Best USB sticks for work and play

Whether it's because you like the pretty design or because you need its superior functions, these are USB drives you do not want to lend to your mates.

Michelle Starr
1 of 12 Mimoco


Mimoco made a name for itself with its Mimobots -- cutesy pop culture characters on a USB. If you're after something basic, or a gift for someone with a pop culture soft spot, these will fit the bill. They come with preinstalled wallpapers and desktop icons starring the character, and they're a cute way to celebrate your fandom. They come in capacities from 2GB to 64GB, and run USB 2.0. They do have one major design drawback, though: a lack of a lanyard loop. You can browse the selection on Mimoco's website.

2 of 12 Victorinox

Swiss Army USB

The beautiful thing about the Swiss Army USB is not so much the USB itself -- running USB 2.0 with read/write speeds of 23/30 MB/s respectively -- but the fact that it's included on a Swiss Army Knife. It also includes a small knife, a nail file, a screwdriver, scissors, tweezers, a ballpoint pen and a key loop -- for a single item, it's a very handy little piece of kit indeed.

You can check it out on the Victorinox website, and use the store locator to find a retailer near you.

3 of 12 Cufflinks.com

R2D2 USB cufflinks

At an asking price of $200 for just 4GB, what you're buying with the R2D2 USB cufflinks isn't so much the USB part as the R2D2 cufflink part. Officially licensed by Lucasfilm, the cufflinks are plated in silver and decorated with enamel and can be engraved on the back with a personalised message.

4 of 12 Oriko

Oriko Drive

If you have a search around the web, you'll find a plethora of USB bracelets -- a pretty handy way to carry around your files. We particularly like the Oriko Drive, a stylish leather bracelet equipped with a USB. The beauty of it is that it's customisable -- you can insert a micro SD card into the back, and the bracelet acts as a card reader.

5 of 12 Artype Design

Artype Design USBs

If you're looking for a USB that doubles as an objet d'art, it doesn't get much more special than the work of Rob Smith of Artype Design. He hand-creates one-of-a-kind custom USB cases out of wood, metal and decorative watch parts. However, they do take him quite a bit of time, and he doesn't make many, so getting your hands on one isn't easy. You can sign up to his mailing list by sending him a message on Etsy.

6 of 12 Databrick

Lego USB

This is such a cute little idea; after all, who doesn't like Lego? Stefan Reiling of Databrick modifies real Lego bricks, so that they have actual USBs inside. This very simple model is a 2x4 brick holding the USB, with a 2x2 brick as a cap, and a tag so that you can attach it to a keychain. The USB inside ranges from 4GB to 32GB on USB 3.0. The rest of Reiling's shop has some more elaborate options, including USB minifigs and minifig keychains if the brick is too plain for your taste.

7 of 12 IronKey

IronKey Personal S250 and D250

If security is your thing, you're going to want some encryption on that business. The IronKey personal drive uses several tiers of security to keep your data safely locked down. Data is encrypted using 256-bit AES cipher-block chained mode and 2048-bit RSA, and hashed in 256-bit SHA. You can only unlock it using an authorised password. It's a little on the slow side, using USB 2.0, with read/write speeds of 31/24 MB/s for the S250 and 29/13 MB/s for the D250, but the security level might be worth the trade-off.

8 of 12 SanDisk

SanDisk Extreme

Speed, on the other hand, can be found in the SanDisk Extreme. Compatible with USB 3.0, it's a zippy little device, with read speeds up to 245 MB/s. Write speed is, of course, lower, and varies according to the capacity; for the 64GB model, it's 190MB/s.

9 of 12 Lexar

Lexar JumpDrive P10

Lexar's JumpDrive P10 is even faster than the SanDisk Extreme -- at least on paper. It claims read/write speeds of 265/245 MB/s for the 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models (the 16GB model is a little slower), which is among the fastest on the market. Beneath its glossy chassis, it's cased in strong metal alloy, and the connector is retractable to keep it safe without having to worry about losing the cap.

10 of 12 LaCie

LaCie RuggedKey 3.0

For those who knock about a bit, you'll want something that can withstand a few bumps. This is the LaCie RuggedKey, a USB drive slotted into a rugged case that's water resistant, heat and cold resistant and drop resistant to 100 metres. It uses 256-bit AES encryption with password protection to keep your data safe, and is compatible with USB 3.0, with a maximum read speed of 150 MB/s. It's available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models.

11 of 12 Corsair

Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth

The Flash Survivor Stealth from Corsair takes rugged to the next level, housing the USB in an anodised, aircraft-grade aluminium case that's vibration resistant, shock resistant and fully waterproof to 200 metres. With USB 3.0, it has read/write speeds of 85/70 MB/s, and is available in capacities from 16GB to 256GB.

12 of 12 Toshiba

Toshiba Duo USB 3.0

If you're transferring files between devices, there's another option that doesn't involve taking out your phone's micro SD card. Relatively new to the market are USB + micro USB drives, with a USB connecter on one side and a micro USB connecter on the other, so that you can access your data from multiple devices. If the Toshiba Duo is too small for you -- it's pretty tiny physically -- Sony and Imation have similar products on the market.

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