Is it worth buying a USB 3.1 USB flash drive?
The tech industry, tech nerds and tech blogs will definitely say that buying a USB 3.1 flash drive is worth it. After all, these blogs need something new to write about and new links to generate for affiliate advertising, but are these blogs reporting back valuable information before someone spends their hard earned cash?
Let us compare the write speed difference between a USB 3.1 flash drive and a USB 3.0 flash drive to see what information we can uncover.
Universal Serial Bus (USB) has different transfer speeds based on the version of technology, we did a write about that earlier. The USB 3.1 specification has a transfer rate which taps out at 1,250 MB/second (Megabytes per second). The USB 3.0 specification has a transfer rate which taps out at 625MB/second. Of course this is the theoretical maximum transfer speed. When anyone says “theoretical transfer speed” they are implicating all conditions are ideal. For example, the host computer has the horsepower and bandwidth to push that much data and the receiving device (in this case, flash drive) has equal throughput to receive that data. But is that the real world – is it worth buying a USB 3.1 USB flash drive?
Below are some images and here is the general order of what you will be reading:
- Screen shots of the USB device type (USB 3.0 and USB 3.1)
- Screen shots of benchmark software testing both USB technologies
- Screen shots of a real-world copy jobs using a Windows computer
From the screen shots below you can see a USB 3.0 flash drive and USB 3.1 flash drive. Both flash drives use an SMI controller for the USB 3.0 and 3.1 technology. These are the same high quality and higher performance controllers seen in iPhones and NAND memory used from Micron Technology. The NAND memory type is MLC (multi-layer cell memory) is slower than SLC NAND memory (single layer cell). Note: USB flash drives do not use SLC memory because the NAND memory price is too expensive and the SLC supply is very small. Flash drives are produced at mass scale and meant to be a low cost data transfer and storage tools – speed is not the #1 priority, despit all the marketing we read online.
Here are benchmark speed tests for both USB devices in discussion today.
The program has two test settings for benchmarking a speed test. One test setting is for the theoretical maximum speed of the device and writes data directly to memory without accounting for operating system and device overhead for were the data is stored. Think of this as a random write test to any available sector on the flash drive.
The second test setting is a write sequence which includes the operating system and device overhead cache for placing files in the file allocation table. This means extra time is spend during the data transfer to log where each sector is written along with the calculation required to write the next bit of data. This second test setting is more like a real-world experience.
Speed benchmark software is designed to provide a relatively quick summary of the device capability. So the first test setting is designed to show the theoretical maximum write speed or “burst” write speed. The second test setting is designed to show a more “sustained” write speed. Any benchmark software is designed to provide a quick and easy snap-shot of what the device can do – but can the device do it?
Readers can download the USB Scrub software for speed benchmarking their flash drives. The software is 100% free, no installation or sign-ups, and includes other cool features like registry cleaning and making image files of flash drives. USB Scrub download link
Most USB specification speeds are shown in Mbps or Megabits per second, but nearly all users reference data storage in MB (Megabytes) or GB (Gigabytes) so this post converts the Mbps rate to MB/second and presents them in a picture graph. Scroll down to see the image.
In the year 1995 seven companies came together to develop USB or Universal Serial Bus. The overall goal was making a uniform way storage devices would connect to computers. (Seven companies are: Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, and Nortel)
- USB 1.0 was introduced in 1996.
- USB2.0 was introduced in 2000.
- USB 3.0 was introduced in 2008 with the next generation of USB 3.0 called 3.1 introduced in 2013.
- USB 3.2 was released in 2017.
- USB 4.0 specification was released in 2019.
USB speeds shown in MB per second is shown below as a picture graph. The graph below shows the MB/second in relationship to the USB version. In addition, the USB connector type is highlighted for the versions which are available.
The adoption rate of USB specifications to enter the market typically has a 2 year delay from the time of specification release to products becoming available. The duration for those technologies to become fully saturated in the market takes even longer. For example, the USB 4.0 specification may take another four years before the majority of products available will support those transfer speeds.
