A friend has asked me to perform maintenance oh his computer. The described symptoms point to a performance issue with the hard drive. I want to objectively confirm this suspicion by measuring the performance of his 5400 RPM disk.

Which tools would you recommend for this job? Are there any (published) standard guideline numbers that I could use for the purpose of comparing my findings?


I always use HDTune. Simple, 'fast' and you can compare test results on their website.

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  • HDTune is simple and fast. I like it. It cost $35 but has a 15 days trial so I don't need to buy it only to fix friend's computer. – Jakub Šturc Aug 19 '09 at 15:50
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    AFAIK there is a Pro version which has the 15 days trial, and the non-Pro version works fine. I've been using non-pro for over a month now, and it helps me figure out which external drive mfg's never to buy from again. – maxwellb Aug 19 '09 at 16:08

IOMeter is great for measuring disk performance, there are several sites available that carry reference tables (I used one for VMWare based PC's, so I suggest you google for alternatives :-) )

EDIT: Found a very nice table on Tom's Hardware, I'm guessing the "workstation" profile seems to fit quite well...

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  • It's a 5400 rpm drive - that's either a laptop or Green drive, do not expect workstation performance out of it. – salmonmoose Aug 19 '09 at 14:38
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    Note that storagereview.com has somewhat of a retraction on their previous use of IOMeter as a viable single workstation benchmark: forums.storagereview.net/wiki/index.php/IOMeter. They use Veritest Winstone 2004 for workstation measurement. – hyperslug Aug 19 '09 at 15:18
  • @hyperslug, thanks, didn't know that +1 – Ben Aug 19 '09 at 17:53
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    I sure that IOMeter is great peace software for ITPros. However I when I tried it first time I failed. And I am afraid that I am too lame to configure it properly to get comparable results. Anyway thanks for good tip. – Jakub Šturc Aug 19 '09 at 19:01

ATTO Disk Benchmark.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool measures storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously.

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PCWizard 2009 will do the job, it has comparison data built in. It can measure performance on other components as well.

From the site: "PC WIZARD is also a utility designed to analyze and benchmark your computer system. It can analyze and benchmark many kinds of hardware, such as CPU performance, Cache performance, RAM performance, Hard Disk performance, CD/DVD-ROM performance, Removable/FLASH Media performance, Video performance, MP3 compression performance."

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SpinRite has a built-in function for measurement of read and write speed. Sequential and random.

As it boots off a CD you are sure nothing else will access the disk while the measurement is in progress.

It is hardly justified to spend USD 89 to measure disk performance, but the disk maintenance/recovery features in SpinRite may be exactly what is needed for your friend's computer.

You should expect on the order of 80 MB/s read rate for a modern SATA hard disk (e.g. WD Caviar Green). This is what I measured with SpinRite on a new Caviar Green. I once had a hard disk that was about to die and its read speed was down at 5 MB/s.

  • I like concept of SpinRite however $89 is way too much. BTW: I like also green WDs :-) – Jakub Šturc Aug 19 '09 at 19:06

I suggest you to run this command:

winsat disk -drive "drive letter"

And then if you want to know if there is any problem with your hard disk drive, use this software to check its SMART Health Status:


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Which OS? If this is Linux use the hdparm command. If this is on Windows use the Performance Tools provided.

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