Four 1TB USB Flash Drives Tested: Is It Time to Upgrade?

USB flash drives have been ubiquitous for nearly two decades now, as they’ve remained the go-to option for anyone who needs local, portable access to important files. They’re still sold everywhere (including chain drug stores, usually at heavily inflated prices), despite companies like DropBox, Google and Microsoft making cloud storage a convenient and often free alternative (depending on capacity).

For many, local storage that you can carry around in your pocket or on your keychain is still a better option–and faster if you don’t have a fast internet connection on every device you use. You may also need a USB flash drive to do a clean install of Windows 11, especially if you want to bypass Windows 11’s TPM requirement. Plus, a good flash drive can be shockingly tough to kill. Over the years, I’ve had flash drives frequently go through the wash while hiding in a pocket and keep working as if I weren’t so careless. I even drove over one once with my car while in college and it faithfully offered up all the papers I was working on, despite a cracked and partially crushed outer shell. 

But because these drives often seem to work forever, and tech companies are always hard at work increasing speed and capacity, you could be hanging on to a drive that’s pitifully slow by today’s standards, and too cramped to hold all the things you might want to store on it.

To get a sense of the high-end flash drive market here in late 2021, we collected four recent flash drives that promise speeds in excess of 500 MBps. These drives also sport capacities that could scarcely be dreamed of back when flash drives first became common. All four drives we’re looking at below offer 1TB of storage, although in true storage fashion, you can find these drives in lesser capacities as well.