When copying files from my 8GB USB 2.0 flash drive with Windows 7 to a traditional hard drive, the average speed is between 25 and 30 MB/s. When doing the reverse, copying to the USB drive, the speed is 5MB/s average. I have tested this with about 4.5GB of files, a mixture of smaller and larger ones. The observations were the same on both FAT32 and exFAT file systems on the USB drive, NTFS on the internal hard disk.
I don't think I can be mistaken in saying that flash memory has a lot higher performance than a spinning hard drive in both terms of reading and writing.
For both memory types, reading should be faster than writing too.
Now I wonder, how can it be that copying files from a fast read memory to a faster write memory is actually slower than copying files from a fast read memory to a slow write memory?
I think that the files are stored in RAM before being copied over too, and there's caching as well, but I don't see how even that could tip the balance. It can only be in the advantage of writing to the USB drive, since it is "closer" to the SATA system than the USB port and it will receive data from the internal SATA HDD faster.
Perhaps my way of thinking is all wrong or it just depends on the manufacturer of the USB pen. But I am curious.