phoenix

USB 2.0 performance

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What factors affect USB speed of an external hard drive?

I bought a new 1TB external... it's the WD My Book Essentials 2.0 model which as far as I can tell as the recent Caviar GP 1TB drive (but not the RE model) inside it. It's great--it was cheap and had only the slightest bit of warmth after a 12 hour stress test. It's also utterly silent, I can't hear anything.

I can only sustain 22-23MB/sec off of it over USB 2.0 and was wondering, with external storage being a big part of our lives and so much discussion about things like 16MB-vs-32MB cache, firmware tuning, etc etc etc., is there anything that can be done to speed up USB 2.0 transfers? Do different operating systems (Vista, XP, Linux) perform better or worse when managing transfers across USB devices? What about the PC itself, do different chipsets implement different quality USB interfaces, perhaps with lower or higher effective bandwidth from model to model?

I guess the performance tweaker/nut in me is trying to get a sense of what this drive is capable of :)

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USB 2.0 can be tweaked up to around 30 MB/s and perhaps a bit higher, but the better answer is to forget about USB and to use an enclosure which supports eSATA. USB is popular because it's popular. eSATA is naturally faster. eSATA enclosures are widely available and don't have to be expensive. eSATA support in computers is not as common, but can be added.

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USB 2.0 can be tweaked up to around 30 MB/s and perhaps a bit higher, but the better answer is to forget about USB and to use an enclosure which supports eSATA. USB is popular because it's popular. eSATA is naturally faster. eSATA enclosures are widely available and don't have to be expensive. eSATA support in computers is not as common, but can be added.

How do you tweak it to get past that 20-22MiB/s boundary? That is all I ever see on any type of 7200RPM disk attached via USB.

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How do you tweak it to get past that 20-22MiB/s boundary? That is all I ever see on any type of 7200RPM disk attached via USB.

Ditto. I am curious too.

I understand eSATA but bottom line, USB is pretty much ubiquitous. 95% of the places I might take this drive to aren't going to have any eSATA connections, so I got interested in USB performance on its own. I been able to find much in the way on tweaking... just anecdotes that the standard should support a sustained 35-40MB/sec after accounting for overhead... but I've never seen anything close to this.

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USB 2.0 can be tweaked up to around 30 MB/s and perhaps a bit higher, but the better answer is to forget about USB and to use an enclosure which supports eSATA. USB is popular because it's popular. eSATA is naturally faster. eSATA enclosures are widely available and don't have to be expensive. eSATA support in computers is not as common, but can be added.

How do you tweak it to get past that 20-22MiB/s boundary? That is all I ever see on any type of 7200RPM disk attached via USB.

First of all, don't use MiB/s for transfer rates. It'll get you a free ~5% boost! :)

You can get better results with better chipsets, and perhaps using different file transfer software (e.g. xxcopy perhaps), and using larger file sizes (perhaps bundling files together) where that's a reasonable option. However these all pale in comparison to what you can do with eSATA, which was my point -- not to spend the effort measuring different chipsets, etc., but rather to go eSATA if that performance really matters to you.

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http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/12747/14

No idea what you'd need to tweak-- I would try a faster file copy utility.

USB is not suited for long file transfers; you want Firewire or eSATA.

Or, well, you gotta suffer, as the rest of us do.

I did find it to be very chipset-dependent.

My old P4 at home couldn't get more than 22MB/sec out of this drive.

My Qosmio laptop running a Core 2 Duo chipset of some kind pulled 30MB/sec.

The various P35 desktops and workstations around the office average about 35MB/sec.

Everything is running Vista, all measurements using HD Tach.

So I guess the biggest tweak (if you're not getting 30+ MB/sec with a modern fast device) is to look at the chipset platform you're on. This is a surprise to me because I assumed that USB 2.0, being such an "old" spec, would have had every ounce wrung out of it long ago.

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The speed will be better with new motherboards with new chipsets, currently 30-35MB/sec is highest, and that is already wery great for such an old interface.

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