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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.


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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  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.;-)


    • 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.


  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
    Moreover, it's completely free.

    All the best,

  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:

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

    Have you tried Flash Drive/Card Tester from
    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 ( 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?