The data transfer speeds of USB 4.2 will be welcome as moving 10,000 MB/s will easily satisfy the human expectation of “is it done yet!”
Two things to consider however when it comes to our expectations and reality.
- The transfer speeds from these specifications (or any specification like PCI or SCSI) are always the theoretical speeds. Actual, real life speeds will be less.
- Although USB 4.2 sounds incredible fast, the possibility of files increasing in size is about as exponential as Moore’s Law anyway. Meaning our MP4 video file of today that is 100MB in size… will be higher resolution and better sound a year or two down the road and will balloon in size to 500MB or more.
The device market for all USB technologies in the year 2021 was valued at an estimated $35.3 Billion US Dollars.
The growing use of consumer electronics such as smartphones and laptop computers in developed and developing countries is primarily due to rising disposable income, population growth, and increased Internet penetration. Significant technological advancements have resulted in an increase in the penetration of these devices across several economies. According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), smartphone sales in the United States will total 152 million units in 2020.
USB devices have emerged as a dominant interface for meeting the growing demand for fast data transfer between end devices such as laptops, smartphones, PCs, and digital cameras. As a result of the increasing demand for consumer electronics and data transmission products, global USB device market players are focusing on launching new products in order to achieve sustainable growth and differentiate themselves from competitors, thereby contributing to market growth.
Using the command prompt (cmd) you can quickly and easily get the USB volume serial number and the USB device serial number. There is no computer experienced needed to perform these functions, simply type a couple letters and you will get the information!
To get the USB Volume Serial Number do the following:
Insert USB flash drive into the computer
Double click the drive letter associated with the USB flash drive (remember the drive letter as you will need this in a moment)
In File Explorer type: cmd
From the command prompt type: vol d: and click Enter ( where “d” is the drive letter of the USB flash drive)
The command prompt window will return the results and look something like this:
The Volume in drive D is named “Nexcopy”
The Volume serial number is 3AAB-AA16
After we explain how to get the USB device serial number we will explain the difference between the two.
To get the USB Device Serial Number do the following:
If anyone searches for “burn ISO to USB” they will get pages and pages of Rufus links. However, there is a big misconception with Rufus… it doesn’t create USB CD-ROM drives!
The only thing Rufus does is take a bootable ISO file and write the data to a USB stick. Basically Rufus will extra the data on an ISO file and write it to the flash drive. You can do the same thing with WinRAR.
There is nothing magical about Rufus when it comes to “making a CD” because Rufus doesn’t make a “CD.”
If you need to make a USB CD-ROM flash drive the best solution found so far, is the Disc License drive. The Disc License drive is a blank USB CD-ROM flash drive. Using their Drive Wizard software (free), easily write ISO files to USB. The resultant drive will be a USB CD-ROM flash drive.
Before we get into Disc License technology, we do need to clear up some points about WinRAR and Rufus software. WinRAR will extract all the files contained in an ISO file and write them to your USB flash drive; however, if the ISO is bootable, WinRAR won’t write the boot code. This is where Rufus does shine. The Rufus software will write all the files contained in an ISO file along with the boot code to make your device bootable. With that said, there is a clear advantage for using Rufus over WinRAR.
Does Rufus burn any ISO file to USB? NO.
Does Rufus make your USB flash drive read-only, like a CD? NO.
If the ISO file isn’t bootable, there isn’t much [more] Rufus can offer. A non-bootable image will display an error message saying “This image is either non-bootable, or it uses a boot or compression method that is not supported by Rufus.”
Rufus is truly designed for one thing:
Hold USB Flash Drive In DVD Case
This is a brilliant solution which after viewing the video you will say: “this should have come out years ago!”
This is the least expensive, yet most secure way to hold a USB flash drive in a DVD case.
