of storage with USB 3.0 capabilities. When using a USB 3.0 compatible device, you should be able to transfer files nearly 10 times faster than USB 2.0 devices. If you’re not transferring very large files, you might not notice, but you will once you fill this drive up with thousands of photos.
There’s no need to worry about this USB 3.0 flash drive not working properly with a USB 2.0 device. With built-in backwards compatibility, the PNY Turbo will revert to USB 2.0 when you’re using a USB 2.0 device and will use USB 3.0 when using a USB 3.0 device.
It’s great value for money because, while you can get 32GB for just $10, you can get 64GB for just another $5 for a total of $15.
Buy it now: Amazon
SanDisk Cruzer Fit
Next up is the Cruzer Fit by SanDisk. If you’re looking for something low profile, this is the flash drive for you. It’s size and thickness is about that of a wireless USB connector for a keyboard or mouse. And even though it is small, this low profile flash drive can hold up to a whopping 64GB of storage.
With how low profile this drive is you can’t expect a whole lot more out of it. In just one instance, you’re only getting USB 2.0 capabilities, which isn’t a bad thing if you’re not transferring many files or don’t have a USB 3.0 capable laptop or PC. You do get SanDisk Secure Access software to keep your data under lock and key, and this drive is backed by a 5-year manufacturer defect warranty. Check it out below for just $18.
Buy it now: Amazon
Kingston Digital DataTraveler
Last up we have the Digital DataTraveler from Kingston. For only $13, you can get yourself a low profile 16GB flash drive with USB 3.0 capability from Kingston. The drive itself has a metal casing, making it one of the more durable flash drives on this list — there’s no need to worry about dropping it or damaging it when it clangs against the keys on your key ring. And yes, this drive from Kingston does have a key ring, making it the perfect drive for portability — throw it on your key ring, and you’ll never have to think of it again.
This drive is also resistant to the elements. You could drop it in a sink full of water, pull it out, dry it off and the Kingston Digital DataTraveler would work without any issues. For $13, it’s hard to go wrong with this drive.
Kingston also offers a USB 2.0 version of this drive. In fact, they put it in a two pack, so for $16, you get two 16GB Kingston Digital DataTraveler flash drives. It’s virtually the same thing as the USB 3.0 drive, but it’s just a little slower as far as data transfer speeds go.
Finally, Kingston has one of the best warranty’s offered on its drives. When you buy it, you’re backed by a five-year manufacturer defect warranty, plus 100% free technical support if you’re having, say, a software problem with your flash drive. Check ’em out below!
Hopefully by following this article we helped you choose a really great flash drive on the cheap. There are so many affordable flash drives out there it can be difficult to choose one. It also makes it difficult because a lot of affordable drives are just simply junk — you really have to sift out the good from the bad. Just one way to do that is to stick with reputable brands like SanDisk, Kingston, PNY and a few others. Even though flash drives can be cheap, you certainly don’t want to drop $20 or so on something that doesn’t work.
Do you have a favorite flash drive? Be sure to let us know what it is in the comments section below!