Hard disk drives (HDD) are one of the most common storage options for computers. For a long time, people considered them a place to store files, media, documents, among other types of data. But did you know your hard drive performance affects your overall system performance?
You see, every time you write or read on your hard disk drive, its effectiveness deteriorates. If you’ve noticed that accessing files, launching a game, or opening a program has been lagging of late, it’s time to clean and optimize your hard drive.
Since the hard drive holds all the information you basically need to do anything, a cluttered or full disk will cause your computer to run slower. In this article, we show you how to improve your hard drive’s processing speed, so you can enjoy a faster machine.
Why Is My HDD Slow?
Is your hard disk suddenly extremely slow? Here are some of the factors that may affect its speed.
- File fragmentation. The more fragments of a file (including those of the same file) get dispersed around the hard drive, the more resources it needs to access them.
- Bad sectors. The more bad sectors your HDD has, the slower it will get.
- Too many startup programs. If your computer takes longer than usual to boot or start, there might be too many programs running at startup. Disabling startup programs will speed up the hard drive.
- A faulty SATA cable or port. In some cases, a loose SATA cable might be the reason behind your hard disk drive slowness. Switching to a different SATA port might resolve the issue. Additionally, check the disk drive cables for visible wear and tear. If the connectors are broken or damaged, consider replacing them immediately.
- Outdated disk drivers. If your hard disk drive takes forever to load, you might want to check for old or corrupted disk drivers and update them.
- Malware infection. When your computer gets infected by malware, it can spawn an extreme change in the system’s behavior, usually causing the hard drive to malfunction or slow down.
- RPM speeds. RPM is the rate at which hard drive platters spin. Generally, the greater the hard drive’s RPM speed, the faster it can read and write data. The most common drives have between 5,400 to 10,000 RPM, while modern faster drives are capable of speeds of up to 15,000 RPM.
- Cache capacity. Cache is the virtual memory available in the hard drive. A hard drive with a higher cache capacity is faster.
- Malicious applications. Installing potentially harmful applications can cause damage to your system, including the hard drive.
- Too many temporary files. When your hard drive runs out of space due to accumulation of too many junk files, it will eventually slow down.
How to Speed Up an HDD
Various methods can help boost your hard disk drive processing speed. In most cases, restarting your computer should improve its performance since it clears the RAM. However, this is just a temporary solution.
Here’s a look at more advanced methods to improve your hard drive performance:
Method 1: Delete Temporary Files
The more cluttered your hard drive is, the slower it will run. Getting rid of some junk data will help free up some space and improve its performance. Temporary files are usually left behind every time you use browsers like Chrome, Edge, or Firefox.
If you don’t remove them, they can occupy a huge chunk of space in your hard drive. Likewise, duplicate files on your drive can fill take up unnecessary space and should be removed.
To delete temporary files:
- Press the Win + E shortcut keys to launch File Explorer, and then select This PC.
- Open Local Disk (C:)and navigate to Windows > Temp.
- Delete the Temp
Alternatively, use the Windows built-in Disk Cleanup tool to remove junk data. Here’s how:
- Press the Windows Key on your keyboard, type Disk Cleanup, and hit the Enter
- On the Drive Selectionscreen, pick Drive (C:) and click on OK.
- Windows automatically calculates how much space the Disk Cleanup tool can free up. You can also manually select the files that you want to erase.
- Once you’re done selecting, click on OK> Delete Files.
- Now, launch Disk Cleanup again, and this time, choose the Clean up system files Windows will calculate how much data you can delete and displays the total amount of space you’ll save.
- Scan through the selected options and uncheck any files you don’t want to be deleted.
- Once you’re certain about your selections, click on OK> Delete Files.
You’ll definitely free up some disk space, which might make a difference in how it performs.
Method 2: Defragment Your HDD
After getting rid of junk files from your machine, it’s time to defragment the HDD. Defragmenting reorganizes the information in a way that it can be fetched quickly, speeding up the hard drive.
Windows comes with its own disk defragmenting tool to help boost your HDD performance. To run it:
- Press the Windows Key, type Defragment, and select the Defragment and Optimize Drives
- On the Optimize Drivesdialog box, choose the drive you wish to defragment and select Analyze. This checks the disk and displays a message telling you whether the disk needs defragmenting or not.
