Question What Are Good Speed Figures For USB 2.0 Flash Drive

Mantrid-Drone

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I ask because I recent bought a 3pk of Sandisk Cruzer Blade 32GB flash drives and their performance is measurably very difference from the previous versions of the same flash drive.

I bought another 3pk in December last year. Both were sold as SDCZ50-032G G46T versions although in both cases that is only shown on the attached bar code label. The actual flash drives in each pack look identical except for the serial/batch numbers: BM190826778W and BM190926778W.

All the drives from both packs produce very similar results using CrystalDiskMark: good Read figures for USB 2.00 of 30+MB/s sequential but poor Write figures ie. single figures, consistently in the 5MB/s to 7MB/s range.

Previous versions of the Cruzer Blade sold as SDCZ50-032G B35 serial/batch number BM210453544W and other capacity Cruzer Blades (4GB and 16GB) I've bought in the last couple of years have been consistently around 20MB/s Read and 16MB/s Write sequential.

A lower Read speed but far better Write speeds and proven faster in practical tests too.

I've tested the G46T ones in every way I can think of on two different PCs, using v1.1/v2.0 and v3.0 USB ports, extension cables, hubs and repeat tested using different test package sizes. All turned out broadly similar results: Read speeds over 30MB/s (best 34Mb/s) but Write speeds always low sometimes even less than 5MB/s (best 10MB/s) sequential.

All the flash drives were supplied by Amazon (UK) and were in what appears to be genuine Sandisk sealed/marked packaging so these 2 x 3 packs, bought at different times, are not likely counterfeit.

So I just wondered what constitutes good performance results for a USB 2.00 flash drives and whether these later G46T versions of the Sandisk Cruzer Blade are within an acceptable performance envelope.

Cruzer Blade 3pk Speed Test.pngPrevious Cruzer Blade Speed Comparison for Reference.png
 

UsandThem

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Out of curiosity, I searched the model number you said you bought in December on Amazon, and it says they are 14.99 (British Pounds).

They also list a USB 3.0 3-pack for 16.99 (Sandisk).

Why wouldn't you just pay the extra 2 pounds and not even deal with slow USB 2.0 speeds?
 

VirtualLarry

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Honestly, 6MB/sec write speeds are pretty typical for most USB2.0 flash drives that aren't expensive.
Heck, even many budget USB3.0 drives have a write speed in that ball-park too.
 

igor_kavinski

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Avoid cheap Sandisk UFDs. They heat up and become write-protected. Or they will be atrociously slow. You get worse than you pay for which is at least decent usage till the flash write cycles are used up.
 

Mantrid-Drone

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Thanks for the comments - so its not that unusual to have USB 2.0 Write speeds that low. It is the big gap between those and the Read speeds which concerned me.

Presumably 'Sandisk' made some decision to change the spec of the Cruzer Blade series. I just could not think why anyone would want significantly increased Read speed but significantly reduced Write speeds.

Reason I'm still using USB 2.0 ones and these in particular is that USB 3.0 flash drives, at least at the cheaper end of the market, seem to have pretty bad user reviews for reliability.

Since I know the 'good' Cruzer Blade USB 2.0 ones are reliable and have a good Read/Write performance for USB 2.0 I thought it made sense as I was not bothered by the slower Write speed for the backup uses intended.

Typically that is documents like email backups, PDFs etc that sort of thing rarely more than few dozen megabytes at most. So if with USB 2.0 it takes 15 secs to transfer rather than 1.5 secs with USB 3.0 I'm not bothered.

But I am bothered if such tasks are going to take 30+ secs, which these latest 3pk ones will do.

I might have to try my luck with USB 3.0 ones as suggested.
 

igor_kavinski

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Since I know the 'good' Cruzer Blade USB 2.0 ones are reliable and have a good Read/Write performance for USB 2.0 I thought it made sense as I was not bothered by the slower Write speed for the backup uses intended.

Typically that is documents like email backups, PDFs etc that sort of thing rarely more than few dozen megabytes at most. So if with USB 2.0 it takes 15 secs to transfer rather than 1.5 secs with USB 3.0 I'm not bothered.

But I am bothered if such tasks are going to take 30+ secs, which these latest 3pk ones will do.

I might have to try my luck with USB 3.0 ones as suggested.
Please just get a used Intel MLC SSD drive from ebay and use it in an external enclosure if your intended use case is backup of anything important. Current USBs in the market are most likely QLC flash based which is all sorts of bad news for data retention and reliability. Consider using one external HDD as a 2nd backup and maybe even free cloud backup to a Google drive or OneDrive as a third level of backup.
 
