Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Welcome to ReviewBox Brasil. Today's subject is: pen drive, a useful device for different purposes: storing photos, videos and music, saving documents, movies, series episodes and presentations for college or work. Besides the basic functions you can use the pen drive to optimize your computer's memory, adapt it to work as an access key to your notebook, encrypt it with passwords, among other functions. This accessory is compact, lightweight, practical and safe to use. You can find models with different memory capacities: 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 156 gigabytes and even models with a 1 terabyte file limit. In this complete buying guide you will learn everything you need to know to choose the ideal flash drive for you.




Summary

  • The pen drive may have USB 2.0 or 3.0 reading and data transmission technology. The 3.0 model is multitasking (it copies and sends files at the same time) and fast.
  • You can find models with smaller memory capacity: from one to four gigabytes or higher models with 16, 32, 64 or 128GB.
  • Some brands are reference in the market when it comes to pen drives, such as Kingston, SanDisk and Multilaser.

The Best Pen Drive: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Nowadays there is not a person who does not have a pen drive on their desk or in their backpack, this is due to the fact that this device is cheap, easy to use and very useful for saving various types of files.

Imagem de um pen drive conectado a um notebook.

The pen drive is a quality external memory device, easy to carry and low cost. (Source: Brina Blum / Unsplash)

What is a flash drive and where to use it?

The flash drive, also known as USB Memory Flash, is a mobile file storage unit that emerged around the 2000s and is popular to this day, so much so that it is hard to know anyone who does not have at least one flash drive. This device is portable in use, so you can carry it anywhere and connect it to computers, Smart TVs, radio stereo, video game or any other device with a USB input.

The flash drive is a device that lasts a long time, so much so that some models even have a five-year warranty.

Access to the information stored on the flash drive is easy, just plug the device into the USB port, open it and access the saved files. The flash drive behaves like a hard drive.

Imagem de quatro modelos de pen drive de diferentes marcas.

There are pen drives in different formats, sizes and capacities. (Source: Jackmac34 / Pixabay)

There are models so portable that you can, through a micro USB input (USB- OTG cable), connect it to smartphones and have access to the files of the pen drive in the palm of your hands. If you're going to use it in environments with a large number of people, such as in college or at work, it's a good idea to buy a password-protected model, which makes it impossible to access the data without the code. Thus, you do not run the risk of having personal information leaked. Check now the main advantages and disadvantages of the pen drive:

Advantages
  • Compact device, light and easy to carry
  • Memory capacity ranges from 1GB to 1 TB
  • Long useful life: up to 10 years
  • There are two types of USB 2.0 and 3.0 cable, the latter being quite fast in data transfer
Disadvantages
  • If you lose your pen drive you may have your personal files leaked
  • Pen drives with USB 2.0 technology only perform one activity at a time

What capacity flash drive is right for me?

Flash drive models vary because of several factors. One of them is the memory capacity, which ranges from 1 GB to 128 GB. See which models are the most suitable according to the use you will make of them:

  • 8GB Pen Drive: If compared to other models, it seems that the 8GB pen drive has little memory, but this is a mistake because this model is capable of storing 2 thousand 4MB photos, 400 videos or 2 thousand songs of about three minutes each.
  • 16 GB flash drive: flash drives with this memory capacity can store movies and series episodes as well. It can be used to save about eight feature films or about 32 hours of videos.
  • 32 GB pen drive: This device has the capacity to save more than 9,000 photos, 8,000 songs or up to 64 hours of videos. For those who like to save seasons of series or collections of artists is a good choice.
  • 64 GB pen drive: With the 64 GB pen drive you can load more than 168 hours of movies or up to 16 thousand songs. It is a great option for travel, when it is not always possible to have an Internet connection.
  • 128 GB pen drive: 128 GB pen drives are surprising, as they are almost an external HD in capacity, maintaining the differential of being a small, lightweight and portable device. With it, it is possible to store everything that is inside the PC.

There are models with even larger capacities, of 156 GB, 512 GB or even 1 TB, but they are rarer to find. In addition to the pen drive, there are other external memory devices such as memory card, SSD card and external HD.

Imagem mostra diferentes tipos de dispositivos de memória externa: disquete, CD, pen drives, cartões de memória e HDs externos.

External memory devices are always evolving. (Source: Tookapic / Pixabay)

What is the difference between flash drive, memory card, SSD and HD?

Many people ask themselves this question when they are about to buy a flash drive. Although they all have the function of storage, they meet different needs. About the pen drive we have already talked, to make sure you need one, we will briefly explain what is the memory card, the SSD and the external HD, then we will compare all of them. That way you can make your decision.

