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How to Find Out How Fast Your USB Flash Drives Are

Over the years I have accumulated a pile of USB flash drives. They range from a really old (but still used) 256 MB USB 2.0 drive to a new 64 GB USB 3.0 drive. USB 2.0 flash drives can vary quite a bit in performance and I wanted to see how fast some of mine were so I tried out the freeware called USB Flash Benchmark. This is a small portable application that provides an easy way to test how fast a drive can read and write files of various sizes. It is mainly intended for flash drives.

You can run a quick test and stop it or you can let it go through a battery of read-and-write tests using an assortment of file sizes ranging from 100 MB down to 1 KB. It does three write tests and three read tests with every file size and the whole panoply of tests can take a while. I just let it run in the background while I did other things. One minor annoyance is that there is no minimize button but you can just switch the focus to another window. 

An example of the interface is shown in the figure below. The results are given in the right pane and plotted out in a graph that shows speeds for different file sizes. An interesting thing I learned from the results was how much slower it is to process small files. The speed starts to fall rapidly somewhere around a file size of 64KB. As indicated in a previous tip, it really pays to zip them together before copying a lot of small files, even when taking into account the time to zip and unzip.

USB Flash Benchmark

The program can be downloaded at the developer’s site. It is a 35 KB zip file with a folder containing two small DLL files and the executable program file. The folder can be placed anywhere convenient and the program needs no installing. I ran it on Windows 7 64-bit with no problem. VirusTotal gives it a clean bill of health as did MalwareBytes and Microsoft Security Essentials on my PC.

The developer’s site also has a database of statistics for many different makes and versions of flash drives. These have been uploaded by users of the utility and you can upload your own results by checking a box. You can also search the statistics to see if your particular drive has already been tested.

Incidentally, my USB 3.0 drive tested out at around five to ten times as fast as my USB 2.0 drives, depending on which USB 2.0 drive is being compared. Individual USB 2.0 drives varied by a factor of around two in their speeds. The USB 3.0 stats were similar to those for my main hard drive.

Added Later: Reader Oxa reports that the .Net framework is required. I don't know which version.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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by SchmanneC on 29. July 2013 - 2:18  (109721)

Have you tried plugging a usb 3.0 drive into a 2.0 receptor? I am wondering if that could be an alternative to buying a high speed 2.0. And I would be ready for the future :)

by j b spence (not verified) on 20. November 2012 - 18:18  (102629)

This is a good little pgm - thanks.

Bob - how do I DONATE TO YOUR CAUSE(site)???


by v.laurie on 20. November 2012 - 19:30  (102632)

Donations to Gizmo's Freeware can be made here:

by alexxx46 on 20. November 2012 - 17:25  (102625)

JetFlash Transcend 8 gb USB device not detected by the app.

'Connection error' with other pendrives.

by texastech (not verified) on 20. November 2012 - 17:17  (102623)

This is a neat tool. using it to see not only flash and external drive speeds but internal hard drives too. Helps me see how darn slow usb 2 flash drives are. It did not recognize one of my flash drives though. Also you stop the test any time and still get an idea of your results. this was not clear from the articles "run a quick test" comment. Can't wait to see results on my usb 3.
Thanks for posting it v.laurie

by texastech (not verified) on 20. November 2012 - 18:53  (102631)

update, doesn't work on my internal ssd drive. too bad.

by v.laurie on 20. November 2012 - 19:34  (102633)

No, it didn't work on my SSD either. Worked on a conventional hard drive, however.

by Oxa on 20. November 2012 - 15:16  (102617)

Downloaded and unzipped twice and all I got was an error message: "The application failed to initialize properly."

by v.laurie on 20. November 2012 - 15:23  (102619)

Did you keep the two little DLL files in the same folder with the executable file?

by Oxa on 20. November 2012 - 23:39  (102644)

Yes. It turns out that that error message results from not having the .NET framework installed. Of course, nowhere on the app's website does it say what the system requirements are for the software.

by v.laurie on 20. November 2012 - 23:45  (102645)

Thanks for the useful information. I'll add it to the tip.

by other human (not verified) on 19. November 2012 - 15:06  (102561)

I have used USB Flash Benchmark a few times in the past. While it gives good read and write speed stats, it takes far too long for my purposes.

by v.laurie on 19. November 2012 - 16:49  (102571)

In my experience, it is the testing of smaller file sizes that takes a lot of time. You can shorten the process by stopping it after it has done one or two tests. Or just let it run in the background while you do something else.