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I have been searching for this but have found nothing so far, so here i am asking here.

Im running a webpage, and was wondering if a USB stick would have a higher I/O speed when reading small webpage files like 3-20kb.

My guess is that they USB will be faster because less time is spend searching for the data like in a real SSD.

Has anyone benchmarked it?

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migrated from serverfault.com Jul 21 '11 at 14:53

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

    
I guess any positive effects are negated by the slow transfer speed of the USB2 bus. Also: Before doing this kind of "optimization": Did you measure if your site is slowed down by file lookup times in any way? –  SvW Jul 21 '11 at 12:31
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You don't "run a webpage". Perhaps you mean a web server. USB is a specification, not a device. As for your question, which bears no relationship to the title, why not just try it and see? Shouldn't take more than a minute or two to test. –  John Gardeniers Jul 21 '11 at 13:23
    
@SvenW, hard drives are often slower than USB 2.0. Depends on the drive, depends what all is on the USB bus, and depends on the PC reading the buffer. –  Brad Jul 21 '11 at 15:09
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@Brad: USB2 speed is maxed out at around 30-40MB/s, the theoretical limit not counting any protocol overhead is 60MB/s (480Mbit/s). I haven't used a disk that slow in years. –  SvW Jul 21 '11 at 15:40
    
@SvenW, consider yourself fortunate. I've got several old drives that are slower. My point is that it the bottleneck isn't always USB. There are too many factors at play here. –  Brad Jul 21 '11 at 15:46

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

@Andreas: It is well known very small files copy ultra slow on flash memory. As well, unlike a hard disk drive, which just writes over the old data, flash memory actually erases the data and then writes the new data. The processor requires an extra step, which results in slower performance [ref: tomshardwareguide] I am unfamiliar with potential improvements with eSATA usb, or usb3 options for flash media.

Here's some avg data from some tests I was running today (why Iran into this thread)

500GB 7200rpm Hitachi 0.5" HDD - tiny file test

4k:1280 Average Write Speed:6.81MB/s

4k:1280 Average Read Speed:11.04MB/s

2k:2560 Average Write Speed:8.19MB/s

2k:2560 Average Read Speed:6.94MB/s

Avg Flash Drives tiny file Test (Datatraveler 32GB, 16Gb, and 8gb)

4k:1280 Average Write Speed:0.31MB/s

4k:1280 Average Read Speed:3.73MB/s

2k:2560 Average Write Speed:0.16MB/s

2k:2560 Average Read Speed:1.92MB/s

eSATA USB - could not test

USB3 - could not test


Of course, the benchmarks shared here do not take into consideration real-world type usage, where files of varying sizes typically are being transferred. However, while there are utilities available for investigating more deeply, it seems many people already have, and my opinion in general, from my own experience, is usb2 flash stick media just cannot standup, speed-wise, to a hard drive. -just my two-sense-

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The answer to this question depends greatly on the devices used. Many USB flash drives have absolutely terrible speed, and others are incredibly fast. Without specific devices to compare, it is hard to say.

It also depends a bit on the filesystem, disk caching, and a few other factors.

The only way to figure this out is to benchmark real-world devices that you have. That is why you can't find a definitive answer.

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There is no speed difference between USB and SSD

flash memory is programmed in chunks of 4k..128k thus USB is somewhat sub-optimal writing to flash media behind in 512 byte blocks. sata etc (with correct partition alignment) has no such problem. read speed might be half speed at worst for 3kB read with either technology (if partition is misaligned and system reads two flash blocks ipo one) RAM is so cheap that you can cache all files you might expect to read from disk for quick serving....

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