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Tech Junky

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@igor_kavinski has a good point about using an SSD in an enclosure for optimum speeds R/W.

I recently picked up a few different SD drives for various purposes that would be better options than the cheapo (more expensive U2 ones)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081DFPN3T/ 32GB USB-C < $10 with 100MB/s+ R and ~75MB/s W
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N7QDO7M/ 256GB USB-C <$60 with 400MB/s+ R and same for W - this one will run an OS off USB as it's seen as an internal SSD for some reason

Out of all of the different NVME enclosures I've tested this one is the one I didn't return for slow speeds / heat issues.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07N48N5GR/ - ~$45

I have a handful of NVME's at this point from various upgrades / swaps I've done over the last few years and all of them exceed the speeds of the Plugable enclosure listed above. The issue with most enclosures is the controller & heat dissipation due to the housing material that they use. Plastic + heat doesn't work and other metal / AL enclosures don't make contact to passively cool the drive.

NVME drives that are gen 3 are dirt cheap in comparison with the newer Gen 4 drives and you can get a 1TB NVME for ~$100 that will last a lot longer than any conventional USB drive. All in for ~$150 for the drive and enclosure + usb-a adapter if you need one. This gets you performance / durability and sufficient space to backup the entire PC if you chose to do so. Thinking this PC is probably a bit outdated and doesn't have USB 3.2 10gbps on it a PCI card to add that wouldn't be that big of an expense either.

https://www.amazon.com/IO-Crest-Full-Duplex-Controller-SI-PEX20189/dp/B01BEZ04Y6/ - $19/ea

If you wanted to venture into speedier territory with 3.2 2x2 @ 20gbps it goes up a bit

Enclosure - ~$30 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08J272NGV/
Card - ~$40 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D38C521/

Double the speed ~$6 more than the 10gbps options.
@Mantrid-Drone
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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Good suggestions, some ideas I'd not thought about and some I had ie. using a SSD in an external enclosure.

But my main focus was about cheaper end flash drive performance, especially the balance between Read and Write speeds.

I already have an StarTech dual eSATA/USB 3.0 3.5" external enclosure I use with a HDD which could, with a bit of dexterousness, be used with a SSD.

Currently it is fitted with a 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD which already gives me Read/Write (sequential) speeds both 140+MB/s. It puts the Sandisk Cruzer Blade USB 2.0 flash drives into the shade.

Same for what is literally just a USB to SATA (StarTech) adapter cable I bought recently to clone two PCS primary SSD. The new, 500GB SSD was just dangling from a USB 3.0 port and it cloned the 128GB old SSDs extraordinarily quickly, no problems.

Good backup solutions but notably more expensive - the StarTech eSATA/ USB 3.0 enclosure was £50+. Add on the cost of the HDD or SSD and you're talking about £100+ compared to a more convenient, small, portable flash drive costing less than £5.

Just FYI I've discovered there is yet another Sandisk Cruzer Blade flash drive iteration floating about too: SDCZ50-032G B35E. Again this has a different CrystalDiskMark tested performance profile which puts it inbetween the B35 and G46T figures.
 

Mantrid-Drone

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Just as follow up to this I thought I'd do my own testing on the two main 32GB Sandisk Cruzer Blade types there are: SDCZ50-32G-B35 and SDCZ50-032G G46T.

The tests were repeated multiple times on brand new versions I bought and it confirmed that the CrystalDiskMark figures showing that there are significant variations in performance are true.

In short, with my practical tests using the two flash drive types with two different PCs the typical copy ie. write speed of the B35 was twice to almost three times faster than the G46T.

The 1GB of random files I created took on an average of 1 min 47 secs to copy to the B35 version. Exactly the same files took an average of 4 mins 48 secs to copy to the G46T.

When I did the same test but with three copies of the same 1GB file at one time ie. 3GB the B35 took 5 mins 33 secs, the G46T took 14 mins 8 secs!

The figures speak for themselves.

Remember also except on the packaging (above the bar code) there is nothing on the flash drive itself to tell you, easily, which version it is. Yet both (and the B35E) are being sold just as Sandisk "Cruzer Blade" when there are actually great differences in their performance.
 
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Insert_Nickname

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Remember also except on the packaging (above the bar code) there is nothing on flash drive itself to tell you, easily, which version it is. Yet both (and the B35E) are being sold just as Sandisk "Cruzer Blade" when there are actually great differences in their performance.
Flashdrives are commodity now. They use what was cheapest on the day of the production run. Almost nobody notices variations in performance. You can almost get hit by 32GB-class drives on your way out of a store. They're that cheap.

