SHCC WYSIWYG Article from October 2014

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the October 2014 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Migrating to USB 3.0

by Don VanSyckel

Previously I wrote about using migrating to USB 3 from USB 2. I advanced the idea that no matter how cheap the price, don't buy any more storage, either hard drives or thumb drives, that have USB 2. Go with the units that have USB 3 I'm not suggesting you throw all your USB 2 stuff in the trash. In fact things that don't generate much data or things you use infrequently are fine on USB 2. For instance, your mouse generates small amounts of data so USB 2 or USB 3 won't matter. A scanner you use once a month to scan 5 receipts won't save a lot on USB 3. On the other hand, if you scan tens of items a day, every day, a scanner on USB 3 will save time because the data will move to the PC in a fraction of the time.

The real time savings is in using storage devices. Their purpose is to read data and supply it to the PC and to write data from the PC. Here USB 3 shines over USB 2 or does it? After writing this column last month I had the need for a large thumb drive so I started shopping. The good news is there are quite a few USB 3 devices. The bad news is there's a bit more to keeping the speed up than just the USB interface.

Every USB peripheral moves data based on three things:

  • The ability of the PC to supply (write) and digest (read) data to and from the peripheral device
  • The ability (speed) of the interface to transfer the data
  • The ability of the peripheral to digest (write) and supply (read) data from and to the PC

For the purpose of this discussion, I will assume that the PC's ability to supply and digest data far out performs that of the other two, #2 and #3 above. So data transfer between the PC and peripheral is limited by either #2 or #3.

When you enter into a USB 2 versus USB 3 discussion the focus tends to be on the interface. The USB speed dominates the decision. If you have shopped any peripherals with USB 3 you might have noticed exactly what speed the USB runs at, If they specify speed as a number they all state "up to xxx bits per second". The better USB thumb drives will list in the spec's a read rate and a write rate. The read rate is always slightly higher than the write rate. I was surprised that thumb drives in some cases differed by 5 to 10 time in speed from one model to another.

I found the PNY Turbo USB 3.0 Flash Drive family to be among the fastest at a reasonable price per gigabyte. Also Micro Center that supports SHCC with speakers, carries this brand.

Remember, the new USB 3 devices you buy are usable with your current system's USB 2 ports. Then you're all set when you get a new computer that has USB 3 ports.

End of Article

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