Best Flash Drive for Mac

Transferring files is a rather mundane but important task that everyone performs as they work on collaborative projects or change their workstation between different machines. Something we often lament is how slow file transfer can be when you are trying to send medium-sized or larger files.

For instance, if you wanted to send a 4-minute-long video clip from your phone to your family member, how would you do it? Social media? Most of them don’t allow files of that size to be transferred. Email? You might be able to do it with some services, but it will take up to an hour at the least and even then it might still be unsuccessful.

Sometimes the most reliable way to transfer a file between multiple machines is to simply walk it there yourself. If that is the solution you want to use, then you’ll need a good flash drive to make it happen. Mac users will be pleased to know that we have compiled a list of best flash drive for Mac so that no matter what you will have the best USB thumb drive for Mac that you can have for your specific situation.

Quick Summary

The best USB C flash drive for Mac is based on what you need the flash drive to accomplish, so we’ve categorized each flash drive by the task it is best for.

Best for USB type C: SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C Flash Drive

This flash drive is capable of connecting with both USB type C and normal USB ports, which makes it a very versatile option for transferring between multiple types of devices.

Best for security: SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

This flash drive for Macbook pro/air comes with encryption baked right into its software so you can rest assured that even if someone gets access to your drive, they won’t be able to get anything off of it that you don’t want them to.

Best for upgrading machines: Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive

The Digital DataTraveler SE9 is compatible with several older Windows operating systems, so it is a great choice if you want to upgrade to a newer mac computer but you don’t want to lose important files from your old computer.

How We Picked the Best Flash Drive for Mac?

There are a lot of factors that go into answering the question of “what is the best flash drive for mac?” To make the problem simpler we’ll have to break it down into smaller pieces. What is important for the best USB C flash drive for Macbook pro/air to have?

Likelihood Of Failure

 We think the most important thing to consider is how likely the drive is to fail at its task. If you purchase a flash drive for Macbook air and put important files on it, then it fails on you, it isn’t worth the money you paid for it, is it?

Your Intended Uses

After that, the most important thing to take into consideration is what exactly you need the USB drive for. If you are regularly going to be transferring extremely large video files, then you will need a really big storage capacity.

Travel Convenience

If you want to be able to always have the USB drive for Macbook pro with you at all times, you might want one that can be attached to a string or chain. If you are storing important files that you don’t want to be accessed, like in the case of working on intellectual property, you might want a small one that is easily hidden when not in use.

These different factors need to be considered when making your purchase and the answers and how much value is placed on each property will be different depending on who is doing the purchasing, so ultimately the answer of which is the best usb thumb drive for mac will be entirely on your shoulders. Thankfully, we can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Best Flash Drive for Mac: Our Picks in 2020

1. SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C Flash Drive

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C Flash Drive

The Ultra Dual Drive from SanDisk is a very versatile little workhorse that is great for a Mac. It comes in a variety of different storage capacities from 16GB to 256GB so it should be able to handle a massive amount of file storage if you need it to, or even transfer large batches of files if you have, say, 100 4-minute-long phone videos.

It is capable of connecting with your typical USB port while also having connectivity for USB Type C so you won’t have any issues connecting to any Mac computer or tablet. One of the more important features that may be overlooked by some is that this flash drive can retract its connectivity ports so that they aren’t damaged.

We highly value this feature because we know that there’s nothing quite like spending an entire day working on a project, transferring it from your Mac to your flash drive, and then fumbling it as you get up to leave and seeing that the end is snapped off when you pick it up. You won’t have to worry about that with this drive because it has a very simple thumb switch that you can use to pull the connectors into the case and protect them from harm.

It isn’t all storage capacity and safety features though; it also performs exceptionally well with a Mac computer. It can transfer files extremely quickly. It supports a transfer speed of up to 150 megabytes per second. This means that at its top speed, you could transfer enough files to fill the 256GB storage capacity in a little bit more than 28 minutes. You might experience slightly slower speeds depending on how powerful your Mac is, but if it is powerful enough to take full advantage of this USB’s potential then this USB can work very speedily. It is our first pick while you choose the best flash drive for Mac.

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What We Like:

  • Versatile uses
  • Handles a large amount of storage
  • Retractable connectivity ports

What We Dislike:

  • The USB tends to get hot during large transfers
  • Write speed is not fast

2. Samsung BAR Plus USB 3.1 Flash Drive

Samsung BAR Plus USB 3.1 Flash Drive

The BAR Plus from Samsung is another best USB thumb drive for Mac. It has fewer storage options than the previous drive, but it makes up for that with its even faster transfer speeds, durability, convenience, and aesthetic.

The drive itself is rather small and it has a slot built into the frame so that you can store it on a keychain or attach it to a chain to prevent theft. This makes it very convenient to carry around and have on hand at all times. The potential transfer speeds it can reach are twice as fast as the SanDisk option and it can match the maximum storage capacity.

It is designed to withstand many different types of possible damage including water, electrical surges, extreme heat or cold, and magnetic fields. This makes for a very durable and safe way to store your files while transferring or if you just need a place to put them that isn’t on your computer.

It is a USB 3.1 device which means it is compatible with all standard USB ports, but that is the only connector it has. This means you will have a difficult time using it to transfer files from mobile devices, but it should work excellently as a flash drive for Macbook pro.