The era of CD and DVD is coming to a close with USB flash drives taking its place. Yet many CD and DVD duplication facilities have shelves and shelves of DVD jewel cases which they need to put to good use. This DVD-to-USB-Insert card is the quick, easy and cheap solution. The insert allows users to keep their DVD case and related jewel case artwork to remain the same, but now secure a USB flash drive inside the DVD case, rather than an optical disc.
So many businesses enjoy the DVD case because the DVD case is a great storage box. The case is a good size with a thick spin to print what the contents in the DVD case are.
Continue this same “library” methodology with the DVD-to-USB-Insert card.
In case you can’t see, or didn’t see, the video posted above the solution will hold two USB flash drives in a DVD case. The DVD-to-USB-Insert is a thick 0.65mm clear plastic which is the same diameter as a DVD. However, the clear plastic has two rectangles which are inverted to hold just about any sized USB flash drive. This solution will fit two USB flash drives into a single DVD case. The two rectangles are the same size and as said, will fit darn nearly all USB sticks with a size that is 3″ long by 3/4″ wide and a depth of 3/8″ ( for you metric folks, that is 76mm long, 21mm wide and 9.5mm deep).
The clear plastic has a hole in the center the same size as a DVD disc and will snap into the “holder” of the DVD case. Using any DVD case on the market you can easily hold a USB flash drive inside a DVD case. The video shows how secure the USB flash drive is when inside the DVD case. The flash drive will not fall out during shipping or transit.
To be clear, the DVD-to-USB-Insert is only the clear plastic that holds the USB flash drive using the nipple snap that holds the DVD. The DVD case itself is not sold with this solution because the assumption is you (the user) already have stock or inventory of the DVD case itself.
This solution to hold a USB flash drive in a DVD case does not infringe on any patents from other manufacturers who use alternate solutions to secure a flash drive inside a DVD type case.
Please contact USB Copier for more details. This is a USB duplication service company.
CD and DVD optical duplicators have been popular for years; however, with the disc drive no longer sold in computers, the only device left for moving files around are USB flash drives – well, most common device at least. With that in mind, let us take a look review a USB flash drive duplicator and wanted and provide observations.
So what is the speed of burning a DVD compared to copying to a USB flash drive? With a 16X DVD recorder it will take about 6-7 minutes to burn an entire disc, which is 4.7GBs. A common size DVD duplicator is seven drive system which means 7 copies every 7 minutes. However, today’s file sizes are getting larger and a data load can easily be over 5GBs. A dual layer DVD is 8.5GBs and would take about 27 minutes.
The USB duplicator in this review is a sixtenn target USB 3.0 duplicator manufactured by Nexcopy. This model was selected because it was the most popular in search results, and honestly – looks best for an office setting. This system will make sixteen copies at 1GB under a minute; which translates to 16 copies in less than five minutes. The dual-layer DVD mentioned above would be 9 minutes to make 16 copies. Clearly a USB duplicator is more efficient than a DVD duplicator.
Nexcopy’s model in today’s review is the USB160PC. This is a Windows computer based software and hardware solution which runs on Windows 7 or Windows 10. The copy speeds are the same as designated standalone systems. Below is a picture of the PC based system and the standalone system, both about the same port numbering (16).
The USB160PC uses software and provides six copy modes which a company can chose which copy method is best for their needs. Copy modes are:
- File Copy
- Copy Add
- Device Copy – Data Only
- Device Copy – Full Media
- IMG Copy
- Unique Data Streaming
We will cover the copy modes a bit later in the review.
The Drive Manager software by Nexcopy, has a data extraction feature giving the user the ability to extract data off the drive and make a data dump to a location on the host PC.
The PC based USB duplicator is fast and flexible to work with and provides excellent user feedback during the duplication process. The GUI (Graphical User Interface) ties in the obvious information such as USB flash drive total size, bytes used, percentage done during duplication and pass/fail response. Nexcopy uses their own Drive Manager software (trademarked) and provides lifetime software support and updates for free.
