Recently I put lubuntu on a usb stick to test out on my old acer aspire pro kava0, It has 2gb ram and an atom n270, Surpassing all of these system requirements the system ran a bit sluggish especially Firefox, so I was wondering whether this is due to the fact I am running this on a usb and that a usb is slower than a hard drive?

anyway thanks!

  • 2
    Booting and loading programs are slower, but once a program is loaded, and there are no [other] file transfers to the USB drive, you should notice no difference in speed. You can test by adding the boot option toram and boot a live session. Booting will take some extra time because the 'cdrom' will be loaded to RAM, and after that the system will be snappy (loading programs will be faster).
    – sudodus
    May 26, 2018 at 18:49
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    I agree with @sudodus, I have both USB2 and USB3 flash drives running Ubuntu. I do not see a big difference in speed once they are running and programs are loaded. This may not be true if the computer does not have lots of RAM. Programs do seem to load faster using USB3 or SSD. May 27, 2018 at 15:47
  • He said he has only 2GB RAM so if RAM is full it will either freeze or write to the very slow sway if there is one. And not all is loaded into a ramfs, operations needing write will still be slow.
    – noraj
    May 28, 2018 at 17:23
  • @noraj : 2GB used to be lots of RAM, I think it is enough to run Firefox without the screen going grey every few minutes. Write is slow, but only when you save. May 29, 2018 at 18:50
  • @C.S.CameronCurrently At start I use 2GB (KDE + 2 electron app). Today nothing is optimized so a lot of stuff take too much memory.
    – noraj
    May 30, 2018 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


USB 2.0 theorical maximum bandwidth is 480 Mbits/s where SATA III is 6 Gbits/s.

So like you PC seems old and low hardware I assume you have a first price USB 2 sitck, a USB 2 bus, and a basic HDD 7200 rpm wired in SATA III. So in your case yes it will be a lot faster.

USB 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2 have higher bandwidth but don't forget you need both the key/stick and the computer bus to be in the same version or higher because you will always have the bandwidth of the slower version.

Check USB and SATA speed on Wikipedia. Also you can check the answer of What downsides are there to running an OS off of a flash drive instead of a hard drive (USB 3.0 and 2.0) here.


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