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Increase hard drive performance

Spar-Q asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I'm trying to find out a way to increase the performance of my system, because it's only just over a year old, and I'm getting increasingly frustrated with how slow it is, even after a fresh format and re-install.

My hard drive seems to be far more active than what it used to. Trying to load some programs after reboot, like World of Warcraft for instance, means I have to listen to my drive thrash for 20-30 seconds before the program will load. Closing and re-opening the software yields much better results, as would be expected for my computer, so I have to think it's some kind of cache issue.

What's more, while i'm playing the game, there are times when it seems that a huge ammount of data is being loaded from my drive, causing my system to completely halt until the loading is done. One time, even my mouse cursor froze in spot and absolutely nothing could be done for 30 seconds or more. I could still hear the in-game sounds and the music I was playing still functioned without a hitch, but everything else froze.

I looked on google and found possibly a way to increase my HD performance, by enabling write caching, but I see the message "This device does not allow its write cache setting to be modified", and it's defaulted to off on both of my drives. I installed the intel matrix storage manager to see if that would help, but apparantly not.

Is there anything I can do, short of assuming that the drive is not working properly?

By the way, i'm running Vista 32bit
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Aha! You probably need to defragment.

   1. Open My Computer.
   2. Right-click the local disk volume that you want to defragment, and then click Properties.
   3. On the Tools tab, click Defragment Now.
   4. Click Defragment.

There you go.
You might check your bios to see if your hard drive has something along the lines of hard drive performance settings. You might be able to squeeze a tiny bit out here. Additionally you could try turning off the windows search index and also system restore point.

Getting write cache enabled sure would help a lot too. What are the models of the hard drives you have?

Any ide what kids of system it is?
Dell, HP, IBM?
There are some register tweaks that i can send to you after I know more details on the system

Have you check the total commit charge VS how much ram is in the system?

Here's a good page to read regarding reduced HDD performance.

Just be very careful if you choose to delete the prefetch cache files. Make sure you give your machine time to boot up properly after you reboot, it may seem like it's not going to work but just give it 15minutes or so and it will come good and be faster on startup the next reboot.

I change Prefetch (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters) to '2' on every new machine i build right after startup.

People tend to complain more about PC boot time than an application taking 2secs longer to start.


It's a dell system, 4gb of ram. Came originally with a seagate 500gb, but I bought a secondary 320gb seagate, which is now my main drive that has the OS installed. The 500gb is my secondary drive.

I'm curious about how defragging could help, though, because i've formatted twice since I got the computer a year ago.

A disk can quickly become defragmented, more so if you are constantly changing files through downloading or deleting etc.
Just run the analyze feature on your C: Drive and it will show you how fragmented your disk is. The analyze will seriously take under a minute.
Distinguished Expert 2019

i would :
1- test the drive to be sure it is ok
2-verify it runs in DMA mode, not PIO  (device manager>ide/atapicontrollers>advanced
3-open device manager, and check if your cpu and ram are displayed as they should be.
4-check for errors in device manager

i suggest also testing ram and disk -  you find all on the ubcd : http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
memtest86+ for ram

I don't believe that defraggmenting the drive will help.
I would start with some simple "hosue keeping"
Can you schedule a time to run scandisj with the surface scan
 option checked? This will make sure the drive is healthy.

Is write cacheing enabled on the drive?

Try this
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

Then change the LargeSystemCache DWORD from 0 to 1.

are you using any fault tolerance? mirroring ? RAID?
if so is its Hardware or Microsoft?

can you run msconfig and see whats in the startup?
have you scanned for spyware? one of my favorite FREE programs is

where is the pagefile? can you move it to another drive?

Is your page file set to a static size?

is the drive FAT or NTFS?

try this MS TID

Let me know


I'll run a scandisk tonight to see what happens...

#1: It's not spyware/malware.
#2: I changed the regestry key, but have yet to see what happens.
#3: I can't enable write caching, as this is one of the key points in my original post
#4: My drives are SATA, and as such, it seems that there is no DMA option - that is to say, there is no ATAPI controller in my device manager.
#5: I am not running as a raid, though I have considered it
#6: My page file is set to a static size of 8 gigs, which is twice my system ram. It is located on my system drive C:\
#7: Both drives are NTFS
I believe the page file is your problem, you have 4 gigs of RAM?  That is plenty for Vista unless your a hardcore gamer.  You could add more RAM but the easiest thing to do is just disable the page file and make sure it is stable.  You see your hard drive transmits at 1.5 - 3.0 GBps and your RAM bandwidth is around 15 - 30 GBps depending on settings.  I would say expect at least a minimum of 300% gain in performance and you have the potential, depending on your hardware configuration, to get upto 1000% gains or even more with a little tweaking.  Whenever I get a computer with enough RAM I will always disable Page File and no more loading data the computer needs quickly so slowly.  Give it a try and let me know, Good Luck.
Also don't forget about routine maintenance It can slow your system down a lot but not as much as the page file does.

