7 Effective Tools to Increase Your Hard Drive Performance on Windows
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Windows has a (deserved) reputation for slowing down your computer over time. Admittedly, Windows 10 is much better than its predecessors, but the problem still occurs.

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Thankfully, you can speed up a hard disk using HDD optimization apps; a few different tools are available.

In this article, we’re going to look at which utilities can improve the speed and efficiency of a hard disk. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Windows Optimize Drives

optimize drives windows defrag

Let’s begin with a mention of a native Windows tool—Optimize Drives. It can analyze your system for defragmentation issues, then fix any problems it finds.

Unless you’d fiddled with the settings, it should already be running on an automatic schedule. To check, head to Start > Windows Administrative Tools > Defragment and Optimize drives.

Highlight the drive you want to fix, then click either Analyze or Optimize, depending on the function you want to carry out. To make sure the scheduling is set up correctly, click on Change settings and tick the box next to Run on schedule.

Performing disk defragmentation is less critical on SSDs than HDDs, but Microsoft still recommends running the tool once per month.

2. Disk SpeedUp

disk speedup hard drive speed

Disk SpeedUp is a third-party tool that can boost an HDD’s speed. It will analyze, defragment, and optimize any drives that are connected to your machine.

It has a few more features than the native Windows tool. For example, Disk SpeedUp can automatically shut down your computer after the defrag process is complete. You could fire it up before you go to bed and come back to a fresh computer in the morning.

Disk SpeedUp also has better visuals than the Windows tool. The defrag map is more intuitive, and there are more graphs and data for you to dig into.

Anecdotally, many users have claimed that Disk SpeedUp is faster than the Windows tool. Naturally, your mileage may vary.

Download: Disk SpeedUp (Free)

3. Windows Device Manager

device manager write caching

If you want to increase a disk’s read/write speed, another Windows tool worth using is Device Manager. You can use it to make sure Write Caching is turned on.

Write caching lets your computer store data in a cache before it is written to the hard drive. Because a computer can write data to a cache much more quickly than to a hard drive, the overall read/write performance of the hard drive is improved.

Remember, however, that data in a cache is only temporary. If your computer suffers from a sudden power loss and the data in the cache has not been transferred to your hard drive, you will lose it.

To turn on write caching on Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the Start menu and select Device Manager.
  2. Click on the + next to Disk drives.
  3. Right-click on the drive you want to change.
  4. Click on Properties.
  5. Select the Policies tab at the top of the new window.
  6. Mark the checkbox next to Enable write caching on the device.

4. IOBit Advanced SystemCare

iobit systemcare speed up hard drive

An important aspect of giving your HDD a boost is to make sure your system stays “clean.” That means you need to stay on top of temporary and duplicate files, make sure your RAM and CPU usage is optimized, and keep your registry as tidy as possible.

One tool that can perform all those HDD optimization tasks is IOBit Advanced SystemCare. A free version and a paid version both exist. The free version includes all the features we just mentioned. The $20 paid version adds deeper registry cleaning, real-time monitoring, browser optimization, and system boot optimization.

Download: IOBit Advanced SystemCare (Free, paid version available)

5. Razer Cortex

razer cortex speed up hard drive

If you’re wondering how to speed up a hard disk even further, check out Razer Cortex. The tool is specifically designed for PC gamers who want to squeeze every drop of juice out of their systems. It can help you achieve higher frames per second and reduce game loading times.

The HDD optimizer is split into two parts—System Booster and Game Booster. They combine to give an HDD boost to all users.

The system part of the tool will clean junk files, your browser history, and your system cache. The gaming part will defragment game files (as long as they on an HDD rather than an SSD), optimize your system’s configuration for gaming, and disable background processes that can impact a game’s performance.

Download: Razer Cortex (Free)

6. Windows Disk Management

disk management partition manager windows

The last native Windows utility that can improve the speed and efficiency of a hard disk is Disk Management. You can use it to repartition your drives.

Using a greater number of partitions is one of the most oft-overlooked ways to speed up a hard drive. Broadly speaking, the more partitions you use, the more organized your data is. As a result, an HDD’s head does not need to move as far to access the data and read times are reduced.

To repartition a hard drive using Disk Management, follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click on the Start menu.
  2. Select Disk Management to open the tool.
  3. Right-click on a drive and select Shrink Volume.
  4. Right-click on the freed-up space and choose New Simple Volume.
  5. Choose how large you want to make the new volume.
  6. Select the drive letter for the new volume.
  7. Choose a file system for the new volume.
  8. Click on Finish.

The new volume will appear in File Explorer > This PC.

7. Ashampoo WinOptimizer

The final tool that can give your hard disk a health increase is Ashampoo WinOptimizer. The tool brands itself as a “Swiss army for your PC.” It’s a fair description.

