Which size USB flash drive?

The type and size of the USB flash drive you need depends on what you are planning to do with it.  If you need something portable to move office documents between computers, and simple 4GB USB Flash Drive will do the trick.

If the plan is to do something more advanced such as backup your entire music library or photographs, chances are you will need something bigger.

Your planned usage will also help decide between sticking with a USB Flash Drive and an External Hard Drive:

USB Pen Drive or “Stick” – a pocket sized, decent capacity and speed with added bonus of portability. They do tend to be easier to lose and its game over when they go though the wash cycle in your jeans pocket.
External Hard Drive – a hard drive of various scope and specification inside a snazzy case. Usually far greater in capacity, much faster data transfer, but more expensive and less portable.


USB Flash Drives

USB flash drives are the smallest and easiest way to store and transfer your files and data. USB flash drives can only be referred to as thumb drives, thumb sticks and jump drives.  While USB flash drives range in physical size, they are typically a few centimeters long, but models that are just a few mm in size are becoming increasingly more available.

Before purchasing a USB flash drive, you should consider what type of data you plan on storing and how much there is of it.  With USB flash drives being so inexpensive, there is little price difference between a 16GB and a 64GB drive.  There are a whole world of features available such as password protection, encryption, there are even USB drives designed to destroy your (or someone else’s) computer!

USB Flash Drive Sizes

So you have decided that its a USB flash drive you need. The thing you need to decide is how much space do you need?  Due to the low cost of USB flash drives it is well worth opting for more space then you need, rather than get caught short and having multiple USB flash drives to manage.

Capacity Music (minutes) Photographs Documents Full Movies
8GB 2,000+ 800+ 200,000+ 1,000+
16GB 4,000+ 1,500+ 400,000+ 2,000+
32GB 9,000+ 3,000+ 800,000+ 4,000+
64GB 18,000+ 25,000+ 1,000,000+ 9,000+
128GB 37,000+ 50,000+ 3,000,000+ 18,000+
256GB 74,000+ 100,000+ 6,000,000+ 36,000+


Unless you have an absolute specific requirement for something smaller, an 8GB USB flash drive would generally be your starting point. With this amount of storage you should be in a position to store all your work or school documents with ease, along with a some software, a fair number of movies and your favorite top ten albums. An 8GB USB flash drive would be enough for your average business, home and student user.


A 16GB USB flash drive is a lot of storage for your average user. This kind of capacity would be ideal for a hobbyist photographer, or a avid music fan. With this amount of storage you can store and transfer thousands minutes of music between computers. 16GB of space is perfect for someone who needs to hold or transfer large chunks of data.


32GB is an enormous amount of space. Things are getting pretty serious! With a 32GB USB flash drive you can hold several full length movies, literally thousands of songs and photographs. 32GB of space is enough to store several software programs, applications and installers.


With a 64GB USB flash drive you can hold and transfer an incredible amount of data. At this kind of capacity you are getting into the realms of backing up your entire computer or laptop. With this capacity you can store thousands of hours of music, over 20,0000 photographs and millions of documents. At 64GB and above you are edging into the professional end and are either someone with a professional requirement, someone who shares an awful lot of music or movies, or you just bought it because you blumin’ well can!  Either way, I haven’t even got one this big!


OK! This is getting silly now, who are you?
A 256GB USB flash drive is designed for users who need to transfer a colossal amount of media and files. While you could start storing professional media such as 4K pre-production video on a USB flash drive of this capacity, you just would not have the performance required. If you do have a need for a 256GB USB flash drive, you must either be a show off, or a secret agent, or both – and I am Jealous!

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