USB 2 vs Wifi ac sync. Which one is faster in 2016?

sanke1

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 9, 2010
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Now that iPhone 6S, iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro support dual ac streams with maximum bandwidth of 866 Mbps, does USB 2 which has a max bandwidth of 480 Mbps still sync apps and songs faster than Wifi?

I am asking this because I have Air 2 and 6S in house and both support 866 Mbps wireless ac speeds. Apple is being adamant to NOT support USB 3 speeds over lightning port and even those lightning cables are pathetic USB 2 which are ultimately overpriced.

I know that there are wifi overheads and all other things but has Wifi sync overtaken USB 2 as a reliable and faster method to sync our data? It took me 1 hr to sync all my songs via that USB cable. I'm t's 2016 FFS.

If the benefits are tangible, I will upgrade my old router to ac router. Can anyone shed light on this?
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,316
4,331
Atlanta
First, I believe it is known that the Flash or Bus speed used in all iPhones and iPads (sans Pro) are slower than 480Mbps. So practically it won't matter. Also ac WiFi will only be faster than USB 2 if the receiving device is in the same room as the router.
 

sanke1

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 9, 2010
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First, I believe it is known that the Flash or Bus speed used in all iPhones and iPads (sans Pro) are slower than 480Mbps. So practically it won't matter. Also ac WiFi will only be faster than USB 2 if the receiving device is in the same room as the router.
You are highly wrong.

Apple uses NVmE protocol for internal NAND. Anandtech found out that it has 402 MBPS seq read speed and 163 MBPS seq write speed.
402 x 8 / 1024 = 3.14 Gbps read speed
163 x 8 / 1024 = 1.27 Gbps write speed

They are clearly higher than USB 2's therotical speeds. USB 2's actual speed is 30 MBPS read and write.
30 x 8 / 1024 = 0.25 Gbps

2 stream wireless has 866 Mbps theoretical speed (Mbps with a small b)
866 / 1024 = 0.84 Gbps

But even wireless ac has lower actual speed than that. So my question is "Does actual wireless ac's speed better than actual usb 2's speed?" Provided both the router and the iPhone are in the same room and within few feet of each other.

Source: Anandtech
 
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pika2000

Suspended
Jun 22, 2007
5,587
4,898
Speed is one thing, but there's reliability. When Apple announced wifi syncing way back when, I immediately put it to use. Yet today it is still unreliable.
When I connect a USB cable on my iPhone and Mac, it is always recognized right away, and syncing would start properly.
On Wifi, there are more times when iTunes never find the iPhone. It's a hit or miss. I even have had my syncing corrupted, resulting in deleted apps keep reappearing, and music not being synced properly. It's such a headache just to make it work that I went back to USB.
 

sanke1

macrumors 65816
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Nov 9, 2010
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Good point but what about sync speed when things are working correctly?
I hate to sync my 128 GB iPad Air 2 as it takes 1-2 hrs to fill in my data.
 

Mlrollin91

macrumors G5
Nov 20, 2008
13,656
9,180
Ventura County
I have a 300Mbps Internet Connection with an Apple Extreme AC router, and USB syncing is still much faster. I restored from backup on my iPhone 6s and iPad Air 2. Each have about 30GB of data. Did one via WiFi sync and one via USB sync. iPhone 6s (USB) finished about an hour faster than my iPad Air 2 (WiFi).

I did this because I was curious as well if there has been any improvement since WiFi Sync was introduced. My internet connection is 10X faster, have an AC router now and the devices are so much faster. I completed this experiment about a week ago.
 

Act3

macrumors 68000
Sep 26, 2014
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I have a 300Mbps Internet Connection with an Apple Extreme AC router, and USB syncing is still much faster. I restored from backup on my iPhone 6s and iPad Air 2. Each have about 30GB of data. Did one via WiFi sync and one via USB sync. iPhone 6s (USB) finished about an hour faster than my iPad Air 2 (WiFi).

I did this because I was curious as well if there has been any improvement since WiFi Sync was introduced. My internet connection is 10X faster, have an AC router now and the devices are so much faster. I completed this experiment about a week ago.

What does internet speed have to do with it? Are you talking about restoring a backup from the cloud?
 

Mlrollin91

macrumors G5
Nov 20, 2008
13,656
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Ventura County
What does internet speed have to do with it? Are you talking about restoring a backup from the cloud?
Internet speed doesn't have to deal with anything, but I figured I would mention it anyway.

Backup was through iTunes on both. One wired, one wireless. All variables were held constant expect the device itself.
 

Act3

macrumors 68000
Sep 26, 2014
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Internet speed doesn't have to deal with anything, but I figured I would mention it anyway.

Backup was through iTunes on both. One wired, one wireless. All variables were held constant expect the device itself.

Thanks, I wouldn't have expected that much of a difference. My air 2 and my 6s connect to my Airport Extreme at 866 Mb/s. Is the device you are syncing with connected via wifi as well or is it hard wired to router?
 

Mlrollin91

macrumors G5
Nov 20, 2008
13,656
9,180
Ventura County
Thanks, I wouldn't have expected that much of a difference. My air 2 and my 6s connect to my Airport Extreme at 866 Mb/s. Is the device you are syncing with connected via wifi as well or is it hard wired to router?

My iMac is wirelessly connected to my AC router.

iTunes backup restores can be done wirelessly? I thought those had to be done plugged in.

After the "restore" you can unplug it and just let the content, such as apps, music, movies and photos sync wirelessly. After the pop-up that says "Restoring ___ Time Remaining" disappears, your fine to unplug, assuming sync over WiFi is already checked.
 

