Why are Flash Drives slower than SSD? (Factors)

Both flash drives and SSDs use the flash memory principle to read and write data. These non-volatile memory units are the fastest storage devices currently. Flash drives are usually very handy, and they resemble the size of a thumb. As for SSDs, you can get external drives, but they are commonly used in the internals of the PC. 

The major difference between SSD and Flash drives is the speed. You can witness SSDs read and write faster than a flash drive. It is important to know the reason so that you can choose the right type of storage device as per your requirements. 

Therefore, in this article, we shall understand the differences between the flash drive and SSD and what makes the latter better than the former.

Why are flash drives slower than SSD

Why are flash drives slower than SSD?

Flash drives are slower than solid-state drives due to the difference in writing and reading methods and the difference in connecting interface. Let us explore both factors and understand why a flash drive is slower.

The difference in Data Access and Storage Methods

  • If you take an SSD, there are multiple spaces to hold the memory. Each of these spaces has separate internal buses and a controller chip. So, when data is fed to the SSD, it splits the data with the help of a controller which commands the multiple memory spaces to write data simultaneously. This increases the speed of writing or data transfer.
  • In a flash drive, the OS takes control of writing the data and it must provide individual commands to the memory using drivers. This results in executing thousands of commands and a slower writing speed.
  • Another advantage of an SSD is that it has a Direct Memory Access feature which can reduce the involvement of the OS and commands the controller to perform the data transfer and inform the OS finally. This is not found in Flash drives.
  • SSDs can cache the data in temporary memory and write the data in their own memory space when it doesn’t have any other work. 

Connecting Interface

  • This is also a major factor influencing the speed of data transfer. If you look at flash drives, they are connected to the PC with the help of USB ports. Although USB has improved a lot with data transfers, it cannot compete with NVMe or SATA.
  • SSDs are equipped with NVMe or SATA which are way faster than a USB connection. The reason USBs perform slower is that it is a physical interface. Whereas an NVMe or SATA connection is an electronic interface that makes it faster.

Other Factors

Apart from the above-mentioned major factors, there are other minor reasons which cause a difference in speed. They are:

  • The technology used in the Construction of NANDIt is known that flash storage memory uses NAND. But the format of construction is different in USB and SSD. If you look at SSD, you can find Single level cell construction (SLC) of the NAND which is costlier and at the same time faster in operation too. While on the other hand, you can find Flash drives to have Multi-Level Construction which aids in a smaller form factor and is manufactured at a cheaper cost (due to a smaller number of transistors). This also provides less speed. So, SLC-based SSDs are faster while MLC-based flash drives are cheaper and slower.
  • The number of controllers – As we mentioned earlier, SSDs will have numerous controllers which can do a lot of operations and aid in faster data transfers. While a Flash drive has only one small microcontroller which cannot do much. 

So, due to these reasons, an SSD is faster than a flash drive although both devices use the same principle. The execution of the principle is slightly efficient and advanced in SSDs when compared to the flash drives which makes them slower.

What are the similarities between SSD and Flash Drives?

  • Both SSD and Flash Drives use the principle of Flash Storage which works using the NAND technology
  • Both are small and compact which makes them easily portable. 
  • They don’t have any moving parts and are fully electronically controlled and operated. 
  • They have a considerably good lifetime which means that you can store and erase them many times before the device reaches its capacity. Both have a significantly large number of erase/write cycles.
  • SSDs and Flash drives are more efficient than traditional hard drives which makes them the best storage device for any system.
  • Both are non-volatile storage devices and the data written on them doesn’t get erased once the power supply is removed.
  • Both devices are faster than other storage units which is the greatest advantage. Although SSDs are faster, flash drives are also considerably faster when compared to traditional hard drives.

So, there are more similarities between SSD and Flash drives. They work under the same principle and have more advantages as a storage system.

Read: Is it good to have SSD and HDD together?

Is it possible to make flash drives faster?

You can increase the data transfer rate of Flash drives with the help of some tweaks in your PC. Use these tweaks and enhance the performance.

  • Disable Security – Windows Security or any other security software on your PC can constantly check for malware or issues in your flash drive. This can significantly slow down the data transfer rate of your drive. So, try disabling the security until you finish accessing the data in your flash drive.
  • Update USB drivers – Sometimes your outdated USB drivers can be a reason. Update the drivers periodically. You can either go to the device manager and update the specific driver manually or simply go to the Windows update center to check for optional updates.
  • Use Identical Generation Port and Drive – If your flash drive is USB 3.0 then use it in the same generation port to get the maximum speeds. 

Read: Which one is better SSD or SSD HDD?


Flash drives and SSD are currently the best storage devices you can get for your PC or any other system for that matter. Although flash drives are a bit slower, they are more reliable and efficient than many devices. Portability is also greater in flash drives which makes them an easier choice of memory.

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