- If the HDD needs defragmenting, click on the Optimizebutton to initiate the process. Keep in mind that this process may take some time, depending on the disk’s size and level of fragmentation. It’s important to defragment your disk when you’re not using your machine since it will be working on your files and interfering with the process may corrupt the files.
While the Windows defragmenter works just fine, you may want to use a more advanced tool that quickly defragments and optimizes your hard disk drives. Disk Defrag is one of the fastest defrag tools on the market – it can take as little as 10 minutes to defrag your hard drive, depending on its capacity.
The program works by merging the scattered pieces of free space into a contiguous block of space and reduces chances of new files being fragmented. You can even see the most fragmented files and their location on the disk via a visual chart.
With Disk Defrag, you can defragment individual files or folders instead of the entire drive, making the process even faster.
Using Disk Defrag is simple. Once you download and install the app, it automatically scans your drives and displays the degree of fragmentation in percentage. To start the defragmentation process, simply click on the blue Defrag button.
You can pause and stop the process as you wish with a single click of a button. You can even track the defragmentation progress at the bottom section of the screen. The program supports offline defragmentation, so you can optimize your drives anytime you want, from anywhere.
Method 3: Run a Check Disk Scan
If, after defragmenting your hard disk, you don’t see any improvement, your hard disk may have damaged sectors, which can lead to data corruption. Windows PCs come with a built-in Check Disk tool that can help in such instances.
To use it:
- Press the Windows Key + E simultaneously to launch File Explorer and click on This PC.
- Right-click the drive you want to check for errors and open its Properties window.
- Select Tools, click on the Check button under Error checking, and follow the on-screen instructions.
- You can also run the Check Disk scan in the Windows PowerShell (Admin). Press the Windows Key, type PowerShell, and run Windows PowerShell as an admin.
- Next, execute the command: chkdsk.exe /f [Drive_Letter]. Be sure to enter the drive letter of the disk partition that’s problematic.
Keep in mind that chkdsk requires you to reboot your machine. So, you might want to close all programs before you begin.
Method 4: Turn on Write Caching
Write caching allows your PC to store data in a cache before it’s written to the hard drive. Since the computer can write data to a cache faster than the HDD, it improves your drive’s overall read/write performance.
But there’s a catch. The data cache is only temporary. If there’s a sudden power outage and the data has not been transferred to the HDD, you’ll lose it, or it may get corrupted or damaged.
Here’s how to turn on the write caching option on Windows:
- Press the Windows Key + X and click on Device Manager.
- Find the Disk Drives option and expand it.
- Right-click the drive for which you want to enable this feature and open its Properties.
- Click on the Policies tab and check the box next to Enable write caching on the device.
Method 5: Partition Your Hard Drive
Dividing the drive into multiple partitions is an effective (and usually underused) method for speeding up hard drive performance. The more partitions on your hard disk drive, the more organized it becomes, reducing delays caused by head repositioning.
For example, say you have the OS, games, documents, and other data types residing in their respective partitions. The magnetic head moves within a partition while loading a specific program (like a game), and doesn’t traverse across the various partitions, hence quickly accessing the necessary information.
You can easily partition your hard drive using these steps:
- Press the Windows Key, type Disk Management,and hit Enter.
- Select Create and format hard disk partitions.
- On the Disk Managementwindow, right-click on one of the existing partitions and select Shrink Volume.
- Choose the size to which the partition is to be shrunk and click Shrink.
- Now, right-click the unpartitioned disk and select New Simple Volume.
- Choose the size you want for the new volume and assign it a drive letter.
- Select a file system and click on Finish.
- The new volume should now appear inFile Explorer under This PC.
Method 6: Check for Malware and Viruses
We can’t stress this enough: you should have antivirus software installed on all your machines. A rogue script (malware) could be accessing your hard drive, causing it to slow down. You may start to notice the PC hanging or freezing suddenly or even crashing.
The solution is to run a malware scan to detect and remove any harmful files or applications from the hard drive. You can use the built-in Windows Security tool or advanced malware removal software like Auslogics Anti-Malware.
Make sure you configure a schedule so the tool can automatically scan your computer every few hours or days.
The methods we’ve explored above should significantly boost your hard drive performance. If none of them work, there’s a chance the hardware is outdated, and you might want to consider upgrading it.
It’s advisable to optimize your hard drives periodically to keep them in a stellar performance and increase its life expectancy.