Memory Card

There are several types of memory cards, for cameras, camcorders, computers and mobile phones. Examples of memory cards are the miniSD, microSD and SD Card models, which differ in memory capacity and size. The memory card has the advantage of being very affordable when compared to other external memory devices.

  • MiniSD measures 11 by 15 millimetres and is a model widely used in mobile phones and tablets.
  • The microSD measures 20 by 21.5 mm and is also used in portable devices such as smartphones. It can be placed in a computer using an adapter.
  • The SD card is the largest of the memory card models, measuring 24 by 32 mm and is a model used only in computers and notebooks.

Imagem de um HD externo, nano pen drive e três cartões de memória.

There are three types of memory cards: miniSD, microSD and SD Card, each model is suitable for a certain type of device. (Source: Pixabay / Pexels)

The speed that each model receives and transfers files such as photos, videos and music varies from one model to another. Regarding memory capacity, these devices can be SDHC and store from 4 GB up to 32 GB or SDXC which has a larger capacity of 64 GB up to 2 TB.

Solid- State Drivers (SSD)

The SSD is an external memory device much like an external hard drive. It works with flash memory (the same as a pen drive) but has high performance because it has higher transfer rates and low latency. In short, the SSD is 10 times faster than a hard drive. This model, in addition to being fast, can store up to 1TB of files in memory. This model is also small (it fits in a trousers pocket), but it is larger than the SD Card and a pen drive.

External HD

Compared to the other models listed, the external hard drive is the largest, both on the outside and the internal memory capacity. It is less portable than the memory card or the various models of pen drives. The storage of this device ranges from 500GB to 4TB, just to give you an idea the capacity of an external HD is greater than more than two computers with the capacity limit. For this reason, the external hard drive is also the most expensive option. It is worth analyzing if you will really need so much space or if it is an exaggeration to buy such a device. We have prepared a table comparing the main features of all the different external memory devices. Check it out:

Pen drive Memory card SSD External HD
Sizes Various sizes. There is a pen drive model in nano size There are 3 sizes: micro, mini and the largest is the SD Card which measures 24 by 32 mm It fits in the pocket, but is larger than the pen drive and SD card The external HD is the largest external memory device, but is portable
Memory capacity Common models range from 1 to 128GB. But there are options up to 1TB SDHC models store from 4 to 32GB. SDXC models have a capacity of 64GB to 2TB Capacity up to 1TB Model with higher memory capacity. Varies from 500GB to 4TB
Type of device indicated Any device with USB or Mini USB input Cell phones, cameras, camcorders and notebooks External memory for notebooks External memory for notebooks
Design There are several sizes, styles and colours of pen drives Ultra-thin and small, hence the name "card" It's very similar to the external hard drive, but it's smaller Similar to a little black box with USB cable connected
Prices From $ 20 to $ 600 From $ 10 to $ 3700 From $ 130 to $ 6800 From $ 140 to $ 7700

Shopping criteria: Comparing flash drive models

Those who think that the flash drive is only for storing photos, videos, music and text documents are mistaken. This device is quite versatile, so much so that it can be used for other various functions. And the models can be very different from each other, either in the technology used for reading, storage and data transfer, additional features or even the external part of the piece. When buying a flash drive pay attention to the following criteria:

  • Functions
  • Which one to choose: USB 2.0 or 3.0?
  • Dual pen drive
  • Security
  • Extra features
  • Size and design

Now we will explain item by item, so you are not left with any doubt and can choose a flash drive that best meets your needs.

Functions

The flash drive has many other functions besides saving files from different media and formats. With it, you can create a true media library with digital books, record collections, favourite films and series and much more. They can also be used in various other functions such as increasing the processing speed of the PC memory, serve as a key to access the machine, get on the Internet, keep your data safe, among others.

Imagem de vários dispositivos de pen drive.

The pen drive has other functions apart from storing files. (Source: EsaRiutta / Pixabay)

You can use the flash drive to backup your documents in a simple and quick way. This is an alternative to backing up to sites like Dropbox and Google Drive, which use an internet connection to work. You can also program the flash drive to act as an access key to your computer. By unplugging the device, the PC has the mouse and keyboard commands locked, preventing anyone from using the machine. You can also use the pen drive to access the Internet. Just copy the information from your wireless network to pre-program the access, so you don't need to configure each machine with the internet data. You can also use the device to increase the processing speed of the computer's RAM memory, fighting slowness. To use this feature you need to program the USB stick using the eBoostr program.

Imagem de uma placa de memória RAM.