The GUI does an excellent job of identifying the USB device shown in the software with the USB socket on the duplicator. This is one problem with any home-grown duplication system, like connecting flash drives to a USB hub – the only way to identify a drive is by disconnecting it until you’ve found the one in question. The USB160PC gives you the tools to quickly identify each USB drive connected.
The bonus information from Drive Manager is the second tab of the GUI. This page shows the device serial number, the VID (Vendor ID) the PID (Product ID) and device descriptor information. The tech folks will appreciate this feature.
For this USB duplicator review we weighed the duplicator box and it came in just under 5 pounds – so portable! Two LED for feedback along with the GUI software. Blue LED shows power to the socket and green LED displays activity of the device (will blink when reading or writing data). The GUI will provide performance feedback and status about the copy job and process. The power supply is auto-detecting and will automatically work in a 110v or 230v environment, no need to make a manual power setting switch with the physical box. The USB duplicator has a 5v fan on the back side to provide air flow for cooling; although we didn’t experience any heat during testing and operation.
The power supply inside is a 150watt MeanWell brand power block, which is a brand used by medical companies so power will never be an issue. This also means the 150watt power supply can support 16 USB hard drives.
Microsoft Windows has been sending out updates which have created some problems for those cloning mass storage devices like USB flash drives and USB hard drives. This article should help you resolve those issues.
The Disk Signature is a unique ID Windows will assign to a device inside the Master Boot Record or MBR. The disk signature is 6 bytes long and sits in the first sector of the mass storage device. The disk signature becomes a problem for those cloning flash drives or hard drives with either a software utility or a large duplication equipment like a USB duplicator. The disk signature compounds itself if a multi-partition device is being cloned.
Many times a multi-partition device is created in Linux and at the time of create only one disk signature is assigned to the physical device. However, if multiple units of those copies are put in a Windows computer, Windows will try and assign a disk signature to each partition. This will cause a collision.
There are different situations one could have a disk signature collision, so this is only one example.
GetUSB.info did a write up about this a couple months back, here is the full blog post:
In addition, we found the following website which does a fantastic job about how one would edit the disk signature using a hex editor:
Today, like never before, individuals are working from the home office. Working in an favorable situation is decent and beneficial and I think this is why so many love the home office. As favorable as things may be; now and again the home office doesn’t have a computer gear to carry out the responsibilities required. With numerous business now practicing social distancing, one will discover certain things are still needed.
Consider the niche requirement to make USB duplicates at the home office. For instance, let us consider an IT director who needs to turn out bootable restore recover sticks, or a product engineer who is required to send programming updates to a group of remote office sales guys. These managers need a snappy, simple and econimical bit of gear to do the job.
The smaller USB flash drive duplicator by Nexcopy is an incredible solution for this definite issue. The unit measurings is 15cm long and 10cm wide. So it will fit into any computer bag, and light as a book.
The USB duplicator is a one-master to four-target copy station. The duplicator is a digital binary copier which duplicates any file system or structure provided by the master host flash drive. Using a USB cable the duplicator can power the five USB flash drives; however, is not recommended for using with USB hard drives.
With a duplicator like this, making duplicates at the home office is speedy and extremely simple. There are four menu buttons, enter, escape, up and down. The unit will work at the press of a single button, which makes this unit ideal for non technical people. The mini duplicator may be configured to perform a binary copy or a binary copy and compare. The copy and compare function gives the user piece of mind that each copy is exactly the same as the master. Having a verification option will insure every copy is the same as the master, giving the user piece of mind all the copies are 100% correct and exact.
Reviewing the features of the duplicator, we have note worthy features:
- Asynchronous copy mode, all the time
- Binary copier will copy any format; FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, Ext2,3,4, Proprietary
- Binary CRC verification algorithm
- Quick Erase and Full Erase for disk sanitization
- Four language modes in LCD menu
- USB speed benchmark utility
- Firmware upgradeable
Is the cost of the mini sized USB duplicator worth the cost for a home office employee? The easiest way to determine this is asking ourselves how much time the duplicator will save. This mini copy station, called the Nexcopy USB104SA will copy one GB of data to each device in just over one minute. That is extremely fast. If an IT manager or software engineer had to data load a 12 GB worth of data on a PC, it would take about 12 minutes to make four copies. Windows could never copy that much data, that quickly. When using the copy and compare mode it takes a bit longer… about 1.5 minutes per GB. So still incredibly quick.
