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Is it possible to limit hard drive IO per process?

I recently upgraded from a Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.8GHz to an i7 2600K @ 4.5GHz. It's a pretty big step from 2 slow cores to 4 fast cores.

Also, I've always used striping with two 7200 RPM SATA II drives in RAID 0 which gives me plenty of opportunity for multitasking.

My issue comes from software which assumes that I have 8 cores all free to attack the hard drive at the same time. Most notably 7zip, Visual Studio during compile and virtual machines. They so completely consume all available IO that I am unable do anything in the background. I'd much rather things take a while than consume all of my resources.

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Hard drives are only good at doing one thing at a time. You cannot write two things at once to a hard drive, running them one after another will always be quicker then trying to do the job parallel. RAID-0 does not help you multitask, it just allows higher sustained read/write speeds. –  Breakthrough Jul 2 '11 at 19:36
    
I would think that Windows would be better at sharing such a limited resource as throughput between applications. But it seems like I just had a nice balanced before with less CPU power. –  Josh Brown Jul 4 '11 at 16:53
    
Again, only one thing can possibly be read/written from/to a hard drive at a single point in time, so there's not much Windows can do about it. This has been the bottleneck of all computers for... Well, for all of time. Try running your tasks in series, one after another, instead of in parallel. I can guarantee you an exponential speed boost and increased drive longevity. –  Breakthrough Jul 4 '11 at 16:59
    
Sorry, just one more small addition... Trying to use a mechanical hard drive to do more then one thing at a time is an example of thrashing in computer science. While this effect does present itself in modern solid-state drives, it is not nearly as much of a problem (since SSDs have higher read/write speeds and a significantly improved seek time). –  Breakthrough Jul 6 '11 at 13:56
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It may be worth experimenting with AnalogX Cachebooster - having a huge cache may help with Visual Studio at the very least:

http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/increase-or-decrease-your-hard-drive-cache-memory-with-cachebooster/

In addition, running a daily disk defrag will no doubt help. You may also consider getting an SSD disk which will speed up compiles significantly.

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Your suggestion lead me to this article How to increase the cache on your hard disk‌​. I'll give this a try and see if this will help with my performance. I have 8 GB of RAM so I should be fine on that front. –  Josh Brown Jul 4 '11 at 4:31
    
Increasing the cache made the difference that I needed. It seems to give hard drive intensive tasks enough of a buffer to reduce the thrashing on the controller. Nothing causes the freezing that I was experiencing before. –  Josh Brown Jul 7 '11 at 17:40
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nope, no such manager. I would put the VS project on a seperate HD, but that would be slower than your uber-RAID.

Ram disks are fast, but they are inconvenient, because they add a point of failure.
http://memory.dataram.com/products-and-services/software/ramdisk might help you

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Using a RAM disk as an intermediate folder for both VS and compression utilities would make a significant improvement. But it is more cumbersome to set this up and create links for all my work folders than it is boosting my cache as mentioned below. –  Josh Brown Jul 4 '11 at 17:00
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