Review: USB Memory Direct Branded Flash Drives

Blue Planet Photography USB drive from USB Memory Direct
Back in April, I was contacted by Patrick Whitener, the partnership coordinator at USB Memory Direct (https://www.usbmemorydirect.com), maker of custom and branded flash drives. He wanted to know if I’d like to partner with them, try out their product, and write up a blog post about my impressions. I’d been thinking about a ‘giveaway’ for my workshops and classes, something like a USB drive loaded with lesson materials for my classes, writings and other materials for my workshops. Since it wasn’t going to cost me anything other than a review of the product (which I would likely be doing even if I purchased it), I agreed.

He contacted me on April 2 and I spent a few days thinking about it, whether I wanted to get involved or trust this offer. I did some research on USB Memory Direct and discovered they have a pretty good reputation. I’ve dealt with other promotional product companies before that were less than desirable. In the meantime, Patrick sent me a couple emails asking me if I was still interested. Not pushy, just checking in. I appreciated that. No hard sell, no stupid jokes. Just email, too, no phone calls.

I chose the type of USB drive from the offered selection, the Tower style. Made of wood (the description says “pine.”), the cap is attached by a couple magnets which are strong. Personally, I’d prefer an integrated cover, like their Ninja model, because a separate cap without a lanyard or other means of attachment is just going to get lost eventually, but that one wasn’t available for the promotion. I like the natural wood look. It goes with my business name and “nature” theme.

USB drive showing magnetic cap attachment

I had to tweak my logo to fit the dimensions of the drive space available for printing (but they will do that for you if you wish) and sent Patrick the file. I asked if he could print my website on the back and he replied, no problem.

USB drive showing front logo and back website address printing

On April 21, I received a pre-production image of a drive they had made up for me to review. It looked great, except for some reason my logo had been shifted slightly and “photography” had been re-typed and misspelled as “photogrphy”. I let Patrick know and it was corrected without fuss. Patrick asked me if there was any content I wanted them to pre-load to the drives for me. I hadn’t decided what content I was going to put on the drives, so declined the offer. This is a service they offer, though, free of charge, as far as I know. So, if you are ordering a bunch of drives (even 25) having them add the content saves me/you a ton of time. Loading 25 drives from a single or double USB port would take a decent amount of time that I could be spending doing something more productive. But, having a blank drive gives me the freedom to customize how many drives receive what content, whenever I get that figured out.

The 25 8GB drives were shipped on April 24 and I received them on May 5, 7 business days (12 calendar days) later. Their estimate for shipping is 5-7 days once the drives are ready. The drives came individually wrapped in plastic envelopes, like a plastic sleeve for a greeting card or matted photo, rubber-banded in groups of 5, then wound with bubble wrap. There were no additional papers (that I remember) in the typical plain brown box. Though, I think there must have been an inventory sheet. The full color printing is crisp, the color accurate, and appears to be quite durable. I’ve had a couple other promotional items where the printing flaked or peeled off after a short time. This printing looks and feels like it will last longer than the average bear.

Being the cautious type, I ran a couple of the drives through a virus scan and they came up clean. Of course, a company selling promotional USB drives wouldn’t want to send off products infected with a virus or malware, but I had never dealt with this company before and, despite the great reviews, it never hurts to check.

This style of drive, the Tower, fits nicely on my desktop machine and my Surface, and doesn’t impede adding a second USB drive where there are multiple ports. I have another novelty USB drive I received at a conference that’s shaped like a rabbit, and it takes up all the space to either side of the port, so it’s nice to have a thin drive in case I need to transfer from one drive to another or grab files from a second drive without removing the first. My logo is clearly presented, also, which is good promotion for me.

Single drive in USB port on desktop
Single drive in USB port
USB drives in adjacent ports
USB drives in adjacent ports

Next came the big question. If I ordered these drives without the promotion, how much would they cost? The Tower 8GB drives are USB SLC (Single Level Cell) which are faster and more reliable than typical consumer type USB drives. The drives I received are USB-A, but there are USB-C styles and also dual USB-A/C, like the Ninja model I referred to earlier. So, the price for the tower drive, as of around mid-May, 2020, in a quantity of 25, is $9.75 per unit, or $244 total. Increasing the quantity to 50 reduces the per unit cost to $8.00 each. The Ninja, all metal integrated construction, USB A/C, is $15 each, or $374.50 for 25. An order of 50 reduces the per unit cost to a little over $13. Capacity up to 64GB is available, priced accordingly.

With that price, comes free printing, free data loading (check that to be sure), lifetime warranty, and a price match guarantee.

The drives I received are fast-loading. I haven’t tested them all to check that they all work, but the two random ones I grabbed do. If that changes, I’ll post that additional information here. I will assume they are all fine. Overall, I’m pleased with the experience and the product from USB Memory Direct. This is the first promotional item like this I’ve tried and once I figure out exactly how I’m going to incorporate these drives in my classes/workshops and other promotions I’ll likely go back to Patrick for more. Since I let Patrick know I received the drives, I have not heard from him. No pestering about whether I wanted to buy more, when was I going to get my review up on my blog, etc. No hard selling, which I really like. It makes me more comfortable to go back to USB Memory Direct when and if I decide this is a promotional item I would like to incorporate, without dreading the follow up. I appreciate that.

The one thing I might change is to put the web address on the front, so it’s more visible (promotion, you know). However, I like the simple logo front.

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