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Although cloud storage services and wireless local data transfers have reduced some of the reliance on flash drives, they are still going strong. This is because USB flash drives (aka thumb drives, memory sticks, or pen drives) provide one of the most painless ways of transferring or backing up data.

So a good USB drive still deserves a place in your tech arsenal, just like a solid USB PD charger. But with the growing popularity of USB-C, or if you just want something that plays well with your Android phone, it's time to invest in a USB-C flash drive. However, you can't just pick any thumb drive, as not all USB-C thumb drives are made equal. So to ensure that you get the best possible speeds and functionality, we have handpicked the best USB-C flash drives on the market. And as the USB-A port is still hanging around, we have thrown in some dual-interface memory sticks for good measure.

  • Render of the Samsung USB-C Flash Drive
    Source: Samsung
    Samsung MUF-128DA
    Best overall
    $24 $40 Save $16

    The new Samsung MUF-128DA high-speed flash drive leverages the USB 3.2 Gen 1 standard to deliver speeds of up to 400 MB/s. However, you'll need a similarly equipped USB Type-C port to get that kind of throughput. And unlike most other models capable of such high speeds, it's not very expensive and comes with a compact design. It's a great long-term investment due to the 5-year warranty against defects and Samsung's well-known flash chipset quality.

  • Kingston-Ironkey-Vault-Privacy-50C
    Source: Kingston
    Kingston Ironkey Vault Privacy 50C
    Premium pick
    $144 $160 Save $16

    Kingston’s IronKey Vault Privacy 50C offers the utmost privacy for your files with enterprise-grade security using 256-bit encryption. It is tested against various digital attacks, including BadUSB and brute force attacks. It runs lightweight software that supports complex passwords and passphrases while letting you set up admin controls and user accounts. You can pick one with up to 256GB capacity with read and write speeds up to 250MB/s and 180MB/s, respectively.

  • silicon-power-c07-1
    Silicon Power C07
    Best value

    The Silicon Power C07 is a reliable but low-cost USB-C flash drive for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a lot. Despite its affordable pricing, the flash drive isn’t slow, and the company says it’s rated for USB 3.2 Gen 1 speed with compatible computers and smartphones for on-the-go quick transfers. The drive also has an antibacterial coating to ensure no germs develop on its casing. Additionally, a detachable cap keeps the USB-C connector safe from damage.

  • Apricorn-3NXC-secure
    Source: Apricorn
    Apricorn 3NXC Secure USB Flash Drive
    Encryption for less
    $169 $179 Save $10

    Targeted at folks who want to keep their data encrypted and secure, the Apricorn 3NXC drive features PIN-based encryption that works right on the drive. So as soon as you transfer anything to it, that gets secured with 256-bit AES-XTS encryption. Among other highlights, the drive has a rugged build and is IP68-rated for water and dust resistance. Additionally, the aluminum case and the hardened epoxy around the drive’s circuits prevent any physical tempering.

  • sandisk-ultra-dual-drive-go-square-render-01
    Source: SanDisk
    SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Go
    $17 $25 Save $8

    Roughly the size of a AAA battery, the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Go is a versatile and highly portable option with plenty of bang for your buck. The Type-A and Type-C ports make transferring files between your smartphone and PC a breeze. It also has a sturdy loop for attaching to a lanyard or keychain. Sadly, the Dual Drive Go isn't as fast as much of the competition, although it is every bit as reliable.

  • Western Digital<\/a>"" data-modal-id="single-image-modal" data-modal-container-id="single-image-modal-container" data-img-caption="""">
    SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive
    $22 $24 Save $2

    A combination of a metal body with just a bit of high-grip texture makes it easy to slide out its Type-A and C connectors. Once plugged in, you'll find decent read speeds in the neighborhood of 150 MB/s. It's pre-formatted to work perfectly with Android devices and is available with up to 256GB of storage space. The only words of caution we have are that writing multiple large files may well cause it to get hot and bog down.

  • Lexar-JumpDrive
    Source: Lexar
    Lexar JumpDrive
    $12 $17 Save $5

    The zinc-alloy body of the Lexar JumpDrive helps protect the unit from physical damage and pulls some heat away from the internals, contributing to its performance and longevity. It also looks nicer and more premium than a boxy thumb drive made from black plastic. On top of that, the 128-gigabyte model is an excellent deal. There is one thing that rubs us the wrong way, though. It only offers read speeds of up to 100MB/s.

  • Teamgroup-M211-1
    Source: Teamgroup
    Teamgroup M211

    If you frequently have to use USB drives outdoors, you'll be happy to know Teamgroup's M211 is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. Its durability isn't its only strength, as it also comes with a dual interface design for seamless connectivity across devices, and you will get read speeds of around 150MB/s. Unfortunately, when using the USB-C connector on the drive, the rubber case just dangles around because of the drive's slightly unusual design. But that's forgiven against the flexibility it offers.

  • Kingston-DataTraveler-80-M
    Source: Kingston
    Kingston DataTraveler 80 M

    Kingston has a pretty good track record with storage products, and this USB-C device from the company is no exception. It has a simple moving cap design that keeps the Type-C connector safe when you are carrying the drive around. And the company is promising read speeds of around 200MB/s. In other features, the included key ring loop will undoubtedly come in handy and help you from losing it. You can pick from 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage variants. 

