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USB Flash Drive vs Portable HDD over USB?

post #1 of 12
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Hello OCN,

I am going to be getting one of those Windows 8 tablets, and use it as my "daily PC" (the PC I use when I'm out). Unfortunately, the storage in these tablets are usually very low, and I'll probably be wanting more space.

So I decided on either getting a USB drive, or converting one of my 2.5" HDD drives to use over USB with one of those SATA to USB adapters.

Now, as far as costs go, I can afford both, but I'd prefer going cheaper. Of course the 2.5 HDD option is cheaper as I already have an HDD.

What I DONT know is though, I will be running programs off of this external storage drive.

Now, will using the HDD over USB slow it down somehow? Will it consume more power?

Just trying to weigh the pros and the cons of the two solutions. Anyone have any opinions?
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post #2 of 12
The HDD will, of course, use more power. It'll be faster than most flash drives, though, and doesn't have the pesky NAND write limitations that flash drives do (and yes, I've actually managed to kill a number of flash drives running portable Firefox, Thunderbird and Libre Office over a period of time). While flash drives do have wear leveling, I don't think it's nearly as sophisticated as wear leveling algorithms in SSDs.

What would be ideal is if you use a 2.5" SSD paired with a SATA to USB cable. USB 3.0 flash drives tend to be in the same ballpark price as SSDs of the same capacity anyway. I think you can even get some of the older models (e.g. Intel X25-M G2, 320, etc) on ebay for less than the price of good USB 3.0 flash drives.
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post

The HDD will, of course, use more power. It'll be faster than most flash drives, though, and doesn't have the pesky NAND write limitations that flash drives do (and yes, I've actually managed to kill a number of flash drives running portable Firefox, Thunderbird and Libre Office over a period of time). While flash drives do have wear leveling, I don't think it's nearly as sophisticated as wear leveling algorithms in SSDs.

What would be ideal is if you use a 2.5" SSD paired with a SATA to USB cable. USB 3.0 flash drives tend to be in the same ballpark price as SSDs of the same capacity anyway. I think you can even get some of the older models (e.g. Intel X25-M G2, 320, etc) on ebay for less than the price of good USB 3.0 flash drives.

Which would consume more power and wear longer though? I ideally want a solution that uses the least power and lasts the longest. Obviously a small size would be great too, which is where the USB is really good... Though I'm not sure...
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post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by elemein View Post

Which would consume more power and wear longer though? I ideally want a solution that uses the least power and lasts the longest. Obviously a small size would be great too, which is where the USB is really good... Though I'm not sure...

Performance:
SSD > HDD > flash drive (although HDD and flash drive can switch depending on the specific model)

Power consumption
flash drive < SSD < HDD

Longevity is a bit tricky. The flash drive and SSD have no mechanical parts so they're resistant to drops, etc so they're better than HDDs in that respect. I know there are even some flash drives that have gone through a wash cycle unscathed. However, both flash drives and SSDs have limited NAND writes. It's not so much a problem with SSDs since those tend to have good wear leveling. With flash drives though, the NAND wear isn't as spread out resulting in data corruption if you use it long enough. At least that's been my experience with a couple of Kingston DT101G2s. With daily Firefox and Thunderbird usage, they'd usually start developing bad sectors in 3-4 months and would cause the system to hang, etc. Because of this, I've stuck to using an Intel X25-M G2 120GB SSD in USB 3.0 enclosure for my portable apps. I also have a SanDisk Extreme 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive but I rarely use it for portable apps as I don't want to risk killing the flash drive prematurely.
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post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post

Performance:
SSD > HDD > flash drive (although HDD and flash drive can switch depending on the specific model)

Power consumption
flash drive < SSD < HDD

Longevity is a bit tricky. The flash drive and SSD have no mechanical parts so they're resistant to drops, etc so they're better than HDDs in that respect. I know there are even some flash drives that have gone through a wash cycle unscathed. However, both flash drives and SSDs have limited NAND writes. It's not so much a problem with SSDs since those tend to have good wear leveling. With flash drives though, the NAND wear isn't as spread out resulting in data corruption if you use it long enough. At least that's been my experience with a couple of Kingston DT101G2s. With daily Firefox and Thunderbird usage, they'd usually start developing bad sectors in 3-4 months and would cause the system to hang, etc. Because of this, I've stuck to using an Intel X25-M G2 120GB SSD in USB 3.0 enclosure for my portable apps. I also have a SanDisk Extreme 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive but I rarely use it for portable apps as I don't want to risk killing the flash drive prematurely.

