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back to article Fast USB 2.0 Flash Drives

Anyone else remember how the death of the floppy disk was supposed to mean the end of the 'sneakernet' - files exchanged physically on a handy, portable storage format? It never happened. Instead, floppies were briefly replaced by higher-capacity media like Iomega's Zip disk and then, when USB really took off, Flash drives. …

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Failure Rate?

Having had quite a few flash drives fail on me, regardless of brand / capacity I tend to go towards the low cost end. I always recommend that people only use these drives for temporary portability and not for backups.

Imagine the day when your 128Gb+ flash with your only backup of family pics corrupts and fails.

Eggs and baskets come to mind here

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big drives...

with the corsair being that big and expensive, wouldnt it make more sense to buy a proper 2.5" sata ssd and just bung it in a caddy?? more speed and with the ocz less than 200notes a big saving!

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Waterproof

"The cap forms a tight seal, but we wouldn't go so far as to suggest it's waterproof, so don't tip it into a tarn when you're out and about, OK?"

Pffftt.. Am I the only one that's had several flash drives stay in my jeans pocket when they get whirled round the washing machine? By the time the jeans have dried, the flash drive is dried and works just fine. And these are the cheapo 8GB ones for a tenner.

Let them dry properly and as far as I'm concerned, they're all waterproof.

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FAIL

Corsair rubbers

I have owned quite a few of the rubberized Corsair products and although the write speeds on especially the GT series are very good, these products are deceptively unreliable. The fat rubber exterior often presses up against neighbouring usb connectors causing the connector to eventually break off of the PCB inside, rendering the product useless. For ruggedness I thoroughly recommend their survivor series. I'm an IT consultant and do a lot of plugging and unplugging. The survivor is excellent for heavy usage.

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Boffin

Very expensive!

I just skimmed through the pages, looking at the read/write speeds and the prices of the USB sticks you reviewed and have to say the prices of all of them are horribly high.

There's one 'brand' you should definitely have included in the reviews - Play.com's own 16GB branded stick (I've also seen them branded as Integral).

I have 3 of Play.com's 16GB sticks, the first two cost me £16 each and get ~30MB/s read and ~12MB/s write, however the 3rd was bought a few months after the first two for £17 and gets ~30MB/s read and ~20MB/s write.

At the current price of £17.49 it outshines all the ones you reviewed here in ferms of £ per GB, as well as very good read/write speeds.

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Joke

Flash Just isn't SSD Material....

Flash can Cost More than Complex Mainboard. Has Few uses outside of transfer between machines & most importantly, Ready Boost.

SSD Numbers follow Flash numbers in Article, In Fact, Random, Very important part of SSD, Is No Longer Even stated IN RECENT REVIEWS, Its That Bad.

SSD pci-e cards with DDR1, 2./3 or units with power capabilities to use DDR RAM is what SSD Needs MORE Of. Right Now, due to crummy SSD engineering, SSD Cards Cost More than entire system. BUY Cheap Flash With Ready Boost, Your find Little Use elsewise.

Signed:PHYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART von DRASHEK M.D.

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Coat

Just the one question...

And I expect the flames to engulf me for this.

When doing the Mac tests did you have the drives formatted as FAT23 or as HFS+(J)? It'd be interesting (to me) from a purely empirical point of view as to whether the drives functioned faster when formatted as one type or another.

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Anonymous Coward

@Woodgie

No contest - FAT32 (and it's cousin on Uncle Dad's side - NTFS (or as those of us who deal with real filesystems call it - Never Trust File Safety)) are pathetic at reasonable block allocation and can't be persuaded to allocate blocks in a particular way. So not only will you get better performance using HFS, ZFS, UFS and even RieserFS, your drive will also last longer as the M$ so-called filesystems have extremely naive block rewrite semantics and cause areas of the flash drives to wear out unevenly.

If you don't need the lowest common denominator (FAT) then use a real filesystem!

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FAIL

Corsair rubbers are rubbish

I think it is very unfortunate that you have gieven your editor's choice to the voyager product.

I have exactly the same experience of Corsair rubber USB sticks as Mr Roberts (above). The rubber casing does cause them to press against other devices. I have alway treated mine with great care but even so the connector came lose and then came off one of my (expensive) 16gb Corsair sticks; I now try not to use the others I have as I can see that they too are going to suffer the same fate.

There is nothing significant to protect the connector - it is simply stuck straight onto to the board with only the rubber casing around the joint. Corsair describe the product as "rugged" and offer a lifetime warranty but when I sent it back they returned it as "abused". This was not true I just "used" it normally - it failed because of a poor design (I will try trading standards next).

Anyway - my advice to you - especially with corsair's apaprently poor service attitude [they must know this happens] - is to avoid these they are in no sense rugged and will fail in normal usage.

Incidentally, I too am an IT consultant and have bags of different sorts of sticks - no other brand (claiming to be rugged or not) has ever failed .

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Alert

Corsair

I've never had a problem with the Rubber Case or Connector on my Corsiar Drive Yes it was too wide to use adjacent slots but I never Forced it! and due to its cost I always treated it with care!

However I'll swear the original GT drives were faster still, but had a tendancy to just cease, but due to Corsairs Good 10 Year Warranty I was able to get my 8GB replaced, no question asked. unfortunatly due to them not being made anymore they were only able to replace it with a larger capacity... shame that!

Anyway now 3 years in never had a corsair plug fall off! I have however had two USB drives fail due to the USB socket coming off the PCB!

