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6 Best USB Flash Drives to Use for Portable Linux in 2021

Are you on the lookout for a USB flash drive to run portable Linux distributions but can’t figure out what drive to buy? We can help! Follow along with this list as we go over the 6 best USB flash drives to use for portable Linux!

Buying a USB flash drive for Linux

If you plan to run an operating system from a USB flash drive, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind: input/output speeds. With high input/output speeds, you’ll be able to get the full Linux experience without any performance slow-downs. Menu animations and performance won’t be hindered, and you’ll have a great user experience.

On the other hand, if you have a USB flash drive with low input/output speeds, the Linux experience will still be useful but limited in performance due to slow speeds.

For the best Linux experience, get a USB flash drive with incredible input/output speeds. If you can’t, try to determine if your budget USB flash drive is compatible with USB 3.0 to increase performance.

Best USB flash drives to run portable Linux

Picking the best USB flash drive to run a portable Linux distribution on is challenging, as there are thousands and thousands of USB flash drives on the market today.

That’s why we’ve created a concise, simple list that can help you make an educated purchase. Here are our picks!

1. SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive

If you’re looking for the perfect USB flash drive to run a portable Linux operating system on, the SanDisk Ultra Fit 3.1 should be your first choice.

It’s a compact, high-speed USB flash drive with incredibly fast input/output speeds (read up to 130 Mbps/write 15X faster than USB 2.0) and large storage space, too, with sizes starting at 16 GB going all the way up to 512 GB.

Aside from the technical specs, the SanDisk Ultra Fit is also pretty stylish. Design-wise, the Ultra Fit is a “nano” sized flash drive. It won’t take up too much space and stays out of your way.


  • The slim design of the device makes it easier to carry around and transport.
  • It has a lanyard hook that can be used to add to a lanyard necklace.
  • Incredibly fast read/write speeds up to 15X faster than USB 2.0.


  • The small design may make the device easy to lose.

2. SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

The SanDisk Cruzer USB 2.0 flash drive is probably the world’s most used flash drive. It’s not hard to see why, with its excellent retractable USB design and decent input/output performance speeds despite being USB 2.0 rather than USB 3.0 or newer.

While not as performant as other Sandisk offerings, the Cruzer is a reliable USB flash drive, as it offers up decent storage sizes at an affordable price from as small as 16 GB to as big as 256 GB. It will handle running a portable Linux operating system with ease; you can be sure of that. 


  • Offers up a massive amount of storage.
  • Is forward compatible with USB 3.0 ports.
  • Very affordable price tag.


  • It is a USB 2.0 device that may not perform as well as 3.0 devices.

3. Samsung BAR Plus USB 3.1 Flash Drive

Samsung is known for their flashy product design. The Samsung BAR Plus USB 3.1 Flash Drive is no different. It’s an elegant, metal USB stick with a port on one end and a lanyard hookup on the other.

The device comes in either silver metal or grey metal and supports storage sizes from 32 GB to 256 GB.

Style isn’t the only thing the Samsung BAR Plus has going for it, though. The specs are quite impressive, and it can deliver an impressive 300 MB per second input/output, perfect for running a portable Linux distro.


  • It is a USB 3.1 device offering up blistering input/output speeds of up to 300 Mpbs.
  • Has a lanyard hook for lanyard necklaces.
  • Offers a large amount of storage space.


  • It is shaped weird and may feel pointy in your pocket.

4. PNY Turbo

The PNY Turbo is a USB 3.0 spin on the classic PNY covered flash drive. It comes in a gray plastic housing and has a protective cover for the USB port. The device is impressive speed-wise and supports input/output speeds up to 10x faster than a USB 2.0 flash drive and storage space of up to 256 GB.

PNY Turbo, while not as flashy as the Samsung USB flash drives or as slim as the SanDisk fit drives, still fit its niche by being a sensibly designed, useful device that can deliver a tremendous portable Linux experience.


  • It has a plastic USB hood cover to keep the dirt out of the device, as well as a lanyard hook.
  • Offers up a decent amount of storage space.
  • Fast USB 3.0 input/output speeds up to 10x faster than USB 2.0 drives.


  • The plastic hood cover can come off.

5. SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB Flash Drive

The Sandisk Cruzer Fit is a more affordable alternative to the SanDisk Ultra Fit 3.1. It shares a similar, ultra-portable design yet is considerably more accessible to the consumer as it is not a USB 3.1 device but 2.0. It also doesn’t offer nearly as large in the way of storage, with the largest model offering 64 GB in storage space instead of 512 GB.

While the Cruzer Fit is not a USB 3.1 device, it still is an excellent flash drive to pick up for those on a budget, and it’ll deliver a great portable Linux experience.


  • The incredibly slim design makes it ultra-portable.
  • It has a very affordable price tag with adequate storage.
  • Upward compatible with USB 3.0 ports.


  • Is a USB 2.0 device.

6. HP v150w USB 2.0 Flash Drive 

HP is a computer manufacturer and isn’t well known in the USB flash drive industry. Still, they managed to make a pretty fantastic, affordable USB 2.0 flash drive in the v150w.

The v150w USB 2.0 flash drive is an excellent little device, and it comes in sizes of 16 GB to 128 GB. It’s input/output speed is as expected for a 2.0 drive and will work in both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.

If you’re tight on cash and need a good, dependable USB flash drive to run Linux on, give this one a go.


  • Very affordable for consumers on a tight budget with a variety of storage choices.
  • Upward compatible with USB 3.0 ports.


  • Bulky design.
  • Is a USB 2.0 device.


In this list, we covered the 6 best USB flash drives to use for portable Linux distributions.

However, there are way more than 6 flash drives on the market. So, tell us, what is your go-to USB flash drive to use for portable Linux distributions?

1 Comment

  1. Until about a year ago the sandisk ultrafit was a fantastic choice. Ones made recently very often won’t boot at all and can only be used for storage. Apparently they have changed the controller to keep the prices down and due to shortages.

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