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Question USB flash media - performance and reliability

PacificWake

Junior Member
Sep 21, 2013
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Hi all,

I am becoming frustrated with the low quality of USB flash drives in the market today. It seems like you get to pick 2 from speed, price, size. At this point, I am ready to omit price from the equation. Anyone have suggestions?
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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I picked up a couple of Sandisk ones from Best Buy around a year ago on sale for like $6 each, and they didn't even last a year before developing errors.

After that, I've been mainly sticking to Samsung USB drives, and I've had better luck with them so far. These were the ones I bought: https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-BAR-Plus-64GB-Champagne/dp/B07BPHN7LV

I've used one of these for my music in my car for around 3 years I think, and it stills works perfectly as well:
https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/memory-storage/usb-flash-drives/usb-3-0-flash-drive-fit-32gb-muf-32bb-muf-32bb-am/

Although as a rule of thumb (pun intended), flash drives are now a low priced commodity item, so I would never trust any brand by not having back-ups of data that I could not afford to lose.
 

IntelUser2000

Elite Member
Oct 14, 2003
6,576
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You can't get a quality USB drive, not really. If its priced too high, it'll likely price itself out of the market. So vendors are forced to compete to be low priced as possible.

Use USB drives for transferring data around. Backup drives are really meant for HDDs. Actually, platter HDDs are pretty good here. They are likely even more durable for cold storage purposes than SSDs.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
3,758
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The sad fact is that it's pretty much impossible to get a high quality flash drive today. As the other posters said, they're disposable, and should be treated as such.

Don't trust flash drives or SD cards further then you can throw them.

At this point, I am ready to omit price from the equation.
I'd be careful with that. You haven't seen pricing for (industrial) SLC drives still available. The price per GB is off the wall...

After that, I've been mainly sticking to Samsung USB drives, and I've had better luck with them so far.
I'd be more inclined to trust 1st party manufacturers. But it's still a roll of the dice what you get.

Use USB drives for transferring data around. Backup drives are really meant for HDDs. Actually, platter HDDs are pretty good here. They are likely even more durable for cold storage purposes than SSDs.
Depending on how long you're thinking of storing (10-15+ years), real cold storage would still be optical or tape. HDDs are still mechanical, and we don't yet know how newer very high density ones react to long term storage. Bit rot is quite real.
 

IntelUser2000

Elite Member
Oct 14, 2003
6,576
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I actually have Sandisk USB sticks that still work well. They are really roll the dice in terms of quality.

Depending on how long you're thinking of storing (10-15+ years), real cold storage would still be optical or tape. HDDs are still mechanical, and we don't yet know how newer very high density ones react to long term storage. Bit rot is quite real.
That's true.

There's a presentation by WD that shows as the storage technology is faster and has greater endurance(in terms of write cycles), the persistency goes down. Optical is pretty slow, Tape is atrocious in speed, but both are quite proven. HDDs are much faster than both, and SSDs are even faster. USB drives are basically very shoddy quality SSD drives.
 

corkyg

Elite Member | Peripherals
Super Moderator
Mar 4, 2000
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I use them as I once used floppies. They are expendable for me. OTOH, I have several Fireflies bought in 2006 that are still AOK. Maybe there are other factors involving how they are used and how full you make them.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
46,888
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This thread makes me LOL.

Only because, I started a similar thread once about a friend of mine, that I had given some Adata UV128 Yellow/Black USB3.0 flash drives to (maybe it was the Blue/Black model), and it failed on him, after like 10 total re-writes (ISO boot images).

So he swore off all Adata products after that.

I tried to tell him, WTF do you expect, these things are disposable, like a cheap ball-point pen, these days.

And then someone in the thread I started chimed in, "My old Flash drive has been working for 10 years just fine! I expect all flash drives to last 10 years! There's no reason not to!".

Completely oblivious to the changes in technology and the market, that caused older flash drives of that era to be mfg'd with SLC or MLC flash, and they were rather kind of pricey, so they could afford to do that. Compared with the market today, they're using the cheapest, lowest-grade, TLC, and soon if not already, QLC, with controllers that sometimes don't even get their firmware properly flashed at the factory. Such is the life of lowest-common-denominator mass-production and cost-cutting.

Sure, some "branded" Flash drives may well give you better results: SanDisk, Kingston, Verbatim, Samsung. Others, good luck. I buy in bulk cheap, and don't use them generally to store anything permanent. Just for temp file transfers and temp storage between machines, mostly. Like people in this thread said, they are basically "disposable", and the data on them should be treated as such, IMHO.

Get a NAS with RAID, heck, get two NAS units, identical, and set them to mirror each other. Then back up your system over the network to the NAS. Even, backup your NAS to large external HDDs (10TB EasyStore for $159.99 at BestBuy.com as I write this.) at regular intervals.

Edit: To add, I don't really use "a USB flash drive" for storing my personal data, and writing and re-writing it every day. I instead, use them mostly for install images / ISOs / bootable Live USBs, Macrium, Windows 7 and 10, Linux (all kinds of flavors), etc. So most of mine don't really fail that often, more often than in-the-field failure is simple DOA for me. Also, I've found that certain batches of Adata flash drives (the ones I purchase the most of, because Newegg has them constantly on sale, in different flavors), sometimes require an "NTFS FULL FORMAT", before writing them with MS Media Creation Tool or Rufus. Reason being, that MS MCT is very intolerant of any errors on the flash drive that you're using, and sometimes new drives need some bad sectors mapped out, which a "FULL FORMAT" should do.
 
