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Kingston launched the first commercially available 2TB USB flash drive last year, but if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll have to pay at least $1,400.

If that’s too rich for your blood, there’s a cheaper 1TB version that sells for “just $730.”

Today’s a slow news day, so I found myself scanning a few different web stores for new arrivals, and I came across a slightly more attractive alternative. The Corsair Voyager GTX 1TB USB 3.1 flash drive is smaller, cheaper, and faster than the Kingston drive.

But it’s still ridiculously expensive: Newegg is selling it for $511, and the best price I could find was at ShopBLT, which charges $457.

The Corsair drive offers read and write speeds up to 440 MB/S and measures about 3″ x 1″ x 0.4″.

Kingston’s drives have read speeds up to 300 MB/S and write speeds up to 200MB/s and they measure about 3″ x 1.1″ x 0.8″, which makes them rather chunky by flash drive standards.

My desk is littered with USB flash drives ranging in capacity from 512MB to 32GB, and honestly I rarely find I need much more than that to transfer files between devices or to load the files necessary to boot a PC from a flash drive.

I suppose a 1TB drive would be useful for transferring a lot more data in one go, or for serving as a secondary storage device on a PC… especially with read/write speeds that are faster than most hard drives and competitive with some SSDs.

But with prices still running $500 to $700 for a 1TB USB flash drive, I have to wonder if anyone’s actually buying these things.

I’m also not really sure why you’d want to.

For the most part, I think of USB hard drives and SSDs as backup devices, and flash drives as data transfer devices. On the one hand, I suppose high-capacity, high-speed models like those offered by Kingston and Corsair could change that. On the other, you can save an awful lot of money by purchasing a USB hard drive or SSD instead.

For example, you can pick up a Western Digital 2TB USB hard drive for under $70, or a Samsung 1TB USB SSD for $340. A company I’ve never heard of called VectoTech has a 2TB USB SSD for $399.

Sure, they’re bigger than a thumb drive. But you get just as much storage for a heck of a lot less money. And they’re less likely to fall out of your pocket or slip away into the couch cushions, never to be seen again.

Of course, this all might just be a chicken and egg (supply and demand) problem: if more people bought 1TB USB flash drives, that’d help bring the prices down. But as long as prices remain high, they’re unlikely to become top selling products.

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20 replies on “Does anybody actually buy $500 USB flash drives (even if they have 1TB or more?)”

  1. Generally I’d transfer anything big over the network. SSD to SSD with gigabit ethernet inbetween or maybe wifi. The trick is when we’re not on the same network or the internet connection’s too slow to use an external storage place. It’s happened to me once about a year and a half ago at a conference. We had a demo to show off and needed some specific software that happened to be on a virtual machine. My machine wasn’t playing ball with an external display but a coworker’s was, but then they didn’t have the software. The hotel wifi was completely dead with all the attendees so we ended up shuffling a 20GB VM from machine to machine. None of us has a 20GB USB drive of course but the VM was in 2GB chunks so it didn’t matter. Anyway it took a while but the transfer worked and we carried on as normal.

    Would I buy a 1TB USB drive as a result of the experience? Heck no. I’d maybe buy a drive that’s as big as the biggest single file or collection of files I’d want to transfer in a hurry, so 32GB these days.

  2. yes of course, companies with a lot of money, security requirements, military, power grids that have the storage need. Where i work for example (heavy, heavy security) the engineer takes a ~800GB data dump off of of a workstation every morning 24x7x365 via an software-encrypted USB. He then physically takes that usb drive and places it in a higher trust workstation that is on air-gapped lan segment. That workstation only allows to read from a USB using the same software-encryption software. It wont load any other USB drives. It is not the end all be off of security (stuxnet etc) but can be a lesser evil if you can support air-gapped lan’s.

  3. It’s the same price as an SSD with similar capacity. But while an SSD has DRAM, intelligent wear-leveling across many NAND, controller based compression and trim, an USB flashdrive has none of these. So the NAND will get worn down faster, while also performing slower than an SSD. With 2242-2280 sized SSDs coming in similar capacities and you can buy small external enclosures for them I see no point in buying a ridiculously high capacity expensive USB flashdrive over an SSD.

  4. Let’s face it, these memory sticks are for four sets of consumers (in order of quantity)

    1) Very wealthy people who always want the biggest/best/fastest thing available regardless of cost.
    2) Not so wealthy people who always want the biggest/best/fastest thing available even if they would have been better to buy something half-the-price that fit their needs perfectly or didn’t really need it at all.
    3) People less tech savvy who believe they need it (media hype, sales pressure, bad advice, etc), but only because they don’t really understand the options available to them.
    4) A vanishing few for whom these devices really fit the bill — you can almost always find some scenario, no matter how rare.

    Add them up, and slap on a big enough profit margin per device, and along with the additional sales of cheaper items in the same product line from the knock on effects of having the headlines blaring your biggest/best/fastest thing ever, it’s worth making and selling them.

  5. I’d rather get the mSATA or m.2 based external USB SSDs. From a practical point of view, USB is about as fast as using them through internal connections.

  6. I paid $90 for a 4gb thumb drive once, about 12 years ago. I’ve never paid that much since. Now I must have a dozen thumb drives ranging from 2gb to 16gb. No reason to buy any more, unless I find a cool looking novelty thumb drive. If I need 1tb of storage, I can get a Western Digital Passport external hard drive for $50. No need to spend more than $500 for only 1tb of storage. Another thing, no matter how fast the flash storage is, USB file transfers are just plain slow anyway.

    1. I like to buy flash drives that look like different things; ie, one shaped like a cow, one shaped like a Smart Fortwo, one shaped like a Mini Cooper, three shaped like the Minions, etc. 🙂

  7. 1TB uSD card. Swallow it before you go through U.S. Customs just in case the CBP/TSA Goons want to take all your data without a warrant.

  8. Moving large amounts of data between two locations can be faster through (air)mail than broadband. Flash drives would be lighter, more compact and more resilient in shipping and if it’s a back and forth sort of thing, easily earn themselves back.

  9. The 2TB drives are a serious premium but the 1TB flash sticks are in the ballpark with 2.5″ internal units. Yes you can find deals for a 1TB at $259 but there are several listed on NewEgg right now selling for more than $500. We live in interesting times. Everything is driving to small and cheap really fast. Too bad long term reliability stopped being a consideration because of it.

    1. Long-term reliability became pointless when technology was moving at brisk speed.

      Remember the mid-90’s? Terrible time to buy PC’s, unless you were rich.

      Things plateaud around 2011. And at that point it became all about superphones, and planned (software) obsolescence.

      1. To go along planned obsolescence, hardware is cheap enough that long-term reliability was forgotten about and “just buy another one when it breaks” became many brands’ only business model.

  10. It would be cool if a case allowed a PCIe3.0x4 slot to be accessed externally. Get a m.2 SSD with a metal heatsink and use it as an external drive. Screw USB speeds and latency. Hot plug (but sync and unmount before pulling it).

    1. yeah I just get a usb3 sata converter lead and use my old 2.5 SSD much quicker and much cheaper. what else can you do with the old 64Gb drives anyway?

    1. That’s always been my primary issue with external SSDs and flash drives. All of them seem to run way too hot, so I buy at the price break and expect them to be temporary devices. Otherwise you’re always having to baby the device by only copying a few gigs at a time, and at those sizes that’s a huge waste of time.

      1. “I buy at the price break”

        What does it mean? Help me learn this language!

        1. There is a knee bend in price vs performance. Buy under the knee. So maybe you don’t have 128GB of DDR4 4700 in a 16-core computer for checking facebook… You also have $14000 more in your bank account.

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