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How to Test Flash Drive Speed: Benchmarking

Measuring the speed of read and write data transfers of USB flash drives through the use of software is referred to as benchmarking. There are several purposes behind testing flash drive speed.

First, USB benchmarking helps you determine your device's capabilities prior to usage to ensure quick transfers. The process helps determine if your thumb drive is lagging behind the performance rate promised by the manufacturer and whether you'll need a new device.

The use of benchmarking software can also pick up on potential errors that may be present. As a result, benchmarking will protect you from low-grade or counterfeit products. Knowing that you have a reliable flash drive to work with will rescue you from potentially devastating data loss.

The read speed—how fast it takes to read and access a particular file—is the primary rate calculated from benchmarking programs. While write speed—how fast you can “record” data on a drive—is included in a majority of USB testing applications, it is occasionally a feature that comes at an additional cost to the consumer.

Every program will give different instructions or commands to proceed with flash drive speed testing, however there are a few general tips to consider. For the most accurate calculations, you will want to momentarily disable antivirus software while in use and close active programs or windows. The flash drive must stay in the USB port from the start to finish of the test to prevent inaccurate results or damage.

Here are a few examples of USB flash drive applications so you can understand a little more about what they do and how they work.

Check Flash is a free, intuitive benchmarking application that will test a few different aspects of your USB flash drive's performance. Not only will it test the read and write speeds, but it will also measure average rates, check for errors and format. Since it operates as an executable program, there is no need for installation. The Check Flash program opens in one window where you'll click on “As logical drive (NT-based systems only)”. Next, select the test that you want and enable the drive to go through a full pass.

Crystal Disk Mark is another free flash drive benchmarking tool that is also used to test the performance of other devices like portable or external HDDs. The disk benchmark freeware measures both random and sequential read and write speeds as well as text copy. Advanced features will assist you in maintaining hard drive settings. Once you add and open the executable program on your desktop, you'll choose how many tests you want to perform. Next you'll choose the data capacity and device to be tested before you hit the “All” button.

HD Tune is a disk benchmarking tool that consists of both a free trial and paid software. A free version limits you to the measurement of read speeds. The other version available for purchase consists of features that include: gauging read and write speeds, random access, burst rate, temperature statistics, error scanning and overall flash drive health. After downloading, open the HD Tune program and select the flash drive you want to test. Next, you'll find individual tabs for each unique measurement test. Press “Start” within the tab of your choice to determine performance.

HD Speed is a free flash drive benchmarking program. It is characterized by a simple interface that helps you to measure read and write data rates, burst rates and up-to-the second graphics displays to help you visualize the flash drive's performance. HD Speed is multifunctional for HDDs and other optical media drives as well. The HD Speed test uses command functions like c:/r (read test) or c:/w (write test) to streamline use.