Fast devices, hot devices

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Well-known member
Sep 24, 2020
I am posting this here because it has crossed my mind before that the issue may arise with Spinrite as well as normal Windows use. I recently purchased a Kingston 1TB flash drive. There were mentions of it running hot in reviews, but the alternatives had the same comments and I decided on the Kingston. It is FAST, but heats up quite a bit after a while of data transfer- too hot. Transferring a large file to the cloud was no issue, I figure the network speed kept things under control.

LIke an external USB SSD I have, transfers are fast and so is the heat build up. The SSD connects with a short cable and has a larger flat surface which allowed me to put a small container of cold water on top which kept the temperature under control. The Kingston flash drive is too small for that.

Although I don't run SR on flash drives or SSDs too often I do run it on occasion to make sure data is still usable, and with 6.1 on it's way I would like to run a pass on the larger capacity devices. With talks of 6.1 being so much faster than 6.0 I can see things overheating in some devices. Maybe an option to slow down SR could be useful, I don't think I am the only one who has noticed this.

This applies to a WIndows device to device copy, my actual problem. As mentioned the device(s) can get pretty hot especially when making a local copy. I just started looking into RoboCopy to slow down the data transfer rate since it seems to have a delay feature, but haven't checked enough to see if it can throttle offline transfers. I am running Windows 10 Pro and have to see if Windows itself has a throttling feature. Is anyone aware of a local data throttling program for Windows? I guess it's just a limitation of cramming a lot of high speed electronics into a small package, yet ironic that those high speeds can only be had for a fairly short time.

As a note of possible interest I did ask ChatGPT about the heat problem. It did come up with a few somewhat useful ideas such as a heat sink, a fan, and transferring smaller files. To the extent that I can I'll try those out.
I have had to deal with heat using Spinrite on laptops with spinning drives in the past. I had to prop up the laptop to sit at an angle or hang it off the edge of the desk so the drive would get more air, the worst one I had to remove the bottom cover and prop up and run an external fan on the underside to prevent overheating. The drive (actual spinning drive) was not recoverable after the drop it endured while running, the case design also didn't have good airflow (thanks DELL).

Being an SSD, you could set it on it's edge, and that would help dissipate heat on 2 sides of the drive. I would think some heat is probably expected, but it shouldn't get too hot. You should be able to touch it at the hottest.
@Ralph It's not clear what environment you're using the SSD in. They should run cooler than HDD, but they will generate some heat. If desktop, make sure intake fans and exhaust fans keep constant air flow through the chassis. If in a laptop, make sure the exhaust fan is working and spooling up when needed. You can get little utilities that monitor the CPU temperature for example. This is indicative of the load the PC is under. I use Speedfan. I do not use auto fan control, only monitoring. I let the PC or bios determine fan speed. There are settings under the power control panel in Windows (at least in Win 7) that control fan speed. I set mine to run up to 100% and prioritize cooling over noise level. You can also use Prime95 to stress the system to see if it remains cool under pressure. Temperature should stay well below your max CPU temperature. Max CPU temperatures vary. As an example, my laptop maintains 70 deg C under stress and the max CPU temperature is 90 deg C. Make sure all inlet ports (usually small vent holes) and output ports (usually a heat sink radiator) are clear of dust. Be aware dust can accumulate inside and you won't see it. Every year or so, I start to see my idling temperature creeping up. I have to open the cover and disconnect the fan power leads and blow "dust off" or something backwards into the radiator from the outside. A cloud of dust always comes out. The reason you disconnect the fan power leads is that spinning the fan with air flow from "dust off" could feed back voltage into the motherboard. Once the dust is gone, reconnect the fan power leads. Even though Speedfan may not be measuring the SSD temperature, the SSD should benefit from air flow. You may be able to load the manufacturer's SSD utility and monitor the SSD temperature. For Samsung, they call it Samsung Magician. If the SSD is routinely overheating even with good ventilation, there may be a problem with the drive. Hope this helps.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
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Writing to flash memory requires a certain amount of voltage to push the correct state into the flash cells. Erasing flash blocks (which is being done "in the background") takes even more power. So flash drives tend to get hot when being written, but should run significantly cooler when just being read. On the other hand, these devices rarely have significant cooling and are often inside plastic shells which trap more heat than they conduct, so heat can build up no matter what. There are some who say flash controllers work better at warmer temps, and others who say the flash degrades faster when hotter. It would be good to get some official advice from someone reliable.
FYI, if you go to Amazon and search for SSD heatsink, you get about 800 listings. Almost all of those are m.2 format. If you type SATA SSD heatsink, you get fewer listings but many are still m.2. I only spent a few minutes on it but perhaps you could find some that are actually a SATA format or maybe improvise something with a couple of m.2 ones. There's a huge variety there, if it's something you want.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
The SSD is a Sandisk 4TB Extreme which I should have mentioned sooner- and I believe got a dishonorable mention on a recent SN podcast. It has no vents or fans, just a molded case. The SSD I manage to keep under control since it is large enough to put on something as a heatsink, or on occasion just hold in my hand.