In terms of improving hard drive health, it can schedule maintenance and optimization tasks, scan for junk files, fix broken registry entries, and clean your browser cookies. The tool offers both a one-click fix and user-controlled corrections.

Separately, you can add additional modules to the app. There are 38 to choose from, covering tasks such as service management, start-up tuning, process management, privacy tuning, and much more.

Download: Ashampoo WinOptimizer (Free)

More Tips on How to Speed Up a Hard Drive

The seven tools we’ve explained in this article will go a long way towards speeding up your hard drive. They can give both SSDs and HDDs a boost.

If you’d still like to learn more about how to increase a hard disk’s speed, check out our other articles on quick fixes to make your Windows PC run faster 10 Quick Fixes to Make your Windows Computer Faster 10 Quick Fixes to Make your Windows Computer Faster Advice for speeding up your PC abounds, but not all methods are equal. Here are ten quick tips for making your Windows computer a little faster. Read More and how to speed up Windows 10 Speed Up Windows With 10 Tricks and Hacks Speed Up Windows With 10 Tricks and Hacks Looking to speed up your computer without spending a lot of time? Here are 10 tweaks to make Windows faster that take 10 minutes or less. Read More .

Explore more about: Computer Maintenance, Defragmentation, Hard Drive, Windows 10, Windows Tips.

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  1. dragonmouth
    October 29, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    One suggestion to improve performance that I haven't seen mentioned is to disable indexing.

  2. JustSoHappy
    October 27, 2019 at 3:33 am

    Thanks a lot! It worked perfectly!

  3. HildyJ
    October 26, 2019 at 1:23 am

    Do NOT defrag SSDs, only HDDs.

    Defragging an SSD does not result in any improvement in performance and does decrease the lifetime of the disk. For SSDs which support it, Windows disk optimizer recognizes SSDs and instead of defragging them attempts to run the TRIM utility (which older or cheaper SSDs may not support). Here's an explanation:

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-tip-defrag-secrets-for-hard-disks-and-ssds/

  4. shahin
    September 30, 2019 at 7:21 am

    good job

  5. Joaquin250222001
    January 20, 2017 at 8:33 am

    I would recommend everyone to decrease or increase the size of their C: partition because...the C: partition is always at the most closest to the outer ring of our hard disk, which means it receives the highest most possible read and write speed. UltimateDefrag puts Archive files to the inner rings, right? It has the slowest read and write speed. But we don't want to make the Archive files to become too slow to be read and written by the hard disk. So, to solve this, we need to resize the partition. Usually our computer has two accessible partitions, C: and D:, right? Now try to make both partition to have an equal size (divide them by two) by resizing them. There's a lot of way to resize partitions in the hard disk. Just Google it.

  6. KieferSkunk
    September 21, 2010 at 1:27 am

    (Tacking on to my earlier comment) Also, it's worth noting that there are other things in the way the hard drive is setup that can adversely affect performance. In WinXP (not so much in Vista or 7), it was common to get IDE and earlier SATA drives set up in PIO mode in Windows rather than using an appropriate DMA mode. In DMA mode, hard drive access is optimized, whereas all of it has to go through the CPU in PIO mode. For whatever reason, XP's default setting was PIO, regardless of how the drive or controller might be set up in the system CMOS. The most common symptom of this bad configuration is that the system becomes sluggish and sound stutters whenever there's any significant hard drive activity. That also depends on how well other devices on the system are working. (Also, some chipset driver packages automatically work around this issue and make the appropriate configuration changes for you.)

    Vista and Win7 can still exhibit this behavior, but it seems that they don't default to it anymore.

  7. KieferSkunk
    September 21, 2010 at 1:20 am

    (I realize this thread is 2 months old at this point, but...) Typically, benchmark programs that test for CPU and RAM performance will set themselves to High or Real-Time Priority during the tests, so that any interference from other programs and (in the latter case) system processes is minimized. This includes disk access, and the various services associated with disk access. Usually, any files needed in order to perform the test are fully loaded into memory before the test begins. Thus, when these tests are running, there will be little to no drive access at all, and fragmentation on the drive won't matter at all.

    On the disk tests, all it shows in the screenshot is a write speed, which is going to be a lot slower than read speed no matter what. The test doesn't appear to tell you what the drive's read performance is, much less show the difference between burst read speed, sustained read speed, or cached and uncached performance. Many disk testers also only test read and write performance by creating a large file (100+ MB) in an unoccupied area of the drive, writing data to it, reading from it, and deleting again. This doesn't acccurately indicate any performance hits caused by fragmentation. More complete testers will also do random reads across the current file system, which CAN hit fragmentation and reflect performance loss.

