Friday, July 23, 2010

Patriot Xporter XT 16 GB USB Flash Drive

For the past couple of years I've had a Microcenter house brand 8 GB USB flash drive on my keychain. It's handy for keeping a backup of my most critical data with me at all times, as well as keeping installers for various Windows programs easily available.

I noticed over the weekend that the drive was starting to act a little flaky. A couple of times when I had it connected to my MacBook Pro when it dismounted itself. This might be a sign that it's dying.

I've wanted a USB drive with a bit more capacity and with faster read and write speeds, so this gave me an excuse to get something new. So, I ordered a Patriot Xporter XT Boost 16 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive PEF16GUSB. It's $42.99 with free shipping from Amazon, and there's a $15 mail-in rebate if you order by 7/31/10. The final price will be about the same as what I paid for the 8 gig Microcenter drive a couple of years ago.

The drive is encased in a soft rubber outer shell with the cap made of the same material. The packaging claims that it's water resistant. We'll see how durable it is. I expect it to show some wear after awhile since I carry it around in my pocket.

Without taking any scientific measurements, it's obvious that the Patriot's read/write speeds are faster than my old 8 GB Microcenter drive or a Kingston 8 GB drive I have at work. After getting the Patriot I booted my MSI Wind into Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Remix and used it to turn the Patriot into a bootable UNR install drive. I then booted the netbook off the Patriot and performance was a bit snappier than when I'd done so using the Kingston drive.

I didn't really want to keep the Patriot as an Ubuntu disk, so I rebooted the Wind into Windows 7 Home Ultimate and did a quick format. (I did this in Win7 because I wanted to ensure that the drive would remain readable in Windows. Since reformatting the aforementioned Kingston as FAT32 in OS X and Linux, I've had problems reading it in a couple Windows boxes.)

With the Patriot once again blank, I stuck it in my MacBook Pro and copied over the same stuff I keep on the Microcenter drive, plus the 4 GB TrueCrypt volume in which I keep my private data. The data transfer went smoothly, much faster than with the Microcenter drive.

My initial impression of the Patriot Xporter 16 GB USB drive is quite favorable. My one area of concern is the keyring loop molded into the rubber casing. I carry my USB stick on an A&P Mechanic's keyring from Countycomm, and I can see this wearing through the loop. To minimize wear, rather than attaching the Patriot directly to the keyring, I attached it with a cable tie.

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