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Group test: what's the best USB hard drive?

The best thumb drives and external hard drives that connect with USB

PC Advisor reviews the best USB drives you can buy in the UK today.

5. Silicon Power Armor A70 500GB

Silicon Power Armor A70 500GB
  • Reviewed on: 1 November 10
  • RRP: £81 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

The Silicon Power Armor A70 500GB portable hard drive offers a reasonably worry-free level of ruggedness. On the flip side, it doesn't look great, or offer data transfer speeds that break the USB 2.0 barrier, so only buy this if you think the price is justified by the ruggedised chassis and security features.

4. Freecom Hard Drive XS

Freecom Hard Drive XS
  • Reviewed on: 20 December 10
  • RRP: £65.93 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

We like the Freecom Hard Drive XS. The only real letdown is the password-protection feature, which over multiple attempts failed to recognise the drive in order to complete the setup. As a backup solution or working hard drive, this unassumingly stylish product would otherwise suit most people, although you are paying slightly more for the slimmed-down design.

3. Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0

Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0
  • Reviewed on: 13 January 11
  • RRP: £123.25 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

Compared to USB 2.0 flash drives, the Kingston DT Ultimate 3.0 64GB is a fast storage device – well over twice the speed of the best that USB 2.0 has to offer, in fact. This speed is particularly welcome for the larger capacity thumb drives that are becoming popular, such as the 64GB unit we tested. It could be even faster though, much faster in fact, given the combined potential of flash and USB 3.0; maybe we’ll have to wait for the next generation of such devices to truly tap into those possibilities. Beware of the DT Ultimate 3.0's unit’s physical size – if you’re in a tight spot and are trying to squeeze the drive between other USB 3.0 ports, you’ll need to find a new USB 3.0 extension cable if you don’t want to downgrade performance to USB 2.0 speeds.

2. Lok-It

Lok-It
  • Reviewed on: 22 December 10
  • RRP: From $68 (around £44)
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

All-in-all, the Lok-It is a great, secure pocket drive, and more affordable than the aforementioned Imation Defender F200. AES 256-bit hardware encryption and keypad PIN entry nix software vulnerabilities with this secure flash drive.

1. Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive
  • Reviewed on: 12 January 11
  • RRP: £139.78 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive is a fantastically versatile storage system. It allows an investment in compact and portable hard drives up to huge capacities, that can then be easily connected to any computer with a USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire or eSATA connector. No other hard drive manufacturer has devised a system so simple yet effective. We hope to test the network adaptor kit in a later review. In our tests, the 1.5TB version of the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive had incredibly quick performance, nigh-on 100MBps with USB 3.0, and it was also one of the fastest FireWire 800 drives we’ve tested too. This drive comes heartily recommended.

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