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USB flash drives are not all made equal. On one level, you have speed differences between USB 2.0 and USB 3.x Why You Should Upgrade To USB 3.0 Why You Should Upgrade To USB 3.0 It’s been quite a while since USB 3.0 has been included in motherboards, but now we've come to the point where most devices and computers come with the new and improved ports. We all know... Read More . But even among flash drives of the same type, you’ll find significant variations in read and write speeds — and they won’t be apparent until you actually use them.

So what can you do? Test them yourself!

This testing process, called “benchmarking,” is easy enough that anyone can do it. You just need one of the following apps and the ability to click a button — that’s it! Soon you can know how fast your drives actually are, and if you have more than one, you can know which one is the fastest.

1. USB Flash Benchmark

USB Flash Benchmark is the ideal benchmarking tool. It’s intuitive, it’s informative, and it’s thorough. In fact, it’s the most in-depth testing tool on this list, with 15 total tests using chunk sizes ranging from 1 KB up to 16 MB, showing how your drive performs in various situations.

5 Apps to Check the Speed of Your USB Flash Drive in Windows test usb drive speed usb flash benchmark

There aren’t any other notable features, which is why USB Flash Benchmark is so lightweight and effective. Results can be uploaded and shared with a link, and you can view results on the site, but that’s about it. I’m confident in giving this tool two enthusiastic thumbs up.

DownloadUSB Flash Benchmark (Free)

2. USBDeview

USBDeview is a free, lightweight app from one of my favorite developers: Nir Sofer of NirSoft. He’s created over 100 portable freeware utilities that are all useful and can be downloaded and installed individually or managed through a tool called NirLauncher.

5 Apps to Check the Speed of Your USB Flash Drive in Windows test usb drive speed usbdeview

USBDeview does several things:

  • List all connected USB devices.
  • List all previously used USB devices.
  • Extended manufacturer details for all USB devices.
  • Enable, disable, or uninstall USB devices.
  • Run speed tests for USB devices.

That last one is why we’re here, but those other features are reasons why you’ll probably pick USBDeview over the others on this list. You can also publish speed test results for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices to compare and see where you fall.

DownloadUSBDeview (Free)

3. Parkdale

Parkdale is a lesser-known tool that straddles the line between simple and complex by giving you choices. QuickAccess is a one-click test with typical parameters, FileAccess is another one-click test with separate methodology, and BlockAccess is a low-level test directly on the drive.

5 Apps to Check the Speed of Your USB Flash Drive in Windows test usb drive speed parkdale

For checking the speed of a USB flash drive, QuickAccess is more than enough. Select the file size (1 GB by default), the block size (either 64 KB or 1 MB), then click Start. For smaller devices, like my 4 GB thumb drive, a file size of 100 MB is fine and will keep the test fast.

DownloadParkdale (Free)

4. Check Flash

Check Flash is one of the more advanced testing tools, offering a few more options and flexibility. Not that it’s difficult to use — it isn’t at all — but if you truly want a one-click solution, you’ll be happier with USB Flash Benchmark or USBDeview.

5 Apps to Check the Speed of Your USB Flash Drive in Windows test usb drive speed check flash

Check Flash’s notable features include:

  • Three testing modes: temp file, logical drive, physical drive.
  • Several testing types when running a read and write speed test, including small pattern set, full pattern set, write pattern, and verify pattern.
  • Four testing lengths, including one full pass, a manual number of passes, Until First Error Found, and Burn It (to really push your drive to its limits).

The only downside is that this level of thoroughness takes a while. For me, one full pass took close to 30 minutes yet gave me the same amount of information as the other tools. Therefore, I only recommend Check Flash if you need its special testing types or testing lengths.

DownloadCheck Flash (Free)

5. Crystal Disk Mark

As a full-blown disk benchmarking app, Crystal Disk Mark was made for regular HDDs and SSDs in addition to USB flash drives. It’s one of the most popular options for its various settings, but it isn’t as informative as some of the others on this list.

