USB flash drives can work exceptionally well as a portable backup device for your files, or they can also be used as an easy way to transport digital data from place to place. They have not only become standard must-haves on back-to-school lists for students, but you can also see them dangling from the key chains of almost any type of user. (Note: It is not recommended, however, that you rely on USB flash drives as your sole backup source.)
The cost of flash drives can vary depending on capacity, speed, design and features. Here's a list of five high-performance ones that bring a lot of things to table (although a low price isn't always one of them).
Victorinox Swiss Army Flash Drives
Victorinox Swiss Army Flash Drives come in a wide range of configurations and an equally wide range of prices. You can get a drive that comes with the iconic flip-out knife and tiny scissors, or you can go with what's known as "flight friendly" and get one that's weapon-free. There are drives with laser pointers, drives with nail files, and drives with flashlights, many offered in a choice of colors (including that infamous Swiss Army red). If you need a drive that can serve more than just one purpose as it dangles from your keys, summon your inner Boy or Girl Scout for these.
LaCie Rugged USB Key
If you find yourself frequently dropping things from 100 meters in the air (sure, this happens), you should definitely take a look at the LaCie Rugged USB Key. Built like a mini tank (or perhaps a grenade), the drive itself is not only wicked tough, but it comes with a thick rubber case that makes it shockproof from super high heights. It also comes with USB 3.0 capabilities (find out more about that here), as well as AES 256-bit data encryption, password protection capabilities, one year of storage on the company's Wuala Cloud storage site, and a two-year warranty.
Transcend JetFlash V70
The JetFlash V70 from Transcend is in the company's "Rugged" line, and is said to be resistant to most of the element, including moisture, dust and shock. It comes in five colors (red, orange, blue, green a purple) and has a rubberized exterior and a leashed cap. Capacities range from 2GB to 32GB. No USB 3.0, but Amazon had them priced quite nicely at the time this was written (August 2012).
Super Talent Data Guardian
The Super Talent Data Guardian USB drives seems to offer everything you could want in portable data security. Tough materials? Check. The device eschews plastic for an aluminum enclosure. Password protection? Check. The company also swears that data will remain safe on the drive for 10 years. It comes in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB capacities and also brings USB 3.0 speeds and a five-year warranty with it. If you haven't made the leap to USB 3.0 yet, the Data Guardian also backward compatible with 2.0.
Sesame Street Video USB Drive Review
These drives are meant for children, obviously, and their wide rubber faces are designed with such durability in mind. These waterproof devices (droolers rejoice!) come in six of your favorite PBS characters -- Elmo, Ernie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover and Abby, as well as one with a Sesame Street sign design. Although the drives don't have the largest capacities (between just 1.3 and 1.5GB), each comes with its own preloaded video content, making them fun collectibles. Their only serious downside is that they're very wide, so plan on the drive occupying at least two USB ports' worth of space. An extender is available from the company.