I would like to purchase one or more USB 3 thumb drives. Which brands are reliable? Any and all comments are appreciated.
I've had a fair amount of experience with higher end flash drives for several years though I haven't ran through a huge variety. I've owned multiple lexar firefly and have had good luck with them. One key feature they have is that the lanyard attaches to the cap instead of the drive. This may appear counter-intuitive, but when you uncap it you leave the lanyard on your neck etc and if you walk away from the computer without collecting your drive, you'll quickly realize it as the empty cap flops around. I've never gotten more than 15 feet from a computer without my flash drive since then.
I've owned several Centon Datastick Sport, again for their high capacity and lower price. Both of the two I bought had to be RMA'd within a year.
I've owned several sandisk cruzer and have had good result from all of them. They're exceptionally small for their capacity.
I've also owned several ADATA, due to their being the largest capacity drives at the time. One of them was DOA out of the box but I didn't discover it until after it got to the halfway point in its storage, this was the only time I've ever been burned by a seller on ebay.
I recently bought a PNY for pretty cheap, 128gb USB3. I was expecting it to be slow for the price ($42 a year ago) but to my surprise it's been a very good performer.
So for now if I had to buy another flash drive I'd probably go with PNY or Sandisk. IGNORE any speed indications on the packaging, they almost exclusively use deceptive terminology such as "usb 3 speed INTERFACE". (the interface is fast, but the flash is slow, so the drive is slow) You need to read reviews to determine actual USB3 speeds. Normally I don't spend much time reading reviews before a purchase, but it's really necessary with flash drives.
I just lost some data this week on a flash drive I was given with documents on it. I was editing both text files and excel spreadsheets. When I went to open then again, the text files were blank and the spreadsheets gave an error when opened. I found that both files were the expected size (7kb and 75kb) but were completely filled with zeros. I was not impressed. Any new file I try to create or duplicate produces all zeros in the saved file. I was able to reconstruct the spreadsheet but its looking like the text file data is gone. My time machine backups have all zeros in them as well. (they were never saved successfully, without my knowing there was a problem) Somehow the auto backup feature in bbedit got turned off too.
That brings me to my other point. After you plug in a flash drive, open time machine prefs and go to options. Select the flash drive from the exclusions list and click [-] to remove it from exclusions so you get backups of it. Like your computer, it will store "offline backups" when you are making changes to files on the flash drive while on the road or on another computer, the backups will be saved to a hidden file on the flash drive, and offloaded to your time machine drive the next time you get home and plug both in at the same time. Very handy feature. Newly attached external storage (HDD or flash drive) are automatically added to the exclusion list for time machine, so you have to disable any new drive you attach if you want it backed up.