Friday, November 5, 2010

USB 3.0: Speed To Burn - Not!

I know there are computer users for whom the prospect of substantially faster file transfers to an external hard drive will hold great appeal, who might have eagerly awaited the advent of USB 3.0, the new much faster computer peripheral connection standard.

People who want to speed wholesale synchs to their large-capacity digital music players, for example, or small business users who want to cut the wait time for nightly backups to go across.

But me? Most of the time, I'm not too fussed about having to wait for transfers over a slow old USB 2.0 connection. I'll just go make a cup of tea or read a book while I wait. So it was probably preordained I would be underwhelmed by my first experience of USB 3.0. And so it was.

The LaCie Rikiki and Minimus drives I reviewed recently for Small Business Computing (here) look fabulous (if you care about that) and they work well in almost every respect. But are they way faster than USB 2.0 drives? Nah. Or at least, not when tested using a laptop or desktop add-on USB 3.0 port.

It might be a different story with a native (i.e. built-in) USB 3.0 port - a LaCie technician suggested it would be - but I remain underwhelmed. In my tests, file transfer speeds were barely twice as fast as with USB 2.0. That's a long way from the hyped 10-times increase.