Does it feel as though your system isn’t running as fast as it once did? I’m sure you’ve run countless virus scans, uninstalled redundant applications, only for the system to continue to run sluggishly. Well, maybe the problem is as simple as a defragmentation.
Over time, many of the applications and important system files on the drive become fragmented. This means the hard drive must work harder in order to carry out standard tasks. One solution is to run the built-in defragmenter tool.
A very simple process that can be done by doing the following:
- First, you will need to boot into your computer with full administrative rights.
- Once in, press Windows Key + R, to open the Run Command Box, and then type dfrgui into it and click on OK. For older versions of Windows (XP, Server 2003) type dfrg.msc.
- When Disk Defragmenter loads up, simply click on the appropriate Volume, and then click on Defragment.
Enable Advanced Performance
For users of Windows Vista, it comes with its own built-in support for SATA hard drives, however, despite this fact; it does not automatically enable advanced write caching. Thus, a quick way of speeding up hard drive performance is to enable this feature. In order to do that, simply do the following:
- First, boot into your computer, with an administrative user profile.
- Then press Windows Key + R, (opening the Run Command Box) and type devmgmt.msc and click on OK.
- When Device Manager loads up, click on the + symbol next to Disk drives, then double click on your Primary Hard Drive.
- This will load up your Hard Drive Properties applet, from here, click on the Policies Tab, then tick the box next to Enable write caching on the disk.
If you really want to speed up your hard drive, to speeds resembling that of an SSD drive, then you should definitely consider short-stroking your hard drive. Carrying out the following steps can increase the speed of your hard drive quite dramatically.
Short-stroking works, by allowing the hard drive to access its most important files much faster. It does this by storing the operating system and key applications in the best performing areas of the drive. The other partition can then be used for storing files that are less dependent on speed.
Your hard drive will only receive a noticeable speed boost as long as its reading data from the faster partition, but it comes with a trade-off – storage space.
Note: The fast partition will be considerably smaller in storage space than the overall hard drive volume.
Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to set this up.
- The first thing you’ll need to do is download HD Tune. This tool provides the end user with a free demo, which gives you access to all the features required. However, you will need to have a functioning operating system in order to use it.
- Once you’ve done that, you will need to connect your short-stroke drive to your computer as a secondary volume, and then run the HD Tune Benchmark test. The test will show you the actual transfer rate of the drive.
- You’re next task will be to evaluate the benchmark graph and note when the transfer speed of the drive begins to drop off. Each drive varies, so the exact area will vary depending on the brand, speed and volume size.
- Once you have found the fastest area of the hard drive, you’ll want to make that your hard drives main partition. So for example, if the hard drive speed begins to drop off at 80GB, then you’ll want to make a partition size of 80GB.
There are two ways that you can make your partition:
Clean Windows Install: The application will ask you to select your hard drive, click on the Drive Options (Advanced) option, and then select the drive you would like to short-stroke. Here you will be able to create a partition which is the exact size of your hard drives fastest region.
On a Windows Installation: Boot into the operating system on the drive that you would like to set the short-stroking up on. Then run the Disk Management utility and right click on your drive and create a new volume which encompasses the fastest areas of the drive.
Once you have created the partition, anything that you install or save on it, will be accessed much faster than anywhere else. This is because the arm of the hard drive won’t have to travel so far to access the data. You can use the other partition area, but doing so may put stress on the drive, so for best practice purpose, you should stick to the fast area, exclusively.
Of course, your hard drive will not run or be anywhere near as efficient as a SSD drive, but studies have shown that by short-stroking the hard drive, you can improve performance by as much as 50%.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website http://www.compuchenna.co.uk.