While I understand buying the cheapest product available, you are greatly mistaken that all USB 2.0 flash drives have nearly identical speeds. While read speeds are usualy very close, write speeds are not. Flash drives fall into File Size/Speed classes. The class break down is as follows...
* Small File Size=Fast or slow write performance with files that are less than 50MB.
* Balanced=Moderate write performance across the whole range of file sizes.
* Large File Size(~>100MB)=Fast or slow performance with files that are around 100MB or larger.
Which class a flash drive falls in is dependent on what the manufacturer is catering to.
- If a manufacturer is catering to small file sizes, then the drive will have fast small file writes and slow large file writes.
- If a manufacturer is catering to large file sizes, then the drive will have fast large file writes and slow small file writes.
- If a manufacturer is not catering to any file size, then they seek out chips that have moderate performance with all file sizes.
Flash drive performance is determined by two primary factors; the speed of the chip/controler and how data is written. Flash memory is not like a hard drive. When you alter a text doc that is stored on a mechanical drive, the computer can go and change just the parts that were altered. With flash memory data is written in blocks. When a computer needs to change the text doc on a flash drive, it must copy and then erase all data in the blocks that contain that text doc. Then it can go back and rewrite everything as it is supposed to be written. Data writen in small chunks is ideal for small file sizes because the computer has less work to do. But it is slow and cumbersome for moderate to large files because the computer has a lot more work to do. On the flip side data written in large blocks is ideal for large files and cumbersome for small files. Balanced drives take a middle of the road approach by writing data in moderate size blocks that are not ideal for any file size, but minimize the performance hit experienced at either end of the classes.
Unfortunately manufacturers don't advertise these facts so it can be hard to make a wise drive selection. My advice is generaly this...
* If you frequently use your drive to carry large files such as apps, high res photos, music or video; save your money and buy a good drive. Their durability and performance will pay for itself in a few months.
* If you usually only use the drive for non-critical small files such as office docs, low res photos or small apps; then purchase a cheap drive.
* If you use the drive for confidential data such as banking records; don't mess around. Save your money as long as necessary and purchase an iron key flash drive.