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There's another post about measuring performance but at least one solution I looked at (NovaBench) measures pure performance of the hardware. (I.e., disk read/write performance, rather than the actual performance when taking into account disk fragmentation, etc.).

I want to measure the effective performance of the PC (i.e., how quickly my various programs will run) and that is affected by how much cruft is bulit up in the system, how fragmented the harddrive is , etc.

Any suggestions of how to measure the actual performance?

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Windows is what is called a preemptive multitasking environment. That means the operating system runs a scheduler that can interrupt one process so that another can have cpu or disk time. What that means for your question is that programs that "test the hardware" are still valid measures of actual system and application performance, because the operating system is allowed to interrupt them while they are in the middle of measuring things.

To proceed, get to what is currently a "normal" quiet state for your machine and take a set of measurements. Do this before any clean-up. If you have a lot of junk running or highly fragmented drive, that will mean more interruptions from the operating system while it gives system time other things. Keep the score, clean up your system, and run the same measurements again. If you've done a good job, you should see better numbers the 2nd time through.

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Would the testing software (see link to other post) such as NovaBench test true performance (including how slow it is to read/write to the HD as impacted by disk defragmentation, etc.). From my understanding of NovaBench it would not. –  Clay Nichols Sep 2 '11 at 13:50

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