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Top Data Transfer Speed Slowdowns - USB

Written on February 5, 2021 by Chad Warmenhoven
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Why you need this article

Transferring files from a USB should be quick and painless, unfortunately that's not always the case. There are a number of factors that can effect data transfer speeds so we will focus on the most likely. Below you will find examples of USB protocols along with the common causes of transfer slowdowns and some troubleshooting that can often resolve the issues.

USB Specifications

On Puget Systems PCs you will typically find at least one of these three different types of USB ports.

There are several variations of USB and respective speeds. Check out the table below for details.

Specification Also Known As Connection Types Max Speed
USB 1.1 Full Speed USB USB-A
USB-B
12 Mbps

USB 2.0

High Speed USB USB-A
USB-B
USB Micro A
USB Micro B
USB Mini A
USB Mini B
480 Mbps
USB 3.2 Gen1

USB 3.0
USB 3.1 Gen 1
SuperSpeed

USB-A
USB-B
USB Micro B
USB-C / Type C
5 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen2 USB 3.1
USB 3.1 Gen 2
SuperSpeed+
SuperSpeed 10Gbps
USB-A
USB-B
USB Micro B
USB-C / Type C
10 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 USB 3.2
SuperSpeed 20Gbps
USB-C / Type C 20 Gbps

If you are unsure what your system has, log into your customer portal and review the 'Motherboard' specifications along with the 'Case' specifications.

Basics of data transfer speeds

Source

Where the data is coming from needs to be a consideration when measuring transfer speeds. Knowing what the device is capable of and what the device standards are will help in identifying a potential slowdown. If your USB device is capable of utilizing USB 3.0 it's important to make sure

Destination

Where you are sending the data can also impact how quickly it transfers. The destination device needs to be able to match or exceed the speeds of the source device. Transferring over USB 3.2 Type A, from a USB drive that quotes 3000Mbps onto an internal mechanical HDD with quoted speeds of 280Mbps is only going to transfer at a maximum of 280Mbps.

Interface

Using an adequate port with a particular USB device is absolutely critical for proper data transfer speeds. If you are using a USB 2.0 Type A port, with a USB 3.2 Type A USB drive, no question you will see decreased performance. Your data transfer speeds will be limited by the weakest component, in this case the USB 2.0 port which is only capable of data transfer speeds up to 480 Mbps. While your USB drive might have a quoted speed of up to 3000 Mbps. Which type of cable you are using (and the quality of that cable) can also impact data transfer speeds and reliability.

Common Slowdown Culprits

AntiVirus

Many users have reported slowdowns caused by various Antivirus (AV) software. The default antivirus included with Windows 10 (Windows Defender) is rarely to blame but third-party AV software can sometimes be quite invasive, thankfully you can just disable some antivirus features. Alternatively, you can try disabling your antivirus altogether. Disabling (or sometimes uninstalling) your AV software is a worthwhile troubleshooting step to determine what might be causing data transfer slowdowns.

Third-Party Software

Third-party software is any software installed after Windows was configured and isn't supplied by Microsoft. Software not provided directly by Microsoft can cause a number of issues but data transfer slowdown is definitely plausible. Rather than uninstalling everything, performing a 'Clean Boot' is a solid way to prevent potential slowdowns without severely impacting your workflow. Check out the instructions for performing a 'Clean Boot' below:

Puget Systems: Clean Boot

Drivers

There are a few different drivers that could potentially affect data transfer speeds, but the ones to focus on are the chipset and USB. Start by visiting your motherboard manufacturer’s website, and download the latest chipset drivers for your device model. Usually the chipset drivers are zipped, so just extract the drivers, run the installer then restart your system. Once it's back up and running, give the data transfer a try again to see if that helped.

Microsoft uses standard USB drivers, and the motherboard manufacturers often won't have a dedicated USB driver to download. Instead, you will want to use the Device Manager to make sure you're on the correct driver. You can either update the driver or uninstall the device driver then restart and let Microsoft update to the newest version. Check out the article below for guidance on using the Windows 10 Device Manager.

Puget Systems: Device Manager

Disable Windows Search service

First, check if you have Windows Search service running from your Task Manager: Look for Microsoft Windows Search Indexer in the list, then expand using the small arrow to find Windows Search.

To temporarily stop the service, right-click and select Stop, next time you start up your computer, it will start running once again. This is great if the indexing process is affecting work you’re doing now, but doesn’t generally cause any trouble otherwise.

If you want to disable Windows Search permanently then follow these steps:

1. Select Start

2. Type msc into the search bar

3. The services dialog box will open, in the list, look for Windows Search, right-click and choose Properties

4. Under the General tab within the Properties box, look where it says Startup Type

5. The Startup Type is set to automatic, this is where you open the drop down menu and choose Disabled

6. Click Apply

7. Restart your computer

These steps should disable Windows Search completely, and remove the Windows Search bar from your Start Screen/Start Menu. If this doesn't speed up your USB data transfer speeds, simply reverse the steps and re-enable the Windows Search function.

USB Hubs

As mentioned previously, the type of connection used for the external device and the PC will have an effect on the data transfer speed. If you're using the correct cable and port, but are routing everything through an external USB Hub you will likely run into data speed issues. Even if only as a test, the USB Hub should be removed from the equation. Your speeds will likely improve and either a new USB Hub is needed or better yet, avoid using them at all. USB Hubs expand our USB ports but cause significantly more problems than they solve. If you need additional USB ports, reach out to your Puget Systems Support department, we can help you order and install a PCIe based USB expansion card.

Run Hardware and Devices troubleshooter

Instead of fix-it tools, Windows 10 uses troubleshooters to help you solve problems with your PC. To run a troubleshooter:

1. Select Start

2. Select the Settings icon on the left

3. Select Update & Security

4. Select Troubleshoot

Look for a pending troubleshooter. If you see 'No recommended troubleshooters right now' then Windows doesn't detect a problem, that's a good sign.

Formatting

Source device (and to a lesser extent destination device) formatting can also effect data transfer speeds. If a drive is formatted for another operating system you are likely to run into significant performance degradation. Formatting the Source device in a way that Windows can easily read will dramatically improve your experience.

For most cases, NTFS is a sufficient format but if the drive is large capacity then exFAT may be needed. Anything besides those two will regularly cause data transfer slowdowns. Check out the How to Partition a Drive section of this article for a simple breakdown on how to make sure your Source devices are formatted properly and ready for data transfers.

Windows 10 Drive Partitions

Bad sectors or disk corruption are also a common cause of data transfer slowdowns and failures. If you are experiencing significant slowdowns and all advice above has been followed, it would be worthwhile to format the drive and try transferring data again. The files themselves may be corrupted however which means no matter what formatting/device you choose the transfer will always slow/fail.

Conclusion

Need help with your Puget Systems PC?

If something is wrong with your Puget Systems PC. We are readily accessible, and our support team comes from a wide range of technological backgrounds to better assist you!

Contact Puget Systems Support

Looking for more support guides?

If you are looking for a solution to a problem you are having with your PC, we also have a number of other support guides that may be able to assist you with other issues.

Puget Systems Online Help Guides