Benchmarking USB memory stick read speeds

We use quite a lot of USB sticks for various server administration tasks. What we have noticed is constant lacklustre performance on most memory sticks.

So we took a few different ones and decided to benchmark them!

We were mainly interested in read speed only as that is our main use case, and main issue we’ve had with them and slowing our work process down.

Testing figures are average throughput reading the contents of the whole USB drive, and noticed peak throughput over 5 second period.

Tools used were Ubuntu linux with 4.15-0-48-generic kernel, dd for the reading with blocksize of 1M and iostat for the performance figures. Testing system is a Ryzen 7 1700X with B350 motherboard, and we used USB 3.0 ports on this. Please notice that dd uses SI-units instead of KiBibytes.

Drives are identified as per linux dmesg message. So let’s get on!

Performance: SanDisk Cruzer 16GB

Peak throughput was 31 100 KiB/s and reading the complete 16GB drive took 541.73s with average throughput of 28.7 MiB/s.

Newegg product page lists this as “CZ36”. This is quite an disappointment, we have come to expect better from SanDisk and have quite a few of these USB sticks. Price is only $5.99 so in that regard quite good, gives you ~5192KiB/s per $.

Performance: Kingston DataTraveler 100 G3 8GB

Peak throughput was 131 481 KiB/s and reading the complete 8GB drive took 57.94s with average throughput of 134MB/s.

Very Very nice! Kingston has always made excellent products, but did not expect their datatraveler usb sticks to be nothing special.

Newegg has only 16GB model available at $6.02. This gives you 21 840 KiB/s per $.

Performance: Kingston DataTraveler 100 G2 8GB

Peak throughput was 1 612 KiB/s and reading the complete 8GB drive took 57.94s with average throughput of 134MB/s.

Absolutely abysmal performance, and this is probably expectations from G3 was not that high due to past experiences with this 8GB stick. These are not for sale anymore, and apparently for very good reason. This is going to the recyclers, not worth even keeping around.

Variance was very high relatively as well, lowest noticed speed was 793 KiB/s which makes it insane … albeit most of the time it was around the 1100 KiB/s mark, sometimes going below 1 000KiB/s.

This was so slow, that did not bother to let it fully read the stick, the first 593 MiB (622MB) took 408s at average speed of 1.5MB/s.

Performance: Toshiba TransMemory-Mx 8GB

Peak throughput was 131 686 KiB/s and reading the complete 8GB drive took 58.69s with average throughput of 133 MB/s.

This too had fairly stable performance, apparent deviation was only ~205 KiB/s. This is very surprising as this is fairly inexpensive and non-remarkable stick.

Looks like this is rarely anymore available, it carries the marketing name of “U361” and we could only find a few, here is Amazon white 32GB version. 19.69$ gives you ~6688 KiB/s of read speed, then again this model is also much larger than others in this test.

Performance: SanDisk Ultra USB 3.0 16GB

Peak throughput was 54 886 KiB/s and reading the complete 16GB drive took 274.30s with average throughput of 56.1MB/s

This was interesting as the packaging promises speeds of up to 100MB/s, but we can clearly see what that asterisk stands for 😉

Performance: Maxell 8GB “USB DISK 2.0”

Peak throughput was 18 968 KiB/s and reading the complete 8GB drive took 800.26s with average throughput of 19.4MB/s.

This memory stick does not identify itself as anything else than “USB DISK 2.0”. Performance was within 200 KiB/s.

Could not find even photos of this exact same stick, let alone english product page. Then again, who would want this slow USB stick to begin with?


This is quite small round up of all the various USB sticks out there, and even from those which we use; These were the only different models i had laying around at my office at this time (hence also read only tests as most of them has some data in them).

We will test a few more models in future likely. Will any sensibly priced stick reach 200MB/s+? How about USB 2.0 or 1.0? Questions to be answered in the future, maybe.

This was interesting, as both the biggest loser and biggest winner is from same manufacturer: Kingston. Then again the G2 is very old already.

Toshiba U361 is very good runner up as well, sadly the smaller capacity versions seem to be unavailable making the Kingston Datatraveler G3 the biggest winner on this round up.

Let us know what you think of this! I know we are going to be buying quite a few Kingston Datatraveler G3 sticks in future, how about you? 😉

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