• USB3 flash drive versus USB3 HD for backup…with a hub?

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    #507855

    Greetings. I’m thinking of implementing either Windows 10’s File History backup feature or using Mozy’s 2XProtect feature (essentially the same thing – already a Mozy Pro customer). I have one USB3 port left on my PC. For the sake of reliable backups and backup media, would it be better to buy a USB3 flash drive or a USB3 external drive, assuming that space would not be an issue. Additionally, because this is my last USB3 port, I was thinking of getting a USB3 hub. Would that be an appreciable bottleneck?

    The data I would back up is on my data (D: drive; C: drive only has the OS.)

    I’ve had USB drives that seem to last forever and others who die way before their time so if I’m going to spend the money I’m going to opt for reliability above everything else and I really don’t know what to expect from a USB thumb drive although I’ve never had one go bad.

    Thanks.

    Rob

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    • #1587619

      ISTR reading that magnetic media (a traditional HDD) holds its data longer than flash media (a flash drive or SSD), but that’s when archiving data and trying to read it tens of years later. If you’re talking about relatively short term backups (e.g., months or a few years at most), I think either type of media should do fine.

      Flash media does wear out. I’ve had a couple flash drives eventually die on me, but only after a long life of fairly constant use.

      As for the issue of speed, a SSD will be faster than a traditional HDD or even a flash drive. Most flash drives have quite slow write speeds that even traditional HDDs can beat.

      To give you some benchmarks as an example, these are some sequential read/write tests (in MB/s) I’ve run in the past year:

        [*]277/247 Sandisk 128GB SSD in 3.5″ dock
        [*]152/152 HGST 4TB HDD in 3.5″ dock
        [*]151/144 Toshiba 3TB HDD in 3.5″ dock
        [*]125/12 Sandisk 128GB USB3 flash drive

      Typical USB3 docks/cases and hubs should not appreciably affect performance. Here are some comparison tests run with the same storage device, a Sandisk 128GB SSD. As above, these are sequential read/write results in MB/s using CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2:

        [*]499/363 SSD mounted as internal drive
        [*]277/247 SSD mounted in 3.5″ dock, direct to laptop USB3 port
        [*]283/250 SSD mounted in 2.5″ case, direct to laptop USB3 port
        [*]272/232 SSD mounted in 3.5″ dock, through USB3 hub to laptop port
        [*]271/241 SSD mounted in 2.5″ case, through USB3 hub to laptop port

      All the above tests were run using my USB3-equipped Dell E6430 laptop, with this USB3 dock, this USB3 case, and/or this USB3 hub.

      IME, results from repeat tests can vary by up to 5%, so don’t take them too precisely. They’re best used for general comparison assessments.

      • #1587624

        dg1261: Thanks for the detailed explanation. An SSD in a USB3 case sounds intriguing. A couple of questions if you don’t mind. Does Windows still support TRIM for an SSD mounted in a USB enclosure? Also, checking the USB3 hub on Newegg with your link, one reviewer said that the hub can’t power an external hard drive (it appears that the enclosure doesn’t have its own power supply) but I trust you did not find that to be the case?

        Rob

        • #1587639

          Does Windows still support TRIM for an SSD mounted in a USB enclosure?[/quote]
          To be honest, I’ve never used a SSD in an external enclosure on a regular basis. I just happened to run those tests because I had the parts laying around. I had the two enclosures because I move drives a lot between internal and external amongst the various machines I have, and I had the Sandisk SSD left over when it, as an internal system drive, was replaced by a larger SSD.

          The main purpose for running both sets of tests was to give me a relative idea what kind of performance I could expect from different types of devices. In the second set of tests above, having a spare SSD came in handy because I could run a more controlled test, with as many variables controlled as possible while also being sure the drive wasn’t going to bottleneck the results.

          But FWIW, I plugged my spare SSD back into the 3.5″ dock and checked. Although TRIM was enabled in the OS it was not in use by the external drive. A quick google search corroborated that was normal, stating TRIM commands don’t pass through a USB3 interface.

          checking the USB3 hub on Newegg with your link, one reviewer said that the hub can’t power an external hard drive (it appears that the enclosure doesn’t have its own power supply) but I trust you did not find that to be the case?

