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Thread: Usb 2.0

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    Default Usb 2.0

    I have two 3.5" external hard drives that support USB 2.0. Unfortunately, I have been disappointed by 2.0's performance over 1.0. Supposedly, the transfer rate is up to 40x better, at around 480Mbps (60MBps), than USB 1.0's 12Mbps (1.5MBps).

    When I connect one of the drives solely on a USB 1.0 port, I can only achieve about 0.75MBps, but over 2.0 ports I only get slightly more than 1.5MBps. I am using the 1.0 ports included with my PC, but for 2.0 I am using a PC Card. I am also using the USB 2.0 cables that come with the drives.

    Since the drive is easily faster than the potential transfer rate, what is accounting for such poor performance? Isn't 2.0 suppose to be better than this?

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    Power User j7n's Avatar
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    I've had two USB enclosures for hard discs. The transfer speed was 22 MB/s reading, and 12 MB/s writing. If you're connection is that slow then obviously something isn't working properly and it's a matter of finding out if it's the computer, cables or the HDD.

    USB 1.0 should give 950 kB/s.

    Can you operate other devices connected to these USB ports, like a scanner, or USB flash?

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j7n View Post
    The transfer speed was 22 MB/s reading, and 12 MB/s writing.
    That sounds much better, but rather surprising considering the max could be 60MB/s. Do drives run that slow, despite the interface?

    USB 1.0 should give 950 kB/s.
    Mine is probably close to that. I'm not really dissatisfied with 1.0.

    Can you operate other devices connected to these USB ports, like a scanner, or USB flash?
    Oh, of course. But none of my scanners, printers, cameras, or flash devices are supportive of USB 2.0.

    If you're connection is that slow then obviously something isn't working properly and it's a matter of finding out if it's the computer, cables or the HDD.
    Well, that would be a lot of trial and error. I'd need another set of everything just for comparison. Well, here's what I've got:

    • SimpleTech SimpleDrive FV-U35/500 3.5" 7200RPM 500GB USB2.0 HDD w/cable
    • SimpleTech SimpleDrive CC-USB235/250 3.5" 7200RPM 250GB USB2.0 HDD w/cable
    • Nexxtech USB 2.0 Cardbus PC Card Adapter N2PUCB
    • Sony VAIO Notebook PCG-FXA36
      AMD Athlon 4 1GHz Processor
      256MB RAM
      Windows XP Home SP2


    Do you see any problems, or do you need more info?

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    Power User j7n's Avatar
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    The same disk drive can write at 30-45 MB/s and read at 65 MB/s when connected to a SATA port directly. The ATA-to-USB bridge is like a middleman which will always slow things down, hence the development of eSATA or makeshift solutions to bring the SATA cable out of the case.

    I can't really help you with this problem. My only solution is to swap the parts and see if there's a difference. The common occurence of USB working at 1.0 speed is not here, since you said that the speed climbs above 12 megabits.

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    Wow, I thought drives were still faster than that, for some reason. Yeah, my SimpleDrive actually says it can use the SATA interface, but I later found out it was mislabled! Apparently, the Pro drive offers this. However, I don't believe there is a SATA PC Card for notebooks, just desktops, right? My notebook probably wouldn't support it though anyway.

    I'm kind of leaning towards the USB2.0 PC card as being faulty here. Perhaps its just cheap, and just barely performs over 1.5MB/s, so as to consider itself 2.0! In fact, recently it freezes my notebook just plugging it in. Not sure why. The computer and hard drives are probably sound design, unless the internal interface is somehow slow in the drives.

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    Multiple User WellOiledPC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skippybox View Post
    I have two 3.5" external hard drives that support USB 2.0. Unfortunately, I have been disappointed by 2.0's performance over 1.0. Supposedly, the transfer rate is up to 40x better, at around 480Mbps (60MBps), than USB 1.0's 12Mbps (1.5MBps).

    When I connect one of the drives solely on a USB 1.0 port, I can only achieve about 0.75MBps, but over 2.0 ports I only get slightly more than 1.5MBps. I am using the 1.0 ports included with my PC, but for 2.0 I am using a PC Card. I am also using the USB 2.0 cables that come with the drives.

    Since the drive is easily faster than the potential transfer rate, what is accounting for such poor performance? Isn't 2.0 suppose to be better than this?
    USB 2.0 is definitely much, much faster than 1.0. I have a Desktop that has USB 1.0 alone - it is such a pain, watching files transferring from, say a Flash Drive to the Desktop, while the same file is transferred in the blink of an eye onto my Notebook, with USB 2.0!

    You seem to be getting real slow speeds with both USB 1.0 as well as USB 2.0 though!
    Last edited by WellOiledPC; 09.08.2009 at 07:17 PM.

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    Multiple User ChuckE's Avatar
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    You will never see theoretical speeds, or speed improvements, like the supposedly 40x improvement going from USB 1.0 to 2.0. I have only experienced a 10x speed increase. On one computer I had seen a nearly 20x speed increase. But never expect 40x.

