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I have a 7200RPM Dell (rebadged seagate momentus) hard drive in my laptop. It should be pretty quick but it gets a 4 on Vista's User Experience metric and feels dog slow during every day use and boots. I have the auto-defrag on a schedule and have run check disc.

What is a good suit of tools for testing and optimizing discs besides what Vista provides?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

For testing, maintenance and data recovery spinrite by Steve Gibson

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Is spinrite really any good? Always seemed like fluff-ware to me. –  romandas Jul 18 '09 at 17:07
    
Yes, it has saved quite a few drives for me. Cured several BSOD, and recovered many unreadable files. I actually use it for preventative maintained now. [Review][1] [1]: kickstartnews.com/reviews/utilities/spinrite_v6.html –  Larry Jul 20 '09 at 1:09

HDTach is a pretty nice tool for measuring hard drive speed.

Also you can always access the WinSAT benchmarks (that Windows User Experience Index stuff thingie) at %Windir%\Performance\WinSAT\DataStore. The XML files there are pretty self-explanatory and offer hard data instead of just "a 4".

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hdTach is no more simplisoftware.com –  yoshco Jan 30 '12 at 15:20

Check HDTune

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Is this a drive that you've installed yourself as an upgrade? If so, you might check your BIOS to make sure that the hard drive controller isn't in "Legacy" or "Compatability", etc mode. If this setting is turned on, it will disable some of the improved performance features supported by modern SATA drives.

You can also try downloading the free Ultimate Boot CD for Windows and running some of the disk benchmark tools from there to see if there's any difference compared to what you're seeing from within Vista.

In addition to benchmarking, you should run some diagnostic tools to see whether the drive is getting a lot of seek errors. Often when drives seem to work fine other than being a bit sluggish, they are actually getting a lot of seek/read errors behind the scenes that are being corrected on the fly by the drive controller's error correction software. Windows seems to have a pretty high tolerance for the latency caused by this, so it will often continue to run for a long time before the problem is corrected, but once a drive starts to get excessive errors it's a good idea to just go ahead and replace it if you can afford to, because it'll just keep getting worse until it fails.

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Its the drive that came with the laptop. Its in AHCI mode. –  Rob Allen Jul 18 '09 at 21:27

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