How do I increase the data transfer speed of my pendrive in Windows 7?

Kyem G January 29, 2014
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I have recently bought a 32GB Sandisk Cruzer Blade pendrive and as FAT32 file system limits file size to 4.5GB, I’ve formatted it to NTFS as I normally use the Windows environment and as to carry large file chunks more than 4.5GB per file at a time.

I’ve used the default allocation size, as I technically don’t know what this means. And also have tried with 16KB of allocation size. There was no change. Obviously I have got USB 2.0 ports and so I’m not expecting huge speed. While trying to copy a 5.6GB of file to my pendrive, the transfer starts at a speed of about 88MBps and gradually it gets down to the lowest of 1-2Mbps. After visiting some sites, I applied some tweaks:

Right clicked on the drive, select property, clicked on hardware, selected my drive, clicked on property, clicked on policy tab, and then checked the ‘Better performance’ option.

Well it did some improvement as earlier, during the remaining 3-4MB of the copy, the process was getting stopped and then took more 5-8 minutes to finish the copy process, this time after going through the above mentioned tweak, the transfer smoothly got finished off. I admit that my pendrive is the cheapest of its range but still I want to know if this is an obvious issue or not. I heard that this issue is resolved in Windows 8, is it true? And is there any resolution for Windows 7?

The transfer rate to my pendrive in NTFS gradually decreases from 88MBps to the lowest of 1MBps.

  1. Susendeep D
    February 23, 2014 at 10:59 am
  2. Bruce E
    February 3, 2014 at 7:02 am

    A heavily fragmented hard drive can cause some performance issues during copy operations, but not to the extent described by OP. Due to the size of the file(s) being copied, it is more likely an issue regarding other processes stealing I/O cycles or the system is paging while doing the copy. Use the Sysinternals Process Monitor to watch activity on your hard drive during the copy. You may also want to set up performance counters to watch memory consumption and page faults to see if excessive memory demands are causing the system to page.

  3. Oron J
    February 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Well, let me modify my position Hovsep. If a drive is very heavily fragmented, then defragging it can improve the performance somewhat, because Windows has to do extra work to fetch the pieces and put them together (see article ). That said, this would need to be a fairly extreme situation.

    • Hovsep A
      February 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      i do understand you and you are correct, sometime can be hardware problem so in this case difficult to correct the problem. Windows in built copy paste function although got better compared previous windows version, it is always in lag for some reasons even if the pc is USB 3 capable....

  4. Jan F
    January 30, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I don't recommend using the "performance" option for removable media.
    Basically it means that data will be cached before finally being written to the drive so the copy dialog from Windows may disappear although the drive isn't finished with the process yet. Unless you use the safely remove option every time (as stated underneath the policy) you may end up unplugging your drive before it's done resulting in corrupted files or worse, a corrupted file system or drive.

    There are multiple causes for slow transfer speeds:

    1. The limitations of the interface.
    The Cruzer Blade is a USB 2.0 device which has a theoretical speed limit of 480Mbit or 60MB/s. So the 88MBps you are seeing is definitely artificial. Real world (read) speeds are closer to 35MBps or 280Mbit.

    2. The limitations of the flash drive (controller, memory chips).
    Unfortunately SanDisk doesn't list drive speeds but both Amazon customers and other retailers list speeds of 15MBps read and 5MBps write.

    3. Your motherboard and other devices.
    Even tho your computer may have 2-8 USB ports those are usually interfaced to only two, maybe three USB host controllers. The more devices are connected to the same controller the slower it gets because the resources of the host controller have to be shared.
    The real impact of this primarily depends on the devices - if you have two USB storage devices on the same controller both will slow each other down. If your USB drive shares the controller with e.g. your mouse than this doesn't really have a noticeable impact.

    In your specific case I will simply point out option Nr.2
    Reading the Amazon reviews it really looks like the slow speeds of 3-5MBps you are seeing are the best the drive has to offer for write operations.

  5. Oron J
    January 30, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    USB drive speed depends greatly on the speed of the individual drive, and on the size of the files. Basically, the smaller the files, the slower the transfer (by the way this is why the option exists in NTFS to choose your cluster size when formatting. It allows you to optimise the drive for speed, or for storage efficiency, but the difference in performance will not be great).
    So, the first thing to do is to find some reliable statistics for your drive to allow you to compare your drive's performance to what other people experience. You can use a special program for measuring your drive's speed (see 5 Apps to Check the Speed of Your USB Flash Drive (Windows) for a list of such packages).
    The second thing to note is that if your drive starts out at high speed and then slows down, then both the drive and the computer's USB interface are working just fine. The slowness could be because of limitations at your hard disc (e.g. high fragmentation) or lack of memory.
    I disagree with Hovsep about defragging the USB drive. Fragmentation has no effect at all on the speed of USB drives, and all you'll do is shorten the drive's life (only a little, but it's a little bit of a bad thing rather than good!).

    • Dalsan M
      January 31, 2014 at 8:05 am

      You are right about not defragging the flash drive, but fragmentation of the computer's hard disk can cause some slow down. Jan is correct about the performance of the SanDisk Cruzer being about 5MB/s. I have a 32GB Cruzer and has the same 5MB/s limit. Sometimes I luck out at around 8-14 for a good while, but then averages out to 5 or less.

    • Hovsep A
      February 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      well i had a kingston USB 2 key, which was slow and after defrag things got better but not spectacular?

    • Dalsan M
      February 2, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      Even though there may be a chance of better performance, the trade off of reduced lifespan is not worth the chance.

  6. Hovsep A
    January 29, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    defrag the USB key
    this can be the fault with the Sandisk Flash Drive itself.

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