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Does hard drive space affect speed?

by dressner / December 3, 2007 6:19 AM PST

If my hard drive is full, will that slow down my PC? And I mean ONLY hard drive space as a factor- not how many programs are running, or anything else.

My cousin and I say no, it wouldn't be. My uncle and my dad say that it would slow a computer down. Who's right?

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Absolutely. Read about "ZONES".
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 3, 2007 6:26 AM PST
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How to transfer data to new hard drive
by geehon1999 / December 8, 2007 9:29 AM PST

I bought a new 200MB hard drive; an upgrade from my 60MB drive that

came with the system. I'm trying to avoid going to a tech center

because I'm a DIY guy. I realize that having two hard drives doesn't

hurt, but I would rather stick with just one and do away with the old

one. Is there a way to do this? do I need two computers?

thanks in advance!!!

System Info...

Compaq Presario s4120wm
Windows XP Home Edition
AMD Athlon xp 2600+ 2.1MHz
MoBo am37 FIC
512MB of RAM DDR

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I'd suggest
by Dango517 / December 8, 2007 10:36 AM PST

cloning/mirror/shadow copy software. thou different names they do pretty much the same thing. They make two identical copies of an OS on two (or more) drives.

See acronis:

There are other brands, some are free.

Once you make the copy delete the original drive. See your drive help for changing the drive letters. I wouldn't throw the old one away. You could make it a slave to the new one this would expand it's size or dual boot two OSs at once (maybe XP/Linux), etc.. There is much you could do with it. See the storage forum for ideas or search using these search words on the arrays. You could just toy around with it and have some fun. of course that choice is yours. Well fun may not be the right word sometimes/most times drives can be difficult, they are complex.

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Windows XP Home Edition = CLONE RESTRICTIONS.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 9, 2007 1:59 AM PST

Windows XP Home Edition (note no SP1 or SP2) means you could lose access to repair features if you clone the system drive (C) to over 127GB.

Be sure to stay inside the limits of your original OS CD.


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On the whole
by Jimmy Greystone / December 3, 2007 7:33 AM PST

One the whole, the amount of free space won't affect anything, so long as there's ample room for the swap file to grow as needed. Once you get below about 10% free, this will start to become a problem. Anything above the magical 10% mark won't have any real impact.

If you're talking about capacity as a whole, not just free space -- you were kind of ambiguous on that point -- then I suppose it depends. Through the wonders of angular velocity, data stored on the outer most edge of the drive platter will be accessed at a much higher rate. The platter size doesn't tend to change with drives, only the density of the data, so following that to it's logical conclusion, higher capacity drives would be able to store more data on the outer edges of the platter. Of course you have no real control over where data is stored, so it's kind of a purely academic discussion.

Of course the entire discussion is purely academic. Your hard drive is like a battery powered go kart compared to a formula one car when it comes to the speed of the components in your computer. CPUs, RAM, even add-on cards, have all been getting progressively faster while hard drives have barely budged an inch in decades. So the amount of variance in the impact your hard drive has on your overall system performance is pretty small. So swapping out some ancient hard drive for a top of the line SCSI drive is unlikely to get you more than a few percentage points performance gain.

Your family should find something a bit more useful to argue about. The holiday season is coming up, so someone just needs to drink a bit too much egg nog and make a drunken pass at someone else's wife or husband, for example. Something worth arguing about. I rank this current argument up there with people who argue about which Star Trek series was better. No offense, but you all need to get out a bit more if this is what you sit around doing in your free time.

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by dressner / December 3, 2007 12:06 PM PST
In reply to: On the whole

Isn't it interesting how there were two different answers? I tend to agree with the latter of the two.

And no, we don't sit around arguing about Star Trek-type stuff all the time. It was a Thanksgiving table discussion, no big deal.

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by mementh / December 3, 2007 1:19 PM PST
In reply to: On the whole

I thought its funny to argue about someong making a pass when drunk being better argument then a HD speed Happy

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Yes or No ?
by Papa Echo / December 3, 2007 7:28 PM PST
My cousin and I say no, it wouldn't be. My uncle and my dad say that it would slow a computer down. Who's right?

