No more dollar store USB cables

Note to self: no more buying cables at the dollar store.

Last week I was in the local dollar store looking for pocket-sized packages of tissues and lint rollers (because there's no point spending a lot of money on that sort of thing), when I came across some of those retractable USB cables. You know, the kind that have the spring-loaded roll so that they wind themselves back up - kind of like cheap blinds. I probably should have known better, but come on - it was only a dollar!

Anyway, this afternoon I tried using that cable and it didn't go so well. I attempted to use it to connect my 320GB external USB drive to the hand-me-down laptop that my sister-in-law just gave us after buying a new system. I was using SystemRescueCD and PartImage to take a drive image of the original installation - you know, just in case - and the performance was...let's just say "disappointing". More specifically, the estimated time to completion, on a 75GB drive, with about 40GB used and no compression on the image, was around 11 hours. For those with no point of reference, using the same external drive to image my other laptop, which has about 30GB of used disk, takes maybe half an hour.

And what's worse, partimage kept hanging every 5 or 10 seconds, so even that estimate wasn't accurate. I left the laptop to image while we went on a wine tour of Seneca lake this afternoon, and after being gone for about 7 hours, partimage still said it had 6 hours of work left.

So, just to check, I tried it with my regular USB cable and, sure enough, it's running along at 667MiB/min, estimated completion time 55 minutes. It's still running a little choppier than my other laptop, but not too bad.

So I guess this discredits my old opinion that cables are cables and they either work or they don't. Turns out there are different levels of "not working". Like I said, I should have known better.

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