How to Optimize USB Storage for Better Performance on Windows 10

Connect a USB stick to a PC laptopAlexey Rotanov / Shutterstock

according to Microsoft, Windows 10 no longer optimizes external storage devices for "better performance" from Updated October 2018. Instead, it optimizes them for a "quick pull". Here's what it means – and how to change it if you wish.

We do not believe that all Windows users should change this option. Despite the temptation of "better performance," the default "fast delete" policy is appropriate for most users.

Quick withdrawal vs. better performance

Quick removal and better performance options in Windows 10

Windows has different "policies" that you can select for external storage devices connected via USB or Thunderbolt, be it a USB drive or an external hard drive. Each individual storage device has its own policy setting, which allows you to select different policies for different devices.

By default, Windows 10 now uses the "fast delete" policy. Whenever you write to the drive, Windows writes the data to the drive as quickly as possible. This ensures that you can remove the USB drive without using the "Safely Remove Hardware" option, in theory. A program may be writing on your USB drive in the background, so we do not recommend it. This greatly reduces the risk of data corruption if you are used to safely removing storage devices before unplugging them.

However, this can slow down your applications. For example, when you save a file to the external drive, the program you are using might stop and wait for the backup process to finish so you can continue working.

The "Best Performance" option eliminates this slowdown. With this option, Windows will cache the write operations on the drive and let the applications proceed as if they had already written the data. Windows then performs the write operation in the background. This can make applications more vivid.

On the other hand, this can lead to data loss in some situations. Users think that their files are backed up and delete the drive, but the data has not been actually saved and the files on the drive may be corrupted. C & # 39; why you should use the option "Safely remove the device" before unplugging a drive under Windows. It tells Windows to write all cached data to disk, making sure all your data is safe before removing the drive.

It is unclear to what extent you will get "better performance" in practice. It depends on the speed of your external storage device, the way the application you use handles writing data and the amount of data you write at a given time. Microsoft clearly believes that the default "fast pull" is appropriate for most people and that it is a priority to avoid data loss. After all, many people do not bother to "safely remove" the devices before unplugging them. This makes "fast removal" a superior solution for many people because it reduces the risk of data loss when you do not remove a drive safely.

RELATED: Do you really need to safely remove USB sticks?

How to enable better performance

If you want to enable "better performance," you will need to do this individually for each external storage device that you connect to your computer. However, Windows will remember this setting. Thus, if you change this option for a USB flash drive, it will be used each time you connect the same USB drive to your current PC. The option will not be retained if you connect another USB drive to your current PC or if you are transporting the USB drive to another PC.

First, make sure you have connected the external storage device to your PC. You can then control this parameter from the Disk Management Tool. To open it, right-click the Windows 10 Start button and select "Disk Management." (If you are using Windows 7, you can press Windows + R, type "diskmgmt.msc" in the window, and then press Enter to launch the disk management tool.)

Launching Disk Management on Windows 10

Find the disk name at the bottom of the Disk Management window, right-click on it, and select "Properties". You must right-click the name on the left of the list.

If you do not know which drive is your external storage device, see the drive letter displayed here. You can check the File Explorer to see the drive letter of your external storage device, if necessary.

Opening properties of a disk device in Windows 10

Click the "Strategies" tab and select "Best Performance" under Delete Policy to use this policy. Microsoft also recommends that you enable the "Enable write caching on the device" setting under Write Caching Policy if you select Best Performance.

Do not enable the option "Disable Windows write cache buffer dump on device" unless the external storage device has a separate power supply. This can result in data loss if your computer is out of power.

Enabling Write Caching for External Storage on Windows 10

Click "OK" to save your changes. This change applies only to this specific USB device. You will need to repeat this procedure to apply it to other devices.

Do not forget to safely remove devices before physically disconnecting them from your PC!

Ejecting an external USB storage device under Windows 10

If you change your mind, you can return to the device properties window and select "Quick delete (default)".

Microsoft's claim that this is a new default setting in the latest version of Windows 10 leaves us a little puzzled. We noticed that the "fast pull" was the default on some of our devices, even at the origin of Windows 7. It was perhaps only the default on some devices and now is the setting by default on all devices. In any case, you will need to enable "Best Performance" manually, if you wish.

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