Take the swapfile down to 4 gig.
Just a thought
see what happes
SATA drives are VERY SLOW by nature.

Once you make a reg change, you need to reboot.
if you want to chat ( yahoo or other)
let me know

Take the swapfile down to 4 gig.
Just a thought
see what happes
SATA drives are VERY SLOW by nature.

Once you make a reg change, you need to reboot.
if you want to chat ( yahoo or other)
let me know

try moving the swap file off C

Distinguished Expert 2019

post your specs please


I went to take a look into defragging the hard drive, yet it says it does it every wednesday at 1am, and I have the computer on at all times... so I have to assume that's not it..

But on the subject of defragging, is there any free 3rd party software to do it with, because it really REALLY irritates me that Vista has been dumbed-down to the point that it just says "Defragging..." and yet it does not show you how much of the drive is fragmented, nor gives you any kind of "advanced" options to work with.
Distinguished Expert 2019

you don't need to defrag your drive every week; 1x2 x year is enough; provided you have more than space enough
also - check if you don't have any Anti Virus scanners running - many do on startup, and that slows your system too
i have not yet seen a sata disk that is "slow by nature"
this can help too :

I you take 2 servers, one with SCSI drives and the same with
SATA drives you WILL see a VERY NOTICEABLE difference in
drive performance.

You may want to invest in Norton utilities or Disk Keeper
to keep your disk in tip top shape
Distinguished Expert 2019

that will depend on the type of scsi drives - anyhow Sata drives are the "normal" drives - and nobody is duscussing their speed here, since they are faster thatn the  older IDE's

Did you run scandisk with the auto fix and surface scan checked?


Just using my computer now for the first time since running the full scandisk, so i'll report back what happens. I've also disabled the page file to experiment with that.
I would rather you move the pagefile to another Physical drive
and set it to a staic size

and let me know the results of the surface scan. we may find somthing , we may not

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I don't ever use a page file if I don't need it because it is such a drag on performance, Static size or not it is always going to be a bottleneck, and given the advances in hard drives you will hardly ever get a scratched or damaged disc.  You would have to drop the drive, after removing it from the case, from a rather high height to achieve that, unless you knocked the whole computer on the ground while it was writing to the drive.

I was not referring to the suface scan looking for physical
I was referring to the retintivity and reluctentivity on the

IF a cluster cannot hold data, the OS will continue to attempt to
read and write from a bad spot on the drive
this is what the surface scan accomplishes.
There is a product called Spinrite by Gibsone Reasearch
this can measure the magnitism that's left.
Dropping a magnet also is an effective way to do that, I was only having him do the easiest and fastest tests first before moving to a three hour scan disc for such a rare problem.  It would make sense to check for it yes but it doesn't usually happen without a great force causing the loss of magnetism, or  It would be a bad drive and the manufacturer would replace it as it is only a year old, most likely.  I just don't know why you would try such a long test before standard procedure in PC optimization, it seemed impulsive before checking more basic things, I do like the aggressive approach though, impressive.


Disabling the pagefile alltogether only caused me to get a low memory warning in the middle of a game of WoW, so I relocated the page file to my non-system drive and set it to a dynamic size. Noise seems to be down a bit, but that seems to be because my 320 gig drive is generally louder than the 500 gig one.

"surface" scan didn't come back with anything so far as I know - I let it run all night and came back to my desktop. As for the extent of what it did, I dunno - Vista only gives two options: "Automatically fix file system errors" and "Scan for and attempt to recover bad sectors"

Overall, I can't say that performance has improved drastically, but it may have improved just a bit.


Moving the pagefile to the other drive seemed to help, but it wasn't a magical fix. Nothing came of the scandisk.

Ok we got the surface scan done.
so we know the drive is healthy.

You can look in the event log and see the details of the
surface scan, and see what it found and what it fixed.

Next step, can we let the box run for a few days and
see what the Total Commit Charge does?

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