32 Gigs On a Stick

USB drives just keep getting cheaper. Soon, we’ll be seeing them as Cracker Jack prizes or surprises in cereal boxes. A few months ago, a 32 GB drive sold for more than $300: now you can get that capacity for close to $100 from many retailers, and within a few more months prices will have dropped yet again, making larger drives more affordable. We looked at four of the roomiest drives on the market—all 32 GB—from Patriot, OCZ (two of them), and Kanguru and found that all offer solid performance, and prices currently less than $130.

Why bother with such large-capacity flash drives, other than geek bragging rights? You may have to backup and restore a collection of files that doesn’t easily fit on a DVD, or you may want to carry your computing environment with you using a virtual environment. Or, maybe you just are a veritable pack rat, and can’t part with your music, videos, and photos that can quickly add up to many gigabytes. Whatever the reason, you are in luck, because more and more vendors are making these larger flash drives, and most of them are solid performers, too.

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  • JonathanDeane
    Hmmm 32GB's I think I would shove as many tools as I could on it and use it as a constantly updated boot disk, since most PC's can boot from USB these days. I think there is a repair version of Linux that would work awesome with this. Could do double duty as a portable environment and as a repair tool :)
  • waffle911
    Geek Squad might be able to use these instead of the folio of disks they typically carry around to on-site jobs.
  • Anonymous
    Thanks for the review I was looking to purchase one of these and was a bit lost.
  • JonathanDeane
    nick naylorThanks for the review I was looking to purchase one of these and was a bit lost.

    I like the speed testing done, with a drive that large speed becomes an issue lol
  • Tomsguiderachel
    CashWho does these reviews? No mention of formatting or speed testing with the drives in various formats. Another 'fluff' article...more wasted space imo. Yeah to Tom for 6 more pages worth of ad income.

    Hi Cash,
    Other than the XP/Vista/Vista with ReadyBoost, what other speed tests do you think would be useful to most consumers? Thanks for your feedback.

    Rachel, Editor of Tom's Guide
  • Mr_Man
    Good article for the most part... but why is the system so old? For XP I guess it's ok, but Windows Vista would be hampered under that system. Also, why different hard drives for XP and Vista? That's not really representative of the difference between the two.
  • Jonam
    @ Cash & TomsGuideRachel

    i think for mainstream users the format is going to be a mute point. very rarely are you going to find users that format these beyond default settings, Cluster size and filesystem. and as to NTFS and FAT VS FAT32 is unlikely to be a huge factor. but it shoulda maybe made its way into this article. It may also have been bennifical to see if play around with cluster sizes. just to see preformance benifits. But like cash said likely more important to advertise these days than provide geek folk with the down and dirty of every little detail.... lol :)
  • thepeganator
    Says 512kb of ram on page 1, pic missing on page 5 (at least for me).

    Where are the number in a table for final results?

    We need something easy to read, not tiny pics that pop up in horrible windows, at least link to the original picture for gods sake!
  • thepeganator
    thepeganatorSays 512kb of ram on page 1

    Page 3 even.
  • anticommon
    I have that same computer... except the top version, and not the 2.8ghz version....
  • rhunsic
    the OCZ's and Patriot have limited lifetime warranties
    where as the Kanguru only has a 2 year warranty
    just something else to consider
  • coteau
    I think for mainstream users the format is going to be a mute point. .....and as to NTFS and FAT VS FAT32 is unlikely to be a huge factor - Jonam

    Yes. I guess most mainstream user don't really care about the format till they can't fit large files or large directories onto the stick. I, on the other hand, was a little disappointed when I bought a Transcend 8GB a few years back only to find out I couldn't fit all my tech apps into one directory because of Fat32. I did know Fat32 limited file size but didn't know it limited folder size. The Transcend did have the cool capless/sliding usb design which I liked. Some people don't like the capless saying sometimes things in their pockets get stuck in the usb connection (like lint)and is more susceptible to moisture. I always have my 8gb loaded with tech apps and almost always on me and have never had trouble with the capless design. The speed is not top on my list of concerns. My main goal is to have a very portable data storage solution. USB 2.5" hard drives have gotten really good lately between power and capacity. I can not use the 2.5" drives as a total solution because I can not leave them in my vehicle. I live in the deep south and temps in July are almost 100 not taking into account the heat build up in a closed in vehicle. Back in the day I used to leave some 3.5" drives in 5" USB cases in my vehicle without any noticable ill effects. But, it was hard to tell because most of them were Craptors....errr.. Maxtors. Maxtor at the time had some very serious reliability problems not long before Seagate bought them.
  • Codesmith
    I recently purchased a thumb drive and my chief concern ended up being durability. These devices get put on key rings, shoved in and out of pockets, sat on, crushed when you lift something .....

    I have never broken one, but I know a few people who have. I'd hate to lose 32 GB all at once like that.

    So I ended up going with the one by Corsair which comes in a threaded waterproof aluminum tube.
  • tekzor
    I stay away from drives bigger then 2GB. I ve had almost all my USB drives stop working on me. Maybe its just bad luck, I don't know... Using a 1GB drive given to me for free and it has yet to break! USB drives are too sensitive at the interface or something. Be careful lol!
  • jeverson
    I would have like to have seen these compared as portable boot drives running various OSs like PenDriveLinux, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Knoppix, or even Windows. It would have been interesting to see how each performed. I am an IT professional and love that these high capacity flash drives are not only available but very affordable now. These kinds of devices are perfect for creating a nice portable operating environment with lots of preloaded support tools. Now we don't have to carry around CD wallets full of apps and tools. So if you aren't already considering, could you please do an article on this? Thanks.
  • joebob2000
    I also feel that this article is light on benchmarks. Not that the provided marks aren't good, they would suit most readers very well. However; as there are many tech savvy readers here there are a few more that would be nice. File system comparisons (FAT vs NTFS vs EXT3 maybe?) and file size comparisons (which will tie into the previous) such as 100MB in 1000 files vs 100MB in one file. This allows you to demonstrate the versatility of the drive, not just the readyboost performance (Readyboost is, IMO, a joke to any savvy person since they will no doubt either have plenty of RAM for Vista, or will have stuck with XP.) Hope this helps!
  • jtimouri
    What I find on the durability issue is the only times I have damaged a usb key is when they were sticking out of a laptop or desktop case and I accidently hit the key hard, bending the usb male part severely. So rubber or aluminum case would not have helped.