Making Sense of Memory Card Read/Write Speeds and USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt Data Transfer Rates

Making Sense of Memory Card Read/Write Speeds and USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt Data Transfer Rates

A common problem for many photographers is understanding memory card speeds, hard drive speeds and data transfer rates. It seems we’ve got all kinds of numbers, specs and measurements to look at when it comes to sizing up the speed of our memory cards and computer peripherals.

I recently received a question from a reader about a slow import process from his memory cards into Adobe Lightroom. He was using a USB 2 card reader and wondered whether that could be the culprit. And, if so, would upgrading to a new iMac with USB 3.0 and a Thunderbolt fix the problem if he had a USB 3 or Thunderbolt card reader? (To my knowledge, there are no Thunderbolt CF or SD card readers shipping at the time of this article. There is a Thunderbolt SxS card reader for the pro video market; however, it is currently listed as discontinued.)

Now, onto the specifics of his questions and to breakdown the technical jargon so we can make sense of how to get the fastest memory card transfers for our ever-growing file sizes… [Read more...]