A USB as a flash drive has come a long way, along with its other innovative counterparts. It was brought into the tech world at a turning point when people struggled with sharing and copying data when the online sphere of sharing data through the cloud and other measures was nonexistent. Today we have many other measures to help us share data, but USB remains one of the common ones amongst them.

Thus, this arises a question regarding USB 3.0 vs 3.1, which modern version of USB is better.

We sure have come far, but for discussion’s sake, let’s look at what a flash drive is and how it helps us. It will help us transition into which type of USB is better, should you want one.

Flash Drive

Often technical things seem too complicated to understand for the masses, but apart from the technical terms, there is an easy way to understand this. Normal storage usually works in a way that requires energy, mainly electricity, or stored energy as in rechargeable energy, to make it work. A flash drive, however, works on flash memory which stores things for us without the need for external energy requirements. In laptops/desktops, this flash memory is replaced by RAM or Random Access Memory which requires the use of energy to store data.


  • Originally the intent behind the invention was to make data storage and transfer easier. In terms of storage, a USB was first only capable of storing a very small amount of data but gradually has been able to store much more now.
  • Another intent behind its use was to shift the focus away from using external power for storage. This was no easy feat, the invention of USB was just another feather in the overall innovative era.
  • Another key component for it is portability. The average USB weighs less than what your sandwich at lunch might, and the size is also tiny enough to fit in the watch pocket of your jeans.
  • Lastly, the speed of a USB – how fast it can pick, process and transfer data is also one of the primary factors. Although the previous versions were not capable of storing much data, the modern versions are much faster and more efficient.

Stages and updates

The tech world made a promising breakthrough in 1996 with the initial version of USB 1.0. Over years, there have been updates and developments with newer versions coming up. These developments are not only restricted to upgradation in storage capacity, but the bandwidth a USB can take and transfer data and the speed as well.

Once after USB 3.0 – SuperSpeed USB was launched, the developments progressed with 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2. The previous versions had their non-numerical names as well. 1.0 was FUll Speed and 2.0 was known as Hi-speed.

With time USB has taken a leap of expansion in terms of storage capacity and speed. The 3.0 version was far better than 2.0 and had more improvements compared to the level of upgrade from 1.0 to 2.0. USB 3.0 improved its transfer rate at least ten times, by bringing it to 5Gbps which is around 500MB/s. On the other hand, the newer version of 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2 are much better than their third generation counterpart.

USB 3.0 vs 3.1

The differences between 3.0 and 3.1 span wide, but the main one is to do with the transfer speed. USB 3.0 first came in 2008 which was many years ago, and USB 3.1, 5 years after that in 2013, which is still close to a decade ago. The initial transfer speed on USB 3.0 was 5Gbps which was improved to 10Gbps in USB 3.1.

The differences between them were vital enough for device manufacturers to put superspeed logos on the devices to indicate that the device is better not only in terms of speed but in storage capacity and performance as well. Even though there are no differences between the versions of USB 3 in terms of how they operate, some devices are even consistent with indicating which exact version they support.

Some ports might not be able to support the versions past USB 3.0 though, so you must keep that in mind and check with your ports. Ultimately you will have to assess your needs and identify what kind of speed and bandwidth is okay for you in terms of use. Even if there are updated and faster versions, you don’t necessarily have to spend money on them if say version 3.0 works fine for you. Following are some commonly asked questions regarding the USB 3 versions and how to identify which one you need.

Which version of USB 3.0 is SuperSpeed?

Initially, the 3.0 version of the USB was given the name SuperSpeed. However, with its newer version  – 3.1 launching in the market, confused people as to which one is the SuperSpeed USB. Thus manufacturers took a unanimous decision to differentiate each version with a different name. Therefore, the USB Implementers Forum – a platform that manufactures and promotes the development of USB – unanimously decided to change the names.

All the 3rd generation USBs are SuperSpeed USBs, however, to distinguish each version, they are named as follows:

3.0 – SuperSpeed 5Gbps

3.1 – SuperSpeed 10 Gbps

3.2 – SuperSpeed 20 Gbps

As of now, you are aware of what is the storage capacity of the newer version, hence, it will be easier for you to differentiate between different versions of the same generation of the USB.

Is 3.2 version better than 3.0 and 3.1?

Mentioned above is the fact that we already have a newer version of 3rd generation USB after 3.1. The 3.2 version of USB is even advanced and modified for flash drives. The single-lane transfer channel was updated to two lanes, and the overall transfer rate of data to 20 Gbps. This gradual leap from 5 to 20 Gbps was an intentional development that helped make USB compatible with some other options available out there.

How to select the right USB for myself?

This is an entirely subjective thing to consider, except if you like the latest version to be on top of your tech game. For example, people do not need to update their phones every time a new iPhone model comes out, but they do. Although Apple’s market has a lot more theories to apply, one important thing is still the fact that people like being equipped with the most recent technology. Which explains why as soon as there’s a new model, iOS update, accessory, people run and fight their way in queues to get to it.

While all that’s said, not everyone requires the latest USB version. You truly do not, if your work is just as smooth and adequate with whatever version you have or can buy at a more reasonable price. If you are however an employee at a tech or information firm, getting your hands on the latest USB version might do you well. However, it depends on your need, preference, and ability to buy it.

Moreover, not to forget, there are other ‘over the internet solutions to data transfer and storage now, which were previously only done through the use of a USB. So the alternatives are there, easy to pick up but you could have your own specific needs of storage, and having a backup never hurts anybody. All this you should consider well enough before if you are thinking of buying this flash memory device for yourself.

After everything is said and done regarding USB 3.0 vs 3.1, it depends upon you to make a choice. Other than 3.0 and 3.1, you have the option of 3.2 to go for if you are motivated by advanced technology in your work or personal environment. Do your research regarding companies etc. There are multiple options, in different price ranges available for your benefit.