Tuesday, October 05, 2010

USB SuperCharger seriously speeds up USB flash drive access

USB SuperCharger: Where have you been all my life?!?!?

Time for a little background before I get all gushy about this new-found gold mine of USB flash drive performance. I'm a huge fan of PortableApps. Aside from running Thunderbird, Firefox, FileZilla, Pidgin, KeePass, and Skype as portable applications off of my 64GB USB flash drive, I have at least two dozen other portable apps installed, just in case I have the need or desire to run them while not sitting at one of my home/office computers. On a regular basis — at least eight hours a weekday — I have three or more portable apps running constantly.

These applications, while streamlined to be HD-dependent, are at times "chatty Cathys" reading and writing and fragmenting and wearing out my USB flash drive's NAND memory until there's nothing left. The performance hit varies, depending on flash drive vendor. I typically do a day's worth of research, buy the biggest, fastest, most expensive USB flash drive I can find, then run it from 6-12 months before I start seeing smoke pour out from around the USB connector; not literally of course, but all good MLC NANDs eventually give up the ghost after a kajillion read/write operations. Performance during the lifetime of these latest/greatest USB flash drives is acceptable at best, and vein-burstingly frustrating at worst, which is where I was ... until yesterday. Enter my new best friend: USB SuperCharger from Easy Computing.

Upon first glance, USB SuperCharger looks to be black magic, deal-with-the-devil, impossibly too good to be true, snake oil. Claims on the site imply improvements from nothing to 1000X faster (yes, boys and girls, they're talking 100,000% faster). C'mon. Give me some credit here. That, coupled with the fact that there's no Try Before You Buy option, aside from the ability to install it for free on a 1-2GB flash drive, makes you wonder if they're just out to get your hard-earned PayPal cash. Well, y'know what? They aren't! USB SuperCharger rocks!!!

I installed the software on a 2GB USB flash drive, then installed Firefox 4 Beta 6 from PortableApps.com. As soon as I brought up the application, I had to double-check the flash drive's access LED to insure that I hadn't started Firefox from the HD by mistake. The application came up instantly. As I continued to surf, I continued to be impressed. There is seriously a night and day difference between running portable apps with and without USB SuperCharger. I couldn't believe it, and after buying a 64GB license, I still can't believe it. The improvement is nothing short of astounding.

There have been claims that some combinations of installation and bad habits have caused fatal corruption of the data, but so far I've been running perfectly clean. Any self-respecting USB flash drive owner should have backups anyway (flash drive lifetime is finite), but it's something to watch out for. Also, I ran into a problem with accessing — or more accurately, formatting — more than 32GB of virtual supercharged flash drive under Windows XP. I've got an e-mail into their Support group for assistance, but it's not like the other 32GB is wasted; just un-supercharged. I still have access in case I need it for archiving or temporary storage.

In a nutshell, if you are a heavy user of USB flash drives, stop what you're doing, click on one of the hotlinks I've provided in this blog post, and purchase USB SuperCharger immediately. You will absolutely not be disappointed.