Would you say that a good USB 3.0 flash USB would be faster than an HDD?
Also, how big is the power draw of these devices realistically? Would it make a difference to my battery life considerably?

I definitely like the USB for a lot of reasons; namely the form factor. But would it really die out that fast? I wouldnt have my browsers on it, but... Would it die that fast?
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post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by elemein View Post

Would you say that a good USB 3.0 flash USB would be faster than an HDD?
Also, how big is the power draw of these devices realistically? Would it make a difference to my battery life considerably?

I definitely like the USB for a lot of reasons; namely the form factor. But would it really die out that fast? I wouldnt have my browsers on it, but... Would it die that fast?

Yep. A good USB flash drive would be faster than HDD. My SanDisk Extreme is one and unlike most other flash drives (USB 3.0 or otherwise), it has good random 4K read/write performance which is good for apps. As for whether it'll die out quickly, that really depends on your usage. Firefox, Thunderbird and Libre Office all seem to do a lot of random 4K writes and I reckon that's what killed my drives prematurely. You said you'll be running applications on it and without knowing the I/O profile of said applications, can't really tell you whether it's likely to kill the flash drive quickly. If you just use the flash drive normally though (mostly for file transfer and storage), it should last quite a while.

What would be best is if you get a tablet with ample storage (I reckon 128-256GB would be good; I don't imagine you'll be gaming much with the Intel graphics). Use the built-in SSD for applications and just use the flash drive for file storage (documents, music, photos, videos, etc).
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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post

Yep. A good USB flash drive would be faster than HDD. My SanDisk Extreme is one and unlike most other flash drives (USB 3.0 or otherwise), it has good random 4K read/write performance which is good for apps. As for whether it'll die out quickly, that really depends on your usage. Firefox, Thunderbird and Libre Office all seem to do a lot of random 4K writes and I reckon that's what killed my drives prematurely. You said you'll be running applications on it and without knowing the I/O profile of said applications, can't really tell you whether it's likely to kill the flash drive quickly. If you just use the flash drive normally though (mostly for file transfer and storage), it should last quite a while.

What would be best is if you get a tablet with ample storage (I reckon 128-256GB would be good; I don't imagine you'll be gaming much with the Intel graphics). Use the built-in SSD for applications and just use the flash drive for file storage (documents, music, photos, videos, etc).

Ah, I see your point regarding the I/O. Looks like I'm stuck using a 2.5"... or maybe a 1.8"?

It's very difficult to find a tablet with that kind of storage, and the ones that do have that kind of storage are outrageously expensive per GB of storage, which is why it's more cost effective to go without that instead.

Also, I probably am not going to be using the Atom Z2760; trying to see if I can get a Z60 or C50 tab, or waiting for the S10A with the Temash A4-1200... biggrin.gif
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post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by elemein View Post

It's very difficult to find a tablet with that kind of storage, and the ones that do have that kind of storage are outrageously expensive per GB of storage, which is why it's more cost effective to go without that instead.

Also, I probably am not going to be using the Atom Z2760; trying to see if I can get a Z60 or C50 tab, or waiting for the S10A with the Temash A4-1200... biggrin.gif

Lol, personally looking at Core i3 minimum for my Windows 8 tablet. Been considering the Asus Transformer Book and Lenovo Thinkpad Helix and base models on both of those already come with 128GB SSD. Pricey, though. tongue.gif
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post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post

Lol, personally looking at Core i3 minimum for my Windows 8 tablet. Been considering the Asus Transformer Book and Lenovo Thinkpad Helix and base models on both of those already come with 128GB SSD. Pricey, though. tongue.gif

Yeah, I'd love to myself an i3 one, but I already have an A8-3520M as my primary.

Though in my situation, my budget is low, and my portability and battery needs are high, so I'm pretty much restricted to super low power CPUs tongue.gif

Though after looking through a few videos of the Atom playing CS:S and other popular games, I'm giving it more attention.

The Helix is a great machine; used it a few times because my dad's business partner has one. Solid unit; but they're upwards of 1000$. My dad has an i5 W700; great machine as well, but again pricey and battery isnt long.
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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Accidental double post >.< My bad!
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