There's something beautiful about a well-designed tech item that you take with your pretty much everywhere. USB flash drives have become ubiquitous, and thanks to their ever expanding size, they've become the go-to storage medium for many people. While there are many different kinds of USB flash drives, we think that it's important for these devices to be very secure since they can be easy to lose.
Currently, the biggest most commonly available flash drives are 64 GB. Although you can find some 256 GB flash drives, we find them a bit too expensive ($300-$685). Still, with that much space, you can make them your default storage option while you're on the go. They are very convenient when it comes time to transfer larger files. Also, instead of just having your usual data on them, you can install an OS to boot any PC computer.
Just like keys, USB flash drives are easily mislaid, so it's best to encrypt your personal files. Some flash drives come loaded with utilities that will allow you do encrypt data without any extra apps. If yours didn't, then you can try the open-source software TrueCrypt, which works with PC and Mac computers. It's free, so it makes a lot of sense. Transcend makes the JetFlash 200, which offers integrated encryption. Even more secure, there's the JefFlash 220, which can scan your fingerprint and use it to lock up your data. All this security comes at a cost in storage space. Both of these flash drives have up to 16 GB worth of storage available.
If you've got the Ultimate or Enterprise editions of Microsoft's current OS Windows 7 or previous OS Windows Vista, you can use an integrated feature called BitLocker Drive Encryption. It will encrypt a whole USB flash drive and it's pretty complete, if you've got these versions of Windows already installed.
Lastly, an anti-virus program that runs automatically might be prudent. There's this one we've found that is free to try from Abhisoft Technologies. It's not very large and will even run on older USB drives. Clamwin is a free anti-virus that can be installed on a USB flash drive.
(Bitlocker image via SBS Diva, Teddy Bear USB Flash Drive by Range)