5 Apps to Check the Speed of Your USB Flash Drive (Windows)

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check the speed of your USB stickRecently, I bought a new USB flash drive and wanted to know whether the specs matched up to what it can actually do. Usually these days most USB flash drives are advertised as USB 2.0, but the brands among the bunch come with differing price tags.

Some of it can be put on the shoulders of brand marketing, but mostly it is the difference in specifications and features that accounts for the toll on your wallet.  Some come bundled with security software offering iron-clad privacy and some have memory capacities to tout. But hidden among these is the value of data transfer rates (reading and writing) capable from these flash devices.

So how do we go about checking the speed of USB flash drives? Maybe the following light and free software can lend a hand?

Check Flash

The Check Flash website is in Cyrillic (there is an English option too) but it shouldn’t stop anyone from downloading this light and free USB flash drive speed testing and error checking software.

With Check Flash you can test, manage and format your USB flash drive.  You can also run a read-write cycle on your USB flash drive, which returns not only the speed but also any errors (read/write or physical) in your USB drive. The software does not rectify the problem but merely reports it.

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Check Flash v1.07 runs as an 812KB sized executable and does not require an installation.

HD Speed

usb drive speed test

HD_Speed is a pint sized software that can be used to gauge the speed of data transfer on your hard disks, CD/DVD ROMS and USB flash drives. This program is compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista only, though it supports both FAT and NTFS volumes.

The 80KB utility does not require installation and runs with a click. Select the drive and hit start. The read/write results show up as a graph and also as real values.

Crystal Disk Mark

usb drive speeds

Crystal Disk Mark is another disk benchmarking tool that can double up as a USB flash drive speed tester. The screen is simple and gives readouts according to the type of tests performed.

Crystal Disk Mark can carry out sequential read/write tests (i.e. read/write data in order) or random 4KB/512KB reads/writes or text copy. The speed test results are displayed as large numerical in MB/s.The 396KB software runs as a standalone executable straight from the box and is compatible with Windows Vista/2003/XP.

Flash Memory Toolkit

usb drive speed review

Flash Memory Toolkit is advertised as a collection of utilities for flash memory devices. The toolkit includes options to get detailed device information, erase files and recover files lost after a format, hardware failure or an accidental deletion. Backup and restore functions along with our benchmarking task of measuring the read/write performance of the flash drive is available.

Unfortunately, the free standard version gives us only the ability to judge the Read speeds. To calculate both read/write speeds one has to upgrade to the Pro version. Even with this handicap, the ability to measure read speeds along with the File Benchmark feature (which calculates the time it will take to read or write files of various sizes to the device and returns the results as comparative graphs) is a nice help too.The 766KB software (v1.20) is installable on Windows 2000, XP, XP 64-bit, 2003 Server and Vista.

HD Tune

Similar to the aforementioned software, HD Tune also comes in the free and paid flavors. And again, the free version allows for only read speed testing of our USB Flash drives. It also gives a detailed disk information option along with an error scan.

For more advanced aspects one need to dole out for the pro version. If you disregard the missing features in the free version, it is a handy utility to have around because it gives us a lot of benchmarking information like the maximum, minimum and the average transfer rates (i.e. the read speed) along with access time, burst rate (defined as the highest speed at which data can be transferred from the drive to the OS).HD Tune v2.55 is available for Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003 Server and Windows Vista.

USB 2.0 has a cutting edge data rate of 480Mbps, and it is rated 40 times faster than the now archaic, USB 1.1, which peaked at 12Mbps. Flash drives are catching up with most now hovering around the 30-40 MB/s mark.

So have you checked the speed of your USB flash drive lately? Which software have you used? Share with us in the comments”¦

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Comments (27)
  • Rikki Nicholas

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

    Much Appreciated.

  • esalkin

    **** 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

  • Jiji

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

  • 83bj60

    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!

  • David (of Melodiya Records)

    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,

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.