The Kingston (Data Traveler Max 1TB) flash drive is more the issue. It does have a plastic case and when plugged into a usb-c port is actually suspended in free air except for the connector itself. I haven't tried a small fan blowing on it yet. It's intended purpose was to be an additional backup copy that was portable enough to carry around. I wanted the whole drive encrypted, which I knew from the little I've used it would probably result in a puddle of plastic on my table.

My workaround for the heat buildup was an old Windows 7 USB-A 32 bit laptop. It was slow enough to keep the temperature in check at the expense of taking over a day to completely encrypt the flash drive. Now to get the data copied! I'll probably use FreeFileSync for that.

At the expense of lots of time writing to it I can use the flash drive for it's intended purpose since as a backup it will not get written to very often after the initial copy. I didn't think of using that old Windows 7 machine when I started this thread. This experience has brought to my attention, and possibly a help others, that these 'super' fast devices may not be as good as they seem to be- especially if they come in a small package.

One of my first thoughts, how hot would some devices get running SR to them is still with me. I like to run a pass of SR to any new device just to be sure they 'can be trusted'. When 6.1 is released I have a handful of large capacity devices to run it on including flash drives. For me I would rather use a few write cycles to check a device's state than put it into use without, and at some point I may have to recover data from it.

I seem to recall that SR6.0 did monitor a drive's temperature but don't recall what if any action it took. It may be a very limited case, but I have a couple Transcend Jetflash flash drives that do not report their temperature or SMART data and there are most likely others out there. Perhaps a built in manual speed throttle on SR might be worth looking into.
The Kingston (Data Traveler Max 1TB) flash drive is more the issue
@Ralph 1 TB for a flash drive is a lot to cram into a small space. If it's an older unit, it could be that they just munged up the thermal engineering. I've got a Roku streaming stick that I had to decommission because it was getting so hot I thought it was dangerous. They just blew it on the design. You can get stick on heat sinks of all sizes for chips and electronic components and such. Might work for the flash drive. Although you don't want to cut your hand on the heat sink inserting and removing it. You could also consider putting it on a 1 ft USB extension cable for potentially better air flow. You might be able to find a newer one with an aluminum shell or something. Electronics can usually take more heat than humans enjoy touching. But, if it burns you or hurts you when you touch it, that's probably over the top.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
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The 1TB Kingston actually popped up a temp warning window a couple times while in use. Thinking back to the failed Transcend Jetflash which had no SMART data, it failed while in use. Now I suspect it just cooked itself to death. I now have 2 heat sinks to test on the Kingston. I got copper for the better heat transfer. One is a low profile fin type, the second a larger fin type with 2 heat pipes. Both are a little larger than the flash drive and can be put to other use depending how some tests go. Neither heat sink will be permanently attached since that would go against one reason I got the drive to begin with, small enough to carry around easily.

I have Hard Disk Sentinel which can plot temperature vs time among other things. After I run some tests I'll post the plots if they show any significant changes. Running a backup from it the Kingston held a very steady 1.2Gb read transfer rate. Not bad since the drive it was writing to was an 8TB Seagate in an external USB enclosure which isn't one of their faster drives. The Kingston is very fast, but for fairly short bursts.
Newer devices will throttle the clock rate of their CPU when getting to hot. This can make measuring performance hard as it can vary widely. May be obvious, but arrange the heat sink fins so air can flow vertically through them. You'll probably need thermal paste or a thermal pad between the unit under test and the heat sink. If the heat sink is not attached with adhesive, you'll need at least a minimal amount of mechanical tension to keep the surfaces together. If the drive has a plastic shell and / or terrible thermal design, you may be beaten before you can start. I don't remember from the thread how the drive is attached, but if it's USB, you might need a 1' extension cable to arrange the drive for best heat flow.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
I have to double check, but don't recall any mention of thermal throttling on this flash drive. In use it gets hotter and hotter, and if I let it continue it will run until a warning pops up on the screen. Unfortunately the Kingston is in an all plastic case which seems to be a reasonably good insulator. I've watched the temperature creeping up while there is no obvious heating of the case- there is a definite time lag. If this thing is water resistant (have to check that too) I would be tempted to drop part of the case in water and start making some coffee during a large file transfer.

I've been using the drive while keeping an eye on the temperature. FreeFileSync has a pause which I use to keep temps under control and it keeps the transfer speeds down some which also helps.

While the specs of the drive were impressive, it turned out to be impressive in fairly small, bursts. Knowing what I do now I would not get another plastic case flash drive, and suspect the heat issue(s) is not limited to Kingston. Pretty much every high capacity flash drive I looked at on Amazon had comments about heat.
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