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Survivor 16GB & TrueCrypt Question (TC file container & cluster size RE: performance)


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Okay, I just got my new Survivor 16GB (non-GT) in the mail today. Before I ask my question, I just want to say how awesome this thing is. Yeah, it's a little bulky, but it's built like a tank. And for a non-GT model, this thing is fast. As I'm typing this, TrueCrypt is writing a volume at about 11MB/s. My old Lexar JumpDrive Firefly wrote at 1.4MB/s. So yeah, GT or not, this is a major upgrade for me. Very satisfied!


Okay, here's the question. First, a little background information. I'm well-versed in TrueCrypt, and have used it on a variety of external drives including a 250GB and 120GB drive. For my Survivor 16GB drive, I want to create a 4GB file container (due to the FAT32 limit) instead of making a partition, so that I can have a copy of TrueCrypt on the drive for portability ("traveler mode" as they call it). Anyway, my question is this: When creating a file container, what cluster size should I pick to optimize data transfer? I noticed the drive itself is preformatted in FAT32 with 8KB clusters. Should I make the container have 8KB clusters? Smaller? Larger?? Does it even matter? Should I reformat the drive with a larger cluster size to optimize access to the large container file? Should the container file also have a larger cluster size??


The TrueCrypt forum was basically bare on the subject. As much as I love TrueCrypt, the developers don't really hang around on the forums, and sometimes when I have asked questions like this in the past, I've gotten - not really rude - but "annoyed" responses, I suppose you could say. Or at least that's the feeling I got. I could be completely wrong, but eh... considering the friendly atmosphere around here, and helpful people that actually work at the company like RAM_GUY, I thought maybe this might be the best place to ask such a question.


So has anyone experimented with different cluster sizes inside of a TrueCrypt container file on top of the existing FAT32 filesystem?


I thought about formatting the drive itself with NTFS and then making a 15GB file container, instead of just 4GB, but I know that NTFS causes more writes due to the journal and may shorten the life of my drive. Are a few extra writes to the journal REALLY that bad, though? Especially considering the wear-leveling that the drive uses?


Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully respond!

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If you do a chckdesk command from a command prompt it will tell you the cluster size and that would be what I would use. Other wise I would experiment with how you use it for best performance because the file size you use will also affect the performance IE if you use or copy a lot of small files a smaller cluster size will be better but if you copy a lot of large file a lager cluster size might be best.
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Yeah that's how I figured out that the drive was pre-formatted as FAT32 with 8KB clusters. I created a 4GB FAT32 file container with 8KB clusters as well, and so far the performance seems decent. I used the Twofish algorithm, which is fastest on my machine (I prefer it for other reasons as well).


So far, so good. I was just wondering if anyone had done some extensive testing with different cluster sizes on both the drive and a file container, and how they affected each other. Of course, it's possible that I'm the only one geeky enough to care - but I figure there's someone out there as bad as I am. ;):

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Here's a HDTach of the drive:




And here's one of the file container hosted on the drive:




And here's a benchmark of how fast my machine can encrypt information:




As you see, I used 100MB as the test size for both programs. It seems I take a pretty steep performance cut using the encrypted file container. Also, my machine should be able to encrypt fast enough to use the full speed potential of the drive - but it isn't (I'm using Twofish). Anyone know any good speed tricks for running an encrypted container on a flash drive? Thanks!

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