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Windows To Go - USB Thumb Drive

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#1 misty


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Posted 03 April 2024 - 07:56 AM

Instructions for setting up Windows To Go on a USB thumb drive are available on one of my previous topics (see here.

I like the convenience of having Windows To Go available via a USB thumb drive that I carry around with me on my keys. Sadly the plastic SanDisk ultra fit I previous used did not survive long. It was not robust enough to cope with being carried around in my pockets and part of the plastic case snapped off (part of the bit that fits into the USB port).

I have tried a few different designs and had high hopes for some all metal drives including the Kioxia U366 and Kingston DataTraveler Micro. Sadly USB thumb drives are not all created equal and whilst the physical design was perfect for my needs these drives were simply not fast enough to run Windows To Go.

@steve6375 states that -

....USB transfer Speed is very dependent on 4k random I/O rd/wr speed of the USB drive. Use Crystal DiskMark to measure. 4KiB Q1T1 - ignore manufacturers quoted sequential access speeds!

Some 'fast' USB 3 drive have terrible 4k block speeds!

For WinToGo to be usable, should be at least 1MB/s 4k random rd/write.....

After experimenting with a few drives I have settled on using a Samsung Fit Plus - 64 GB version purchased from Amazon UK for £12.

Unlike the SanDisk ultra fit I was using previously the part that fits into the USB port is metal. This drive appears to be more robust (than the SanDisk) and does not appear to get as hot in use. It is part plastic (including the bit that connects to the keyring) and time will tell whether it stands up to everyday carry.

Flash memory has a limited write cycle andI have no idea how long the flash memory will survive windows usage, however this is for occasional rather than everyday usage.

I will post some pictures and results from CrystalDiskMark soon.



#2 misty


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Posted 07 April 2024 - 09:06 AM

Tests results for 7 USB thumb drives that I have access to.

As @steve6375 has indicated that random 4k q1t1 write speeds are the most significant factor in whether a drive will support Windows To Go I have focused on these results.

Filesystem appears to make a difference as the tests for the Samsung Fit Plus drive gave very different results when exFAT was used (this drive was factory formatted as exFAT). CrystalDiskMark 8.0.5 RND4K Q1T1 results (write) were
14.96 MB/s for exFAT and 4.11 MB/s for FAT32.

I have tried to keep everything as consistent as possible between tests. All drives were formatted as FAT32. The same test system (a ThinkPad T470s) and USB port were used for each drive and I ensured that nothing else was running until CrystalDiskMark finished.

I used CrystalDiskMark 8.0.5 with 3 x 1GiB settings.

The results for RND4K Q1T1 (write) -
4.11 MB/s - Samsung Fit Plus 64GB
0.65 MB/s - SanDisk Ultra (gen2) 64GB
0.31 MB/s - Kingston DataTraveler Micro 64GB
0.28 MB/s - SanDisk Ultra (gen1) 64GB
0.00 MB/s - Kioxia U366 64GB

I also tried a couple of USB 2.0 drives -
1.48 MB/s - SanDisk Cruzer Facet 8GB
0.01 MB/s - Kioxia U202 64GB

Some of these drives were new (the Kioxia drives, Kingston DT Micro and the SamsungvFit Plus) and some have had a fair amount of usage.

Based on these results The Samsung Fit Plus was significantly faster than the other drives. The speed difference was noticeable when installing Windows To Go and when running the OS.

I did not test Windows To Go on all of these drives as I don't have the patience or the time at the moment.

I did successfully install Windows To Go on the Kingston DataTraveler Micro however it was unusable due to a significant lag.

It seemed to run ok on the SanDisk Ultra (gen2) when I ran my previous tests in 2023 however it took a lot longer [than the Samsung] to install Windows To Go to it.

Many years ago I installed a windows 8 based Windows To Go on the 8GB SanDisk Cruzer Facet - it was unusable due to a significant lag which may suggest that random 4k write speeds are only one factor.

I have previously tried to install Windows To Go on a Kioxia U366 drive - install failed.

When I get the chance I will upload some pictures (including CrystalDiskMark screenshots) to my site.


#3 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 07 April 2024 - 11:23 AM

FAT32 performance has been "dumbed  down" by MS in the old times (i.e. FAT32 in windows 2000 was faster than in XP, and later systems maintained the same kind of slower access).


Besides that, on relatively slowish devices, the actual volume alignment has been proved to be a factor.


At the time Steve6375 made a lot of tests to find the "better" possible alignment for FAT32:



But surely exFat is faster.


A comparison should be made between exFAT and NTFS, Fat32 will always be slower than the former formats.




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