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Thread: Best USB flash drive for booting and small files

  1. #1
    Learning Storage Performance RWIndiana's Avatar
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    Best USB flash drive for booting and small files

    Hey all, I just got the "fastest" USB flash drive I could find, according to a few tech reviews: the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2 (128G), and have been very disappointed with linux boot times and writing of small files. Large files are fine, faster than my other drives, but booting into an OS from the drive is much slower than my several-years-old Sandisk. It is so slow as to be unacceptable for this purpose.

    Any brand or specific drive recommendations?
    Whatever is true is not new; whatever is new is not true. - John Wesley

  2. #2
    Not really a Hairy Aussie
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    The best advice I can give you is to look at the reviews on Amazon and hope people have posted screenshots of CrystalDiskMark and ATTO runs on the various drives you're interested in in the user submitted pictures. Even then you will have to be careful when looking at the screenshots because some people change the default options and write very small amounts of data to the drives which makes the results erroneous and non-comparable. Amazon will also group reviews for drive different sizes so you'll have to make sure the screenshots are for the same size you're looking at. Also, you can't necessarily compare results across different versions of CrystalDiskMark. There's an explanation on their page here.

    My understanding is that 4k write performance is important for "boot" drive. That seems to jive with what we learned with SSDs in PCs years ago.

    I just bought and tested seven different 32gB uSD cards with the intent of using them as boot drives in RPi3's and other similar ARM based hardware. So far I've tested then all using CDM and ATTO. I plan to benchmark them in the RPi3 and perhaps the Odroid C2 and Pine 64 also with some Linux benchmarks.

    I will say that the 4K write results of the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2 (128G) you bought are abysmal (as shown in the Amazon User Pictures). Every 32gB uSD I test is orders of magnitude faster. Here's the best one I tested (for 4k writes).



    If you're not sweating the size of the drive or the price there are very fast solutions out there. Like the new USB to NVME enclosures. Anandtech has reviewed a few of them. Here's the most recent review they've done so you can see how it compares to other similar products. They've also tested external SSDs which are likewise quite fast. Like this one.

    If those are too big or two expensive off the top of my head I'd recommend the Sandisk Extreme/Extreme Pro USB flash drives. I have a few and they're pretty quick. The SDCZ80 (Extreme) and the SDCZ88 (Extreme Pro) series. I bought them a year or two ago so I'm not sure if they're still widely available or if they've been superseded by something "better". Here's how my several year old non-empty 64GB SDC-Z80 tests.



    CDMx64 - Delkin Advantage 32gB attempt 3.png CDMx64 - Sandisk Extreme 64gB USB 3.0 SDC-Z80.png

  3. #3
    Learning Storage Performance RWIndiana's Avatar
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    Lots of good information there. Thanks! I wish I had checked a little closer rather than just checking the peak read/write speeds.
    Whatever is true is not new; whatever is new is not true. - John Wesley

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    Not really a Hairy Aussie
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWIndiana View Post
    Lots of good information there. Thanks! I wish I had checked a little closer rather than just checking the peak read/write speeds.
    Run CDM 6.02 on your current drive and post the results. Then you'll have a good baseline to use for comparison for any new drive you look at.

  5. #5
    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    If performance is important, buy a small M.2 SSD and put it in a little USB enclosure.
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    Learning Storage Performance RWIndiana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LunarMist View Post
    If performance is important, buy a small M.2 SSD and put it in a little USB enclosure.
    I might do that.


    Ok, here's the results from the Patriot drive:
    Capture.PNG
    Whatever is true is not new; whatever is new is not true. - John Wesley

  7. #7
    Not really a Hairy Aussie
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWIndiana View Post
    Ok, here's the results from the Patriot drive:
    Capture.PNG
    Yep, that's going to be a dog...

    There are numerous options to improve things. It all depends on how much you want to spend and the form factor you can accept. NVME drive in a USB 3.1 enclosure with 10gbps will be the fastest / best performing. A external USB 3.x SSD will be next (depending on the type). Followed by a SATA SSD in an external USB 3.0 enclosure. The standard USB 3.0 flash drive is probably at the bottom, but a drive like the Sandisk Extreme I have should still run circles around the Patriot Supersonic Rage 2.

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