Sure, we have cloud services now, but that doesn’t mean flash drives are obsolete. USB flash drives are easy to transport, typically inexpensive, and are helpful on those days when you need to transfer files offline — no login required.
It's easy to find a 16GB flash drive with USB 3.0 for under $10 or, if speed is less important, a 32GB USB 2.0 model. To help you find the best USB flash drive under $10, we tested several popular models and rated them based on their performance and design. Below, you'll find them ranked from best to worst.
How we tested
We used our File Transfer test, which copies 4.97GB of mixed media files, from PC to USB Flash Drive, and Flash Drive to PC. We ran our tests on each flash drive three times on a Surface Book with Performance Base, and averaged the scores.
Lexar JumpDrive M20 16GB Mobile USB 3.0 Flash Drive (4.5 stars)
Actual Capacity: 14.8GBRead Speed: 106.0 MBpsWrite Speed:15.3 MBpsFormatted for: Windows/Mac (FAT32) Micron’s Lexar JumpDrive M20 is our top choice because it provides a retractable micro USB 2.0 and a standard USB 3.0 male plug all-in-one, making it easier than ever to transfer files between micro USB compatible mobile devices and computers. In our tests, the JumpDrive M20 read files at 106.0 MBps and wrote at15.3 MBps, outperforming all the other USB flash drives on this list. The Lexar JumpDrive M20 may not be flashy in appearance with its plain white casing and blue plastic accents, but Micron makes up for this with helpful features. A nice size built-in key ring helps prevent loss, and its ability to work with phones, tablets and PCs is a huge plus. Credit: Micron
SanDisk Ultra Flair USB 3.0 16GB Flash Drive ( 4 stars)
Capacity (Advertised / Actual): 16GB / 14.3GB Read Speed: 94.3 MBps Write Speed:9.1 MBps Formatted for: Windows/Mac (FAT32) The SanDisk Ultra Flair is a smaller alternative for users who want swiftness and simplicity. The Ultra Flair’s silver metal body is durable and stylish, while a roomy, black plastic key ring provides a sturdy hold. There’s no cap for the male USB plug to keep out dust or other grime, , but it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker for the price. Aside from its good looks, the Ultra Flair is a fairly quick USB flash drive. In our tests, the Ultra Flair read files at an impressive 94.3 MBps and wrote at 9.1 MBps. The Ultra Flair also comes with password protection and encryption software through SanDisk SecureAccess. The Ultra Flair also provides the RescuePro Deluxe app for retrieving deleted files. Credit: SanDisk
ADATA 16GB S102 Pro Advanced USB 3.0 Flash Drive ( 3.5 stars)
Capacity (Advertised / Actual): 16GB / 14.4GB Read Speed: 77.1 MBps Write Speed:10.9 MBps Formatted for: Windows/Mac (FAT32) Adata’s Elite S102 Pro is a conveniently designed USB flash drive with a snap-on cap that connects to the drive’s back so you won't lose it when it's off. Available in sleek titanium blue and gray, this aluminum flash drive offers decent performance, returning rates of 77.1 MBps on our read test and 10.9 MBps on our write test. Adata also provides a lifetime warranty for the Elite S102 Pro and a few free software downloads. UFDtoGO is a disk utility that compresses your files or lets you use the drive as an unlock key for your Windows PC. OStoGO lets you turn your USB drive into an installer for Windows. Credit: Adata
SanDisk Cruzer Blade 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (2.5 stars)
Capacity (Advertised / Actual): 32GB / 29.3GB Read Speed: 30.5 MBps Write Speed:5.1 MBps Formatted for: Windows/Mac (FAT32) The SanDisk Cruzer Blade is a USB flash drive that packs a lot of storage in a small body. With an exterior made from sturdy red-and-black plastic, the Cruzer Blade is durable enough to be thrown in a bag with little worry, even without a cap. There’s also a small key ring that adds to this flash drive’s portability. For a flash drive that has the slower USB 2.0 interface, the Cruzer Blade provided decent performance that rivaled some of the USB 3.0 flash drives on this list. In our test, the Cruzer Blade’s read speeds were 30.5 MBps and its write speeds were 5.1 MBps. Credit: SanDisk
Kingston Digital 16GB Data Traveler USB 3.0 USB Flash Drive ( 2 stars)
Capacity (Advertised / Actual): 16GB / 14.4GB Read Speed: 34.4 MBps Write Speed:4.3 MBps Formatted for: Windows/Mac (FAT32) Kingston’s DataTraveler is a plainly designed USB 3.0 flash drive made of sturdy plastic. With a crisp white casing and cap, the DataTraveler isn’t much to look at, but its convenient blue key ring adds a pop of color and usefulness. The key ring doubles as a snap-on cap holder to prevent loss while the flash drive is in use. However, the DataTraveler provides underwhelming performance. In our tests, the DataTraveler read files at 34.4 MBps and wrote at a sluggish 4.3 MBps. These numbers were surprising from a flash drive optimized for USB 3.0. Credit: Kingston
SanDisk Sdcz43-016g-a46 Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive ( 1.5 stars)
Capacity (Advertised / Actual): 16GB / 14.5GB Read Speed: 18.3 MBps Write Speed:4.6 MBps Formatted for: Windows/Mac (FAT32) The SanDisk Ultra Fit is a flash drive that’s aptly named. Measuring 0.75 x 0.63 x 0.35inches without its cap, the Ultra Fit is barely noticeable when plugged into a computer. Not having much real estate, the design is minimalistic, sporting only a metal male USB 3.0 plug and tiny black plastic base. In our tests, the Ultra Flair provided mediocre performance with read speeds of 18.3 MBps and write speeds of4.6 MBps. Being so small, the Ultra Flair can be easily lost. There’s a small metal loop at the base to remedy this problem, but it’s so narrow you can only thread a string through. It’s difficult to find something thin enough to fit, making this feature almost useless. However, the Ultra Fit secures itself digitally with SanDisk’s SecureAccess and RescuePro Deluxe software utilities. Credit: SanDisk
PNY 32GB Attaché USB 2.0 Flash Drive ( 1 star)
Capacity (Advertised / Actual): 32GB / 28.8GB Read Speed: 20.5 MBps Write Speed:2.6 MBps Formatted for: Windows/Mac (FAT32) The PNY Attaché looks nice and offers plenty of storage, but its overall performance leaves much to be desired. In our tests, the PNY Attaché earned last place based on read speeds of 20.5 MBps and write speeds of up to2.6 MBps. This is to be expected from a USB 2.0 flash drive, but with so many flash drives with faster transfer rates under $10, the Attaché doesn’t seem worth the wait. The Attaché is made of plastic and has an attractive, plain black design. However, there are faults in its sliding collar, which often jams midslide and requires more force than what should be necessary to access the male USB plug. There’s also an awkwardly placed key ring on the flash drive’s underside, making it difficult to connect to lanyards, key chains and backpacks. Credit: PNY
Image Credit: Shaun Lucas/ Laptop Mag