Whether you travel for business or pleasure, these days you’re spoiled for choice for a good USB flash drive. Its possible to get fast, high-quality and large capacity storage media at an affordable price. Gone are the days when you had to cart a brick around with you to back up your photos or important documents as you travel. These days you can carry hundreds of movies, back up thousands of photos, or your entire computer hard drive on a flash drive that’s no bigger than your thumbnail.

Whether your need is size, security, speed, durability, reliability or price, there’s a flash drive for every type of traveler. Let’s start with the regular flash drives.

There are many good choices for a standard USB 3.0 flash drive. Most of the leading manufacturers have at least one fast, high-quality, and reliable flagship product. I use the Patriot flash drives because I believe they fulfil these criteria. Also, the Patriot flash drive has a great warranty, and the company’s reputation is outstanding.

Patriot Supersonic

Some of the more popular picks from the other manufacturers are:

Turning to those more suited for travel, Kingston make the popular Kingston Digital 64 GB DataTraveler SE9 G2 USB 3.0 Flash Drive. It’s thin, cap less and durable.

Kingston Data Traveler

For the accident prone (or those on a covert operation) there’s the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth USB 3.0 Drive.  Constructed from hard-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum it is waterproof to 200m, shock proof, and drop proof.

Corsair Flash Survivor

For high security, you can purchase flash drives that have a customisable PIN number which is used to lock and unlock the device. One example is the Corsair Padlock2 32GB USB 2.0. That device has a 4 to 10 digit PIN code, 256-bit hardware AES encryption, and a limited 10 year warranty. For a step up in quality (and price), there’s the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key FIPS Validated 16 GB USB 2.0 256-bit AES-CBC Encrypted Flash Drive.

Apricorn Aegis

If you want high security, and don’t need the PIN lock, one of the leaders in this space is IronKey.

Ironkey make a range of high-quality tamper-proof flash drives with 256-bit AES encryption. IronKey flash drives are designed to self destruct if the wrong password is entered more than ten times. Although you can back-up your Ironkey password online, there’s no back doors, even via the manufacturer… so you don’t want to forget your password! An example of their latest product is the IronKey Workspace W500 32GB Windows To Go Certified W500 USB Flash Drive. It is dust, shock and water resistant. You can also run Windows 8.1 (not included with the drive) directly from the flash drive.

That said, it is an expensive flash drive. It is not the sort of flash drive I’d want to be using frequently in an Internet cafe or public computer due to the risk of picking up a virus, or otherwise damaging the drive. (I’ve had USB flash drives overheat and burn up in Internet cafes.)

You can learn more about the unique IronKey flash drives at their website.

IronKeyFor those traveling with an iPhone, there’s the SanDisk iXpand Mobile Flash Drive with Lightning connector. How they work, is you transfer content onto the flash drive using a Mac or PC with the USB end of the stick. Then you can access that content on your iDevice by plugging the Lightning connection end of the stick into the iPhone or iPad. Likewise, you can transfer content the other way from your iPhone to the computer. The iXpand comes in capacities of up to 128GB, which is great if you have a smaller capacity iPhone or iPad.

iXpand

Got a Droid? If it supports OTG the SanDisk Ultra 64GB USB 3.0 OTG Flash Drive With micro USB connector does essentially the same thing.

Sandisk Ultra

For the best of both worlds there’s the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick. You can connect wirelessly to the flash drive using either a smartphone or a tablet. Alternatively, you can plug it into a USB port of a computer. It works with either Android or Apple devices and ships in capacities of up to 200GB. Using the SanDisk Connect you can wirelessly stream audio or video to up to three devices simultaneously.

Sandisk Connect Wireless

If you have lots of data (and lots of money) there’s the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator 1TB USB 3.0 Flash Drive. The interestingly named ‘Predator’ comes in either a 512GB or 1TB size, and will set you back just under $800.

Kingston Predator

Finally, for something really tiny, there’s the SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive.

UltraFit

Make Your Own Flash Drive

KIngston Card Reader

Of course, you can also make your own flash drive by purchasing a memory card reader and SD media cards.

For traveling, I carry a tiny microSD card reader and switch in and out 64GB SanDisk microSD cards. Although these days, SanDisk has a very popular (and highly rated) 200GB microSD card that is selling for less than $100! (Be sure to check the current price though, as it does tend to fluctuate.) 200GB is a lot of files you can store in a tiny amount of space. If only we could compress our luggage into such a tiny space!

SanDisk200gb

For flashcards, the leading manufacturers include:

It is hard to go wrong with any of their flashcards.

For something larger, there’s the SanDisk Extreme PRO 512GB that’s shock proof, temperature proof, waterproof and x-ray proof. It sports a limited lifetime warranty, and downloadable data recovery software to recover accidentally deleted images. The Extreme Pro would be useful for travellers who take lots of photos, or have an SD slot in their computer and want to back up content from their hard drive.

Sandisk Extreme Pro

TIP: Consider buying a second (cheap) small capacity, USB Flash drive if you’re going to be using it in Internet cafes. That way if you have any issues with the device (like it overheating and burning up) or picking up a virus, you haven’t damaged an expensive flash drive. If you purchase an SD card reader, you can write-protect your SD card so that when you insert the reader into a USB port, the computer won’t be able to write to it. This will reduce the chance of your flash drive being infected by a virus from the host computer, a topic which I will write more about at a later date.

For an extended range of flash drives and other awesome travel and mobile tech gear, visit this website’s companion store at (www.traveltechstore.com).