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DominicD 09-05-2011 01:04 AM

Flash Drive Benchmark Tools
 
USB flash drives are the preferred portable media compared to CD’s and DVD’s. USB ports are a standard for every computer. With a lot more software and apps being made portable to run on flash drives, more documents and media files that we need to carry and share among peers, having a fast and reliable flash drive is a necessity for everyone.


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You may already have your own trusty USB flash drive. Regardless of its brand and storage capacity, chances are, it is a USB 2.0 type of usb flash drive. Also, you might have heard of the new USB 3.0 standard! A good note today, is that the next time you purchase a USB flash drive, its time to consider buying newer and faster USB 3.0 drives.

To recap, USB 3.0 devices are compatible to work with USB 2.0 ports. This means you gain the future-proof compatibility of USB 3.0 while working with your older USB 2.0 machines.

Now, if you’re off to buy a replacement or spare USB flash drive, take time to note performance reviews – yes this time purchasing a USB 3.0 flash drive is worth looking at online performance reviews!


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USB flash drives are best measured not only by storage space, but also with file write speed and file read speed. Unfortunately, flash drive advertisements today only give specifications for storage space, form factor, and extra free tools like “backup, encryption, synch software”.


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Setting aside the external features of form factor such as being weather/waterproof, shockproof, and aesthetic designs and fancy colored and blinking led lights, consider the performance speed the next time your purchase your next USB 3.0 flash drive.

In this article, we take a look at Flash Memory Tool Kit
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Flash Memory Toolkit is a collection of utilities for flash memory devices. The toolkit includes options for
  1. Gathering flash drive hardware
  2. File erase files and recovery tools
  3. Backup and restore functions
  4. And most importantly an easy to use benchmarking tool for read/write performance.

Remember that the primary use of flash drives is for us to write data, and then to copy them to the office desktop or share with a colleague’s laptop. You would normally copy (WRITE) a set of files (documents, pictures, or videos) once and then take them to other computers for viewing (READ).

Generally, flash drives are made to READ faster, than WRITE. This is because of the nature of flash drive controllers. You need a higher performance memory controller for faster write speeds, while low-mid range flash memory controllers already provide fast reading speeds. While the idea of write speeds is often overlook, you will notice that it takes considerably longer to write files than to read them. Speed is essential when you are writing large sized files OR writing a lot of small sized files.

Below are screenshots of my two USB 2.0 flash drives. Both are 8GB capacity drives.

Transcend Travelling Disk 8 GB – about $16
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I bough this because my dad had good experience with Transcend flash drives. He once forgot to remove the flash drive from his shirt pocket and had it washed! The drive was pretty much soaked so he didn’t attempt to use it. He thought he would let it dry so he took the drive to room temperature and had it dry on its own for two days. When he was to bring the drive back to test if it worked in the office, he forgot to remove it from the car’s dashboard. It almost baked in the hot sunlight. Surely enough it must have dried even better after being exposed to too much heat. He got home and tested it – still works and his data is still there. This I guess is a lucky case at least for his flash drive.

Sandisk Cruzer – about $10
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I bought my second 8GB for use and spare in the office. This time, I thought I would choose the more colorful and brighter led-blinking Sandisk Cruzer. Some people like me just enjoy the bright and “breathing” led glow of Cruzer drives!

Upon learning of Flash Memory Toolkit, I got curious and tested my flash drives.

Below are the speed graphs.
A longer bar is faster and better.

Yellow bars indicate the all important WRITE speed.
Green bars indicate the READ speed.

Transcend Travelling Disk 8 GB – about $16
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Sandisk Cruzer – about $10
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Notice the huge WRITE and READ difference between the simplistic and more expensive Transcend drive, compared to the more stylish yet cheaper Sandisk drive.

The more expensive Transcend obtains a faster average WRITE speed, compared to the slow and consistent speed of the Sandisk.

In terms of READ speed, the Sandisk is much faster than Transcend.

In real-world performance and use, I have indeed noticed that copying files to the Transcend drive is much faster than Sandisk. Windows XP and Windows 7 gives shorter time estimates when copying the same file size into the Transcend when compared to the Sandisk.

The speed of Reading files already stored in the Transcend and Sandisk drives to the computer is a bit harder to time and notice. Both seem to copy files at fairly the same speed, with a few seconds being faster when using the Sandisk.

For power users and techie performance enthusiasts, the drive with the faster write speed is a better choice. Since we would usually take more time copying files into the drive rather than reading them from another computer.

In your next hunt for USB 3.0 flash drives, remember to check website and product reviews and benchmarks. USB 3.0 technology is best maximized when your flash drive runs at a good read and write speed that is more suited for your needs. Technical users who will spend more time transferring files from their work computers and then share them to colleague’s and users would want a faster writing drive. Read speeds are already given to be much much faster with USB 3.0. So, the next time you and your friend’s should borrow flash drives, add more Geek creds to compare why my flash drive is better than yours!


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