7 Best DJ USB Sticks in 2020

The wonderful world of USB flash drives is deceitfully modest! The best DJ USB sticks aren’t too difficult to determine but there are tons of options.

The most important thing, though? Choosing a USB flash drive with known reliability.

NameRead/Write SpeedStorageSize 
Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth55 MB/s - 26.3 MB/s32 or 64 GB7.5 x 1.8 x 5.4 inchesPRICING
SanDisk Cruzer Force CZ7119.9 MB/s - 3.98 MB/s*32 GB (other sizes available)1.4 x 0.3 x 0.5 inchesPRICING
SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ4386.5 MB/s - 24.7 MB/s*32, 64 or 128GB0.8 x 0.6 x 0.4 inchesPRICING
Kingston Data Traveller SE918.8 MB/ - 6.83 MB/s*16GB - 128 GB1.5 x 0.2 x 0.4 inchesPRICING
Patriot Supersonic Mega380 MB/s - 70 MB/s*512GB3.3 x 2.1 x 1.7 inchesPRICING
Samsung 32GB BAR260 MB/s - 50 MB/s*32 to 128GB1.57 x 0.48 x 0.43 inchesPRICING
SanDisk Ultra Flash Drive150 MB/s - 30 MB/s
16 to 256GB1.7 x 0.6 x 0.5 inchesPRICING

It’s actually pretty common for a USB drive to fail mid-set leaving you with no tunes, just the dreaded ‘emergency loop’ function on your CDJ.

This situation is pretty catastrophic – it’s best to eliminate the prime culprit, the USB stick. With that in mind, here are some of our favorites and DJs’ top picks.

1.Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth: USB 3.0

Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth

This USB stick is built for durability. It’s shock and vibration resistant and is waterproof to 200m. That makes it great for travelling or outside performance at festivals, out in the woodlands, down the park, at the beach, up a mountain..wherever you go this USB will go with you reliably and faithfully.

User Measured Speed:

  • Read = 55 MB/s
  • Write = 26.3 MB/s

Storage: 32 or 64 GB
Size: 7.5 x 1.8 x 5.4 inches
Material: Solid anodized aircraft-grade aluminium

2.SanDisk Cruzer Force CZ71: USB 2.0

SanDisk Cruzer Force CZ71

SanDisk are one of the original USB drive manufacturers and they’ve created tons of various USB drives at reasonable price points. This drive isn’t their cheapest but it’s extremely reliable. Its all-metal housing protects it from knocks and drops but more importantly, from overheating.

User Measured Speed:

  • Read = 19.9 MB/s
  • Write = 3.98 MB/s*

Storage: 32 GB (other sizes available)
Size: 1.4 x 0.3 x 0.5 inches
Material: Metal

3.SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43: USB 3.0

This tiny USB drive is cheap and powerful but above than anything else, it’s extremely small. To be fair, it’s probably too small. Don’t lose it in a haystack! However, this tiny USB stick represents some pretty awesome value. There have been some reports that it gets pretty hot but not that it breaks as a result, which is obviously a positive.

User Measured Speed:

  • Read = 86.5 MB/s
  • Write = 24.7 MB/s*

Storage: 32, 64 or 128GB
Size: 0.8 x 0.6 x 0.4 inches
Material: Plastic

4.Kingston Data Traveller SE9: USB 2.0

Kingston Data Traveller SE9

This Kingston stick is simple but powerful for the price. It’s USB 2.0 but that’s fine – it’s very cheap and is made from durable and heat proof metal. If you’re looking for a low cost USB or simply a back up, look no further.

User Measured Speed:

  • Read = 18.8 MB/
  • Write = 6.83 MB/s*

Storage: 16GB – 128 GB
Size: 1.5 x 0.2 x 0.4 inches
Material: Metal

5.Patriot Supersonic Mega: USB 3.1

Patriot Supersonic Mega USB Flash Drive

If you’re looking for massive capacities then 512GB should do the trick, right? After all, that is almost 100,000 MP3 music files. Also featuring USB 3.1, an increment up from 3.0, this stick is capable of some dizzying read and write speeds. Ok, so this USB stick costs a fair bit and you wouldn’t want to lose it but it should carry your library with easily, and maybe the libraries of several of your friends too! Also, this stick is clearly built well from zinc, even if it is expensive.

User Measured Speed:

  • Read = 380 MB/s
  • Write = 70 MB/s*

Storage: 512GB
Size: 3.3 x 2.1 x 1.7 inches
Material: Zinc

6.Samsung 32GB BAR: USB 3.0

Samsung 32GB BAR

Samsung usually manufacture expensive memory products but to be fair to them, this is reasonably priced. It looks stylish in its metal housing and Samsung claim that it’s proofed to 5 different causes of environmental damage: water, magnetism, x-rays, heat and shock. It’s tested to an operating temperature of 60 degrees celsius – it would be a real hazard if a dancefloor reached that temperature!

