What are your favorite mini USB flash drives?

Hey everyone

What are your favorite USB flash drives which you use for OpenWRT or other embedded systems like RPi? Also, why do you like the drives you use?

While they often don't have the highest performance compared to other models, I like the tiny Sandisk Cruzer Fits. I have a couple of the SDCZ33-016G models and I'm here today running ddrescue on one of them which went into read-only mode. I've been writing log files to it for years, so I'm not too surprised it died like this.

The SDCZ33 models are kind of old now, and only USB2, but they have a nice little activity LED.

I also have a couple of the Sandisk SDCZ43-016G Ultra Fits. They are faster than the older model but they stick out a bit more.

I have a Patriot Tab drive model PSF16GTAB3USB, but it's super slow. Great metal package, but awful performance.

Today I'm going to buy a new PNY Elite-X Fit and a Samsung MUF-32AB/AM FIT to see how those go. These models didn't exist a few years ago when I bought drives for a bunch of OpenWRT systems I manage.

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The now unavailable SanDisk Extreme 3.0 units. 16 GB for booting distro images or recovery, 32 GB or 64 GB for speed. I can't confirm it, but it "feels" like they are built like an SSD.

https://usb.userbenchmark.com/ provides some useful, crowdsourced metrics. I typically look at random read/write performance.

Sandisk Cruzer (the "big" one, not the "Fit") 64GB

  • available since years
  • somewhat cheap, but no super cheapo chinese no-name product
  • not the fastest; speed is not relevant for my usecase

One of those recently died irrecoverably after approx. 3,75 years.
During this time, this drive has seen

  • approx. 12 million jpegs (approx 100kB/jpg) -> 1150GB
  • approx. 8200 mpgs (approx. 50MB/mpg) -> 400GB

This drive has done its job and is worth the money, IMHO.
Has been replaced by the same model 4 weeks ago.

I was searching around and just found the Verbatim Store 'n' Stay Nano USB flash drive. It's a bit older, kinda slow, but it's tiny.

Also found a tiny flat USB drive from DSLRKIT on Amazon, kind of like those YubiCo Nano keys. I think that's about as small as it's going to get. Performance is probably bad though.

The reason I focus on tiny drives is because I have a few of these devices that I send out to remote sites and the USB drive just stays in the port permanently. Having something that sticks out is just asking to have it broken off. Performance is usually not an issue, whereas reliability is a big issue.

But everyone has different needs, which is why I asked!

I've been considering getting a USB to NVME SSD adapter now that those exist, to use for testing an occasional file loading and migration. I need to look into that some day.

I wish there was some way to inspect health information on USB flash drives, but I am not aware of anything which exists for linux. I think there are some proprietary tools per-vendor, but the controllers are usually pretty opaque.

My drive was also about 3.5 years old. It had not seen too many writes though. I think it just gold old and being online and fairly hot all the time killed the silicon.

Had a bad experience with;

  1. SanDisk Cruzer Blade - poor circuitry / quality
  2. sandisk microsd - adapter over heats easily avoid

Maybe I got unlucky... but be careful with these... ^

Good experience with;

samsung blue plastic usb3 ( form factor ) - good quality
sandisk facet good ( form factor ) - suspect better quality
adata microsd ( cheap micro sd w 16GB - blue led almost too bright ) - pretty good for what it is...
sandisk fit ( tiny form factor - led ) - yet to really stress test it - suspect intermediate quality