Transfer speed of USB hard drive?

March 10, 2007 at 18:14:58
Specs: Windows XP Home Edition S, P4 2.4 MHz Prescott, 800


I have an external hard drive I use for backup purposes; it is a Western Digital IDE drive in a USB enclosure. I've found it aggravatingly slow at times when backing up large amounts of data...

The enclosure has a model number "ME-325x" and has instructions and warnings in Chinese and English and a "USB 2.0 sticker" near the port; a Google search points to "Mad Dog" as the manufacturer.

Testing it by transferring a 100 MB file to the backup drive (multiple times), I've found that it transfers at an average of 3 MBytes/s; however, hooking it up internally by IDE, it reaches around 33 MBytes/s.

Does this seem normal? Even considering whatever conversions it has to do, 3 MBytes/s seems rather slow (but still faster than USB Full speed, so I assume the casing supports Hi-speed) ...

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March 10, 2007 at 20:29:52

Your computer MAY have a combination of USB 1.1 & 2.0 Ports. Look in Device Manager. If the device says "enhanced" then it is USB 2.0. Your solution would be to move the external to a different port or install a USB 2.0 PCI card. Also, keep in mind that other devices using that USB controller and other devices using the same IRQ can slow things down more.

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March 10, 2007 at 20:53:36

Yeah, there's one enhanced controller, and something around four Universal Host Controllers. (From memory, mind; I'm sure that there's one enhanced controller, though).

I tried the drive using both one front port and one back port; no difference. I have a USB drawing tablet and a printer hooked up; the printer wasn't on at the time.

Suppose I should try all the (back) ports and/or disconnecting the other two devices?


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March 11, 2007 at 07:21:28

The theoretical transfer rate for USB 2.0 is 400Mb, which equals 50MBs. The actual tranfer rates will be substancially less, but shouldn't be as low as 3MBs. Are you using a USB hub or ports on a KBoard?

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March 11, 2007 at 10:24:09

Neither, unless the front panel counts (it's hooked up to the motherboard by two port-things on it labeled USB_56 and USB_78 on the board's diagram; each leads to two of the four front panel ports). I tried one of the back ports too, though (which are on the mobo itself), and it made no difference.


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March 11, 2007 at 12:57:39

Check to see what IRQ setting is used for the USB and what else, if anything is also sharing that IRQ.
Just looked at my Advanced settings for the USB controllers. There is a screen stating that the controller shares bandwidth and is fixed at 10 percent. This is sharing bandwidth with the PCI bus. Some BIOSes allow disabling of PCI slots to conserve bandwidth. Check your BIOS to see if there is such a setting. If so, disable PCI slots not in use, if possible.

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March 11, 2007 at 14:18:07

Correction on theoretical tranfer speed. I was thinking of firewire. USB 2.0 is 480Mb/sec. This equates to 60MB/sec. As stated before that is theoretal.
I just performed a copy of my MP3 files from my USB 2.0/ 320GB drive. I copied 18.7GB of files in 30 minutes to my 250GB SATA II drive. This equates to 10.6MB/sec. I wasn't doing much of anything while this operation was running.

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March 11, 2007 at 15:14:45

Alright, I'll check that in the BIOS once I have the chance.

The Enhanced controller has 10% bandwidth that is "system reserved", as yours ... along with each of the three of the Universal controllers. The other Universal controller has 23%.

The only other device that shares IRQ 23 with the Enhanced controller is my TV Tuner card.


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