The flash drive can be used to improve the processing speed of the computer's RAM memory, making the machine faster. (Source: TobiasD / Pixabay)

You can also use the flash drive to update your computer's operating system. You can install Windows 10 (Microsoft's newest version) for free.

You can even format your PC with the help of a flash drive device.

You can also use the flash drive to load the programs you use every day, in case you access a machine without them and/or or are without internet access to use the online versions. You can load text editors, presentation software, spreadsheet software, PDF readers, file compressors and antivirus software. All have portable versions (less heavy files). Check out some little-known Pen Drive functions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcVcGHcXr4A

Which one to choose: USB 2.0 or 3.0?

The USB 2.0 and 3.0 models have the same connector structure, but the 3.0 model has the part in blue colour to differentiate the other model. It is interesting that both have the same structure, as this makes them compatible. Because of compatibility, the user can use USB 3.0 cable in USB 2.0 input (or the other way around). Of course, to use the full power of USB 3.0 is necessary to use the flash drive in a compatible input.

USB 2.0

The flash drive with USB 2.0 technology appeared in the 2000s and is used until today. In this model, the data transfer rate is 23 MB for reading and 5 MB to write files and it has a speed of 480 MB per second. This model sends and receives data from the devices, but performs these activities separately, ie when is sending files he does not receive and vice versa.

Imagem de um pen drive comum.

The pen drive with USB 2.0 connector has a speed of 480 MB/s. (Source: skeeze/ Pixabay)

USB 3.0

USB 3.0 technology emerged in 2009 as an enhanced version of the previous one. The difference between these models is that version 3.0 provides 4.8 GB of speed, which allows data transfer 10 times faster. The most interesting thing is that the version 3.0 is full-duplex, ie USB 3.0 is able to transmit and receive data simultaneously with great speed and quality. There are pen drive models with both technologies. Check out a table comparing the main features of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 cables and see the differences and similarities between these models:

USB 2.0 USB 3.0
Speed 480 Mb/s 4.8 GB/s
Transfer time In 10 minutes transfers 288,000 Mb In 10 minutes transfers 2,949,000 Mb
Connector Regular USB USB with internal band in blue
Electric current 500 milliampere 900 milliampere

Dual Pen Drive

The dual pen drive, as the name implies has dual function: it can be connected through the USB port to be plugged into computers, stereos and Smart TVs. The other input is the mini USB, used to connect the device to tablets and smartphones and access the pen drive content directly from the mobile phone screen without the need for adapters.

Imagem de um dispositivo com entrada USB e mini USB.

The dual USB flash drive has common USB input on one side and mini USB on the other. (Source: Erkan Utu / Pexels)

With it, you can backup mobile phone data directly to the flash drive device. This way, you can free up storage space on your phone without having to delete the documents. The best thing is that you can access these files again by mobile phone, just plug the flash drive and access them, without the need to make transfer.

To use the dual pen drive is important that your smartphone is compatible with USB OTG technology (On The Go), because it is responsible for the connection between devices.

The dual pen drive serves as extra storage for your device, with it you can save all your files in one place, eliminating the use of other media. In addition, this type of pen drive is so practical that you will not need to download any application to transfer your files from one device to another, just drag them as well as on the PC. There is also the OTG adapter to connect the pen drive, a mouse or even a video game console to the mobile phone.

Security

Not everyone knows, but there are pen drive models that can be encrypted to keep your data safe. To use it you will need to set a password to access the files and you will need to enter it before opening the folders on the computer. To encrypt your flash drive you will need to purchase a device with this feature, you will also need to set it up from your computer using specialised software such as BitLocker.

Extra features

Some flash drive models are so modern that they have some unbelievable features. There is a waterproof model, which can withstand up to 100 metres of water without damaging the contents. Check all the extra specifications of the flash drive and consider whether they will really be useful, otherwise you will just be paying more for something that in practice will not even use.

Size and design

Most flash drive models have the shape and size similar to a lighter. But today, there are some smaller models, even in nano size that has the same dimensions of a penny.

Imagem de um pen drive com caixa de madeira.

Nowadays you can find pen drives with very different designs, like this one that has the exterior made of wood. (Source: Kaboompics.com / Pexels)

Today it is common to see models of flash drives that bet on differentiated design. There are versions with themed characters like The Simpsons, Minions of My Evil Favorite, Star Wars characters, and so on. Some models are coated with materials other than plastic, such as wood, acrylic, metal, rubber, among others. Others are hidden in spectacle straps or bracelets. (Fonte da imagem destacada: Analogicus / Pixabay)

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