Several features are worth mentioning in a bit more detail. The Erase function is a technical term to remove all data from the USB flash drive. This is a robust feature which guarantees data is removed from the flash drive with no ability of the data being recovered. Formatting a drive doesn’t clean data from the drive, the format function only destroys the file allocation table (the directions to find data), but erase will actually overwrite random binary data over the data blocks. There are two erase settings available on this little USB104SA, and the quick erase will scrub certain portions of the drive so some data could remain, but most likely the files would be corrupted if trying to be recovered because the random write sequence skips around the drive and over writting just bits of memory. The full erase function will write binary randomly zeros and ones to all the NAND memory of the flash drive. By doing this randomization, it would be impossible for sophisticated forensics recovery software to restore any data.
The four language modes include English, Spanish, Portuguese and Simplified Chinese.
The USB benchmark speed is a great a convenient tool for testing the read speeds and write speeds of a thumb drive. This is even more valuable when dealing with promotional quality media, as this low-end memory is very instable and can get frustrating to deal with. The easiest way to determine the quality of memory is looking at the write speed. With the benchmark utility one can test the read and write speed of a drive. The USB duplicator will write about 20MBs of random data to determine the average read and write speed. If the USB memory has a write speed of 4MB/second or lower, it’s not good quality. If the write speed is above 8MB/second for USB 2.0 media and above 20MB/second write speed for USB 3.0 media, it is of better quality memory.
The duplicator uses the CRC verification protocol. We did a previous article on Cyclical Redundancy Checking and a great read.
The USB duplicator made by Nexcopy is a backward compatible product and will copy to USB 1.0, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives. The duplicator will write to the device as fast as it will allow. The best write times will result from the operator using USB 3.0 media.
USB-C is great. Ultra fast data transfer rates close to 10Gbps and increased power to charge laptops, monitors and TVs. However; the power improvement from USB-C doesn’t last over longer cables. The USB-C (or USB 3) specification indicates the optical power and transfer rates will retain as long as the cable length is under two meters, or about six feet.
POE or Power over Ethernet, is a way to get both data and power to longer destinations via cable. PoE Texas has unveiled such a product for USB-C connections.
“As a standard USB-C offers amazing speed and power delivery. Unfortunately, USB-C can only transmit power less than ten feet (three meters), and the cable infrastructure comes at a cost premium. Ethernet cable, nearly ubiquitous in modern construction, can transmit power and data 328 feet (100 meters). USB-C power and data transmitted over Power Over Ethernet significantly lowers the cost of adopting USB-C by eliminating the need for new electrical infrastructure.”
Let’s give an example of how the PoE USB-C product could work – the following is a real life example from our own experience:
A user has a work station about 30 feet away from the production unit it needs to communicate with. The production unit is a USB-C duplicator by Nexcopy. The work station has a manager who controls the data to be loaded to USB-C flash drives, and the production unit, or USB duplicator, is manned by a production manager who physically connects and disconnects the USB sticks during the duplication process.
Because a standard USB-C cable cannot be used, as the distance is too far, the User could employ the USBC Power Over Ethernet product and get both the power and data to the destination.
USB 3.2, the most recent, shipping, standard sees a maximum transfer speed of 40Gb per second. USB4 will double that. Said another way, 80Gbps is equal to moving 10,000MB in one second. Said another way, that’s about 10GBs in one second.
Keep in mind, this is all theoretical, maxium speed. Real world applications will not get to this point. Never has, never will.
USB4 is built on Intel’s Thunderbolt technology. You know, the technology Apple tried to force everone to use back in 2012. The big change for USB is the interface. The Thunderbolt licensing setup is expensive and thus, we never saw low priced accessories to accommodate the technology. This is why Intel was always so interested in getting Thunderbolt to be the backbone for USB. It would gain in both speed and reduced price.