5 Apps to Check the Speed of Your USB Flash Drive in Windows test usb drive speed crystaldiskmark

Crystal Disk Mark’s notable features include:

  • Uses Microsoft’s DiskSpd implementation (open source).
  • Four test types: Seq Q32T1, 4K Q32T1, Seq, and 4K.
  • Choose between 1 to 9 passes per test.
  • Choose between 50 MB to 32 GB file size per test.
  • Choose between Random Data and Zero Fill.

DownloadCrystal Disk Mark (Free)

Other Useful USB Flash Drive Tips

If you’re unhappy with your USB flash drive speeds, consider reformatting as NTFS or exFAT instead of FAT32. If it’s still too slow, you may have to buy a new USB flash drive USB Flash Drive Guide: 5 Things to Know When Buying One USB Flash Drive Guide: 5 Things to Know When Buying One USB flash drives might seem mundane and straightforward, but there are a few tips and quirks that you should know before you buy your next one. Read More .

If your drive ever shrinks in size for some unknown reason, check out our tip on recovering lost USB drive space How to Recover Lost Space on a USB Drive How to Recover Lost Space on a USB Drive If your USB drive ever shrinks in capacity, there's a very simple solution you can use to restore all of that lost space. Read More . And for most drive types, you actually don’t need to eject before removing Do You Really Need to Eject Your Flash Drive (or Device) Before Removing It? Do You Really Need to Eject Your Flash Drive (or Device) Before Removing It? It's well known that USB flash drives are supposed to be ejected before removing them. But do you really still need to do this? What happens if you don't? Read More .

Have a bunch of redundant drives laying around? There are plenty of ways to make use of them Are USB Flash Drives Still Worth It In 2015? Are USB Flash Drives Still Worth It In 2015? USB flash drives are great for storage, but they have so many other uses. Here's how they're worth their weight in gold. Read More , such as turning a USB flash drive into a key that unlocks your PC 3 Tools for Turning Your USB Drive Into a Secure Unlock Key for Your PC 3 Tools for Turning Your USB Drive Into a Secure Unlock Key for Your PC Read More .

How fast are your USB flash drives? What do you use them for? Is the technology becoming obsolete or do USB flash drives still play an important role? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below!

Originally written by Saikat Basu on March 6, 2009.

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  1. cat1092
    June 24, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Older article, although this is still of importance. USB 2.0 Flash drives, while slower than USB 3.0, are the preferred models to use for creating bootable rescue apps, Windows & Linux OS installers & finally, to use to copy your bootable recovery partition to.

    I wished that I'd known this before investing in USB 3.0 Flash drives, have since corrected this, USB 2.0 are still best for many purposes & finally, read reviews & make sure that a particular model is bootable, if using to install a OS or building rescue media for backup recovery.

    However, the article stands as written, just thought to update for 2017.;-)

    Cat

    • cat1092
      June 24, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      Forgot to add in my above post, regarding USB Flash drive lifespan, like SSD's, have never worn one out. have a couple of lockable ones (SanDisk with U2), as well as others that locks, so far my luck has been a perfect 10 with USB Flash drives. Other than most of my USB 3.0 ones aren't bootable.

      Another Tip: If upgrading a SD/SDHC card in a digital camera, using a portable USB card reader, these cards can be reused to create rescue media & even OS installers if large enough. Even the 1GB cards are useful for rescue media that we all need to create when a backup software updates & new rescue media becomes needed.

      Cat

    • Saikat Basu
      June 28, 2017 at 2:38 am

      We are in the process of updating the old posts. With thousands of old posts, it is taking a long time.

      *But great point.* Didn't know about the problem as I use USB 2.0 myself.
      And, another good tip with the "SD/SDHC card" suggestion. Thanks so much.

  2. Rikki Nicholas
    March 11, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Thanks a bunch. This article helped me test USB sticks for my review website.

    Much Appreciated.

    • Saikat
      March 11, 2015 at 7:10 am

      Thanks. Glad it helped :)

  3. esalkin
    February 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

    **** IMPORTANT ******
    USB flash drives have a limited lifespan. About 100k writes if I recall. Running any of these programs will take away a little of that life. Running some that are designed for hard disks using "intensive" or "continuous" modes could eat up a chunk.

