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I'm considering using my 4 GB Kingston DataTraveler USB stick to store my Firefox and Thunderbird profiles for my laptop and desktop PCs.

I want to maximize performance when using Firefox. The question is: what is the best file system and allocation size for the fastest Firefox profile operation on a USB flash drive?

I'm using Windows 7 on both machines and I don't care about compatibility or the drive's lifetime. I just want to maximize performance. I could even use ext2 with the Ext2 IFS driver if that means it'll be faster.

I'm assuming (perhaps I'm wrong) that putting a Firefox profile on a USB stick would be a "lots of small files" usage. In that case, it seems that NTFS would perform best, but I'm not sure. Besides I found nothing regarding the best allocation size to use. Considering that the default allocation size is designed for hard drives (which have different characteristics), I'm assuming that the default allocation size is not the best.

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I personally experience more speed with NTFS (than FAT32) on my 8 GB USB stick (and yes, I use NTFS-3G on Linux, and the ntfs-stuff from MacFuse as well as Windows). But you could just format the stick either way and benchmark with this.





Result: just minimal more speed with NTFS (Windows 7), I experienced a bit more speed on Windows XP with NTFS. anyway, benchmark it yourself.

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This software gives me absurd results with ext2 (like 500 MB/S... on a USB2 drive... yeah right). – e-t172 Sep 19 '09 at 15:42
you wanted fast, you got fast :) – akira Sep 19 '09 at 18:37
up vote 0 down vote accepted

As stated in the comments of the other answer suggesting using ATTO Disk Benchmark, I don't have a way to analyse the performance of ext2 (with ext2 IFS for Windows) on my USB drive.

So I gave it a try: I formatted using ext2, put my firefox profile on the flash drive, and then I did some surfing.

Surprisingly, ext2 behaves MUCH better than FAT32, NTFS or exFAT. Using one of these three filesystems I had constant freezing and unresponsiveness when using Firefox. Using ext2 there are still a few stutters but overall it is much more usable than the others. I have no idea why.

I'll mark this as accepted unless someone comes up with a better answer (other software to benchmark filesystem performance or an explanation as to why ext2 would be better).

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Another idea: offers you a RAM disk. That software has an option to store / restore the current state of the RAM disk on shutdown / startup. -> Put that RAM disk image onto your USB stick?

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I want plug/unplug operations to be fast. So, thanks but no thanks. – e-t172 Sep 19 '09 at 19:11

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