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My company is ordering a large number of USB flash drives for promotional purposes as well as retail sales. We will be getting a sample of them shortly to test.

The previous lot that we had failed at an unacceptable rate (before I was involved). They failed in a number of different ways. Casing came apart. Failed to mount. Corrupted contents, etc.

I want to have a tool belt of sorts at the ready when the test shipment arrives. I've done some reading and have come up with a couple things...

  • H2testw is a program that tests the actual capacity of the drive in order to compare it to its advertised capcity.

  • Check Flash runs a few more tests, speed, block test, etc.

This site listed a few more with various states of free/pay.

Besides running these benchmarking tests, is there anything else -- longevity, durability, manufacturer's reputation, etc. -- that I can/should objectively test for?

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We have had a similar experience, and sadly with flash drives, we found you really get what you pay for.

We used a cheap off brand and found a lot of them were bad. When we moved Kingston drives we had a lot better luck but it cost a bit more.

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Just anecdotally better? or were you able to objectively measure anything. Or just fewer complaints :) – JoshP Jul 6 '12 at 17:55
No, we actually tested. I'm talking a couple thousand. We actually had a tech sit and plug 5 in to a USB hub and make sure they work before putting them in the promotional bags. With the offbrand we had of 500 over 70 of them had problems of some kind. With Kengston we had <10 for now probably over 2 thousand now. – Jeff F. Jul 6 '12 at 17:57
I see. Interesting, though perhaps not surprising :/ I kind of hope it doesn't come to that, because I'm afraid I'd be the "tech" lol – JoshP Jul 6 '12 at 18:05
@Josh Yep, our poor tech was tied up for days before our tech summit. I think by the end he had two USB hubs going:) – Jeff F. Jul 6 '12 at 18:09

Just a follow up (answer) to the original question...

In total we were give a lot of about 80 flash drives to test. I ended up using a program called HD Tune Pro. It seems to be a great little program, and the full featured 'Pro' version has a two week trial.

I primarily used the 'file benchmark' test, which writes, and then reads little files to a portion of the flash drive. I recorded an avg read and write for each drive. This would also flush out any permissions issues (I actually ran into a couple that were write protected... new). A few reported abnormally high speeds. Any drives that didn't just test smoothly were run through a couple more tests.

In the end, I had a spreadsheet with the read/write averages for the drives from different vendors, fail percentages, notes and screenshots of all the test results.

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