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The fastest port on this machine seems to be the Thunderbolt 2 interface at 20Gbp/s. Are there any drives that would get anywhere near that?

It seems like the SSD in a 2015 MBP would be limited to about 2.2Gbps write speed so does it make sense to try to get anything faster than that?

Is a 3.1 USB thumb drive good enough or would a standard SATA III SSD drive work faster?

I just did a 150 GB Time Machine restore which took 9 hours. Is there a way to make it faster than that?

  • Are you not at risk of taking just as long copying to a faster device and then restoring from that than just restoring from the original backup? – Jon May 1 at 14:09
  • Copying to a faster device first would mean I could continue to use the machine getting the restore and limit the downtime. – Fresh Codemonger May 1 at 17:41
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The fastest port on this machine seems to be the Thunderbolt 2 interface at 20Gbps. Are there any drives that would get anywhere near that?

Chances are very unlikely. Why? Several reasons:

  1. Thunderbolt 2 has been deprecated in favor of Thunderbolt 3 since late 2015. The market for these devices were small to begin with and is shrinking more quickly with each passing day.

  2. You didn't say specifically what you're restoring from but suffice to say the commonly accepted media is an external hard drive. Assuming it is a SATA III drive, the throughput will be at most 6Gb/s

  3. Even if you were to connect two Macs with a Thunderbolt 2/3 port and get a full 20Gb/s , you're still limited by the speed of the drive on which you did the backup

  4. There are no USB 3.1 (or what is now known as 3.2 Gen 2) adapters or devices in the market; they were never manufactured. Why? USB 3.1 was introduced alongside Thunderbolt 3. The most you'll get is USB 3.0 (or 3.2 Gen 1); 5Gb/s throughput.

The fastest devices in order would be the following:

  • Thunderbolt to SATA enclosure like the Lacie Thunderbolt Drive or G-Drive. The Thunderbolt 1/2 versions of these drives are discontinued so you'll have to find them on eBay or similar sites.
  • USB 3.0 to SATA adapter or similar enclosure. This will give you the 5Gb/s throughput; closest to the 6Gb/s SATA III throughput.

Is a 3.1 USB thumb drive good enough or would a standard SATA3 SSD drive work faster?

Get it for the "future proofing" and get it for the fact it's solid state and less components to fail, but as for throughput, you'll never see it.

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  • Would you recommend a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure and then a 3 to 2 adapter cable? Would the Thunderbolt to SATA enclosure reach the 6Gb/s SATA III output? – Fresh Codemonger May 1 at 17:49
  • Is the fastest backup device then another MBP with a thunderbolt port and an SSD drive? Would this get you restore speed at the speed of the slowest MBP drive (2.2 Gb/s)? – Fresh Codemonger May 1 at 17:55
  • What kind of drive? Remember, this is only as fast as your slowest link. It would be like trying to drive a Ferriari on bicycle tires - the car's got lots of potential, but where the rubber meets the road, your limited to about 25mph (~40km/h) – Allan May 1 at 17:56
  • To be candid, the fastest way to restore is to have a Time Machine Backup where the data's not included but on the cloud (not saying exclude the data completely, just a second TM with just settings). When you restore, you only restore your settings. The data will sync itself in the background. – Allan May 1 at 18:00
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A decent device would be any USB 3.1 external SSD, such as the Samsung T5, benchmarked at c. 500 MB/s. The X5 is a Thunderbolt model with much higher speeds (c. 2,500 MB/s), but much more expensive. Speed is not usually crucial for backups, as a complete restore is hopefully a rarity.

It's usually recommended to choose a backup drive that is 2 or 3 times the size of your source disk.

Thumb drives are often not very fast, nor reliable for long-term backup storage.

Bear in mind that you will not always achieve 'test-score' speeds in real world use, as copying lots of small files takes longer than copying one large one.

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