Which is faster, data transfer via USB, or WiFi?

  Pizz88 01:37 13 Mar 2013

Hi there,

I'm looking at buying an external hard drive to back up around 1tb of data. I can't decide wether to buy a WD Mybook or the Mybook Live, which works wirelessly and acts as a nice media hub for the home, rather than a straight forward usb hard drive.

I want to experience the best transfer speeds ideally. One issue is, I'm not sure if my PC has USB 2 or USB 3... So i'm not sure what the transfer rate would be there.

Also, my wireless network is standard 'N'.

So, which would be faster? Any further advice? The other big plus on the Wireless option, is that it acts as a DNLA server, and I can stream stuff wirelessly to my Smart TV :)


  Secret-Squirrel 08:38 13 Mar 2013

"...........to back up around 1tb of data..........I want to experience the best transfer speeds ideally."

USB will provide the best transfer speeds. USB2 operates at a theoretical maximum speed of 480 megabits per second, while USB3 is significantly faster at up to 5 gigabits per second. You can tell if your computer is USB3 equipped by looking that the sockets. If they've got a blue bit like this, then they are.

"Also, my wireless network is standard 'N'."

The wireless-N specification has a theoretical maximum speed of 300 megabits per second. However, a lot of routers and wireless adapters are "N lite" versions that have a maximum speed of just 150 megabits per second.

If you're going to be regularly backing up 1TB of data then I think you're likely to be very disappointed using a WiFi connection.

  Pizz88 04:43 14 Mar 2013

Ah ok, thats useful information. The 1TB is pretty much just the initial backup, and the further backups will be incremental as the files change.

I'm not looking into building a cheap system to act as a NAS, which I could just plug the USB3 HD into when I want it to act as network storage.


  alanrwood 12:03 14 Mar 2013

If you are going to that expense why not just buy yourself a NAS box which will connect to your router at whatever speed your network is capable of. If you really want a fast transfer make sure your computer has a GigaB network adaptor or card or has it already onboard and that you interpose a GB switch between your computer and the ADSL/?? router if that is not already a GB one. A four way GB switch can cost as little as £15 and I regularly transfer data at 5-600Gb/s true speed.

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