Why Test the Speed of a Hard Drive?

Performing a speed test can help determine whether a hard drive is functioning well, or if it might be getting ready to fail. Being caught off guard by a hard drive crash is not just annoying - it can create a real problem if vital files go missing. Any files that are not backed up could be lost in a crash, and data recovery is needed to attempt to save them. Knowing the speed that a hard drive is working at will not predict a crash every time, because failures sometimes happen without warning. In many cases, though, this is a helpful tool for figuring out whether a problem is related to the hard drive or a software issue.

There are many software programs available that will test the speed of a hard drive. A lot of them can be downloaded from the Internet for free, while others are available for purchase. The free versions generally offer everything that's needed to simply conduct a speed test. For many diagnostic purposes, a basic program will work fine. The retail software tools are usually more powerful and have more features. They are also sometimes easier to use. Another benefit of buying one of these software programs instead of using a free one is that they are able to correct a limited number of the problems that cause slow hard drive speeds.

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To do a hard drive speed test, simply install one of these software tools on the computer. It should walk you through the process of setting everything up and starting the test. If the program uses a real life or real time situation to test, it will usually copy a file on the computer to a new location. The program keeps track of how long it takes to do this, and then deletes the new file that it created. Another way that software tools do a hard drive speed test is to create a brand new file and time how long it takes to do so.

The software should provide various types of information that it learned from the test, including minimum, maximum, and average transfer rates. It should also show access time and whether the hard drive experiences any extremes in temperature. These numbers can be compared against other hard drives to determine how well it is performing. Multiple tests can also be done on the same hard drive over a period of time to see whether its performance levels are changing.

There are some common problems that may warrant using a hard drive speed test. If a computer starts making different noises, especially grinding, clicking, or high-pitched whining, this is a sign of impending hard drive failure. To be safe, it's probably a good idea to back up any important files right away, before bothering with the speed test. Other signals are disappearing files, or a computer that frequently locks up or freezes. Getting error messages about disk or hard drive problems also point to the possibility that a crash is about to happen. People may also do speed tests when there are no major or obvious problems, but their computer is running slowly.

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