Tried it with an USB stick. First I created a file of 1/2 GB with
dd if=/dev/urandom of=transfer bs=1M count=500
Then I noted the average transfer rates during read and write for USB 1.1 and USB 2.0:
878.5 kB/s write USB 1.1
808.0 kB/s read USB 1.1
3.1 MB/s write USB 2.0
7.2 MB/s read USB 2.0
Works. Thanks again.
P.S.: The stick might not be the answer to a virgin's prayer, but a factor of roughly 4 to 8 in increased speed nicely answers the basic question.