The drive that carries the operating system is obviously one of the most critical hardware components inside your computer. If you've installed Windows on a slow hard drive, it doesn't matter how powerful the other elements like CPU and memory are, the device boots slower loads applications more slowly, and lags very badly when multitasking.
This is a reason why these days are so popular with high-performance hard drives and particularly SSD's. It's because one aspect of updating will breathe new life into a computer and make it feel much snappier to use. Multiple factors decide the actual hard disk or SSD output under Windows, so how do you know if your drive performs well, needs to tweak, or even holds back the program?
Fortunately, the internet is full of resources that show you how well almost every drive can do. There are also tons of applications that can offer a performance test to your hardware to see how well it is doing. There are a lot of paid suites around like PCMark or Passmark that can test the entire system, but here we list for you 10 free tools that are specifically designed to test the performance of hard drives and SSD drives.
Both Windows 10 64-bit applications have been reviewed and are compliant with Windows 7 and 8 as well.
This is a very common storage benchmarking tool because it is flexible and can deliver good outcomes from USB drives to memory cards, RAMDisks, SSD drives and mechanical hard drives for just about everything. CrystalDiskMark is also very simple to use, only set the size of the test between 50 MB and 4 GB, the test drive and the number of passes to run. Clearly, more passes will produce more accurate results.
Then click All to perform a full test or any colored buttons below to perform single tests. A useful additional choice for SSD drives is whether to randomly fill in the test data or 0's or 1's. This will depend on hardware-compressed drive outcomes such as those with Sandforce controllers. There are portable versions of the installer and custom skin available.
ATTO Disk Benchmark is a common portable device that is used by several hardware review websites and is also recommended for speed testing on SSD drives by manufacturers such as Corsair. All tests are sequential and use block sizes of 512 bytes up to 64 MB to read and write operations. There is also a comparison file length from 64 KB to 32 GB, both of which can be picked from drop-down menus.
Leaving activated Direct I / O would rule out unexpected results due to any caching of the system. An I / O size of more than a few Megabytes would deliver nearly the same ratings, so many users probably don't need it. Results at a later time can be saved and loaded again. A look around the internet is likely to find someone else who published ATTO results to your own for identical equipment.
AS SSD looks a little like CrystalDiskMark and is primarily designed for benchmarking of SSD drives. Hardware sites like AnandTech's SSD benchmark charts (which also involves ATTO) use it as another common resource to display their results. The program uses incompressible data so that if they compress their results, certain SSD's would display even lower scores than average.
Sequential and 4 KB read and write scores, as well as access times and a final overall score, will be shown. When you prefer the View menu, the results can be modified to IOPS. In the Tools menu, a few useful additional benchmarks are available, such as a copy benchmark that simulates copying an ISO, game, and software, as well as a benchmark for reading/writing compression. Additionally, AS SSD is completely portable.
These aren't much more detailed than Anvil's Storage Utilities for an SSD or hard drive benchmark and test utility that really takes drives through their paces. While it is capable of performing a complete read and write test using sequential and random operations, it shows a full set of results including response time, MB / s speed and IOPS (Input / Output Operations Per Second).
The yellow box shows a total combined read / write ranking. Also included are 3 additional IOPS tests, and endurance checking features and the ability to change the amount of compression to be used in the test file in the settings. Additional features such as a tab for device details and a screenshot saver complete an amazing tool. Anvil's Storage Utilities no longer appear to be being developed, and the latest release is from 2014.
HD Tune is perhaps the most well-known benchmarking and debugging tool for hard disk drives and is likely to be a USB toolkit for every computer user. The free version 2.55 is getting older now that it hasn't been revised since 2008, and some of the current hard drive models may have minor problems. Some tasks like benchmarking and error checking are still supposed to work well.
After a check, the resulting graph of the benchmark will display the minimum, maximum and average read speed together with the average millisecond access time and burst rate. In the choices from 512 bytes up to 8 MB, the block size can be changed and a slider can move between quicker, less accurate or slower, more accurate test speeds.