    There is a lot of information you need to know before you can say accurately that defragging the hard drive has actually improved your system performance, and unfortunately, very little of the info you get out of a benchmark program will help you assess that.

  8. rtc11
    July 24, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I use O&O Defrag, somehow UltimateDefrag wouldn't run on my 64bit win7. went from 556 points to 565, not big difference tough.

  9. Kaushik
    July 22, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Yeah, 3% increase in disk speed. Totally not worth it. Disk defragmentation is overrated.

  10. Wpshore
    July 21, 2010 at 1:35 am

    I have to second the JKDefrag recommendation but also remind folks that speed is also a function of how FULL a hard drive is. If your hard drive is 80-90% full (and I've seen 'em slow down at only 60%) then, even with through defragging, your performance is going to be seriously degraded. I know with multimedia and all it's hard to leave any space un-used but almost any reputable defragger is good-enough if used regularly, but, unless it's an external backup drive, leave lots of empty room on your hard drive to keep things fast..

  11. Bruno
    July 20, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Simple answer - margin of error. As in the article, the tools didn´t improve the hard drive performance (because they can´t), you just got a slightly different result that will vary with each test run.

  12. Norman
    July 18, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    I am using Windows Vista Home Premium on my HP Pavilion dv7 Notebook PC.

    i have been using jkDefrag in the past with no problems, but UltimateDefragger sounded even better. Not so, I found out.

  13. tempersfugue
    July 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Sorry Ryan, I should have said, but at 3:30am I am not at my best. I am using Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit.
    Further to what I wrote above, I have actually lost the contents of two partitions (luckily not "C:" which contains the OS etc) "D:" & "K:" and the partitions themselves. Somehow, whilst ignoring C, half the remaining area became "Unallocated" and the rest acquired the drive letter F which had previously been used for an external HDD. This is somewhat similar to a layout of partitions I had long before I started using Comodo Time Machine, but not exact. I tried using Recuva but it appears any data not in partition C has completely gone.

  14. Norman
    July 18, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I am using Vista; ran WiseDisk Cleaner, and then attempted to kick up UltimateDefragger ... NOTHING happened! i left it "progressing" all night, but it had not moved one iota from the time I left it until the morning.

    I uninstalled it, reinstalled and got the same results.

    Where's the beef?

  15. Norman
    July 18, 2010 at 5:47 am

    I am using Vista; ran WiseDisk Cleaner, and then attempted to kick up UltimateDefragger ... NOTHING happened! i left it "progressing" all night, but it had not moved one iota from the time I left it until the morning.

    I uninstalled it, reinstalled and got the same results.

    Where's the beef?

    • Ryan Dube
      July 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      Hey Norman - not sure. I performed all tests on Vista (I'm a couple of days away from going to Win7. What operating system are you running?

      • Norman
        July 18, 2010 at 9:43 pm

        I am using Windows Vista Home Premium on my HP Pavilion dv7 Notebook PC.

        i have been using jkDefrag in the past with no problems, but UltimateDefragger sounded even better. Not so, I found out.

  16. Guest
    July 17, 2010 at 2:34 am

    By some alchemy Ultimate Defrag combined with Comodo Time Machine (and, most likely,other programmes unknown) to firstly block any access to my hard drive and then to completely freeze the machine. It has taken me several hours, more reboots than I care to remember, uninstalling both programs, and blood sacrifices to arcane deities to regain any access. In the process I lost the complete contents of one partition (I tell a lie, I've lost the actual partition itself, but searching for it is a job for tomorrow, it's 03:25 am here already). Luckily I had just backed up the partition to HDD yesterday so, if worse comes to worst, I have only lost today's stuff.

    • Ryan Dube
      July 18, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      Hey Tempersfugue - could you share the operating system you're using (Win7?), just so that if other readers are using Comodo Time Machine, the same thing won't happen to them. Thanks!

      • Guest
        July 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm

        Sorry Ryan, I should have said, but at 3:30am I am not at my best. I am using Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit.
        Further to what I wrote above, I have actually lost the contents of two partitions (luckily not "C:" which contains the OS etc) "D:" & "K:" and the partitions themselves. Somehow, whilst ignoring C, half the remaining area became "Unallocated" and the rest acquired the drive letter F which had previously been used for an external HDD. This is somewhat similar to a layout of partitions I had long before I started using Comodo Time Machine, but not exact. I tried using Recuva but it appears any data not in partition C has completely gone.

  17. Peter
    July 16, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    You should run the disk cleanup before the defrag. No point in defragging temp files and then deleting them.

    I would really question the effectiveness of either of these tools to improve drive performance. You show the NovaBench score going up 8 points, but 1 of those points is due to the RAM and the other 7 are from the CPU. None of the increase is due to a change in disk performance. Small variations in RAM or CPU performance can be due to a wide variety of things and highly dependent on what other tasks the machine is performing at that exact instant of the test.