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What We Like:

  • Fast transfer speeds
  • Water, electric, magnetic, and temperature-resistant
  • Has a high maximum storage capacity  

What We Dislike:

  • Fewer storage options that other choices

3. PNY Turbo 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive

PNY Turbo 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive

The Turbo USB 3.0 Flash Drive from PNY has an interesting design. It is the best USB C flash drive for Mac which comes with a safety feature built into the case. Most of the time when you see safety features for protecting the connector, they involve having the connector retract into the case, but with the Turbo from PNY, the case extends to cover the USB connector. We found this to be quite novel and it serves quite well as a distraction for fidgety hands while focusing on collaborative work.

This flash drive has a storage capacity of 128GB, about half of the previous options, but you can get it in a 256GB option. It also has a convenient loop that has been integrated into the back of the case so that it can be attached to things for secure storage which is especially handy.

It uses a USB 3.0 connector which means compatibility shouldn’t be an issue and it should serve just fine as a flash drive for Macbook air/pro. The maximum transfer speed of this flash drive is fairly high at approximately 120MG per second, but unfortunately, it is a bit inconsistent about maintaining that speed. When using this USB for transferring files you may notice the speed spiking and falling quite a bit so your speeds will likely be different every time you transfer files.

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What We Like:

  • Case extends to protect USB connector
  • 128GB storage capacity, 256GB option too
  • Great storage solution with the loop for attachment

What We Dislike:

  • Lower storage capacity than others
  • Inconsistent transfer speeds

4. SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

It is the best USB thumb drive for Mac which comes with encryption software! If you are worried about the security of your files and hiding your flash drive or keeping it on you at all times isn’t enough, you can password protect it using AES encryption.

It also implements the standard retractable connector safety precaution so there is no need to be concerned about damaging the connector when not in use. It does not have a loop on the back for easy transport, but it is small and lightweight so it could conceivably fit in a pocket or back without issue.

It uses a USB 2.0 connector, so it should be compatible with all USB 2.0 ports and it might even be compatible with USB 3.0 ports, though it won’t be able to take advantage of the faster file transfer speeds you get with those types of ports.

It comes in 5 different storage capacity sizes ranging from 16GB to 256GB. The encryption software used with this device is a major security advantage, but it is also sometimes the source of a fatal flaw with some models of this USB flash drive. In some cases, it has been reported that the flash drive will enter “write protect mode” which will cause the flash drive to cease functioning. We have never personally seen this happen, but it is something to keep in mind when considering a best flash drive for Mac.

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What We Like:

  • Contains encryption software
  • Has a retractable connector
  • Multiple storage capacity options to choose from

What We Dislike:

  • Has no loop for attachment when traveling
  • Has been know to stop working and enter write protect mode

5. Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive

Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive

The Digital DataTraveler SE9 from Kingston is a fantastic choice for working with older systems. As the best flash drive for Mac it has compatibility with both mac and older Windows systems as well, so if you need to transfer files from one of your older Windows machines to your new Macbook pro/air this may be the USB C flash drive for you.

It is a very simple design that considers convenience. The back of the case extends into a large loop, so traveling with this USB drive for Macbook pro or air should be safe and secure. It does not come with any extra pieces or clips or anything to get in your way, which we certainly appreciate. The entire flash drive is one cohesive unit that provides stability and durability that a multi-segmented flash drive wouldn’t be able to match without some kind of retracting mechanic.

Unfortunately, this USB thumb comes in a much smaller storage capacity, maxing out at 32GB, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing considering its intended purpose. If you are transferring files from older machines to newer ones then you are likely dealing with file sizes much smaller than something you would commonly find today, so it shouldn’t be an issue if the drive is smaller than usual.

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What We Like:

  • Works with Macs and older Windows systems
  • Compact and fits in your pocket easily
  • One cohesive unit that is more resistant to damage

What We Dislike:

  • Has a small storage capacity
  • Transfer speeds are not ideal

Useful Tips & Resources

Flash drives are a great option for transferring files and a lot of times they are a better option than digital transfers unless you are dealing with very long distances. That said, they might not be the best option for backing up large quantities of data regularly as you will soon find yourself managing an absolute mountain of different flash drives and one mistake with organization and you suddenly won’t know what each flash drive contains and will have a lot of work ahead of you to figure it out.

In this case, you may want to consider using an external hard drive, which is kind of like a really big flash drive. Another option is cloud storage. Cloud storage isn’t a great option for file transferring in most cases because truly large quantities of data will take a long time to upload and download from the cloud, especially if you live in a location with low-speed internet services as the only option. But, if you are simply making a regular backup of data, then the transfer speed isn’t much of an issue and what you are looking for is a safe way to store your data. In that case, a cloud storage service might not be a bad idea.

Conclusion

Any one of these options would be a great choice if you are looking for a best flash drive for Mac to save your work on and bring to another machine. They should all be fully compatible with your Macbook device and a lot of them are also compatible with Windows and Android devices so you can transfer files between them if you have to. Of all of them, the Ultra Dual Drive from SanDisk is the only one with a USB type C port which, by default, makes it the best USB c Flash Drive for macbook pro on the list, but it is also a strong contender for best USB c flash drive for Mac in general as it comes with a large amount of versatility and convenience.

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