  • Verbatim-Store-n-Go-1
    Source: Verbatim
    Verbatim Store n Go

    The Verbatim's Store 'n' Go is another excellent dual-interface USB flash drive. It comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants, and you will get read speeds north of 150MB/s and write speeds around 80MB/s. The company includes a connector cap. But you can only use it to cover one of the connectors when the drive is not in use. Otherwise, the design is pretty decent; you even get a lanyard loop. A limited lifetime warranty rounds out the package.

  • Silicon-Power-C80
    Silicon Power C80

    At just under two inches long with a sturdy keychain loop, the Silicon Power C80 is one of the most convenient thumb drives to sport Type-A and Type-C connectors. A body made from sandblasted zinc alloy renders it safe from crushing damage and unsightly fingerprints. Due to its small stature, it shouldn't block any adjacent ports. Keep in mind that it swivels to protect only one of the connectors from getting nicked, bent, or stuffed with debris.

  • PNY-Duo-Link
    Source: PNY
    PNY Duo Link USB 3.2 Type-C Flash Drive
    $16 $28 Save $12

    The PNY Duo Link is an excellent option if you frequently use your flash drive to transfer content from your computer to your mobile device or vice versa. You can even transfer content between Android phones, tablets, and iPads. The Duo Link features both a Type-C and a USB Type-A connector for better compatibility. While it’s not the fastest flash storage on the market, it claims to offer respectable read speeds of up to 200MB/s.

What exactly is USB-C?

It's a little-known fact that the USB Implementers Forum is a group of global leaders hell-bent on ensuring that nobody will truly understand which USB standards are capable of which speeds. That's why we have protocols like USB Gen 2 2x2, which used to be simply called USB 3.2, but was renamed to confuse the average consumer. At least, that's what it seems like sometimes.

To clear up any confusion, USB Type-C only refers to the USB-C connector, and that's it. USB 3.0, 3.1, 3.2 Gen 2, as well as 3.2 Gen 1x2, 2x1, and 2x2 (yes, sadly, those are all real designations) all refer to the speeds the bus can transmit. All previous USB standards can work over the USB-C, but having a Type-C plug doesn't guarantee that a device is capable of USB 3.1 or even 3.0 speeds.

So what does that mean in terms of smartphones and tablets? Not much. Many of the best modern smartphones are equipped with USB-C ports but are still limited to USB 3.0 speeds. If your phone is one of those, consider whether it's worth investing in a high-performing USB 3.1 flash drive.

PC file transfer: The reason to get a high-speed flash drive

If you frequently transfer files from your PC to your smartphone, opting for faster standards might help. When plugged into a PC, the average good-quality thumb drive can read and write at roughly 90-120 MB/s and 20-50 MB/s, respectively. Those numbers go down if you're copying many small files or if the device gets extremely hot, at which point it may throttle to keep from overheating.

If you're the proud owner of a high-end smartphone, a premium flash drive such as the Samsung MUF series or the Kingston Ironkey Vault can take full advantage of your device's cutting-edge hardware. For example, the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra flagship boasts 10 gigabits of throughput over its USB 3.2 Gen 1 port.

All this is to say that a manufacturer's claims of maximum speeds should be taken with a grain of salt. The speeds you get depend heavily on the hardware and software in your smartphone or tablet. Ultimately, it's worth checking out PC benchmarks when comparing which drives are fastest in the real world, as testing on a PC removes potential bottlenecks such as low-speed USB ports on smartphones.

One final note on PC-to-smartphone file transfer: for convenience, consider one of the multiple 2-in-1 flash drives we've highlighted. The USB-C connector is more robust than the obsolete micro-USB but a bit less sturdy than the full-size USB-A connector. Not only is Type-A a touch more stable, but many laptops only have a single USB-C port, and most desktops don't have any. So, if you plan on transferring files from your desktop to your phone, a combo flash drive is a must-have.

The top USB-C thumb drive options for you

Samsung MUF-128DA is a solid USB-C flash device option for most people. It's tiny but feature-rich. The drive supports write speeds of up to 300MB/s, which is among the best in this price range. Plus, you get a five-year limited warranty. But if you are willing to spend a little more for more privacy and security of your data, there is no better option than our premium pick — the Kingston Ironkey Vault Privacy 50C. It not only supports reliable read and write speeds but also offers a bunch of features that keep your data safe from attacks. Lastly, the Silicon Power C07 is a better option for value-conscious buyers. Its 256GB version costs under $20 and comes with a detachable cap to keep the USB-C connector safe.

A note on counterfeits

Because some online retailers group their internal and third-party stock, it's entirely possible to get a fake flash drive from a supposedly reputable seller. MicroSD cards are even worse for this. It's impossible to prevent when buying from some websites, but it's also a known issue. If you find yourself with a flash drive that comes nowhere near the claimed specifications or is clearly a counterfeit knock-off, you shouldn't have any problem getting the retailer to replace it.