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14 Mar

USB 2.0 Vs 3.0 - What’s The Difference?

Posted by Carl Cooley

USB flash drives are now a part of our daily lives from having them on our key rings to USB’s being used as giveaway promotional items.  80% of the orders we've fulfilled in the last year have been supplied as USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0 but there does seem to be more enquiries for the newer version.

"Should I shift to USB 3.0 and does it matter?" I hear you ask. The short answer - yes and yes!

For some background all USBs have a read speed (time taken to read the USB device from the USB port once loaded) and a write speed (time taken to write information to the USB). Both vary depending on the USB manufacturer and the components used.  Now, the write speed on a 2.0 is 480mbps (megabits per second) at its maximum but often can be as low as 60mbps. So, in theory 1GB of data to be uploaded running at the max speed is suggested to take around 18 seconds however in practise, DCD test results show the USB 2.0 taking 3 mins 18 seconds to complete a 1GB transfer.

Whereas USB 3.0 can handle up to 5gbps of data transferred - over ten times faster than its predecessor.  So in a nutshell the 3.0 provides a faster read/write speed overall when transferring a lot of information. Of course we wanted to test this and in theory 1GB of data to be uploaded running at max speed was suggested to take around 5 seconds and having tested this with a USB 3.0 with the same data on the same PC (in a USB 3.0 port) the time was 2mins 05 seconds to complete the transfer. The 3.0 was clearly faster but posed a question how relevant this was in your world?

Are PCs/Laptops compatible?

Well most new laptops, PC’s/Macs come with a built-in USB 3.0 port. To check this on your computer look for a distinct blue coloured port. Some computers are built with both the 2.0 and the 3.0. FYI - Apple is developing newer laptops without an actual USB port and instead creating USB-C and USB 3.1 functionality (blog post coming soon on this)

Who uses 3.0? 

USB 3.0 is recommended for those who need to transfer large amounts data, on a frequent basis from one place to another.  Although the 3.0 version is slightly more expensive they are well worth having, just for the amount of time it will save you. 

Quality over price

Although obvious, its important to point out that poor quality 3.0 USB’s won't guarantee faster transfer speeds.  The best way to overcome this is by working with a reputable supplier/manufacturer. And at the same time some expensive reputable brands cannot always guarantee that USB’s will work to max read/write speeds due to the number of variables in its process.

Most of the team here at DCD use 3.0 especially when we’re transferring large amounts of data for our security clients or the public sector.

On the whole our supply of USB 2.0’s still continues to outweigh the 3.0 but there has been a shift in popularity over the last few months. We are a data hungry nation that seems to always want more space and more speed from all forms of technology, so USB 3.0 is definitely something recommended.

We'd love to answer any followup questions or discuss our USB branding options with you. Reach out to us on 01245 328050 or contact

Our USB services include express USB turnarounds (24-48hr), USB printing, data loading and packaging in various forms.

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