Hard drive read/write times?

Hi everyone, looks like a massive forum here, lots of help, I hope one of you experts might know a little something about this problem I’m having:

I recently purchased a new 250GB hard drive. The specs are:

-Western Digital
-16Meg buffer

My Windows XP is currently running from this drive in the first partition.

Also, I have a second, older drive installed:

-Western Digital
-8Meg buffer
-slower gigabits/sec (not sure how fast but not as fast)

My problem is:

the read/write speeds to these drives are identical. I try loading a 75 meg photoshop or soundforge file from both drives (same file copied to both drives) and it takes the same time to load them in. Also, saving these files writes at the same speeds, too.

The new drive (WD2500-ks) should be reading and writing at least 25% faster.


At first, I had my Windows XP installed on the older 160GB drive with the new 250GB SataII drive set as the slave. At that stage of the game, the larger drive was reading and writing at least 25% faster.

Any clues on this one!!?? I don’t know if I should re-install XP on my older drive again and re-set the new 250GB to the slave so I can get my faster read/write times back. I installed my O/S on the newer drive hoping to get faster overall performance in windows, but it hasn’t done that.

Thanks to all who might have an idea on this one.

Welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

I’m not a hardware expert but I know that the HDD speed is not the only factor involved.

To be fast, you need not only a fast HDD, but also a fast controller. If both HDD have the same speed, I think that this is due to the controller on your mainboard. Probably this controller is already running at max of its capabilities.

Thanks for the fast response.

Hmmm. Could it be that there are some drivers I haven’t installed? My mother board is an ASUS P5LD2-VM and I’ve read up on some info regarding raid/sataII drivers. I attempted this during installation of XP (press F6 to install raid drivers) but it failed at that point, so I just continued on with XP.

wierd thing is, when the new 250GB was set as slave and was being used for storage only, it was reading/writing much much faster. Now both drives are running at the slower speed as soon as the new drive (SataII) is set as master. By the way, the new drive is jumperless. all setting have to be done in bios.

That said, I know this drive can run faster and my motherboard supports it, but something went screwy when changing the drives to masters/slaves and adjusting their boot sequences in bios.

s-ata drives have not anymore the master/slave settings because (if I’m not wrong) all drives runs indipendently.

Certainly installing the correct controller driver should improve performance. If you are using the onboard controller, then in the mobo CD there should be all needed drivers. Check also in asus website if there are newer versions of drivers.

There’s no reason to expect the newer drive to run any faster in a typical benchmark. If you use a benchmark that benefits from the larger cache, you might see a difference. Windows file transfers are subject to a whole range of background activity that slows them down, and are rarely a good indicator of drive speed. How full a drive is also greatly impacts sustained transfer rates. Large, multi-platter drives are always slower than single-platter models. Newer drives with higher data density on the platter will be faster in some cases than older drives with lower density. Partitioning also slows a drive’s performance a bit.

Drives with the OS on them are always a tad slower, due to OS overhead and fragmentation. If you really want to do a decent benchmark, go get ATTO disc benchmark and look at the different speeds for the various file sizes.

You might also find the the newer drive excels at multitasking due to it’s larger cache, or maybe not. :wink:

SATA interface speed ratings are completely irrelevant, neither SATA-1 (150) or SATA-2 (300) is any faster than good old IDE given current drives. It’s the drive itself that determines transfer speeds, not the interface. The faster interface might have a small impact on burst rate measurments, or maybe not. :wink:

The only real boost in HD performance that’s available out there is still the WD Raptor. A few others are approaching it, but barely.

Best thing you can do with the OS drive is keep it defragmented with a dedicated frag tool like Diskeeper.

Thanks for clarification CDan :slight_smile:

I thought that the main bottleneck was the controller speed :o

Thanks guys, your help is a major contribution here.

Well, after successfully installing the raid drivers during yet another XP setup, lol, it has still made no difference in the speed of this new SATAII drive.

The only time I had it running properly at a much faster read/write speed is when there was no O/S on it and it was set as a 2nd drive (slave, I guess.) At that stage, my 160GIG was running my O/S and the new SATAII was blazing, used only as my storage (photoshop files, wave files, etc.)

I’, talking about more than 25% increase of speed here.

Right now, with my SATAII running my O/S, it has reduced speed to that of the 160GIG (8 meg cache.)


I’m logging off now, going to re-configure everything to the same state as it was working before and try it that way again. If that fails, then something else is screwy here- because I know the SATAII runs at a higher speed since it’s already been done here on my PC. Cross my fingers. I’ll be back in a bit to let you guys know how it’s going.

