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My desktop's performance has been much slower than it should be for quite awhile. The issue doesn't seem to be with the processor (AMD Phenom 9650 Quad-Core Processor, 2.30 GHz) as it's utilization is always low and I usually have plenty of free RAM. So, my guess is the problem is with the primary hard drive.

I downloaded and ran HD Tune Pro today (pic of results below) and it seems that my 2 5400 RPM Green/Eco drives are significantly outperforming the 7200 RPM Seagate st3250310as drive that I'm using as my primary. The downward spikes seem quite severe and unusual as does the very low Minimum transfer rate (lowest I've seen from other tests is 51 MB/s). I also noticed that there's a "(C7) Ultra DMA CRC Error Count" warning. 1 Error.

I've tried swapping out the SATA cable/port and it didn't help. I have windows 7 Pro configured to defrag on a regular basis. I ran "chkdsk /f" today after the initial test posted below and it did not help any. Subsequent tests have been worse and if I'm doing anything with the computer there's an immediate downward spike.

So, my question, 1.) how bad/abnormal are those results? 2.) anything else I should try or should I just go ahead and replace the hard drive?

Benchmark Test

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unresolved free space file system issues in Windows can slow a drive dramatically, run chkdsk /f –  Moab Feb 6 '12 at 23:26

4 Answers 4

  1. I can't compare your results with the masses, however I don't think seeing you write speeds spike downward is ever a good sign.

  2. The error message you were received (Cyclic redundancy check (CRC)) is a method of verifying and correcting data after it is sent. What this warning is telling you is that at one point, data being sent/received by the drive failed this check. The most common cause for this is a faulty cable. Noise or resistence caused a bit to be flipped.

So yes, I would replace the cable.

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Actually, the general descending trend is typical. What isn't typical in the tests I've seen (run against my other drives and seen online) is the big downward spikes and very low Minimum. –  EfficionDave Feb 6 '12 at 22:41
    
@EfficionDave Thanks. –  wizlog Feb 7 '12 at 0:49
    
Tried replacing the cable. It did not help. –  EfficionDave Feb 7 '12 at 4:15
    
@EfficionDave Don't know if this would help, try switching the port, if possible. If replacing the cable, and/or port don't work, it must be a drive problem (unless its a motherboard problem, which is unlikely). –  wizlog Feb 7 '12 at 4:19

First - run Seagate's SeaTools diagnostic to check the drive health it's free and cheaper than going out and getting a new cable.

http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.jsp?locale=en-US&name=seatools-win&vgnextoid=552bd20cacdec010VgnVCM100000dd04090aRCRD

Second - It never hurts to run chkdsk and run a defrag (though you do have it scheduled) the only time it may be a concern is if you are adding and deleting large files on the drive, otherwise NTFS / Windows 7 happen to be pretty good at keeping things in order.

Third - this is an older and smaller drive. How big are those WD Green Drives in comparison? The density of the data on the drive platters can provide a healthy boost in performance. So if those WD Green drives are 1-2TB, even though the rotational speed of the drive may be 5400 RPM, more data passes the head in 5400 Rotations vs the amount of data that would pass the drive head in 7200 rotations on a 250GB hard drive.

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The two green drives: one is 1TB - Hitachi HDS721010CLA332 Other is 500 MB - Samsung HD502HI –  EfficionDave Feb 7 '12 at 5:00

Always start cheap.

The cable is cheap, and you probably have spares or can get them easily.

I'd run a checkdisk or scandisk and check your BIOS for reported SMART errors, though, as this sounds like a disk problem rather than a cable problem.

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It's such an obvious question, but have you even tried defragging? I hate to sound like a broken record, but I didn't notice any mention of any typical "digital hygiene" being applied. Defragging may seem like a waste of time but with the way Windows works it's almost life threatening to ignore it. (OSX and almost every xNix use different file systems and don't usually need to be "defragged" since they're not [usually] using FAT/NTFS.) A lack of defragmenting is almost always the number one culprit if all we're talking about is a decrease in performance.

Next question, assuming you have run a comprehensive defrag, might be if you have tried adjusting your swap file to a maximum static size, placed it on the fastest partition, defraged the swap file (maybe even placed the swap at the end of the drive), and/or tried enabling super fetch and/or ready boost with something like a fast thumb drive? I would also suggest being very selective about what's being indexed and possibly even disabling file indexing for any other non-boot partitions - assuming your don't run programs or need frequent access to changing data on those non-boot drives.

Just having more than one hard drive (or two in RAID or something) doesn't make much sense either unless you need constant access to a second/third hard drive for some reason. A file server would be a good example where additional drive storage might be needed/desired. But really, it's almost never necessary even if you dual boot or access those drives over a home network. In fact, I'd seriously consider pulling those extra drives out altogether and connecting them to a USB port instead (using an external drive enclosure, obviously). That way you can turn the drives off when they're not needed and thus prolong their life span. (And if you do happen to need fast access there's still eSATA or even USB3 to provide better speed than a regular old USB port.)

More in-depth might be if you have or haven't enabled RAID/EHCI (in your BIOS settings). If you ever have enabled EHCI for example, but then disabled it later on, you very well might see some performance degradation over time - you pretty much will anyway since it is Windows we're talking about. It's almost impossible to enable EHCI after Windows has been installed without performing a small registry tweak. And since Windows 7 is the only Microsoft desktop OS that will take advantage of ECHI when installing, you almost certainly will need to adjust the Windows registry to take full advantage of EHCI functions (again, assuming EHCI has been enabled in the BIOS somehow).

One other thing. Those "green drives" are notorious for not being very fast to begin with - individually, that is. Pair up any drive with RAID and you can almost always out performance with even a fast Raptor. So comparing two slow drives in RAID or even with ECHI enabled is not exactly fair when comparing that to any other single drive.

Lastly, I have to assume we're NOT talking about a SSD device here since a SSD would cause a whole new bunch of other problems. But if you ever have used a SSD then there are a whole bunch of other considerations to take into account. Not the least of which would be to deal with TRIM enabling/disabling.

...Just a few thoughts. (No need to email.)

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Defrag: I have Windows configured to defrag on a regular basis. RAID: not using it in any form EHCI: no idea –  EfficionDave Feb 7 '12 at 4:08

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