Internet, Networking, & Security Home Networking An Explanation of Read and Write Speeds Read/write speeds differ between solid state drives and hard drives by Lisa Johnston Writer Lisa Johnston is a former Lifewire writer and an editor who covers computer peripherals and other consumer electronics since 2004. our editorial process LinkedIn Lisa Johnston Updated on January 26, 2020 reviewed by Chris Selph Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Chris Selph is a CompTIA-certified technology and vocational IT teacher. He also serves as network & server administrator and performs computer maintenance and repair for numerous clients. our review board Article reviewed on Jun 19, 2020 Chris Selph Home Networking The Wireless Connection Routers & Firewalls Network Hubs ISP Broadband Ethernet Installing & Upgrading Wi-Fi & Wireless Tweet Share Email Read/write speeds are used to measure the performance of a storage device. The read speed refers to how long it takes to open a file from the device, and the write speed is how long it takes to save a file to the device. Read/write speed tests can be performed on internal and external hard disk drives as well as storage area networks and USB flash drives. flo222 / Pixabay. How Are Read and Write Speeds Measured? Read and write speeds are typically recorded with the letters ps (per second) at the end of the measurement. For example, a device that has a write speed of 32 MBps means that it can record 32 MB (megabytes) of data every second. It's also common for speeds to be expressed in MB/s. If you need to convert MB to KB or some other unit, you can enter the equation into Google. For example 15.8 MBps to KBps. How to Test Read and Write Speeds CrystalDiskMark is a freeware program for Windows that tests the read/write speeds of internal and external drives. You can select a custom file size between 500 MB to 32 GB and choose whether to use random data or just zeros to run the test. You can also set the number of passes that should be performed. Blackmagic Disk Speed Test is a similar tool for Macs. ATTO Disk Benchmark and HD Tune are a couple of other free benchmark tools that can check a drive's read and write speeds. The former works for both operating systems. SSD vs. HDD Read/Writes Speeds Before buying a new hard drive, you should know the difference between SSDs and HDDs. A hard disk drive (HDD) uses magnetism to store data on a rotating disk. A read/write head floats above the spinning disk reading and writing data. The faster the disk spins, the faster an HDD can perform. Typical read/write speeds for an HDD top out at 200 MBps. Instead of a disk, solid-state drives (SSDs) use semiconductors to store data, which is much more efficient. Consequently, SSDs have faster read and write speeds than HDDs. They are also more durable since they don't contain as many moving parts, so SSDs are more likely to survive being dropped. The fastest SSDs on the market, such as the Samsung 860 EVO, can deliver read/write speeds above 500 MBps. While HDDs are slower than SDDs, they are also cheaper. However, pricing for SSDs is steadily falling. How Fast Is Fast Enough? For most users, read/write speeds aren't a huge concern unless you regularly work with large files. For businesses, time is money, so spending a little more on a faster drive might be worth the investment.