back to article What's the fastest USB 2.0 HDD?

I need to purchase a very fast USB 2 external hard disk drive to carry out some radio-over-fibre experiments here at the University of Kent. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me which is the fastest USB 2 external hard disk drive? Would Flash storage be faster?


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  1. Another Anonymous Coward

    Hard to say...

    I suspect the best solution would be to get an external HDD enclosure, and put a high end HDD in it.. desktop USB drives tend to come with the cheapest model that will provide X GB.

    Generally, though the bottleneck is more to do with the USB 2.0 specification than the HDD itself.

    I'd recommend an eSata card or a fibre channel card and external storage/ HD caddy to match if it's at all possible to add it to your kit. Even firewire 800 would be better. Sounds like you need a better port than than usb for the job.

    Esata is probably the cheapest option, cable, card and caddy will come to about £50, then put whatever drive you want in there.

  2. Chris Griffin

    Not usb

    If you want a hard drive based unit, then i can suggest a WD My book Home. Reason being you have a USB2.0 port for what you asked, Firewire for anything Mac based you want to test (but also still good if you have a firewire port on the pc) and an E-Sata port for full SataII speeds. E-Sata being the fastest way to move your data.

    If you want to go down the flash route which would be quicker than anything HDD based. 8gb in a Buffalo R series or S series is mid and top end speed for flash. If you need anything 16gb of 32gb sized then Corsair flash drives are the way to go.

    I hope this helps you a bit.

  3. Ben Brandwood
    Thumb Up


    I'm sure I won't be the first to comment, but a £20 firewire PCI card and drive would be better than USB2. I've had a host of USB2 drives and all seem to chug along at roughly the same speed.

    Firewire will ensure that you run at the max speed of the the drive, and if you get a RAID solution like the La Cie raid series (, you should be flying.

  4. Richard

    Another idea

    You didn't mention budget, so... How about the LaCie Little Big Disk Quadra.

    For more speed, get 2 and set up USB-RAID

  5. Chris Griffin

    2nd thought

    If money is not a problem, the WD VelociRaptor is a 10,000rpm drive with 16mb cache, fast. Or slightly cheaper would be a 7200rpm 32mb drive from either Seagate or WD. Either way as before its the USB port that will kill the transfer speed.

    You could go down the SCSI trail if you have that kit.

    If the test can wait for a few months/1year you could wait for USB3.0 and use that. (maybe not a real option)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    don't forget a good usb hub

    don't forget a good usb hub. the only one i know that provides full speed is the Belkin Tetra hub, it has multiple-TT which are required for optimal speed.


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