  18. Peter
    July 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    You should run the disk cleanup before the defrag. No point in defragging temp files and then deleting them.

    I would really question the effectiveness of either of these tools to improve drive performance. You show the NovaBench score going up 8 points, but 1 of those points is due to the RAM and the other 7 are from the CPU. None of the increase is due to a change in disk performance. Small variations in RAM or CPU performance can be due to a wide variety of things and highly dependent on what other tasks the machine is performing at that exact instant of the test.

    • Ryan Dube
      July 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      Not sure of the accuracy of the statement that 7 points are from the CPU and 1 from RAM, but would be interested in how you know this. Great advice in the first paragraph, thanks Peter!

      • Peter
        July 18, 2010 at 4:02 pm

        I looked at the screenshots you provided. In the first one the RAM gets a score of 104 and the CPU gets a score of 100. In the second one the RAM gets a score of 105 and the CPU gets a 107. That's your 8 point rise (just add up the before and after scores). The score for the hardware test remains unchanged at 19.

      • KieferSkunk
        September 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm

        (I realize this thread is 2 months old at this point, but...) Typically, benchmark programs that test for CPU and RAM performance will set themselves to High or Real-Time Priority during the tests, so that any interference from other programs and (in the latter case) system processes is minimized. This includes disk access, and the various services associated with disk access. Usually, any files needed in order to perform the test are fully loaded into memory before the test begins. Thus, when these tests are running, there will be little to no drive access at all, and fragmentation on the drive won't matter at all.

        On the disk tests, all it shows in the screenshot is a write speed, which is going to be a lot slower than read speed no matter what. The test doesn't appear to tell you what the drive's read performance is, much less show the difference between burst read speed, sustained read speed, or cached and uncached performance. Many disk testers also only test read and write performance by creating a large file (100+ MB) in an unoccupied area of the drive, writing data to it, reading from it, and deleting again. This doesn't acccurately indicate any performance hits caused by fragmentation. More complete testers will also do random reads across the current file system, which CAN hit fragmentation and reflect performance loss.

        There is a lot of information you need to know before you can say accurately that defragging the hard drive has actually improved your system performance, and unfortunately, very little of the info you get out of a benchmark program will help you assess that.

      • KieferSkunk
        September 20, 2010 at 11:27 pm

        (Tacking on to my earlier comment) Also, it's worth noting that there are other things in the way the hard drive is setup that can adversely affect performance. In WinXP (not so much in Vista or 7), it was common to get IDE and earlier SATA drives set up in PIO mode in Windows rather than using an appropriate DMA mode. In DMA mode, hard drive access is optimized, whereas all of it has to go through the CPU in PIO mode. For whatever reason, XP's default setting was PIO, regardless of how the drive or controller might be set up in the system CMOS. The most common symptom of this bad configuration is that the system becomes sluggish and sound stutters whenever there's any significant hard drive activity. That also depends on how well other devices on the system are working. (Also, some chipset driver packages automatically work around this issue and make the appropriate configuration changes for you.)

        Vista and Win7 can still exhibit this behavior, but it seems that they don't default to it anymore.

  19. Kevin
    July 16, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Well that's bizarre.

    I have Perfect Disk 10 (purchased) and it runs automatically and keeps my disk in good defrag shape so, I didn't need to do that other defrag thing.

    I downloaded and ran both the wise disk cleaner and wise registry cleaner and defragger and they both did some good work.

    The bizarre thing is that on the first run of Nova Bench I got a score of 220. I went and compared online and found 220 to be, well, not so good. After running the Wise cleaners and re-booting, I ran Nova Bench again and got a score of 218! What?! It went down?! That's bizarre.

  20. Kevin
    July 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Well that's bizarre.

    I have Perfect Disk 10 (purchased) and it runs automatically and keeps my disk in good defrag shape so, I didn't need to do that other defrag thing.

    I downloaded and ran both the wise disk cleaner and wise registry cleaner and defragger and they both did some good work.

    The bizarre thing is that on the first run of Nova Bench I got a score of 220. I went and compared online and found 220 to be, well, not so good. After running the Wise cleaners and re-booting, I ran Nova Bench again and got a score of 218! What?! It went down?! That's bizarre.

    • Ryan Dube
      July 18, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Kevin...that is rather bizarre...lol

    • Bruno
      July 20, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      Simple answer - margin of error. As in the article, the tools didn´t improve the hard drive performance (because they can´t), you just got a slightly different result that will vary with each test run.

  21. Srivatsan Venkatesh
    July 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I personally like CCleaner better because it is compact but it doesn't have too many advanced features. It literally "cleans the crap" but it is still good for uninstalling and registry defrag.