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Real World External SSD Speeds

Before I actually owned an external solid state drive (SSD), I was curious as to how fast they were. But I didn’t just want to know how fast they were on paper, I wanted real world results. Now that I know first-hand how quick an external SSD is, I have been showing others how fast they are. Recently, I demonstrated how quickly one can transfer a compressed HD movie from an external SSD drive to an SSD enabled laptop over USB 3.0. The demonstration enabled people to see real world external SSD speeds, not just theoretical numbers provided by manufactures.

The demo featured me transferring a compressed copy of Big Hero 6 from an external SSD drive to an SSD enabled laptop. The movie was compressed in an .mp4 container with the H.265 codec via Handbrake. This process took a few hours in order to tweak the compression level to my liking. When it was all said and done, the movie was about 2GB. But when I timed how long it took to transfer the 2GB movie from the external drive to the laptop, I was shocked. The results were astounding. When I timed it, the transfer took less than 8 seconds to complete. Whereas an external hard drive (HDD) completing the same task took about 1:30 seconds.

The reason an external SSD transfers data so much more quickly is because they have no moving parts like HDDs do. When you move data to or from a HDD a rotating platter has to rev up and start spinning in order for a mechanical arm has to seek the requested user data. On an SSD, this doesn’t happen because there are not moving parts, therefore eliminating the mechanical disadvantage. Think of an external solid state drive as a larger, higher capacity, USB 3.0 thumb drive or SD card.