User Measured Speed:

  • Read = 260 MB/s
  • Write = 50 MB/s*

Storage: 32 to 128GB
Size: 1.57 x 0.48 x 0.43 inches

Material: Metal

7.SanDisk Ultra 64 GB Dual Type-C USB 3.0 Flash Drive: USB 3.0

SanDisk Ultra 64 GB

Apple are famous for switching round and experimenting with different ports and they recently stopped using as many conventional USB ports in favor of the more slimline type-c shaped port. There’s no real technical differences – just the size and shape of the connector.

If you’re using your drive for both CDJs and Macs with Serato DJ or similar then you’ll either need to load your drive onto two different drives or get one of these. This SanDisk USB drive contains the conventional USB port with a type-c port for Macs. Currently, Macs do have at least one normal USB socket but it’s not really enough and they might lose them completely at some point.

User Measured Speed:

  • Read = 150 MB/s
  • Write = 30 MB/s

Storage: 16 to 256GB
Size: 1.7 x 0.6 x 0.5 inches

Material: Plastic

Why Do I Need a USB Drive?

Storage – USB drives store music in a convenient and portable format. They’re cheaper and more portable than hard drives, allowing for the easy transportation of massive libraries. A few years go, you’d need a harddrive to store a big collection of music but now, USB drives up to 256GB aren’t just affordable – they’re cheap!

For CDJs – For DJs that use CDJs, USB drives carry your RekordBox libraries and playlists. You organise your playlist in RekordBox, save cue points, etc, and then export it to a USB flash drive for playback on CDJs – when you insert your USB there’s no analysing required.

For other DJ Software – If you’re using a Serato, Traktor or RekordBox DJ setup then you might not be able use your own laptop, you may instead be expected to plug right in to a laptop already connected to the setup. In this circumstance, you need your USB library on you.

In summary, you can’t be a DJ without a good USB drive – it’s just not a thing..!

Why do USB Flash Drives Fail?

It is possible for a USB drive to just randomly crash or suffer from a hardware or file malfunction. This would be pretty rare as USB flash drives tend to be pretty durable since they’re a form of solid state memory – they have no moving or mechanical parts.

A more likely cause for USB drive failure is overheating. This is a greater risk in a hot room or DJ booth, or in bright and direct sunshine in hotter countries in particular. In most situations, a USB drive can take even extreme levels of heat but with continued use over long periods of time, this can become an issue.

The Issue of Overheating: Which is better? Plastic or Metal?

If we’re trying to pick a USB which doesn’t overheat then it’s important to ask which material is better for the job.

Metal: Metal USB sticks are good conductors of heat. When you touch a metal USB stick it may feel extremely hot, sometimes even too hot to handle for more than a couple of seconds. Fortunately, for the internal components, this is a good thing. Metal conducts the heat away from the inside of the USB and to the outside, where it can escape to the air. This is why most heat-sinks, designed specifically for this job, are metal.

Plastic: Overall, plastic is a better material for USB sticks but when it comes to heat protection, metal performs more favourably. Plastic does absorb shock better, it’s more resistant to wear and it’s easier to mold to more ergonomic shapes. Some plastics, however, aren’t so good when it comes to whicking heat away from the inside of a USB stick.

USB 3.0, Does it Matter?

Not yet. USB 3.0 is much, much faster than USB 2.0 carrying read and write speeds far in excess of 100mb/s compared to just 10mb/s or so. The truth is, USB 2.0 is fast enough for DJ purposes anyway, even when dealing with FLAC or WAV. The only catch is that USB 2.0 makes analysing new tracks pretty slow if they’re large files – always RekordBox your tracks before you perform.

As it stands, Pioneer CDJs including the latest Nexus 2000 can’t actually read USB 3.0. That doesn’t mean that USB 3.0 stick won’t work, it just means that they lend no advantage for use with CDJs. This is bound to change with the next Pioneer releases, though.

However, when you’re transferring your library to your USB then providing you have a USB 3.0 port on your laptop or PC, tunes will copy over far, far quicker using USB 3.0.

Conclusion

The USB sticks here all deliver quality at affordable prices. The differences are slight and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. USB drive tech is pretty refined now and you can expect a reliable level of performance across the board.

Given that the Samsung stick is heat tested, that does give it a slight advantage on the other sticks. The stick here most prone to heat issues is the Ultra Fit by SanDisk. It’s small size probably makes it ineffective at dispersing heat efficiently. Whatever you choose, make sure you grab enough memory for your collection and keep your USB safe!

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