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Given wide price range, pick USB storage based on needs

USB 3.0 technology is, theoretically, 10 times faster than its predecessor version, USB 2.0. But there’s a wide variety in quality among the devices on offer, reports German computer magazine Chip.

The magazine tested 60 devices, including USB sticks, SSD hard drives and 2.5- and 3.5-inch hard drives. The price range was large.

USB sticks and SSD drives were five to 10 times more expensive per gigabyte (GB) than normal hard drives. Thus, it’s important to make sure you’re picking the right device for the job at hand.

USB sticks can achieve high speeds, but some versions aren’t up to USB 3.0 standards. The worst ones were three to four times slower than the fastest, showed the test. They are best used for transferring fixed amounts of data between various locations and computers.

Sticks using USB 2.0 connections tend to be more problem-free, but also slower. They also get disproportionately expensive with capacities of 64 GB or more. If portability isn’t an issue, opt for an external USB 3.0 housing paired with an SSD drive. These tend to be faster and cheaper than high-end sticks holding 256 to 512 GB, which can cost more than 700 euros (913 dollars).

Hard drives measuring 2.5 inches are more compact, but better designed as a backup or expansion, both for laptops and PCs. They can have capacities of up to 1 terabyte (1 TB = 1,000 GB). They might not always be as fast as other options, but USB 3.0 options compare well to built-in hard drives.

The smaller external drives also get all the power they need via the USB cable. But USB 3.0 devices might not always work with older USB 2.0 connections.

Those planning to store large amounts of pictures and music will probably need a 3.5-inch drive with its own power plug. These can offer up to 4 TB of space and can always work with an older USB 2.0 connection. They also tend to be twice as fast as 2.5-inch devices.

The truly adventurous might also want to consider making their own external USB devices, using old drives removed after the internal drive was replaced with an SSD version. Be sure the leftover internal housing is configured properly for the new SSD device. But usually, purchasing makes more sense. (dpa)