    IMHO use them just ONCE to test speed. Any more and you are wearing the drive out for no reason.

    Thanks for the nice list BTW

  4. Jiji
    December 18, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Crystal is the best. The rest aren't worthy of download.

  5. 83bj60
    December 2, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Excellent, very informative and practical post :)

    As for your basic assumption that value is more closely related to specifications rather than brand marketing, I strongly disagree! Our whole economy is based on marketing. Cost of manufacture is a TINY fraction of end user final cost.

    Time and time again I have seen low priced product perform better than high end products. Of course, it's all a question of actual specifications and cutting through the marketing crap can be a major challenge, and has been a pet peeve of mine when buying any products: "Where's the beef?" (= what are the specifications).

    Your testing software report should make it easy for those who can actually test and return these USB keys to select the best product (Here in Canada Flash memory products are non returnable).

    Thank You!

  6. David (of Melodiya Records)
    October 14, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Another great app to check speed of USB drive and even to test it for errors and bad blocks is hddscan.com.
    Moreover, it's completely free.

    All the best,
    Dave

  7. roger
    October 4, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I down loaded HD Speed. Avg said the file had a virus so I deleted it.

  8. Phaoloo
    August 10, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Useful apps.

  9. Fergal
    August 6, 2009 at 8:50 am

    the 2nd on the list HD SPEED was deletet and blocked by my security as being a trojan!

  10. avi
    June 30, 2009 at 5:11 am

    You can also try this one:

    usbspeed.nirsoft.net

  11. bunny
    June 1, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Have you tried Flash Drive/Card Tester from vconsole.com
    its free and low on frills but does the job.

    It just told me that my supposedly "high-speed" flash writes at 12mb/s and reads at a shade under 18mb/s. Pretty pathetic if you want to boot of it.

  12. zarik
    May 15, 2009 at 9:26 am

    AVG says HD Speed is infected

    • Saikat
      May 17, 2009 at 2:14 am

      It is reported to be a false positive. But if you have concerns, it's always safer not to use it.

  13. Kartik
    May 5, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Nice collection!
    I have noticed that Check Flash probably doesn't support more than 4 GB of Flash memory. It gave me some sort of confirmation before starting the test.

  14. Mithun John Jacob
    April 15, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Excellent writeup !

  15. rafik
    April 5, 2009 at 8:26 am

    That' amazing .. Many thanks

  16. siambookmark
    March 14, 2009 at 6:21 am

    thank you very good

  17. Bob
    March 8, 2009 at 5:31 am

    How do these check the speed? I read about 1 called "check flash" which appears to actually destroy all your data which is on the disk before! Not something I want to do in order to check the speed!

    Are any of these safe? Please can you advise!

    • Saikat
      March 10, 2009 at 11:50 pm

      It is always preferable to backup up your data before conducting any type of tests and do the tests on an empty Flash drive. As far as I tested them, I found them to be safe. With Check Flash, during the read and write test it fills the flash drive up with a temporary file to make sure the flash drive is the size that it says it is.

  18. sunkumarspace
    March 8, 2009 at 4:33 am

    cool article and also some essential and necessary information esepcially for falshdrive users

  19. burnz
    March 8, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Finally i've got something to check on my flash/thumb drive..

  20. OCZ fan
    March 7, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    You forgot one of the best: Atto disk benchmark

  21. Jason
    March 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    NO love for (simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php?request=HdTach) HD Tach..... :( .... I love that program.

  22. ~weatherguy
    March 7, 2009 at 3:29 am

    Actually I'm really happy to see you guys closinjg in on 50,000 Feedburner Readers. Add that to Rss and you've got a real substantial following.

  23. holeycow
    March 6, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    i was looking for something like this the other day... i like free, self executable progs.

  24. above and beyond
    March 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    omg, ty!

    • Worldly News
      March 7, 2009 at 3:25 pm

      That's cool. but once you find out the speed what can you really do with that?