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Writes to my WD Caviar Green 2TB hard drive are exceedingly slow. When dpkg is setting up packages atop reports speeds of between 0.5 and 1 MB/s. AHCI is enabled in my bios. I bought the drive new. What could be wrong? What can I do to troubleshoot?

This is on Ubuntu 11.10. 3 partitions are 1%, 5% and 50% used respectively.

edit: I had originally misidentified the drive as my SSD drive but later found my mistake when running a benchmark to troubleshoot.

edit2: File system is btrfs.

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How have you isolated this as being a disk speed issue? dpkg does various things when setting up a package, only a subset is writing to the disk. It could be slow decompressing for example. – Paul Nov 2 '11 at 23:46
I was using the output of atop which indicated 100% "busy" and had DSK=100% for dpkg. – user64996 Nov 3 '11 at 0:30
DSK=100% for dpkg just means dpkg is accounting for 100% of the system's disk usage. – David Schwartz Nov 3 '11 at 0:32
Yes, see my comment to your answer where I explain that the system usage indicated 100% "busy". – user64996 Nov 3 '11 at 0:43
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It turns out my disk is an "Advanced Format" drive with 4K sectors. The problem is that Ubuntu's installer did not partition them on 8-sector boundaries which results in the poor speed that I am seeing.

Although I haven't done it yet the solution is to repartition using 8-sector boundaries (destructive) or to try to use the "WD Align" utility which is supposedly non-destructive.

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I give you the same answer as last time, the drive is operating at normal speed, it's just not receiving a whole lot of writes.

If you are still establishing that the drive is the bottleneck because atop is reporting 100%, you are likely misreading the output of atop. (For example, the system disk activity will always total 100%.)

For example, this is from a mostly idle system:

  PID                RDDSK                 WRDSK                WCANCL                 DSK                CMD        1/1
  349                   0K                   40K                    0K                 83%                jbd2/sdb1-8
 1394                   4K                    4K                    0K                 17%                squid

Notice the disk activity totals 100%.

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I was reading the system information (the section at the very top in an invocation of "sudo atop") and not the per-process information to establish that disk utilization was 100%. I used the per-process information only to establish what application was causing it. – user64996 Nov 3 '11 at 0:32
What was the % busy for the drive? – David Schwartz Nov 3 '11 at 0:33
BUSY for the drive was 100% (or about that) – user64996 Nov 3 '11 at 0:41

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