What are the respective reasons to support saying "it wouldn't be" and "it would..." ? Do you have the right reasons for saying so ? Until that is verified, this is still open (as to who is right). All of you could well be wrong ! When the reasons come out, the answer would be obvious.
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by dressner / December 3, 2007 10:56 PM PST
In reply to: Yes or No ?

Ok, here's my life story. Just kidding, but I will try to clarify things a bit.

And by the way, please don't play this up to be something it's not- it was just a discussion.

My uncle does video editing. I do too. He recommends that I take all my video off of my hard drive, because it will slow down my PC to have it all on there. My Dad agrees.

I have an external HDD, but I like to use it as a backup rather than the only place to store my video. (I like to have it on my internal and external) I am a little tight on space, I have about 26gigs of free space on my internal out of 250 gigs available.

My comp has been laggy lately (mainly when editing) and I'm trying to speed it up. I'm only using a 2.0GHz Athlon X2, so I think that's what I need to replace to speed it up. I mentioned this to my cousin and he agrees.

So there you have it. Will having more or less space on my HDD affect my overall comp speed? (assuming I have at least 10% free space)

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by mementh / December 4, 2007 5:10 AM PST
In reply to: clarification

Video editing should be done on the fastest drive possible.. the amount of free space should not matter much just that the data can get there quickly Happy

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For video editing
by Jimmy Greystone / December 4, 2007 7:56 AM PST
In reply to: clarification

For video editing, the other poster pegged it pretty squarely. It's not so much about the amount of free space, as being able to access that data as fast as possible, which would tend to rule out external drives.

It's also one of those few exceptions to the defragmenting rule, where defragmenting actually will make a tangible difference.

I would disagree with your uncle and father, assuming you have ample room for the swap file to grow. I also still think this is a completely pointless discussion. Again, no offense, but there HAS to be something better you guys could be talking about. You may as well be arguing about whether the left or right urinal in some restaurant is better. And believe me, I get the whole intellectual curiosity thing, but there are limits.

Oh, and yes, video editing is CPU and disk intensive. So a faster CPU and faster hard drive -- SCSI over IDE or SATA for example -- are the two areas you want to focus on to improve performance. I don't know that having multiple cores helps all that much unless you're using an editing program that can take advantage of the parallel processing power it provides. One other thing that would really help, is running a 64-bit OS and using a 64-bit video editor. If you can find drivers for the 64-bit version of XP, or you installed the 64-bit version of Vista, and there's a 64-bit version of whatever video editor you use, you could see probably a 1.5-2 fold increase in overall performance just by changing operating systems. You can read up on all the technical details yourself if interested, but basically it means the CPU only has to do one operation instead of two for every frame in the video. So you can imagine how that would add up very quickly at around 24-30fps.

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by lizardo_manson / December 7, 2007 11:02 AM PST one said this important note...the more your drive is cluttered the more slow it will be to read and if let that more space is wasted there will be no space to be use when defragmenting the disk and a fragmented disk, is a slow disk.

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Not generally
by Jimmy Greystone / December 7, 2007 11:31 AM PST
In reply to: Fragmentation

That's not generally true. It happens to be true in the case of video editing, since that is a disk intensive task, but in general, fragmentation rates have no appreciable effect on system performance. Fragmentation only has significant effects on programs that are disk intensive, and that rules out pretty much every day to day app for the average user. You'd be better off just buying some additional RAM and reducing the number of read/writes to the hard drive.

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by lizardo_manson / December 7, 2007 1:55 PM PST
In reply to: Not generally

I've worked with machines that are not for video editing and are so slow because the disk is so bloated with junk and people never defrag it.

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No need to discuss defragmentation here, IMO.
by Kees Bakker / December 7, 2007 6:57 PM PST
In reply to: Fragmentation

It tends to run out of control.

Most statements on its usefulness aren't really supported by measurable, quantitative facts, so discussions easily go about impressions and believes. And if we get emotions coming into play, sometimes these discussions become outright unfriendly. We don't like that.


