What is read/write speed? Why is this important for storage devices?

In the process of researching, choosing to buy a hardware storage device such as a memory card, USB drive, or portable hard drive… You may have seen manufacturers advertise that their products possess read and write speeds. says “extremely fast”. So what exactly do these numbers mean, and how do they make a difference to your usage experience?

Storage speed?

Basically, read and write speeds are parameters used to compare and evaluate performance on storage devices in real-life usage scenarios.

More specifically, the read speed parameter makes it possible to determine how long it takes to open (read) any data from a storage device. On the other hand, write speed allows you to estimate how long it will take to save any amount of data to this storage device.

However, the read/write parameter has only become of real interest since solid-state drives (SSDs) became the most common form of storage on computers, replacing hard disks. A standard HDD can have read and write speeds of 80 to 160 mb/s. Meanwhile, a basic SSD usually starts at 320 mb/s and goes up to thousands of mb/s on high-end models. That’s also why you see PCs using SSD notebooks often for significantly faster boot times, program openings, or overall performance than when equipped with HDD storage.

Read and write

Although read and write speeds are often combined, as mentioned above they involve different data processing processes on your computer.

To be more specific, read speed measures how fast your hard drive can “read” or access files stored on it. For example, if you’re trying to open a file that’s several gigabytes large, an SSD with faster read speeds can help launch the file faster. That’s also how SSDs help improve computer boot times, since it takes less time to read the large files needed during operating system loading.

Write speed, on the other hand, is a parameter to measure how long a file can be written to the hard drive. You frequently encounter “write speeds” when trying to copy files from one location to another. If these files are large, you’ll see a timer indicating how long the data transfer will take. The faster the read speed, the shorter the file transfer time.

Input and output per second

Before deciding to buy an SSD with the fastest advertised read and write speeds available, you should know that these are not necessarily the most important metrics of a hard drive. The read and write speeds that ad manufacturers typically measure are sequential speeds.

It can be understood that a file structure is essentially a series of interconnected blocks of data. Sequential speed measures how fast the drive reads and writes blocks of data in a fixed order. This tends to be more important when the hard drive tries to read and write large files, such as 4K video.

However, many tasks in real-world use involve reading and writing a series of small files, stored in separate, random chunks of data on your hard drive. In this case, you should pay more attention to the random read and write speeds of the drive. In some situations, this can significantly affect the small tasks you perform on your computer, and affect your experience.

Read/write speed

What is the read/write speed?

If your PC is already using an HDD, switching to almost any SSD model can be seen as a major upgrade. However, if you’re trying to choose the right SSD to upgrade your laptop or build a more modern PC system, we recommend SSDs with sequential read and write speeds of no less than 500 mb/s. This level is comfortable for most routine tasks. If you plan to do more complex, “specialist” work with your computer, consider SSDs for speeds up to 2000 or 3000mb/s.

In short, before making any purchase, make sure you have thoroughly evaluated the various aspects of a storage device at its price point. Don’t just look for the highest speed, and also don’t forget to refer to the actual reviews of other users.


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