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How to troubleshoot USB 3.0 speed on Windows 10

USB 3.0 is faster than USB 2.0 which is the whole point of the new standard. If you buy a USB storage device today, it will most likely be USB 3.0. Most devices, if available now, are going to be on the newer standard however, a device being USB 3.0 isn’t enough to guarantee that you’re actually getting the promised USB 3.0 speed.

In order to get USB 3.0 speed on Windows 10, you need three things; a USB 3.0 port, a USB 3.0 device, and a connecting cable that supports it. If you’re having trouble with a USB 3.0 device, these are the three main components you need to check.

Troubleshoot USB 3.0 speed

Before you begin, you need to first check what speed you’re getting with your device. To do that, and to troubleshoot problems with USB 3.0, you should download a free app called USB Device Tree Viewer.

Check USB transfer speed

Connect your USB device and run USB Device Tree Viewer. Select your device from the column on the left, and scroll down to the ‘Connection Information V2’ section in the pane on the right. Look for DevIsOpAtSsOrHigher and DevIsSsCapOrHigher. Both should have the value 1 for true. If not, you’re not getting the promised USB 3.0 speed.

Check USB Ports

Although USB ports are now all USB 3.0, you may still have one backward compatible port for older USB 2.0 devices, or your system might just be old enough to only have one USB 3.0 port while all others are USB 2.0.

There are two ways to check the port. The first, is by looking at the symbol next to the port on your system and referencing it from the image below.

The second method is to check with USB Device Tree Viewer. Connect the device, select it, and under the USB Port section, check the Properties value. It should be 0x03 for a USB 3.0 port. If it isn’t, then you need to connect your device to a different port i.e., one that is USB 3.0.

It is possible that a USB port appears to be 3.0 visually i.e., it has the correct symbol next to it, or it’s blue but the app reports a lower  speed. This indicates a problem with the port, usually a hardware problem. It may be that the port has come loose in which case you will experience other problems with it as well.

Check Device

You need to make sure that the device actually supports USB 3.0. It may say so on its box but if you’ve bought a knock-off, no-name device, the information may not be correct. Again, USB Device Tree Viewer can help you check if a device is USB 2.0 or USB 3.0.

Check connecting cable

A faulty cable, a cable that is loose, or a cable that doesn’t support USB 3.0 can all lead to your USB 3.0 device underperforming. The only way to check it is to swap it out with a different one. If your device connects directly to your system i.e., without a cable like many USB drives do, this obviously isn’t a factor.

Change the cable, and then check the device speed, and connection speed.

Fixing Problems

Apart from the cable, there is little you can do to fix USB 3.0 speed problems. If you do not have a 3.0 port, you cannot just add one or upgrade a 2.0 port. Likewise, if your device isn’t 3.0, you can’t upgrade it either.

If you’re having trouble with ports, it may be worth having someone look at your system. It’s always a good idea to change ports if you have a USB 3.0 port to spare, and you should avoid using the charging port whenever you can.

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