Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Hard Drive Bottleneck and how to make it better.

In todays computers everything has gotten so much faster, even hard drives are faster, but not as much as most other things.  SSD is a great solution if you have the money to spend on it and you are willing to deal with small sized prime drives.

I have been noticing recently that after a boot up my HDD is busy 100% of the time for up to an hour, this is a huge amount.  It is not really reading or writing data that much, just checking small things.   For my home computer the bottleneck is the Hard Drive BY FAR.  I only get a 5.9 HDD rating while all of my other stats are in the mid 7 range when I use the Windows Experience Index.

I know that the HDD is the bottleneck in my system and I do have 2 hard drives so first I moved the page file to the G drive.  Also made sure torrent folders were on the G drive.  This makes all of these commonly accessed files not detract from the drive that the OS is on.  Even with this booting up was super slow.  So I cleaned up the startup.  I usually do this once every few months but the problem was still there.   The best tool to clean up the start up is Autoruns, it gives you a list of the various programs and files that are loaded on startup, you uncheck them and they are gone instantly.  Very cool.  After getting rid of many things my system was still slow.  

Many companies like to pass the blame and make their program seem faster by loading their program when you turn on your computer, so when you want to use their program it is already loaded.  I don’t mind this IF I have enough RAM and IF they wait to load until your system is idle.  BUT almost no programs do that so they bog down your system and load tons of data that is not even currently needed.  What is worse is that they all do it at once, and your hard drive is bogged down at 100% for a long time.  I especially hate the programs that check for updates or ask to install updates at boot time.   When your computer takes 5 minutes to load people blame Microsoft, they don’t blame the real programs that are causing it.  A few year ago Microsoft tried to crack down on this activity but it did not take too long for companies to figure it out.    In my years of fixing computers some of the WORST programs that do this are: Any Adobe Product, Java Updater, Most HP software, Most Apple Products (Then Apple shows people how slow windows is).   Then there are other programs that you want to run some time near startup, you just need to watch them.  This includes: Printer Applications (For heavens sake if you get rid of the printer get rid of its software), Side Bar, Messenger Software.  These programs you would want to simply delay by a minute or two so that you are free to use your system sooner.  A good tool for this is LaunchLater.

So I loaded up another awesome free tool called Process Explorer, this tool lets you see what is going on with every program running on your computer.  I added columns for I/O Reads and I/O Writes, these are the ones that show you the number of actions that programs do on your hard drives.  After only having booted up the system 10 minutes before I was shocked that Steam had done 70,000 reads and over 270,000 writes.   This was about 60% of all the reads that my entire system did and about 80% of all of the writes.  It was not doing updates or anything, it just always did this I guess.  I told to not run on startup and then I fully exited the program, and instantly my system was fast again, rebooted and the speed was back.

I did notice that Google Chrome was also doing a lot of reads and writes but only after I loaded it.  The other program doing a lot of reads was Mesh, but this program is awesome and I will be writing a full blog on it in a few days.

If your computer is going slow then follow these steps.   This is the heart of the “Tune-up” that we do at Emerald Computers, we do these many times per week and charge $75 most of the time.  A Tune-up has a few other things in it also, I will save that for later.