How to Maximize Hard Disk Performance

May 25, 2010 by
Filed under: PC Speed 

Hard disks in computers have become quite large, and in general quite fast. Together with computer memory (RAM), hard disk speed has a big impact on the overall computer performance. This is especially true in modern Windows version, where virtual memory, or page files, are an important method to increase the memory capabilities.

In some computer systems you can optimize the IDE controller to ensure direct memory access allows the controller to maximize the throughput speed, but there are also settings at disk level that help improve the hard disk performance.

Maximize Disk Performance in Vista

To enable the disk options that will maximize disk performance in Vista, open up the Device Manager from the Control Panel.
In the Device Manager, open up the Disk drives category, and right click the hard disk. In the popup menu, select Properties.

Vista Hard Disk Properties

This will bring up the hard disk properties. In the example, the test system has 2 Hitachi disks.
In the hard disk properties window, select the Policies tab.

Vista hard disk policies
Now make sure that the Enable write caching on the disk and Enable advanced performance options are selected. If they are already selected, great, the disk performance is maximized, but if not, select the checkboxes and click OK.
As you can see in the description of the options, there are risks when you do not have reliable power, so if you have regular power outages, these options should not be used. Personally I have been using them for years already, without problems.

These steps are almost identical for Windows XP and Windows 7, but the available options can vary depending on your disks. In some cases the Enable advanced performance is not available, and in some cases both options are not available.

Even with these settings, don’t forget to do a disk cleanup and defrag on a regular basis to keep your hard disks operating at maximum performance.

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