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Lifewire / David Kukin
Fast transfer speeds
SecureAccess file encryption
Cheap-feeling plastic casing
Must purchase advanced features on SecureAccess
Transfer speeds capped when plugged into a USB hub
Though we’re not big fans of the plastic shell design, the SanDisk Extreme Pro has a lot going for it, including speedy USB 3.0 transfer speeds and optional file encryption software.
SanDisk is a big name in USB flash drives, most of which are designed with a retractable connector (and an enjoyably clicky lever that pops it in and out of the casing). The SanDisk Extreme Go USB Flash Drive has this same design.
But the most important feature for any flash drive is the read and write speeds. Although our tests hit a bit under the advertised transfer speeds, we still came away very satisfied with the SanDisk Extreme Go’s performance with USB 3.0, making it an easy flash drive to recommend for regular data transfer.
The SanDisk Extreme Go is encased in a bulky black plastic shell. The case feels hollow and cheap, almost like a toy that could be crushed just by squeezing it. At nearly three inches long, it’a almost twice the length of typical flash drives. A small key ring is included, though the drive’s large size precludes us from hooking it on to our car keys.
The top of the Extreme Go features a molded slider that extends and retracts the connector. It moves forward or backward with a satisfyingly loud click, and stays locked into its position (there’s a bit of give when slotting into a USB port, however).
While connected to a powered PC, a large blue LED light slowly blinks to indicate the USB drive is properly connected.
The SanDisk Extreme Go USB drive is built for USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB 3.0), but also supports USB 2.0 slots.
The drive and SecureAccess encryption software support Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, and Mac OS X (version 10.7 and up). SanDisk advertises the Extreme Go’s read speed up to 200 MB/s and write speed up to 150 MB/s.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro is ready to transfer files right out of the box, though we found its extra plastic packaging to be needlessly frustrating. With a default exFAT file system, you can instantly transfer larger files, like full-length HD movies, on both PC and Mac (X OS).
It took about twice as long to use the encryption software to transfer files.
The Extreme Pro also comes loaded with SanDisk’s SecureAccess file encryption software by ENC Security. Using the software is entirely optional and requires no installation or downloads for Windows PC (Mac X OS requires a few extra steps). After setting up a password, SecureAccess resembles any other Windows-based transfer program, letting you explore files and folders and drag-and-drop as needed.
The program was intuitive to use, though we were annoyed that folder sizes weren’t shown, only individual file sizes—even then, they displayed in KB instead of MB. SecureAccess supports 128-bit AES encryption with the option to purchase the full ENC DataPro license for $14.99. The paid features include more advanced encryption and automated file backup and synchronization.
Transfer speed benchmarking program Crystal Disk Mark provided sequential read speeds of 120 MB/s and write speeds of 68 MB/s for the Extreme Go, far less than the 200 and 150 MB/s SanDisk advertises.
Our manual USB 3.0 tests proved far better. Writing a 1.1GB, 32-minute HD video to the USB only took about 10 seconds with a very satisfying 120 MB/s transfer speed. A full length HD film, Avengers: Infinity War, took about 40 seconds at the same speed, just like it says on the box. The read speeds were about the same as the benchmark, never surpassing 130 MB/s.
A full length HD film, Avengers: Infinity War, took about 40 seconds to write.
Transferring a folder full of media files can be a trickier test. We transferred a music folder full of over 1,800 music tracks, sorted and unsorted (a litter over 6GB). The write speed fluctuated wildly between 40 and 80 MB/s, taking a minute and 45 seconds to fully transfer, and nearly that long to read back to the PC.
Transfer speeds aren’t shown when using the SecureAccess encryption software, but a simple stopwatch test told us that transfer speeds slowed down considerably when being encrypted, or read from encryption. No matter the file type or size, it took about twice as long to use the encryption software to transfer files.
We also discovered an interesting quirk while testing the Extreme Pro — it didn’t play well with our Sabrent four-port USB hub, despite being connected to the USB 3.0 and its own external power source. When plugged into a port on the hub, our read and write speeds were capped at 20 MB/s, or about 20 percent of the usual speed. Only when plugged directly into the USB 3.0 port were we able to achieve the normal 120 MB/s transfer speeds. That’s something to consider if you use USB hubs on your 3.0 ports.
When plugged into a port in a USB hub, our read and write speeds were capped at 20 MB/s, or about 20 percent of the usual speed.
SanDisk sells the Extreme Go in a 64GB and 128GB versions, for $21.99 and $34.99 respectively. Neither one is a great deal, nor are they terribly overpriced. Price-wise, the Extreme Go sits comfortably among similar USB storage drives.
The SanDisk Extreme Go 64GB model costs almost twice as much as a Kingston Datatraveler with the same storage space, but the DataTraveler lacks file encryption, and in our review tests it barely achieved 10 percent of the transfer speed of the Extreme Go.
The Samsung BAR Plus is another competitor that advertises similar transfer speeds in a smaller metallic design. It costs slightly less, but also lacks file encryption options.
For the speed and extra features you get, the SanDisk Extreme Go is worth its mid-range price.
We’d highly recommended this flash drive for use just about anywhere.
Though the SanDisk Extreme Go feels a bit flimsy on the outside, we were very impressed with its performance. Write speeds of 100 to 150 MB/s at a $20 price point should be the new gold standard for USB flash drives. Plus, it offers optional file encryption software for an extra layer of security.