by Tucker Mindrum

SanDisk Ultra +Cloud USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review

SanDisk's new Ultra +Cloud flash drive comes with 128GB of storage, separated into 64GB on the drive itself and 64GB on the cloud. Users can access data stored on the cloud remotely from any computer, or use SanDisk's mobile app to manage data from a smartphone or tablet. Both the web interface and mobile app have fairly comprehensive usability, with a straightforward setup and surprising number of features for a flash drive. The Ultra +Cloud includes standard encryption capabilities and compatibility with SanDisk's RescuePRO file recovery software. In order to develop the cloud aspect of the Ultra + Cloud Flash Drive, SanDisk licensed Bitcasa's cloud storage platform. Bitcasa Platform enables secure file storage, access, and sharing for multiple platforms and the web.

One twist to this product is that the 64GB of cloud storage that SanDisk includes with the Ultra +Cloud expires after 3 years, leaving the user to either abandon their cloud access or incur a monthly fee (which will probably be a few dollars per month). However, when comparing the cost of +Cloud with other market offerings, $30 for 3 years of 64GB cloud storage; Apple's iCloud service for example is $12 a year for 50GB, while Microsoft Onedrive is $24 a year for the same amount. Unlimited storage plans such as Amazon's Cloud server is around $60 a year, although the main draw to the SanDisk offering is the local offline storage. Users can also upgrade their cloud access to 250GB ($3.99/month), 500GB ($6.99/month), or 1TB ($9.99/month), all of which is reasonable in comparison to other cloud services.

The SanDisk Ultra +Cloud is available for $29.99 and includes a 3-year warranty.

Specifications

  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Capacity: 64GB + 64GB on the +Cloud
  • Compatibility: USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
  • Environmental Specs
    • Operating Temperature: 0℃~45℃
    • Non-operating Temperature: -10℃~70℃
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 2.87" x 0.87" x 0.42"
  • Software
    • SanDisk SecureAccess software
    • RescuePRO file recovery software (one-year offer)
  • Warranty: 3 years limited

Design and Build

The Ultra +Cloud is very similar in appearance to SanDisk's other Ultra drives, except that it has mostly white housing with a blue thumb slide.

There is some branding on the top of the device above the retractable connector, and a keychain loop along the back. Serial number and other product information can be found on the bottom.

Usability

The setup and use of this product is straightforward; after installing the cloud software, the user creates a username and password that will be needed later to remotely access the cloud. Once the software is installed, files can be sent directly to the cloud any time without the flash drive. The cloud interface is fairly comprehensive, though slightly congested.

The cloud interface can be used to upgrade the amount of subscribed storage, manage stored data, and share content. Sharing involves the generation of a shareable link without privacy control; anyone with the link can view the content.

The mobile app also functions quite well, with all of the functionality that is available in the browser interface.

Performance

In this review, we have included the following comparables from our database of USB flash drive reviews:

Using our HP Z620 Workstation Testing Platform running Windows 8.1, we measured transfer speeds from the Ultra +Cloud with IOMeter. When looking at sequential speeds, the Ultra +Cloud performed well with 63.2MB/s and 30.7 MB/s in read and write, respectively. The TransMemory U362 posted 31.7MB/s (read) and 8.3MB/s (write) and the Samsung Bar posted 47.61MB/s (read) and 43.75MB/s (write).

The SanDisk Ultra +Cloud also performed well with random large-block transfers, with 34.4MB/s in read and 18.5MB/s in write. The Samsung Bar performed similarly with 32.94MB/s in read and 15.93MB/s in write, and the TransMemory U362 posted 31.6MB/s and 1.45MB/s (read and write, respectively).

Our last flash drive benchmark measures 4k random transfer performance in IOPS. Although the Ultra +Cloud had a slightly below average read performance (887 IOPS), it performed quite well in terms of write (388 IOPS). The TransMemory U362 posted 1,410.9 IOPS in read and 1.7 IOPS in write, and the Samsung Bar posted 965.23 IOPS in read and 22.07 IOPS in write.

Conclusion

The Ultra +Cloud from SanDisk includes a feature that is new to flash drives: access to cloud storage. SanDisk has matched the capacity of the actual flash drive (64GB) with an equivalent amount of cloud storage, which users will be able to access for 3 years. Although the 3-year subscription might come across as tricky, it is actually a great deal in terms of cost, considering that most 64GB flash drives are at least $30 and 3 years of cloud access runs around the same typically. Users will have to begin paying a monthly fee in 3 years to retain access to the SanDisk's cloud.

The Users can encrypt data stored on the flash drive through SecureAccess, and can opt for RescuePRO (file recovery software). SanDisk has also created a browser interface as well as a mobile app so that data stored on the user's cloud can be accessed remotely. The Ultra +Cloud holds its own in terms of performance, exceeding or matching the transfer rates of most comparable drives.

Pros

  • Cloud access included
  • Good performance

Cons

  • Uncertainty after 3 years regardling cloud access

The Bottom Line

The SanDisk Ultra +Cloud is a surprisingly comprehensive storage solution, providing both fast portable storage as well as 3-year access to 64GB of cloud storage.

SanDisk Ultra +Cloud at Amazon

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