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Windows Hard Drive Speed Hacks

Recently, I had to a build a new file server for my home office and noticed slow file transfer speeds across the network. I’m running a gigabit switch with most of the latest gear. In my case, the main factor in file transfer slow downs are actually a result of hard drive speeds and not the network itself. I’m going to briefly outline a few tips (speed hacks) that you can use to help speed both your network as well as your individual computers. Keep in mind that you don’t have to even have a network in order to gain some of the speed benefits of this article. But first, let me explain my background so that you understand where I’m coming from.

The field of 3D artwork requires extensive libraries full of textures, models, and backups. For higher-end 3D renderings, artists often employ distributed rendering which uses multiple computers to process a single file or a sequence of animations in order to reduce long hours of processing time. Due to this high-usage of file storage resources and transferring, I’ve gotten to know my network and servers fairly well over the years. By no means am I a Network Engineer (and I don’t plan on being your tech support), but I can hack most things together in order to get them to play nicely with one another. That being said, here are a few tips:

  1. Hard drive compression. Slow file transfers? That might be because everything is getting compressed on the fly. Sure, you save some space but turning it off should make things go faster. Right click properties for your HDs and turn it off.
  2. This seems to be limited to some older SATA hard drives – in particular Western Digitals and Seagates. By default they install with a jumper on the pins limiting the drives to older 150 MB/sec versus 300 MB/sec. Sadly enough, I found this both on my server as well as one drive on my main computer…
  3. Jumbo Frames. You can enable this on most newer network adapters by going into its properties. Just a note of warning that I’ve had some mixed DR results by having enabled this on some adapters when other computers didn’t have that feature. You can turn it on, transfer, and see if it makes any difference.
  4. HD indexing. If you don’t search much, you may notice a gain turning it off. And if you do search a lot, there’s other software for searches which are more efficient:
    Addictive Tips.
  5. *Still testing* Possibly disabling Write Caching (I only recommend this if you have a Backup UPS.) I still have to test this one out. Supposedly if you turn it back on after running a Windows Experience Index test (windows 7), the newer score remains…:Seven Forums.
  6. *Still testing* Disable Command Queuing on nForce-based motherboard controllers: Seven Forumns.
  7. If you’re experience “too many files are in use” errors while copying files over from a Windows 7 install to a server, it’s because your server is using SMB 1 and has problems with Windows SMB 2. Some people recommend turning off SMB 2. Personally, I would just update the server since SMB 2 is better. I experienced this issue transferring files over to my NASLite server and have written them about this issue. https://www.petri.co.il/how-to-disabl…erver-2008.htm
  8. Use ReadyBoost / SuperFetch (unless you had SSDs): https://www.groovypost.com/howto/micr…ng-readyboost/
    Article from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReadyBoost

Last but not least, you should remember some of the more common speed tips such as keeping your hard drives defragmented, deleting temporary files, and running the occasional registry cleaner such as CCleaner (free.)

If you’ve read this article and followed some of my tips, please let me know how your experience goes.