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Flame

Several Points...

“He must have dragged the laptop out with some wood as the wood was singed,”

1)Wood + Laptop = WTF! (that's not how I store a laptop!)

“He stamped it out with his foot.”

2)That laptop doesn't look very stamped out!

3) Why would anyone in there right mind attempt to stamp out a chemical fire? I know that I wouldn't! Once its out of the car let it burn!

Talking of which Chemical Fires usually produce loads of car damaging Toxic Fumes.. yet no mention of such.. especially since, said car filled with smoke, her first reaction would be to release her hord of sprogs from relevant safty seats... whereas seems she went straight to the boot.. odd that.

one might suspect that undamaged car, undamaged stamped upon laptop, un-smoke-damaged sprogs. might lead to another conclusion. possibly involving a completly seperate nail.

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Not impressed with the Corsair

The 128GB looks a good idea in theory - trouble is that I can source an 128GB SSD drive and a suitable USB/eSATA crate for less than the £349 list. And with my combo not only do I get a faster-rated SSD drive, but also since the crate has eSATA I can get remove any USB interface limitation. Okay, it's larger than the Corsair too - but it's got pretty similar ruggedness, it's cheaper and faster, plus in USB mode I only use up one USB port, whereas the Corsair - unless you use an extension lead, is definitely going to block the other port in a pair.

Oh and the comment "Since Flash drives aren't generally used as SSDs " is true, however maybe it would have been worth pointing out that the hi-speed drives are the device of choice for "LiveCD" type installs. Granted these are usually Linux, but there's also BartPE etc for Windows and some of the partition backup/recovery apps can now generate their 'restore disk' to Flash Drive rather than CD (Paragon Drive Backup being the one I use). In these cases, you want the fastest drive possible, of a capacity between 4-16GB.

Last, I agree with some of your comments about the PNY Attache Optima drive. Yes, it's fast (nicely so), but I don't agree that the clever (and easy to use!) folding mechanism is any flimsier than others out there. I bought my 16GB Optima about 18 months ago and it's still going strong, despite being dropped on server floors, crushed in bags in airports, zapped by X-ray machines etc and slammed shut when I've - ahem - not been in the best of moods. :(

Re: "Flash Just isn't SSD Material.... " - it must be Monday morning blues, but I don't see anything remotely amusing in anything you've typed - but ymmv.

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Re: Waterproof @ Annihilator

Nope, you're not the only one. My SanDisk Cruzer 8GB has been through the wash AT LEAST half a dozen times and has been through the Tumble dryer a couple of times too. It's 3 years old now and never misses a beat.

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Go

I have been waiting for this article!

With the ability to add ZFS Intent Logging flash and ZFS L2ARC flash caches for some mixed use file servers in my test lab (using ZFS mirrored 1.5TB external drives), this article is EXACTLY what I have been waiting for!

Losing a USB stick on a mirrored ZFS intent log is no big deal and losing some blocks on a non-mirrored USB stick on a primarily read-only L2ARC cache is also no big deal - ZFS should continue flawlessly.

Off to source a pair of fast writable USB sticks for the ZFS ZIL and pair of fast readable USB sticks for the ZFS L2ARC! WOO HOO!

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Anonymous Coward

Comparison Figures

These figures are all very interesting etc, but what would be really useful would be a set of figures to compare against for bog-standard, £1/GB, sticks so you can see what you're getting for your extra dosh.

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Anonymous Coward

Used to own a Lexar Lightning...

I used to think they were a great drive, too. They're quite speedy.

The problem is, the rubber-gasket that holds the kit together ages and hardens. As it does, the drive starts to come apart. It may take a year, maybe a little more, but it's inevitable. When it happens to the drive's cap, you'll need to order another one.

The SanDisk Cruzer Titanium (which unfortunately wasn't reviewed) doesn't have a rubber seam, but still has a lovely crush-resistant metal case. No cap to lose either. I started using them, and have been much happier.

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pfft....

I bought the SUPER TALENT Pico_C 8GB Flash Drive from NewEgg last year. Smallest one I've seen, and no problems attached to my my keyring being banged around all the time.

Seems to come in very close to 2nd place.

They just came out with a 32GB, waiting for NE to stock one in gold for a change.

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Unhappy

No OCZ drives?

My OCZ ATV 4GB is fast and sturdy; Been around the washing machine more times than I care to remember.

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Megaphone

Generic sticks?

Another vote for testing a generic flash drive against the expensive ones, it's always nice to see the comparison.

(Although I've not seen any USB sticks being given out as freebies for a while now)

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Are any removeable from your keychain?

As an IT consultant I frequently have to connect my flash drive to people's computers and (so far) I only need my one 'master' drive. I must be the only person who cares about this, but I carry my drive on my keychain and don't want to have to leave my keys hanging on someone's computer so I only buy drives that disconnect from their lanyard/attachment. I originally used the Lexar Jumpdrive Sport, now I use the Lexar Firefly.

P.S. I second (third?) the idea of including a generic flash drive for comparison. How much extra performance do these expensive drives really gain you?

P.P.S. I know my Firefly drive is really slow, but it's CONVENIENT.

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FAIL

Not meaningful test --- MicroSD with USB reader wins speed test

I have a few of the tested USB drives, including the Corsair. The fastest USB stick I have is actually a microSD reader w/ 8 GB speed grade 4 microSD. I presume other microSD would perform the same if not better.

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