And thanks again for the info, it’s great help

Sounds like it’s all working more or less as it should. The fact that the new drive with OS is running equal to the old one without OS should tell you that it IS a faster drive. Test the old one with an OS running on it and you’ll see lower speeds for sure. So, you gotta compare apples to apples. Don’t partition the new drive, that’ll speed it up a tad.

How full the drives are, and relative fragmentaion, are the 2 biggest impacts on speed. HD’s fill from the outside to the inside, so the fuller it is the slower it is (linear velocity of the head on the platter).

Installing an OS and some applications will fragment a volume like nothing else, which is where is good frag tool like Diskeeper comes in. Windows defrag is pretty poor. Don’t bother testing an OS drive till it’s fully defragmented.

Anyway, your best measure of the relative speed of the 2 drives will be when you check them as slave with absolutely nothing on them. You have to wipe them clean and re-format to get a truly “virgin” drive in terms of speed.

Also keep in mind that write speed and read speed can be very different, usually write is slower. So if you’re copying a file from one HD to another, the speed will be limited by the write speed of the drive you’re copying TO. Thus, it’s not a measure of the read speed of the drive you’re copying FROM.
This is why benchmarks use files that are in RAM, for testing.

Case in point: Assuming both drives are empty. With files that are larger than 16 MB, both should demonstrate very similar write and read speeds because the cache is not a factor. If both drives are empty, the one with the larger platter may show slightly faster speeds because it’s working at the outside of the platter. (faster linear velocity). Here’s where it gets dicey, because the drive may be writing at lower density at higher velocities. Confused yet? :iagree: The larger cache will usually matter most in writing, and only when files are smaller than 16MB. This assumes that your OS and controller have correctly implemented write cache. (something that is not always a good idea)

Edit: Forgot to mention that drives with multiple platters are usually slower becaue they lose time in the overhead of splitting the data read/write between the platters.

One more item that I have not seen. I have heard of some SATA2 drives coming jumped to work as standard SATA drives out of the box. (WD’s) A jumper has to be changed on the drive to get it to the SATA2 speed. May or maynot be an issue here.

Hi everyone.

Looks like I gotta bring this one back up again!!

Same problem as before…

My Western Digital SATA II drive was working fine. Was almost twice as fast as my Western Digital 160 gig IDE.

I formatted my Samsung hard drive (which was running Windows only) and re-installed win XP.

Sure enough, after this stage, the SATA II is not performing to top speed anymore. Infact, it’s now reading/writing slower than my older WD 160 gig, which I just can’t seem to solve here.

I haven’t changed any cables, any jumpers, nothing. I have done nothing except wipe out my windows drive, re-install windows and my drivers/programs, etc. Now the SATA is slower than ever.

I don’t recall using any drivers for this hard drive as it was working fine a few days ago before all this.

Does anyone have any more light to shed on this issue? Why am I no longer able to get the drive running at 100% capacity? I work with alot of sound and graphics, and noticed the sluggish performance immediately after my re-install of XP. Sure enough, it’s the SATA II which is causing the slowdown, because it’s taking longer to write the temp files that my software is writing (Photoshop to be exact).

Any help would be great, because I’ve exhausted everything- defragged it, installed Service Pack 2, NETFramework 1 and 2, etc etc. Nothing is getting this to perform at full speed anymore.

Thanks in advance…

if you disable indexing in the drive properties it will increase performance a little by reducing overhead. also, the less data you have on a drive, the faster it will be, try to keep it under 50% capacity, and less is even better. and defrag regularly, I like O&O defrag myself, but even the windows defrag is better than nothing :slight_smile:

I’m kinda confused tho, where did the samsung hdd come in to play?

The Samsung id running my Windows. Here’s my setup:

-Samsung 30Gig - Running Windows XP
-Western Digital 160Gig, 8 meg cache- used for storage
-Western Digital 250Gig, 16 meg cache- used for storage, and Photoshop scratch/temp disk
-Intel P4, 3ghz
-Asus P5LD2-VM motherboard
-1GB Kingston ram
-Onboard Intel Media Graphics
-SoundBlaster Live

The SATA was working at full speed a weel ago, and now it’s slower than the 8meg 160 gig. Can’t figure it out for the life of me. Photoshop has slowed down, etc. Everything is sluggish.

And as I type this, my SATA drive is no longer showing in ‘my computer’- it just disappeared, something that’s been happening quite a bit. It was there a few minutes ago. Now I have to re-boot and hope it shows up.

It sounds to me like there’s something really wrong here, either with the drive, the bios setup or the way the SATA is communicating with XP.


Select your hard drive.
Install & Run Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows.

If it fails, then take it back for a replacement, it’s dead on arrival.