A+: Windows Optimization and Hard Drives

To optimize the performance of the hard disk, you can use the following methods:

    • Upgrade to a hard disk with a faster spin rate and larger cache buffer— Typically, newer SATA hard disks have faster spin rates and larger cache buffer sizes than older SATA or most PATA hard disks. To determine the spin rate and cache size for an     installed drive, check the manufacturer’s specifications for the drive.

    • Set up a RAID 0 drive array— A RAID 0 drive array is similar to a striped array, but uses a RAID-compatible host adapter on the motherboard or a host adapter card. A software-based version of RAID 0 can also be set up within Windows through the use of the Disk Management snap-in. Keep in mind that there is no fault tolerance involved with RAID 0, this technology is developed solely for speed. If one of the drives fails, you will lose all of the data in the array. Remember to back up your data!

    • If the system uses PATA drives, don’t use a single PATA host adapter for two drives— Although PATA host adapters support two drives (primary/secondary, also called master/slave), data transfer between two drives on the same host adapter is slower than between drives on different host adapters.

    • Defrag drives regularly, and maintain at least 20% free disk space to enable easy defragmentation— The Windows disk defragmenter cannot run if there is less than 15% free disk space (although others can).