Also 32GB is about as small as you can get today, and we're clearly moving towards a 64GB minimum size*. That's a single dies worth of NAND flash. So it'll be rather slow no matter what manufacturers do.

If you want a high(er) performance flashdrive, you really need an external SSD. Which has a proper controller on it.

*Which means exfat as the default filesystem. So no more 4GB file size limit by default. Sucks if you need compatibility, but even XP is capable of reading/writing exfat with an added driver.
 
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mindless1

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Maybe a chip supply shortage, or they switched from SLC to MLC or TLC (I doubt they were still making these when QLC hit the market).

I've had no problems using USB flash drives for small backups, except the cheap ones have flimsy cases that risk breaking the USB connector solder joints, and the Sandisk USB3 Ultra-Lux/Fit/Flair/etc (their models with an integrated slug within the connector shell itself, rather than a PCB in them) prone to overheating problems.

On the other hand, I've been running a 32GB Sandisk Extreme 24/7 for 8 years, constant access as it's running my portable email client among other uses. Zero issues, and great performance. It was $20 (in 2014 dollars) very well spent.
 

mindless1

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Flashdrives are commodity now. They use what was cheapest on the day of the production run. Almost nobody notices variations in performance.

If you want a high(er) performance flashdrive, you really need an external SSD. Which has a proper controller on it.
Many people use USB flash drives for smaller backup sets. I notice a performance difference, but even the cheapest USB3 models on the market today are faster than the reported speed of these latest Cruzer Blades (granted, on USB3 not USB2).

You really don't need an external SSD unless talking about GB's of backup at a time. You just need to stop thinking of USB flash drives as cheap disposible items and spend more to get more performance.

There are many benchmarks out there showing 5X+ the performance from better USB flash drives (especially on small and non-sequential writes), and the cost difference may be a lot percentage wise, but not that much in dollars for a small 32GB size.


Even a $10 (at the time of purchase) low end 128GB, linked below, I'm getting these CDM scores, now, after having test filled, emptied, and redundantly backed up to weekly for about 18 mos:


It has a flimsy plastic clamshell case though, nowhere near as sturdy as most Sandisk so I epoxy-filled it. :)

cdm.png
 
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igor_kavinski

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On the other hand, I've been running a 32GB Sandisk Extreme 24/7 for 8 years, constant access as it's running my portable email client among other uses. Zero issues, and great performance. It was $20 (in 2014 dollars) very well spent.
I wouldn't trust Sandisk for something like that. Please keep a backup.
 

igor_kavinski

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Yet both (and the B35E) are being sold just as Sandisk "Cruzer Blade" when there are actually great differences in their performance.
If you know that Sandisk is owned by WD, you wouldn't be surprised. WD has been involved recently in a lot of cost cutting. Something really bad is going on there at the upper level. Expect some bad news for their investors sooner or later.
 

mindless1

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I wouldn't trust Sandisk for something like that. Please keep a backup.
Of course, I have two current and one (less frequent) backups, but the point is that it has ran 24/7 for 8 years and not had any problems. There's a large difference between Sandisk's high end and low end.

The extreme has a hybrid SSD controller in it, but no extra bulk or clutter from an external enclosure, or cable. I'd much rather have same size SD Extreme for my purposes, than an external SSD no matter how much faster, because I don't store over a TB on flash (anything) (except primary copy of OS and gaming partitions themselves for the performance benefits of SSD)... that's what the redundant HDDs are for.

I can carry around hundreds of gigs of data in my pocket, where space is at a premium due to other EDC items. I suppose I could go even further towards mSD and use my phone as the host but meh, too fiddly, and maybe a little TOO small, too easy to lose besides the one permanently kept in my phone.
 
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Insert_Nickname

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You really don't need an external SSD unless talking about GB's of backup at a time. You just need to stop thinking of USB flash drives as cheap disposible items and spend more to get more performance.
Granted there is some overlap between high-end flashdrives and proper external SSDs. I'm not denying that. The problem is that a basic SATA SSD and a cheap external USB enclosure aren't that much more expensive then a high-end flashdrive, and have superior performance. Not just sequential, but random too.

A basic Kingston Datatraveler 100 G3 128GB costs 135DKK. A basic 120/128GB SATA drive sets you back 148DKK. So the cost difference is minuscule. A USB3 external case will set you back ~75DKK, so it's not that expensive in the large scale of things.

