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slow HD read speeds ???

4124 Views 15 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  johnwill
I've noticed recently that my computer's been slowing down, especially when loading games, or anything for that matter. I just did a performance test on my 20 gig Maxtor and it shows the write speed as 17.13 mb/sec and the read speed is only 3.77 mb/sec! So that's the problem... what could be the solution?

I have a 72x Kenwood CD drive on the same IDE channel which has been there since I built this computer a few years ago, and I know the hard drive hasn't always been this slow. Since then I've installed a Plextor CD-RW on a different IDE channel.

Thanks for the help!

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Welcome to TSF trem0lo...........:winkgrin:

Have you done the usual maintenance routine on your computer?

Scandisk, Defrag and clean out the temporary internet files?

What OS are you running?
Yes, believe me I've tried that many times :winkgrin:

I spent most of last night hooking it up in different configurations on my two IDE channels... no luck there. I even tried giving the HDD its own IDE channel so nothing could bog it down... that didn't work either. I know the cables are good because my secondary HDD and my CD-ROM drives are all working well.

I did a full diagnostic test with the software Maxtor gave me in order to detect any errors, but that says the drive is perfect. So has the drive just crapped on me? Do old hard drives tend to do that?

For the record it's a Maxtor DiamondMax ATA66 20 gig drive, about 4 years old.

I'm pretty stuck here, and I don't want to buy a new drive!

Thanks in advance!
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As an additional little note, the HDD is making clicking noises when it reads, and not when it writes. This could be my problem. According to another post in this forum, death is imminent :upset:

I long ago lost the warranty information for this HDD, is there anyone who knows what Maxtor could do about this type of thing?

Thanks again!
Well the drive is out of warranty by about a year. Also sometime at the beginning of this year or there abouts Maxtor dropped their 3 year warrany to a 1 year warranty, along with a lot of other drive manufacturers.

Looks like it's time to dig into the old pocket for a new drive I'm sorry to say............:|
I would...

Make sure the HD is set to Master and on primary IDE by itself.

Connect the CDRW as master and CD as slave on secondary IDE.

Backup your data.

Do a low level format (not write to 0's) with this.

Maxtor recommends the use of this utility for troubleshooting potential hard drive problems.
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Low Level Format = Writing Zeros


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I'm not really acquainted with low-level formatting... what exactly does "writing 0's" mean? Is there more than one way to do a low-level format?

Do you really think that will help the painfully slow read speeds?

Thanks, you guys have been really helpful.
You should download the program that x5dr has posted a link to.

Then run the diagnostics tests to see if the drive has failed.
I did, and the test results were a-ok.
Should I proceed with a low-level format??
At this stage of the game you probably have nothing to lose except your data. If you know how to do a clean install of the OS and the drivers then this would be the way to go.

The clicking sound is what concerns me though and I'll be really suprized if it makes it thru the low level format.
Low Level Format = Writing Zeros

yes....a low level format DOES write to zero but..

Write to ZERO software DOES NOT = a Low Level Format software...different animal.

Write to 0's takes minutes vs. a LLF which can take hours on the same hard drive.

Write to 0 does not fix problem drives...LLF usually does according to HD manufacturers.

A LOW LEVEL FORMAT basically recertifies the drive to factory specs where a Write TO 0's does not. That is why manufacturer's request that you perform a LLF before an usually fixes most problems.

Maxtor recommends the use of this utility for troubleshooting potential hard drive problems. These problems include, but are not limited to the following:

Potential hard drive surface problems (e.g., bad clusters, bad sectors, partitioning/formatting problems, etc.).

Drive recognition problems (e.g. hard drive that is not recognized by the operating system).

Software removal. ( write to 0's)

It is recommended to run PowerMax on all Maxtor hard drives prior to warranty replacement.

I only emphasize the difference so much because I see too many people that have been told to do a LLF to fix their HD but did a Write to 0's instead and then continued to search for solutions. As soon as you find out it took them 10 minutes it is obvious that it was not a LLF.
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Well I don't know exactly what your using to write zeros with but it takes me like 3 hours to do my 40 gig. Maxtor drive using PowerMax.

Do you remember when motherboards came with a low level format feature in the bios? That was the one that could render your drive useless.

FYI That link that I posted above came from the Maxtor Website.
Low-Level Format vs. Zero-Fill

I concur with x5dr. Most of the "low-level format" programs available from the various hard drive manufacturers are more like MID-LEVEL formats; they write hexidecimal zeros to all available sectors. In effect, they "zero-out" your recording surfaces, overwriting existing data.
A true low-level format re-writes sector marks. This means, you are re-mapping the tracks and sectors on the recording surfaces of the drive. This is the preferred method for recovering a drive with read-write errors and bad sectors. There was a time when that operation was include in the BIOS program on motherboards. That ended when hard drive capacities exceeded 512 MB and Logical Block Addressing became the norm for accessing hard drive recording space. LBA is an interpretive (logical) address-translation scheme that does not reflect the actual (physical) recording layout. The logical mask applied to a hard drive is not industry-standard; it can vary from one manufacturer to another, and probably between different-capacity drives from the same manufacturer.
The bottom line is, if the drive is physically (mechanically) damaged, it's junk; don't bother with it, other than to recover whatever data you can. If it's bad sectors, or other logical errors on a physically-healthy disk - and if you can pry the appropriate program out of the manufacturer - re-mapping your tracks and sectors is the way to go. Yes, YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING RECORDED ON THE DISK, so back it up first.
There is a new(ish) product on the market from Micro2000 called "EraserDisk" which claims to be able to do an honest-to-goodness track-and-sector re-mapping on any given hard drive. I'm skeptical, but I have a number of logically-crippled HD's that aren't serving any useful purpose (other than paperweights and doorstops), so I'm going to buy the disk and give it a try.

P.S. If your HD is not being recognized by the OS, the Master Boot Record has probably been corrupted. If FORMAT C: /MBR doesn't do the trick for you (and it won't if Windows doesn't recognize it as an accessible hard drive in the first place), there is an old Techie trick, involving the use of DEBUG, where you can copy the MBR from a similar drive to the dead one. I have used it to re-animate a hard drive that Windows had been reporting as a CD drive with no disk inserted.
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Virtually all modern disk drives use what is called by at least one of them as ZBR (Zone Bit Recording). Basically, they have a number of different zones on the platter from outside to inside, and there is a different sector density in each zone. This is done to achieve the maximum capacity on the drive, since the outer tracks have about three times the surface area as the inner tracks. If the recording was limited to what the inner tracks can support, the same platters would yield about 1/2 the capacity as the currently do. In addition to that, one new encoding schemes uses vertical bit recording, where there are actually multiple bits recorded in the same place, just deeper in the media.

All of this necessitates that any true LLF is done at the factory, AAMOF, I believe most new drive platters are LLF'ed during manufacture before they're even put into the drive. I don't believe a true LLF can be accomplished in the field for many if not all modern drives.
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