When we buy a USB stick or an external hard drive, we hope it has a good speed. Most of the time it is like that, and we can copy files from our computer to the external device quickly. However, we have certainly found that the speed, especially when copying from the PC to the external device, is very slow. We will even see that the Windows graph constantly oscillates, reaching 0 bytes per second.
There are many factors that can affect the speed of reading and writing when copying files to a USB. This speed can vary by the protocol used (since the speed of USB 2.0 is infinitely lower than that of 3.0 or 3.1), it can vary by the hardware of our computer, by the brand, model and quality of the USB memory and even due to hardware problems.
All hard drives and USB sticks have a small temporary cache . This allows a certain capacity to be copied very quickly, and, once the files have been copied to the cache, this is automatically copied to the hard disk or flash memory. This is why the first seconds of copying go very fast, but then the speed decreases.
If the copy starts, for example, at 100 MB / s, and after a few seconds it goes down to an acceptable speed, such as 40 MB / s, and remains stable at this speed, we don’t have to worry. It is normal.
However, when the speed oscillates too much, and it goes down to 0 bytes per second, there may be other problems that are affecting the speed.
Hardware problems that can affect the speed when copying files to a USB
The main reasons why the speed of copying files to a USB is very slow can be:
- The USB is of very poor quality, or uses the 2.0 protocol.
- The ports of our computer are USB 2.0.
- Feeding problems
- Bottleneck or PC performance problem.
The USB 2.0 protocol has a theoretical speed of 480 Mbit / s (60 MB / s), although in practice the maximum real rate that can be obtained is 280 Mbit / s (35 MB / s). And, in addition, no USB 2.0 manages to write at this speed, unless it is the best in the market.
If our memory is still USB 2.0, the speed problem will surely come from here. This protocol has become obsolete due to its lack of speed, and therefore, we must buy a USB 3.0 memory that gives us a better speed.
When buying we must look at the speed that the manufacturer tells us . Many times they say that a USB memory reaches 100 MB / s, but in reading. We must also look at the speed of writing. And avoid Chinese USB sticks. You are sure that they will give us problems.
If our hard disk or USB memory is 3.0, but it is our computer that uses the 2.0 protocol, then the problem will remain the same. The lowest protocol speed is always going to be used, so, although the USB memory could work faster, it is the computer that cannot. In addition, the power provided by the USB 2.0 protocol is the third part of that provided by the 3.0 protocol, so surely the device has power problems.
The best way to solve this is by connecting the memory to a USB 3.0 port . It is rare that our computer does not have it (usually blue), but if we do not have it then we can buy a PCIe card with USB 3.0 ports.
If the hardware of our computer is old, or we are making intensive use of it, we may not have resources to copy the files at a good speed. If we want to achieve maximum speed it is better to choose to copy files to the USB memory when we are not using the computer.
The software sometimes makes the file copy speed very slow
The problems are not always hardware. Many times, the fault that the writing speed of our USB sticks or external hard drives is very low is Windows and a bad configuration .
To solve software problems when copying files, the first thing we should do is make sure we have our operating system updated to the latest version. Of course, it is recommended to have Windows 10 on your computer, since the previous operating systems are not prepared to take full advantage of the new protocols.
It is also recommended to update the drivers of our computer . When we install Windows, the operating system installs generic drivers to leave our computer running. But they are not the best.
We recommend visiting the website of the manufacturer of our motherboard and download the latest version of the chipset drivers and everything related to USB. These drivers will allow you to further increase the speed of writing in the memories and external hard drives.
One trick that can also help sometimes is to format the USB memory and choose the appropriate file system for our operating system. In Windows, for example, NTFS.
Another of the very common reasons why USB devices are usually slowed down is the antivirus. All the files we copy are analyzed with the real-time engine of this antivirus. Therefore, if we have problems, and the files we are copying are safe, we can temporarily disable the antivirus to copy the data to memory. But we cannot forget to activate it again at the end.
We must also check the power options of our computer . If we are using a laptop, and it is pulling battery, it is most likely that it is the energy saving options themselves that limit speed (precisely limiting the power of the USB ports). If we connect it to the current, or change the profile at maximum performance, the USB speed should increase.
Finally, we remember that very small files are copied much worse than large files. A multi-gigabyte file will surely take advantage of 100% of the speed of the USB memory. However, if we copy files of 500 KB or less, the speed will look very resentful.