Hi, another tool to check the SMART status of your drive is Crystal Disk Info
USB2 tops out at ~30MB/sec no matter how good the source/destination drives are.
eSATA basically extends the SATA interface outside of the case to an external drive. High-end motherboards often have eSATA on the back panel. Some cases also have eSATA port(s) on them that connect to "ordinary" SATA port on the motherboard. You can easily buy eSATA back planes see here
If you want to go eSATA you can remove the external drive from it's existing one and replace with eSATA one. 3.5" drives 2.5" drives
Alternately you can go USB3, these are the ones with the blue plastic in them. Two port cards from £15-20 and cases ~£20.
eSATA is extension of SATA, speeds are:
SATA I = 1.5Gbs (~150MB/s)
SATA II = 3Gbs (~300MB/s)
SATA III = 6Gb (~600MB/s)
Mechanical drives are barely up to 150MB/s so the hard drive is the limit with any speed of SATA, SSDs however are up over 500MB/s now and climbing fast.
USB(1) "Low Speed" = 1.5Mbs (~0.1MB/s)
- - - - "Full Speed" = 12Mbs (~1MB/s)
USB2 "High Speed" = 480Mbs (~35MB/s)
USB3 "Super Speed" = 5Gbs (~400MB/s)
To see transfer rates in Windows Vista or 7 just click "details" on the copy dialog box.
In XP is rather more involved and you need to use the Performance Console (run "perfmon.msc") and add a counter for the Physical and/or Logical disk(s) in question.
[unless someone knows a simpler way, eg dived the MB by the estimated time!]
Hope this helps, Seb