What is the Normal File Transfer Rate of USB 3.0 to An External HDD?

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What is the Normal File Transfer Rate of USB 3.0 to An External HDD?

What is the Normal File Transfer Rate of USB 3.0 to An External HDD?

I’ve never been a big admirer of USB storage as a Mac user. Sure, there are keyboards and mice. However, compared to Apple’s FireWire, FireWire 800, and (most recently) Thunderbolt connections, a hard disc attached through USB has always been slow. So for a long time, booting from a USB disc on a Mac was frowned upon.

However, times have changed. My bias is gradually dissipating, thanks to USB 3.0’s availability on practically all shipping Macs (and, in the case of the Mac Pro, something you can add via a PCI card), bootability (since late 2005—but what can I say, I can carry a grudge), enhanced performance, and low pricing.

(Although the first certified USB 3.0 consumer products were introduced at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, it wasn’t until June 2012 that new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models were released that Macs began selling with USB 3.0 ports.)

The highest bandwidth rate of USB 3.0 (also known as SuperSpeed USB) is five Gbps (gigabits per second). That’s 640 MBps (megabytes per second), ten times quicker than USB 2.0. (aka Hi-Speed USB).

Intel’s Thunderbolt technology, on the other hand, provides potential data-transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps on each of its bi-directional channels. Thunderbolt appears to be twice as fast as USB 3.0, but how fast is Thunderbolt in practice? Furthermore, Thunderbolt is currently fairly expensive (typically $100 or more for a disc of the same capacity), and USB 3.0 connections enable backward compatibility with USB 2.0 devices.

Intel’s Thunderbolt technology, on the other hand, provides potential data-transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps on each of its bi-directional channels. Thunderbolt appears to be twice as fast as USB 3.0, but how fast is Thunderbolt in practice? Furthermore, Thunderbolt is currently fairly expensive (typically $100 or more for a disc of the same capacity), and USB 3.0 connections enable backward compatibility with USB 2.0 devices.

Tests on hard drives

We chose a bus-powered, 2.5-inch Hitachi 750GB, 7200-rpm hard drive for our initial test and ran a series of tests linked directly to our MacBook Pro via USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. The studies were again repeated with the USB device connected to one of two hubs.

We tested StarTech’s $61 6 Port USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 Combo Hub with 2A Charging Port, which has two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and a seventh USB port for charging devices, as well as Belkin’s $50 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 4-Port Hub, which has two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and a seventh USB port for charging devices.

The tests were then repeated with the drive linked through FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt in various enclosures.

We timed how long it took to copy a 10GB file to an external drive (in other words, to write the file) and then copy the file back to the internal drive in our experiments (read the file). A similar test was performed using 10GB of smaller files and folders.

Finally, we conducted the Aja System Test from Aja Video Systems. This free benchmark determines how fast your system is and how it would perform under various video-editing scenarios. We choose the 2GB File option with 1920 by 1080, 10-bit, RGB frame sizes.

The findings of our USB 3.0 tests were rather consistent. Our USB 3.0 findings were in the 112 MBps to 115 MBps range regardless of the test we ran or how we attached the disc. For example, with the Hitachi drive connected directly to a USB 3.0 port on the MacBook Pro, the Aja System Test Write scores were 107.2 MBps; through the Belkin hub, the score was 106.1 through the StarTech junction, the score was 102.5 MBps.

We also did the tests again with the USB 3.0 disc connected to the hubs and a USB 2.0 keyboard and mouse to see if performance was affected.) I didn’t include the data in the charts because we didn’t see any performance changes with the USB 2.0 peripherals installed.

Our USB 2.0 findings were also highly consistent, with each of our six tests averaging 41 MBps. The write speeds for the files on folders tests were significantly faster when using the hubs, increasing from 35.1 MBps when connected directly to around 41 MBps when using the seats.

Aja System Test is a program that allows you to test your system

In our write testing, FireWire 800 was about half as fast as USB 3.0, with speeds ranging from 55 to 60 MBps. Although the read speeds were better, at 72.3 and 74.5 MBps, they were still much slower than USB 3.0.

Thunderbolt produced data comparable to USB 3.0, indicating that the 7200-rpm disc was acting as a bottleneck for greater transfer speeds.

SSD evaluations

We repeated the testing with an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD as the external drive to eliminate the spinning-hard-disk constraint. The USB 2.0 findings were slow and consistent once again. With or without the Hub, all testing yielded the same 40-MBps results. Again, the bottleneck in this situation was USB 2.0.

USB 3.0 speeds, on the other hand, benefited greatly from the SSD’s superior performance. The USB 3.0 connection reached approximately 200 MBps when writing the 10GB file. Aja System Test’s write tests yielded similar findings. However, the Aja and file-read tests were a little slower—167 MBps—while reading a folder with 10GB of smaller files took just over 160 MBps.

The slowest score for USB 3.0 with the SSD was 144.7 MBps for writing a folder with many tiny files. Except for the 10GB folder write test, which was 7.7 MBps faster than the spinning disc, the IDG FireWire 800 results were similar to the hard-drive testing.

Results were substantially faster than USB 2.0, but they couldn’t keep up with USB 3.0, which was always at least twice as fast as FireWire 800, and in our 10GB file and Aja Write tests, USB 3.0 was three times more quickly.

Thunderbolt was substantially faster than the hard drive in these SSD tests, and it was faster than USB 3.0 in all six tasks, though to varying degrees. For example, it was 35% faster at writing our 10GB folder of files, 17% more quickly at reading those files, 14% faster at reading our massive 10GB file, and only 6% faster at writing that file than USB 3.0. However, the Aja System Test revealed greater differences. For example, the Thunderbolt-connected drive achieved 355 MBps write and 370 MBps read speeds, compared to 193.2 MBps write and 167.6 MBps read rates achieved by USB 3.0 using Aja System Test.

What exactly does it all imply?

While you won’t notice a tenfold boost in transfer speed from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 in practice, USB 3.0 is about three times quicker than USB 2.0 with a spinning hard disc and three to five times shorter with an SSD. Using a hub does not affect speeds even with other (slower) peripherals connected.

In addition to being faster than FireWire 800, USB 3.0 also outperforms Thunderbolt. Depending on the task and the drives used, it can also be just as quick as Intel’s fast connection. On the other hand, Thunderbolt can easily outperform USB 3.0 when the drive-speed bottleneck is removed (by using an SSD).