It's also a great way to re-purpose older SSDs when they've outlived their original purpose.

So you end up with needing either cheap-and-cheerful throwaway drives, or high performance ones for moving large quantities of data around. Filling 32GB at 10MB/s takes a good while. The middle ground has somewhat eroded lately.
 

igor_kavinski

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There's a large difference between Sandisk's high end and low end.
Any experience with their current drives? I had a craptastic Sandisk premium (all metal casing and really fast for the time) 4GB UFD failure in 2009. It lost all my data and I don't even remember what I lost so I want to grieve the loss but can't without knowing what I lost. All I did was plug it into the front USB port of a Dell PC IIRC. Then another failure in 2019 where a cheap 32GB Sandisk got hotter than 60 degrees celsius and write protected itself forever. The data is still accessible. I had another failure in 2021 and again, got hot and write protected. Don't remember if the data is accessible (it was just movies).
 

mindless1

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Who is buying a 32GB flash drive to completely fill it each time?

I write about half a gig weekly to both a 128GB, & 256GB flash drive (that are only used for backup). That takes about a minute (each) while I multitask doing other things.

On a related note, this MLC based 256GB has dropped to $24USD. It does have half of the space devoted to an encrypted partition but their software can wipe that out or change the size. It is fairly large by modern standards (meaning flash drives that don't use MLC chips):

 
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mindless1

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Any experience with their current drives?
For typical use, I'd get one of their Extreme models with the only hesitation being the price premium, except that it's larger than average.

For any other use, I wouldn't touch their Ultra-* line with the tiny integrated slug in the connector, except the Ultra Fit (due to smaller size, they all use the same slug in a different USB-connector sized shell, and only the metal shell version, not the one where the USB connector shell itself is plastic) for some mostly-read scenario like playback of audio files, where the tiny size is the most important thing. They don't typically overheat reading, just writing.

Even so, I did use their Ultra Flair on my keychain for a while but the plastic keychain loop has a sled-tab sort of attachment to the metal body and the tab wore away so the loop fell off... still works, but no keychain attachment now. It's the slowest USB3 flash drive I have, once writing more than about 30 seconds continuous to it, heating it up. Even so, it never locked up or went into read only mode.

I don't see any point to Sandisk's middle ground models, priced higher than the equivalent from other brands.
 
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bigboxes

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Who is buying a 32GB flash drive to completely fill it each time?
Really? I used flash drives all the time to write movie and tv show files to. I use them on my HTPC out in the living room. I'd write a lot of data to fill them up. Then use them in the living room until I had watched whatever. Then I'd delete the data off. Repeat.
 

mindless1

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^ Different use though, transportation rather than backup.

Why would you not just network the PC? Even wifi if not ethernet, has been able to keep up with the bandwidth needed for contemporary (to the wifi standard at the time) video bitrates, for a long time.

Plus, did you buy mere 32GB (or whatever size at the time), when larger sizes were cheaper per GB, AND then fill them all the way up most of the time?

Even so, it made more sense back in the day, with SLC or MLC flash drives, not so much the TLC or esp. QLC today unless you overprovision the capacity for the needed amount of data so you don't run into wear issues.

Besides, the OP wrote "rarely more than few dozen megabytes at most" so I don't really understand why the topic drifted in this direction, most people are using flash drives like this, not trying to fill them every time and if you are, then of course a larger, eSSD would be more suitable or as already mentioned, just use lan/wlan.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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Thanks all for the responses and the useful/interesting information.

Later EDIT
Just a final note to mention that one way of identifying the slower writing 32GB G46T Sandisk Cruzer Blades is that they actually have more free space.

At first I thought it was some encryption software supplied on the drives or the formatting but it does not appear to be so.

After wiping them thoroughly and reformating the B35 versions all report as 28.65GiB whilst all the G46T ones report as 29.25GiB. An extra 600MB of extra free space still does not make up for the poor write performance of the G46T version.
 
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mindless1

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On a related note, this MLC based 256GB has dropped to $24USD. It does have half of the space devoted to an encrypted partition but their software can wipe that out or change the size. It is fairly large by modern standards (meaning flash drives that don't use MLC chips):

Just wrote an Acronis Backup to this flash drive, formatted as FAT32 (better boot compatibility), 4GB files, writing 130MB/s, reading ~300MB/s... and that on an older system over a PCIe card, USB3 adapter.

Despite the large (casing) size, thinking of buying more of these @ $24, especially because MLC based.
 

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