0Inside HDD LogoSpeeding up Media Browser

An article on Hack7MC caught my eye a couple of months ago, but I have only just got around to following up on it. The idea is to speed up the Media Browser plugin for Media Center by moving its library to a Cheap USB Flash drive, which hopefully offers much better performance than normal hard-disk drives. The first thing I did was test a couple of flash-based devices that I have against my desktop HardDrive…

WD VelociRaptor (300Gig)
random 4k read = 0.9mb/s
random 512k read = 57mb/s

Super Talent Pico-C 8Gig
random 4k read = 8.2mb/s
random 512kb read = 34.6mb/s

SanDisk Extreme III SDHC 8Gig
random 4k read = 4.6mb/s
random 512kb read = 20.45mb/s

Corsair Flash Voyager 8Gb
random 4k read = 8.13mb/s
random 512kb read = 30.41mb/s

I have been led to understand that the 4k measurements are the most important values, however I would like an explanation of why this is the case.

The average file size in my media browser image library is ~42kb so they are relatively small files, which I believe is relevant

For comparison of a lot more pen drives there is a recent review (2009) at Ars Technica

The corsair drive from the ars review is currently on ebay for around £16 – I wonder how much of a performance increase it offers


  • The corsair drive from the ars review turned out to be fractionally slower (effectively on par with) the Pico-C
  • The average files in my Media Browser library are now 610kb.  They range from 5kb to 2mb.
  • USB 2.0 is theoretically limited to 60mb/s, and in practice seems limited to 30mb/s
  • Without USB 3.0, or an internal (e.g. SATA) SSD I am skeptical that any realistic speed-up can be gained with this method.  Using an SQL database for Media Browser may offer a substantial speed up, and the database can easily be hosted on a RAM drive for an additional increase

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