          While the external 2.5″ case does not have its own power supply, the hub does come with its own power supply. I believe the reviewer you’re talking about meant the hub would not power an external drive if the hub’s power supply was not plugged in. The hub definitely has no trouble powering any 2.5″ external drive when the hub is powered.

          There are so many variables that determine whether an external drive needs its own power source, including how much power the USB port on the computer will actually output and the age and technology of the drive in question. In the case of a hub, you also have to consider the power requirements of any other devices plugged into the hub.

          I’ve never tried to power an external 2.5″ drive with the hub unpowered because that’s not a use scenario I’d ever consider. I’m only using the hub because I’ve got multiple devices plugged in, and I wouldn’t expect to be able to power them all from a single USB port on the computer. And if I’m not using multiple devices … well, then I don’t need the hub.

          At the moment I’ve got devices plugged into 6 of the hub’s 7 ports: my keyboard, a scanner, two external drives, one flash drive, and a cable for my phone.

          • #1587646

            But FWIW, I plugged my spare SSD back into the 3.5″ dock and checked. Although TRIM was enabled in the OS it was not in use by the external drive. A quick google search corroborated that was normal, stating TRIM commands don’t pass through a USB3 interface.

            That might be enough of a reason to not implement it. As Paul stated, maybe a USB3 drive is the way to go. I leave my machine running all the time so it can do nightly backup chores and I was concerned about having yet another drive running all the time which is why I was thinking of using a flash drve. WD external drives do have a sleep cycle which seems to work OK with my backup software (NovaBACKUP) so maybe I’ll just pick up a WD…and you’ve convinced me that a hub isn’t going to get in the way. Thanks for all of your helpful advice.

            Rob

    • #1587630

      If you want cheap reliable storage, go for a USB3 hard disk. Simple, no fuss, reliable, portable. etc.
      Something like this provides space for file history and other backups.
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178744

      cheers, Paul

      • #1587645

        If you want cheap reliable storage, go for a USB3 hard disk. Simple, no fuss, reliable, portable. etc.
        Something like this provides space for file history and other backups.
        http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178744

        cheers, Paul

        Paul: Thanks; maybe I am overthinking this. My only experience with a Seagate external USB3 drive was not a good one; I picked one up at Best Buy a few years ago because of a good price. Unfortunately the drive kept becoming “unready” to Windows 7. A Google search revealed that this was a common problem with this drive so I returned it in favor of a WD which is running fine to this day.

        Maybe I should just pickup another WD and call it a day.

        Rob

    • #1587649

      Have you thought of getting something like this rather than a USB drive? It connects to your router so is available to all devices on your local network and can be accessed remotely as well.

      I picked up a 4TB one of these for £130 (~$160) which I have in RAID 1 giving 2TB of mirrored backup storage.

      • #1587651

        Have you thought of getting something like this rather than a USB drive? It connects to your router so is available to all devices on your local network and can be accessed remotely as well.

        I picked up a 4TB one of these for £130 (~$160) which I have in RAID 1 giving 2TB of mirrored backup storage.

        That’s a thought. I just checked that unit at amazon.com. Brand new it’s quite expensive ($627US). My Netgear router does have a USB3 “ReadySHARE” interface so I could plug a USB3 disk into it and essentially have the same availability (minus the RAID) although part of me wants to keep a backup drive as “hidden” as possible.

        Rob

        • #1587720

          Check on your router specs for READYSHARE. I have a NetGear WNDR3400V3 router that says it only supports USB 2.0. It works great for my sharing needs here at home, but not at great speeds.

          Win11 Pro desktop [2], one 22H2/22621.3007, one 23H2/22631.3007

          • #1587721

            Check on your router specs for READYSHARE. I have a NetGear WNDR3400V3 router that says it only supports USB 2.0. It works great for my sharing needs here at home, but not at great speeds.

            Mine is a Netgear R6400; it has USB2 (presumably for printer sharing) and USB3 (for sharing a USB external disk).

            Rob

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