HD Tach is a rather old hard drive benchmarking tool from 2004, but for today's drives, it still produces good performance. There are some slight compatibility issues, however, and the program itself needs to run in or above Windows Vista compatibility mode for XP. Long (32 MB) or short (8 MB) block tests can be selected from the drive selection window and the results will show up in one or two minutes.
The results window shows the read performance graph across the entire drive in addition to the burst speed chart and the CPU usage information, the average access time and also the average read speed. There is a drive comparison key where you can see averages for other drives, but mostly they are old scores from the hardware of the early 2000's period. HD Tach can be made portable by removing the Universal Extractor executable configuration.
DiskTT is a lightweight, portable testing tool that uses the core reading and writing functions of Windows to write a temporary file to the specified drive. Instead, to get three corresponding grades, it is read back sequentially and randomly. The test file can range from 10 MB to almost 100 GB with a block size to test from 1 KB to 64 MB.
Change the test file path to "User defined path" and pick a drive to test a different drive to the default of C. Windows file caching settings are available as an option, but if they are not set correctly, the results will often be distorted, so it is best left alone unless you have a particular reason. Click the button where it says read / write to run a random read check.
Roadkil makes a number of tiny and helpful utilities, Disk Speed is another one that simply does the job you're expecting with no frills or bloat (it's only ~90 KB). It's a bit old since 2009 but it's easy to run the program, just pick the logical drive letter or physical drive number and click the Start Test button.
Disk Speed only runs read tests, but for both random reads and linear reads for each block size you will get a range of scores from 512 byte blocks to 1 MB blocks. The "Results in Brief" box will show the average access time, total read speed, cached (burst) speed and an overall score that can be compared with the same or identical model drives online at Roadkil's website.
HD Speed at around 90 KB is low and portable but has more configuration choices to suit different storage systems. It also has Read+Write and Read+Write+Verify modes, but be mindful of the data on any computer that you would like to write WILL BE DESTROYED. Make sure you right-click this program and run it as an administrator, even if you're an admin. If you don't, all the drives won't show up and there's going to be a few seconds pause as the program starts.
Something useful not found on other test tools is the ability to test a specific position on the drive, 0 percent on the faster outer part of the mechanical hard drive, 100 percent on the slower inside. To run a test, select the drive insert the time to run it in the box and press Start to get the average speed on the graph. Block size can be left in Auto or changed from 1 KB to 16 MB, as well as creating a log file to review the results.
DiskMark is a good tool to run as it shows lots of information on average, minimum, maximum, and last scores for reading and writing. All data are shown in a raw number format as well as a live graph. In addition, the one slight problem with the software is to configure the test to be carried out.
Clearly, you should leave it at 64 KB chunks by default in an 8 MB test file running 320 times. To receive another score, such as using 1 MB or perhaps 4 KB blocks, enter the chunk size, then enter the IOs (number of blocks to make up the test file) and finally pick the number of times the test file is read and written that. Invalid setup will either produce an incorrect test that is very fast or a test that takes far too long. There are different models of 32-bit and 64-bit.
Benchmark Reminders: A lot of the numbers thrown up by any benchmarking tool can look a little misleading for less experienced users because you may not know what to do. Some simple things to look for are:
Sequential (also sequential or linear) –This is the speed at which a drive in the form of large files will read or write continuous data. It is easier to have a higher sequential speed for data storage drives or games partitions where most files are at least one Megabyte in size. Sequential tests show the highest read and write speeds that can be reached by a motor.
4 K – Benchmark tool tests of 4 K show how easily a drive accesses small files and is more relevant for a Windows boot drive. Most notably random 4 K read and write speeds display how easily when distributed across a partition the files are accessed. Higher 4 K performance during multitasking will also produce a better and smoother Windows. Compare the 4 K scores first and not the attention-grabbing sequential speeds while looking to buy an SSD drive to install Windows and applications.