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Hard disk's big performance loss

Posted on 2005-04-14
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I have a destop PC running Win XP Pro SP2 (GigaByte GA 7VT600 motherboard, Sempron 2800+ CPU, 512 MB DDR, ATI RADEON 9200, Maxtor 120 GB ATAPI HD) and all of a sudden PC started performing poorly (jerky video, slow booting, etc.). I benchmarked the system with Dr. Hardware 6.0 and it showed big decrease in hard disk performance - 1/10 of previously measured read/write/access times (RAM, CPU and video staying the same as in earlier tests). CHKDSK check did reveal nothing (no bad sectors, no problems). I ran defragmentation utility and it worked fine. System is protected with WinXP SP2 Firewal and is constantly auto updated. Norton AntiVirus is also doing its job (latest definitions). System is used as a home PC (games, MS Office apps, moderate internet use). HD's file system is NTFS.
What could be wrong ?
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Question by:jrexton
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by:purplepomegranite
purplepomegranite earned 60 total points
ID: 13779559
It may not be the hard-drive, could be another component, perhaps a failing IDE cable.  Try replacing the cable to see.

A SMART utility can be used to interrogate the hard-drive to see if it is failing: http://www.ariolic.com/activesmart/

If you post any results here we will try and help further.
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nobus earned 600 total points
ID: 13779606
you could swap in another disc to test the performance; then you would be sure if it is the disc, the controller, or something else.
You can also check the settings of the ide channels (under advanced tab, if they are set to DMA.
Sometimes XP resets them to PIO
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by:simonenticott
ID: 13782194
have you installed any new software lately ?
anything that might be workign or scanning in the background ?

How about your page file, have you fixed the size or is allowed it to change itself as needed ?

if you look under task manager, is any program taking up a large percentage of your processor power ?

Simon,
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by:eccs19
eccs19 earned 90 total points
ID: 13782673
Here is a link to Maxtors diagnostic utility.  It will create a bootable disk, and you can then run the diagnotic to see if the trouble is with the drive.

http://maxtor.com/portal/site/Maxtor/menuitem.3c67e325e0a6b1f6294198b091346068/?channelpath=/en_us/Support/Software%20Downloads/ATA%20Hard%20Drives&downloadID=22
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by:purplepomegranite
ID: 13782726
Actually, I'm glad you highlighted it was a Maxtor.

The 120Gb drives fail quite frequently, many of them while still under warranty.  My own 200Gb drive has had to go back to Maxtor while still under warranty due to catastrophic failure.  Their Diamondmax10 drives are much better (the one that I sent back was a 9).  This may well be the problem.
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Author Comment

by:jrexton
ID: 13788541
Well, problem is solved, but I'm still none the wiser:
I checked the IDE channels in device manager and saw that first ch. (the one with HD) is working in PIO mode, with no possibility to change that (not even in BIOS). The second ch. (with two DVD drives) was working in UDMA mode, so I swaped the ATAPI cables on motherboard (putting DVDs on 1st ch. and HD to 2nd). When system started everything worked just fine, both channels working in UDMA mode, all drives performing as they used to. I ran a couple of utility programs (Maxtor's Powermax, ActiveSmart, HD Tune, DR Hardware) and they all reported no problems, no damages, benchmarks were also OK. Whatever caused the problem is gone (for the time being at least). And there were no background processes draining on CPU.
Thank you all,
JRexton
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by:nobus
ID: 13788932
did you use a 80-ribben IDE cable for the disc drive? that can cause it too.
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by:eccs19
ID: 13789833
Glad you got it solved.  For future reference. sometimes if you delete the IDE controllers in the device manager, re-boot the computer, it will bring them back into DMA mode.
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Author Comment

by:jrexton
ID: 13790262
Yes, the 80-wires IDE cable was used all along. BIOS gives you a warning during boot-up if 40-wires cable is used.
I suspect all thing is a consequence of unconsistency in Windows software/PC compatible hardware junction.
I saw a lot of that in the past.
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