-BigMac-

macrumors 68000
Apr 15, 2011
1,710
1,473
Melbourne, Australia
i sync all my stuff over wifi anyway. its the comfort and simpleness of it. no cables, no clutter. speed doesnt matter. i sit at my imac 5k for hours anyway
 

sanke1

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 9, 2010
1,067
434
Everyone is missing my initial question. Please do not go offtopic. It is just wifi sync to local pc/iMac. I am not asking to restore icloud backup or speed of internet connection.
 

stylinexpat

macrumors 68000
Mar 6, 2009
1,918
4,060
Fast forward to today. Which is faster now? Using wifi to sync your iPhone/iPad to your MacBook via iTunes or the lightning cable? What has progressed since 2016?
 

stylinexpat

macrumors 68000
Mar 6, 2009
1,918
4,060
Would be nice if Apple could start implementing some of those Thunderbolt 3 speeds into syncing. These sync speeds are really slow these days. Up to IOS 12 now and Backing up still takes forever.:eek:
 

jiji20

macrumors newbie
May 2, 2019
3
0
It's a hit or miss. I even have had my syncing corrupted, resulting in deleted apps keep reappearing, and music not being synced properly. It's such a headache just to make it work that I went back to USB.
 

ancientscream

macrumors newbie
Feb 18, 2012
9
1
You are highly wrong.

Apple uses NVmE protocol for internal NAND. Anandtech found out that it has 402 MBPS seq read speed and 163 MBPS seq write speed.
402 x 8 / 1024 = 3.14 Gbps read speed
163 x 8 / 1024 = 1.27 Gbps write speed

They are clearly higher than USB 2's therotical speeds. USB 2's actual speed is 30 MBPS read and write.
30 x 8 / 1024 = 0.25 Gbps

2 stream wireless has 866 Mbps theoretical speed (Mbps with a small b)
866 / 1024 = 0.84 Gbps

But even wireless ac has lower actual speed than that. So my question is "Does actual wireless ac's speed better than actual usb 2's speed?" Provided both the router and the iPhone are in the same room and within few feet of each other.

Source: Anandtech
IPHONE LIGHTNING CONNECTOR- REAL WORLD ITUNES SYNC SPEED TESTS - RESOLVED
Highly Wrong?! 480Mbps is the correct theoretical maximum speed in bits for USB2 disregarding protocol transfer overheads?
i suggest you stick in future to some to bytes Units throughout discussions rather than bits or showing conversions?
"you say USB 2 actual speed is 30MBPS ? … where are you referencing this from? your trying to indicate the theoretical maximum of 60MB/s is halved to 30MB/s in practice.?
I quote wikipedia re USB2 theoretical maximums
"480 Mbit/s (60 MB/s)"
where are you getting capitalised MBPS from ?
the correct acronym is Mbps stands for "megabits per second" MBPS for megabytes per second is not in common use IMO though i think i understand what your saying - capitalised MB etc.

you obviously understand the difference between bit and bytes just stick to one unit of measurement when comparing? I suggest MB/s because most transfer speed dialog measurements visible to the user are displayed in MegaBytes per second or if NVME Gigabytes but lets stick to MB/s and not bits which is most comprehensible to computer users rather than anything in bits?

Cart manufacturers promoted the megabit measurement to make there cartridges sounded larger, which has managed to confuse data rate, size and transfer discussions for years.

in all likelihood with transfer overhead file sizes your likely to get much less than expected ? from USB2
when you say the read speeds on an iphone are 402MB/s I should imagine that figure would vary dependent on iphone model and capacity? also the files sizes involved lots of small files lots slower etc. also we need some people to conduct some actual practical measurements over iTunes using say an itunes playlist of music say a standardised 20,000 megabytes (20GB) in size via USB2 and Wifi AC and report back I would expect AC to win but you can never be sure overheads etc. ill see if I can conduct that test and report back(see below for Results)

One thing to say is that apple using proprietary USB2 even on the iphone 12 in 2020 limited to 480Mbps theoretical maximum is an absolute travesty, to continue to cause such speed of transfer forum debates is horrific, considering when the first USB3 devices came out in 2010? is completely insane. The new iphone magsafe 2 can't transfer data? just power? so USB C is needed, who wants to rely entirely on WIFI, when AC routers at higher speeds need line of site for decent transfers can be blocked by lots of things making transfers much slower data wise. Either cable works at its capable speeds or its damaged ie replace cable. trying to transfer larger amounts over wifi is less favourable in contrast than to a USB C cable would be imo.

IPHONE LIGHTNING CONNECTOR- REAL WORLD ITUNES SYNC SPEED TESTS - RESOLVED
REAL WORLD TESTING 26th OCT 2020 (wifi 3 X slower?)

from clicking to sync button to > sync completed , in itunes , 20GB's of misc MP3's


ok transferring 20GB's, 3229 of MP3 files from a late 2013 imac with USB3 ports with an iphone 6s+ 128gb connected at USB2 port speeds

20GB's in 17m34s or about 19.04MB/s via USB cable

ok transferring 20GB's, 3229 of MP3 files from a late 2013 imac via AC wifi to router 12 feet away line of site, with a Tx speed listed as 878MBps to the router under the option click wifi menu icon in el capitan to iphone 6s+ 128gb connected to the same AC wifi network on desk in front of the imac.

20GB's in 52m53s or about 6.2MB/s via AC wifi
3X slower than USB2 speeds?!


WTF Apple need shooting - especially considering iphone 12's can go up to 512 Gigabytes in size like trying to pee through a syringe needle

with wifi it would take 23 hours! to fill up an iphone 512GB at 6.2 MB/s with 512GB of data, or 7.4 hours via USB2 at 19.05MB/s ? if you are going to transfer data via wifi I suggest you move your iphone to direct line of sight with the router about 1 ft away? might possibly speed things up a bit but that is not a real world scenario?

proof in any were needed that theorising re potential speeds on the basis of specs is meaningless
 
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