A longtime subscriber wrote me to ask about making his hard drives run faster:
I added a 500 GB external dive to my system. I am hoping that by moving XP Repair Pro, Counterspy, Eset MOD32 to that drive that Ill make more space available (faster response) on the primary C drive. Is this a reasonable assumption?? Once Repair Pro is on E Drive will running repair both drives??
I wrote back to Scott to say that I doubt that moving those programs to an external drive would make any improvement in his system’s performance, unless he was running out of space on his C: drive — and those really don’t take much space.
I definitely WOULD NOT move CounterSpy or NOD32 — they run all the time and you have to expect that any access to the external drive will be slower than access to an internal drive.
As far as XP Repair Pro running from E Drive, it can do that. But, it is a Windows Registry tool, not a hard drive tool. It doesn’t make repairs to drives. Depending on the problem, you need something like Spinrite 6 (for a failing or unreadable disk) or DiskMD ( which can defragment the drive).
Spinrite 6 (www.grc.com) does low-level repairs of non-readable sections of the drive, but no checking or optimizations of any aspect of the file system or files on it, except to the extent the problems were caused by unreadable data on the drive.
I believe that your most responsive change with respect to your hard drive, in order of effectiveness, would be:
- if you have a 5200 RPM drive, upgrade it to 7200 RPM. Plus, the drives today typically have a 8MB or 16MB cache, while 3 or 4 years ago, a 2MB cache was more common.
- defragment the drive. I haven’t tried this program, but PC Pitstop (who makes the Optimize 3.0 registry and system optimizer that I use0 has another product called DiskMD, which is a disk defragmenter.
- change Windows settings to have a fixed size swap file — or at least set a customized minimum size for the Windows swap file. I have 2GB RAM and have mine set at a minimum swap (paging) file size of 1538MB and a maximum of twice that. I turned off the swap drive, defragmented, and then set a large minimum size — so that it would be allocated in one contiguous (not broken into pieces) file.
There’s really not much benefit these days from moving program files or data files to a separate hard drive.
In the old DOS and early Windows days, we could keep programs and data on a separate partition from the operating system. Well, at least, we could do that with most programs. Some sloppy programmers would let you install anywhere, but their programs didn’t run if you hadn’t installed in C:\Program Files.
In today’s world, Microsoft has trained programmers for so long to store the programs in C:\Program Files, the user’s data in C:\Documents and Settings\[userid]\My Documents and other program data in the hidden folders under C:\Documents and Settings\[userid]\Application Data and C:\Documents and Settings\[userid]\Local Settings.
What does all of this mean? It means that successfully keeping data and programs separated is painful. The most effective way to create a second hard drive partition, or a partition on a second hard drive, and tell Windows to store any "Documents and Settings" information there.
Back to the task at hand, which was making his system faster, by installing a second internal, not external, hard drive and moving the Windows swap file (called the pagefile.sys in Windows XP) to the seconnd hard drive, Windows will run faster. Probably more effective, you could add more memory to the computer.