Last edited:

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
220
106
Hi all,

I am becoming frustrated with the low quality of USB flash drives in the market today. It seems like you get to pick 2 from speed, price, size. At this point, I am ready to omit price from the equation. Anyone have suggestions?
A USB flash drive with a SSD controller? (e.g. Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0)

EDIT: Or a m.2 to usb adapter--> https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA6V86289381&Description=usb to m.2&cm_re=usb_to_m.2-_-9SIA6V86289381-_-Product
 
Last edited:

nosirrahx

Senior member
Mar 24, 2018
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The 2 I use are here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N7QDO7M

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079NWJTGG

These are insanely fast, have capacities that are actually viable for multiple purposes and so far have been very reliable.

The Corsair one is built like an absolute tank. Both of these drives are absolutely viable options for mobile OS installs. If you do IT work at all it is super convenient to install an OS on these drives so you can have a mobile emergency OS on hand.
 
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PacificWake

Junior Member
Sep 21, 2013
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Thanks; this is the kind of answer I'm looking for. It's not about the commodity of the drives - it's about my time when I'm waiting for transfers, and how much I can store.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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Thanks; this is the kind of answer I'm looking for. It's not about the commodity of the drives - it's about my time when I'm waiting for transfers, and how much I can store.
Then you'll want a "real" external SSD. Not a "flash drive" as such. Preferably one with UASP support. That matters a lot for non-sequential tranfer speeds.

I'm sorry that didn't click sooner, should have thought of that.

If you happen to have an older SSD on hand, purchase a 2.5" to USB external case and enjoy. If you're starting from scratch, cbn and UsandThem suggestions would fit perfectly, since you get a more "flash drive-like" form factor. I imagine an M.2(SATA)-to-USB adaptor coupled to a high performance M.2 SATA drive would be indistinguishable from an internal drive.
 

PacificWake

Junior Member
Sep 21, 2013
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Edit: I want to rethink this. So, a USB 3.0 enclosure for an M.2 drive sounds pretty enticing. Seems like they're getting pretty cheap. Any issues with the constant plugging/unplugging of a drive not built for that purpose?
 

nosirrahx

Senior member
Mar 24, 2018
267
56
61
Edit: I want to rethink this. So, a USB 3.0 enclosure for an M.2 drive sounds pretty enticing. Seems like they're getting pretty cheap. Any issues with the constant plugging/unplugging of a drive not built for that purpose?
I have one for IT stuff (both an M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe) and they are great for their intended purpose, accessing a functional drive removed from a dead system.

They would work fine as external drives but since you are still going over USB 3.1 you don't gain much from a real SSD being at the core.

Here are the ones I have:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HCPCMKN

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076DCNZM3
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
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I imagine an M.2(SATA)-to-USB adaptor coupled to a high performance M.2 SATA drive would be indistinguishable from an internal drive.
The one I linked in post #8 I found out limits to ~200 MB/s, but there are others with better bridge chips that have higher sequential.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
3,758
445
126
The one I linked in post #8 I found out limits to ~200 MB/s, but there are others with better bridge chips that have higher sequential.
Sounds like it only supports BOT then. It's still faster then most plain flash drives. UASP enabled controllers tops out at ~450MB/s on a 5Gbit connection.

But, UASP mainly helps with random performance. Plain 5Gbit USB with UASP can actually be faster then 10Gbit USB without.
 

Glaring_Mistake

Senior member
Mar 2, 2015
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A USB flash drive with a SSD controller? (e.g. Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0)

EDIT: Or a m.2 to usb adapter--> https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA6V86289381&Description=usb to m.2&cm_re=usb_to_m.2-_-9SIA6V86289381-_-Product
Both good options with their own pros and cons.
For example I've found that my SanDisk USB drive (where you also use a slider to bring forth the USB contact) it doesn't really have the rigidity to allow you to easily insert it into a port.

Edit: I want to rethink this. So, a USB 3.0 enclosure for an M.2 drive sounds pretty enticing. Seems like they're getting pretty cheap. Any issues with the constant plugging/unplugging of a drive not built for that purpose?
Have mentioned this several times before in this forum but I've had a few SSDs die because they didn't like being connected via USB so that may be something to consider.
 

Spacehead

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2002
8,780
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I've used one of these for my music in my car for around 3 years I think, and it stills works perfectly as well:
https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/memory-storage/usb-flash-drives/usb-3-0-flash-drive-fit-32gb-muf-32bb-muf-32bb-am/.
I had a question about thumbdrive & figured i'd bump this thread instead of starting a new one.

My new-to-me car has a USB port & i've been using a thumb drive for music.Should i remove it from my car do to hot/cold temps in winter & summer? Will it last longer not exposing it to hot/cold temps?
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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I had a question about thumbdrive & figured i'd bump this thread instead of starting a new one.

My new-to-me car has a USB port & i've been using a thumb drive for music.Should i remove it from my car do to hot/cold temps in winter & summer? Will it last longer not exposing it to hot/cold temps?
I've left our USB drives (used for music) in both of our cars for at least 4 years without any problems (they still work to this day).
 

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