USB4 is also backwards compatible with USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3. Since the new standard merges both USB-C and Thunderbolt, we should start to see decreasing accessory price points that utilize faster speeds as USB4 gains popularity.
USB4 device manufacturers must also include USB Power Delivery technology, which regulates device charging. PD can quickly charge your phone or gaming laptop, sending the optimal amount of wattage for each device to charge quickly without damage.
Expect to see the first USB4 products hit the market as early as mid-2020.
Came across an article today, which I thought was a very good read. It’s a niche article, but for anyone who deals with flash drives, I would suggest checking it out.
From the article:
The optical drive is nearly dead – they are no longer found in laptops and rarely found in tower PCs. With that said, the trend for giving out data is shifting to USB flash, not CD or DVD media. Because of this shift, many companies are taking a closer look at buying a USB duplicator.
There are several factors one must consider before spending thousands of dollars on a USB duplicator. We have broken down the most important considerations into four categories. After reviewing these four categories, you should have an excellent idea of which type of duplicator is best for your organization.
USB Duplication Speed
Speed is the first area you should analyze to figure out which direction you should go. When considering speed, we are not simply talking about the copy speed of the USB duplicator, but other factors as well, such as number of USB sockets and the user interface required for feedback during operation. Questions you should ask, include:
# How many USB drives will you need to copy in a day or week?
# How large is the data load in MBs or GBs?
# What kind of turn-around time do you have between a duplication request and when that request should be completed?
# Is there printing, or branding required, on the outside of the USB?
# Do you need proof of performance via a log file?
Answering the above questions will give you an idea of what type of USB duplicator to consider. The type of duplicator will be size, how many USB sockets, copy speed of the duplicator and what type of software, if any, your organization will need.
Your Production Crew
Your next step is to consider the production crew who will be running the equipment. Will there be non-technical people running the equipment, or will a more hands-on approach be required? Is the IT department looking to restrict user access to the equipment or restrict access to the data content during the duplication process?
Much of the above depends on how the data is received before copied to the USB flash drive. For example, a duplication company might receive a physical master from a client; where-as a fulfillment house may get content delivered from a server from an on-line order submission process.
Will the organization require multiple USB duplicators located in different parts of the world? Said another way, many global companies standardize on one manufacturer so the user experience is the same across multiple locations. This also makes production easier as both support and experience can be shared between divisions to streamline processes on a global scale.
Knowing the production crew, their capabilities and responsibilities will help narrow the search for the right piece of equipment.
Read-Only or Read-Write
The third category worth investigating is asking the state of what the USB should be once sent delivered. Is the organization looking to ship out a read-only flash drive? By default all flash drives are read-write. Because of this, many organizations fear a virus could jump onto the drive and spreading to other computers. With that fear in mind, most companies are looking for a USB duplicator which creates a read-only drive product. This means the USB drive is locked, or write protected. The files cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive, and more importantly, files cannot jump onto the drive.
Nexcopy is world leader in read-only flash drive duplicators and therefore used as an example of a duplicator system worth considering.
The Gatling gun is one of the earliest known rapid-fire, hand cranked weapons. The Gatling design is a forerunner of the modern machine gun and rotary cannon. Invented by Richard Gatling, it saw occasional use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s.
Megan Kening at Etsy has taken this concept and made a steampunk USB flash drive. The Gatling gun USB has incredible detail, impressive color LED during operation and a rotating cannon when power up.
Megan’s collection includes the Gatling gun and a ball-point pen in a nice wooden case. Both devices are 100% hand made from a collection of materials that include copper, brass, glass tubing, USB and motorized engine with gears.
Mr. Kening has been mentioned before on GetUSB and his work continues to impress. With a near perfect, five star rating, we are confident to say any purchase from Megan is worth the money. Additional pictures after the break…