I boot operating systems like Windows 10, Xubuntu and Remix OS from USB storage.

I bought myself a USB 3 flash drive and thought "Hey, this can do 100 MB/s, it must be awesome for booting an OS from." (I do have a USB 3 port on my computer.) Well, it did perform that way in tests, but booting operating systems from it was an absolutely terrible experience. Xubuntu/Remix OS worked (though were slow and crashed frequently.) Windows crashed before it had even booted properly.

"Why is this?" I thought to myself.

Someone who apparently knows what they are talking about, told me:

For an Windows operating system boot drive, 4K random read speeds are the most important, followed by 4K random write speed, this is because there are a large number of small files in the Windows system. The 4K read/write speeds of the common flash drives are always slow, so these drives are not suitable for creating W2G drive. And the read/write speeds you said is sequential write read/write speed, not 4K random read/write speed, so it can't run Windows smoothly.

I also tried with an old mechanical drive I had lying around. It has only a fraction of the sequential read/write speed of the flash drive, but still, it works alright. Not as good as the internal HDD of my laptop, but still OK.

But, what I don't understand is: The advice I quoted above indicates that "4K random read/write speeds" are the key to performance. However, I tested both the flash drive and the old mechanical drive, and the flash drive seems to score better, even in this regard. (The relevant entries are "SanDisk" and "WD".)

Alright, so that was a lot of background information. I'm trying to let you in on what research I have done before posting the question. Now on to the question:

What is a good external (USB) HDD or SSD that will give optimal performance when booting operating systems off it?


  • Capacity should be 150 GB or more.
  • The price should be 200 USD or less (13.400 INR).
  • USB 3
  • Fast boot-time is a high priority.
  • System performance is a very, very high priority.
  • I live in India, so products available on Indian Amazon or Indian eBay are a huge plus.

It would be good if answers explained why the suggested product is a good choice.

  • 1
    Does it have to be USB 3.0?
    – Adam Wykes
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 4:14
  • @AdamWykes Yes.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 6:15

3 Answers 3


I'll recommend the Transcend 256GB USB 3.0 External Solid State Drive, TS256GESD400K. This is an SSD in a USB 3.0 external enclosure. SSDs will help with write and read seek times, as well as proving generally more tolerant of drops and heat. The 256Gb size is on the small side, but this is just about the fastest product you can hope to get for your price point on the USB 3.0 interface.

For what it's worth, I'm slightly mystified by your troubles with booting OSes off USB 3.0 flash drives. I use one that uses Easy2Boot to store about four or five linux OSes, along with WindowsPE, Windows 10, and DOS. The only trouble I ever had with my connection speeds was RemixOS; that wouldn't start on my flash drive if it was plugged into USB 2.0 for some reason.


So far it seems that https://usb.userbenchmark.com/ is the only place that allows me to sort the tested USB drives by the 4k write speed.

Based on the current stats, I'll check the local shops for:

  • Mushkin Ventura Ultra USB 3.0
  • Corsair Flash Voyager GTX USB 3.0
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.1

Samsung Portable SSD T5 might be a good choice too, if you can find an offer that fits your budget: https://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/ssd/product/portable/t5/

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