Can I use an ultra-fast USB stick instead of an SSD to boost my laptop’s storage?

SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive
(Image credit: WD)

When you get a laptop, always get one with an SSD and not an internal hard drive – that would be our advice. Laptops with SSDs run a lot faster, handle virtual memory much better and use less power.

But this has two downsides. SSDs are much more expensive than hard drives, so to keep the cost manageable you usually have to compromise on a smaller capacity.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ModelTypeCapacityRead/write speed
Transcend StoreJet 25M3Hard drive1-2TB122/122 MB/s
WD My PassportHard drive1-5TB114/114 MB/s
G-Technology ArmorATD All-Terrain DriveHard drive1-4TB128/124 MB/s
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2SSD250GB-2TB693/496 MB/s
WD My Passport SSD (NVMe)SSD500GB-2TB538/364 MB/s
OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3SSD480GB-4TB612/278 MB/s
SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.2 Solid State Flash DriveUSB stick128GB-1TB420/380 MB/s
PNY PRO Elite 3.0USB stick32-256GB400/250 MB/s
Kingston DataTraveler 80 USB Flash DriveUSB stick32MB-256GB200/60 MB/s

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at