    I do think that your 1.5 Mbps is a bit slow, I get from 5 to 10MBps myself. I think it is your equipment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Skippybox View Post
    ...Well, here's what I've got:
    • SimpleTech SimpleDrive FV-U35/500 3.5" 7200RPM 500GB USB2.0 HDD w/cable
    • SimpleTech SimpleDrive CC-USB235/250 3.5" 7200RPM 250GB USB2.0 HDD w/cable
    • Nexxtech USB 2.0 Cardbus PC Card Adapter N2PUCB
    • Sony VAIO Notebook PCG-FXA36
      AMD Athlon 4 1GHz Processor
      256MB RAM
      Windows XP Home SP2

    Do you see any problems, or do you need more info?
    First thing, I have seen slow performance with Sony notebooks. I think Sony makes physically beautiful boxes, and there is some great interface options on the newer Sony computers, I have never been impressed with their performance. (That's just my opinion.) But that does not explain it alone.

    You are using a Cardbus adapter and that can be a bit slow on an underpowered computer. And your computer is a bit underpowered. It is a 1GHz Athlon with just 256MB running WinXP.

    That is about the lowest amount of memory you can have and still expect things to "happen today" when you are using WinXP. I looked at the specs of your computer and I see it uses PC100 memory, and while it has two memory slots, it maxes out at having only 256MB per slot, a total of just 512 MB. If you get more memory I think you may find a substantial increase in overall speed. You might even try two 512MB memory modules, just for grins, just to see if the total memory gets seen. (Can you even find PC100 512MB modules? If so just try one 512MB alone. If that one module gets fully seen, then having two 512MBs will probably work.) Your computer has just a 200MHz buss, so trying to go to the faster PC133 memory is not going to help.

    Running WinXP on a total of 1GB of memory is much better. I see substantial speed increases when going on up to 1GB, with not nearly the same performance increase when going higher than 1GB.

    Last item, that CardBus adapter, which gives you two USB 2.0 ports, and since you have both in use, is going to be slowed down a bit if you are transferring from one of the USB ports to the other. If you were just using one port and copying to/from the internal hard drive might be a bit faster.

    Have you considered just getting a newer laptop?
    I wish to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather.
    Not like those passengers, in his car, when he drove over that cliff.

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    Thanks ChuckE for letting me in on what I could expect. I know from other sources that one cannot expect the theoretical, but obviously I wasn't anywhere near that, so I was a bit concerned.

    You're probably right about the Sony's performance. It is no thriller, but it has satisfied me and still works very well. I bought it for longevity, and after eight years I think I've got that. Other notebooks may have been a better choice for speed, but I doubt they would have lasted as long.

    The areas you point to could all very well contribute to the overall slowness of my USB2.0. I still have to wonder though why the computer would be underpowered. I mean, this was a decent machine when they sold it, and why couldn't I utilize its PCMCIA card slots to add functionality? It's not like I am trying to multi-task here either. Maybe this notebook was made to barely run as designed, but I find it hard to imagine how a cheaper lighter model would have performed that I passed up.

    I believe I must always have both memory slots filled, so I would only be able to use two new 256MB modules to replace my 128MB ones. Or I could mix 'n' match. 512MB modules are probably out of the question in this thing. Memory would be a good boost, and you can still get even 32MB modules today (all quite cheap compared to the PC Card!).

    I think you're right that using both ports simultaneously diminishes the speed. But, that is exactly what I need to do. I would like to frequently pass information from one USB drive to the other USB drive in addition to my HDD. I have had problems with even the 1.0 ports in a similar respect. When using a USB mouse on one 1.0 port and a flash drive on the other 1.0 port, I get I/O errors when working with a USB reader during certain transfer and file operations. Taking the mouse off the system stops the errors.

    New laptop? Well, that would be easy and great, but I'm reluctant to move to Vista or 7. It's also a bit of an investment, since I won't be going for a $500 model or some little Netbook. Rather than buying something inexpensive every three years, I usually go high-end for as long as I can. You almost have to when the OS gets as bloated as it does.

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    Multiple User ChuckE's Avatar
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    Win7 (also, perhaps, better recognized as Viista ) is a VERY GOOD choice for your somewhat under powered laptop. I have heard some very good reports about Win7 installed on netbooks (and you thought your laptop was underpowered!) and those reports are coming through with glowing remarks.

    I have put Win7 on two of my PCs here, and I have yet to see anything not work well. Win7 has been a great new OS. I hardily recommend it. I don't know if the free download of the Win7 RC (Release Candidate) is still available, but if you can get it ... do it!

    I have an .iso of the MS released Win7 here, and I have used it about 4 times, so far. It installs very easily, and it seems like the OS that we all hoped that Vista would have been. The only reason I think Microsoft changed the name from Vista, to Win7, was to distance themselves from the stigma of the "Vista blackeye." Since most of the operations of Win7 and all of the drivers are pretty much Vista, but it just works better, with less of a hit on the hardware.

    For free, find and try, Win7. I don't think you will be disappointed.
    I wish to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather.
    Not like those passengers, in his car, when he drove over that cliff.

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    OK, I'll consider it. I believe it is still available for a few days. I don't meet the system requirements though (1GB RAM minimum), so I can't install it on my notebook which would max out at 512MB.

    Microsoft probably wants to try to stop putting XP on Netbooks. Win7 is probably better, but I do notice that XP has a few things that I still like. I remember comparing Vista and Win7 before, thinking I would like 7 better, but kind of was actually leaning towards Vista. If you say Win7 performs better though, maybe those few reservations won't matter so much. Maybe if I get a Notebook now, I could actually get both OSs for the same money to truly compare, since Win7 is a free upgrade with purchases.

    Still, I love XP, and statistics show it is amazingly successful with close to 70% share of the market still! That may be a real problem for Microsoft...

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