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USB SuperCharger – hands on review of this awesome flash memory tool

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[Photo from Flickr]

USB SuperCharger is a brilliant little bit of software that will transform the way you use your USB flash drive by improving its performance by some 300% and more. If you move lots of small files around or you’re a heavy user of Portable Apps, then you’ll definitely want to read what it can do. For once the hype is actually matched by reality!

USB SuperCharger increases the write speeds of USB drives by changing how the data is written. Instead of writing little pieces, one-at-a-time all over the place, it writes them in a large chunk in one go. It does this by creating a second volume on the drive, the supercharged bit. The original volume contains the SuperCharger software and will run at normal speed. You can also leave this normal partition for use with equipment other than PCs, as SuperCharger isn’t compatible with some media players. As an added bonus, the way USB Super Charger writes data prolongs the life of your flash drive.

So what can it do in practice? The nice people at the Easy Computing Company sent me a version of USB SuperCharger which I installed on my ancient SanDisk Cruzer 4GB stick, quite possibly the slowest USB flash drive ever made. I started with CrystalDiskMark and ran the usual hard drive benchtests. The USB key without SuperCharger is at the top, with it installed is on the bottom.

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The 2nd column highlights the real power of SuperCharger – it increases the write speed of small files dramatically, in this case by around 300x. SuperCharger’s makers claims the writing speed improvement can be over 1000x for some drives. There’s also a small increase for moving mid-range sized files and a slight decrease in copying speed for large files.

If you’re moving files around on USB drive, especially lots of small ones, then you’re going to see a massive improvement.

Next I copied a folder containing a mixture of 300MB video files and 5MB photos onto the drive, a pretty typical use of a USB flash drive in my opinion.

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With SuperCharger installed there was a minor decrease (about 10%) in the copying speeds. Nothing major but helpful none-the-less

Next I installed the full Portable Apps suite, which is 355MB. Click on the graph for the details.

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This is where SuperCharger comes into its own. On the normal drive, it took nearly 40 minutes to install, with SuperCharger, less than 4 minutes. I was astounded.

Now, with Portable Apps installed, I tried opening Firefox 3.5 from the flash drive, with Adblock on (to remove ad server lag) and with 7 tabs pre-saved. I used pages from Google, Gizmodo, Red Ferret etc.

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Again, the change was profound. With SuperCharger the pages took around 15 seconds to finish rendering, without it took an average of over 1 minute.

Prior to using SuperCharger, The Portable version of Firefox was just too slow on my USB drive and I gave up using it. With SuperCharger on it, everyday use of Portable Firefox is now possible. I can’t tell the difference between the portable version and the one on my PC. It’s profound.

So there you have it. USB SuperCharger does exactly what it says, and does it well. It can’t improve the write speed of large files, it actually slows them just a smidge, but writing small files is improved out of sight.

There are three versions of USB Super Charger. The 2GB version is free, fully featured and will never expire, but it must be installed on a 2GB flash driver or smaller. The up-to-8GB version is US$9.99 and the up-to-64GB is US$19.99. It doesn’t work with Mac or Linux PCs yet and don’t even think of installing it on an NTFS drive. If you’ve got any more questions check out USB SuperCharger FAQ here. Seriously, it’s brilliant try it out.

USB Flash drives write very slowly and inefficiently. USB SuperCharger changes how data is written to a USB drive, replacing traditional random writing with long linear writes so the drive always writes at its linear speed. The results are truly remarkable: / Random write speed increase of up to 1,000 fold / No degradation due to fragmentation / All USB drives made suitable for Portable Applications / Speeds up any USB Flash Drive / Years added to Flash Drive life / FREE use for USB Flash Drives 2 gigabytes and smaller

Tags: gadget, usb, usb+flash+drive, portable+apps, usb+super+charger, usb+supercharger

Dan Ferris is the Red Ferret’s Oceanic correspondent and Associate Editor based in Sydney, Australia. Despite not knowing Russell Crowe or Nicole Kidman, Dan has risen above adversity and now scours the world for interesting tidbits to write about. He spends far too much time photographing stuff and tinkering with computers.

Dan – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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