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Perhaps you should be the moderator on SpeakEasy instead
by Dango517 / December 7, 2007 7:06 PM PST


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by Impreza WRX / December 11, 2007 12:41 AM PST
In reply to: Not generally

I have often times tripled the startup speed of a computer by defragging a very fragmented drive! Fragmentation slows down access time by forcing the drive head to be swashbuckling back and forth a bazillion times as it finds all the fragments of a single file! By keeping the system defragmented, you keep the stress on the hard drive lower, so it will last longer, and that blasted 64 player map won't take 15 minutes to load!

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In one important way I'd say yes
by Dango517 / December 7, 2007 8:42 PM PST

The fuller the drive is the longer it takes to scan. Virus scans, Malware scans will take longer the fuller it becomes. This is directly associated with hard drive space the less there is the longer it takes.

Does it effect the processing speed of the computer? To some extent yes and since it is so slow everything counts toward improving its performance. Fragmentation, sector compaction, virtual memory, whether the drive is shrank or extended, whether or not ready boost is employed all will effect its performance and any improvement is some improvement. Speed is very important in this virtual world perhaps more important on the computer slowest parts then it's quickest. The slowest parts slow the entire system down. These bottlenecks like "link speed" are limiting factors on over all system performance. Can you expect to achieve major improvement in your over all drives performance? No, but you can do what you can till you buy a pair of 10,000+ rpm Raid drives with huge caches. Vroom....vroom..............................(look out bluegen) Cool >>>

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BlueGene is the world fastest Super Computer
by Dango517 / December 11, 2007 12:52 AM PST
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hard drives and speed
by guywayne / December 8, 2007 3:36 AM PST

Many posts are talking about giving the swap file room to grow/shrink. This is important, but you also need room for temp files. Especially when editing photos and video. These can take up as much additional space as the original file plus some, and some of these programs want you to devote 'workspace'(which is thier own swapfile, basically) to them. So, even if you have, say, 10GB free on your hard drive, it could become nearly full while editing a large video file, and this will slow your work down.
One good way to avoid this is to put Windows on a drive or partition by itself and give it plenty of room- I give my Windows partition 25GB and allow my editing program to have it's workspace on that drive as well. Then there is plenty of free space on the working partition and everything seems to work pretty smoothly.
On the storage drive, space isn't so much of an issue, and you should be able to fill the drive to 90% or more without trouble.

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This might help
by Dango517 / December 11, 2007 1:49 AM PST

(Scroll down a bit for the information once your linked to it.)

What I haven't been able to locate it information about the speed of the hard drive in relation to RAM and CPU performance, as well as other factors. Why? Because if the Hard drive is as slow as I think it is all the tweaks in the world will not improve it very much, provided it is properly maintained. The hard drive just losses to much efficiency and speed because it is a mechanical system as opposed to an electronic one. A new technology is needed.
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It may slow down a bit
by SerengetiValley / December 12, 2007 5:26 AM PST

The fastest part of the HDD is the outermost 'track', and the slowest is the innermost track.

For a HDD with only a single partition, it begins to get filled up from the outermost areas to the innermost.

So with a nearly full drive, there could be files that reside on the innermost tracks, slowing down performance a bit when accessing *those* files, if the computing activity involved is disk intensive. Also if your pagefile resides towards the innermost areas, then it could also slow down things a bit.

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I find drives interesting
by Dango517 / December 12, 2007 6:17 AM PST
In reply to: It may slow down a bit

Have you considered mounting Volumes (E:,F:,G:) within the drive at certain locations on the drive. These mounted drives can be created, assigned a drive letter and installed within the OS for things like little used files and very large volumes/sized files like old DVD/photo files. This can be done at anytime but once done your stuck with them. This can be done on standard IDE and SATA drives. Information about it can be found in the help function in disk management in XP and Vista. I believe RAID 2 drives are specifically designed to do this but in this case they are called stripped drives. This can also be done with dynamic disk but I know little about them. Just some ideas for you. Has anyone else done this? Tell us about it. One word of warning I've also read that some program "scripts" are needed to a accomplish some drive configuration this would require some knowledge of programing. Any Drive array pros out there willing to share? How about some simple direct referral resources?

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