Many of us have experienced too slow transfer of data, especially between slower storage mediums, such as flash drives and DVD ROMS. Why does it happen and what can we do to troubleshoot the problem and avoid experiencing it in the future?
Many of our readers have complained in the past about issues they occasionally have when moving files; especially when it involves transferring files between different hard drives or optical and removable media. They state that they experience too slow transfer, making a normal file copy too long and even end up with unresponsive windows.
In order to troubleshoot the problem, we first need to determine what factors affect speed of data transmission in a modern system, such as a desktop PC or a laptop.
Which Factors Affect Data Transfer Speed?
- Do you copy or move? If you Copy/Paste, then the transfer should be way faster than Cut/Paste, because the second means that the initial file location is emptied.
- What media do you use to transfer files? This is a very important factor, because different types of storage space have different transmissions speeds they support.
- If you transfer within one hard drive, the speed should be very high, even if the drive is not an SSD.
- Does the transfer occur from your hard drive to a USB key? The transmission will follow the lowest speed of the two sides, which is the USB key. If the USB is old, the read and write (in this case Write) will significantly affect the transfer speed. It could even take hours if you are moving many small files on an old USB key – that would be too slow transfer indeed.
- If you transfer files from the USB key to your hard drive, once again the low speed side is the USB, but since READ is involved for the USB, the transfer should take less time to complete because flash drives are faster when reading than when writing data.
- Do you transfer from an optical disc, such as a DVD Rom? It will also be slower than moving files within the same hard drive.
- The size and the number of files to be copied; generally speaking, one big file will transfer faster than many small files of the same total size. The difference can become significant if the transfer involves a slow side, such as a USB key or a DVD Rom. It also goes without saying that when we move a big file the transfer will take longer than when we transfer a smaller file.
- CPU load – this factor is rather unimportant nowadays, because all computer systems have sufficient processing power. However, if you are running multiple demanding software at the same time, the CPU load is higher and it will take longer to achieve a transfer – of course, the speed will also drop if the hard drive is being used from other software as well.
- The condition and state of the two sides – an old hard drive will take more time to read and write, even within itself. A USB key that has not been formatted recently and has been used for media playback many times will have even worse speed. Besides too slow transfer, you could even experience file errors.
- The operating system and the computer load at the time – older OS have lower capabilities to achieve high speeds.
- The motherboard age – older motherboards incorporate older sockets, such as USB 1 instead of USB 2 or 3. The speed will be lower by a huge amount in comparison to a more modern motherboard.
- If you are transferring within a network, many more factors could come into play, such as the age of the equipment, the network specs and its performance, the processing load of the two sides and even more. Check with your network administrator if you often have too slow transfer of files.
Now that we know many possible reasons why we experience lower speed when we transfer files, what options do we have?
Troubleshooting Questions – How To Solve The Problem?
The most important question to ask yourself is – Did this start recently?
- If the transfer involves a hard drive, the hard drive might be failing. Watch out for tell-tale signs and sounds, such as screeching sounds from a SATA drive that indicate mechanical problem. Also, the operating system might provide you with uncommon file errors – very possible when the hard drive has bad sectors.
- Is there a USB drive involved? If the delay happens only with the USB flash drive, it might have reached its age limits. You can always try to format it to “freshen” it, but sometimes you just have to part with it if the speed has started becoming unbearable. It might still be suitable for music playing in a car, however.
- Does it happen with an optical media? Clean the DVD, inspect for scratches on its surface and try again. If the problem persists, try the same disc on a different computer. This will allow you to pinpoint the failing component to be the DVD drive.
- Inspect the motherboard connectors, such as the IDE ribbon cable or the SATA cable. It certainly won’t hurt if you replace them.
- Are you sure that the system is clean from viruses? Particular worms tend to use much processing power, which will diminish any hope you have in achieving higher transferring speeds but will also cause serious system issues and pose a risk to your files and identity. Scan your computer with an antivirus program such as the embedded in Windows Defender and an anti-spyware software such as MalwareBytes.
- Is your system relatively old? Have you been experiencing problems running newer games or even have trouble performing every day works? It might be the time for a system upgrade. That could be a full new purchase, if you are sure that your computer does not meet your needs anymore. Or it could also be a partial upgrade, such as adding more RAM or investing in an SSD drive.
Have you invested in an SSD already? Solid State Drives offer a significant speed boost when compare to Hard Disk Drives. Find out more about what an SSD is, and check our list of the Top SSDs in the market for 2019.
Have you ever experienced very low transmission speed on files? What was the reason behind it? Tell us in the comments and help others that might have a similar problem!
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