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Large vs Small file sizes


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Can the sizes of files affect the performance of a hard drive?

I have two hard drives:

74GB, 7200rpm SATA, primary, partitioned in half, WinXP is installed on this drive, 5GB used.
233GB, 7200rpm IDE, secondary, filed with stuff, no system files, 160GB used.

My problem is, recently, my secondary hard drive has been slow in accessing folders. It can take several seconds, before, there was no lag. There are no programs that are routed to it, it has its own power connection and ribbon cable. Ive tried defragmenting and scanning with no improved perfomance. Also, in the folders that do have a lot of files, about 400+, they load up really slow too, despite the fact that the windows system32 folder has 2000+ files and opens up immediately. Even PerfectDisk is taking its time defragmenting. Access from Knoppix to the drive was immediate.

The primary drive works fine, there are no noticeable problems with folder access.

Now, it occured to me that the primary hard drive has very few large files on it, largest being the pagefile. On the secondary, there are a fair number of large files, like distros and betas, and backed up data in RAR archives. I even archived up alot of small files in an effort to speed things up.

So, would having a lot of large files slow down a hard drive?
Yes, the more files the more time it takes windows to sort through them but it should not be that big a difference.

Make sure indexing of the drive is turned on.
Make sure the drive is still being cached by windows.
Make sure the second drive is not being turned off as part of energy saver.
Verify that UMDA is turned on in system manager for the IDE drive and bios is set to auto detect the drive type/speed.
Windows has an ugly habit. Every program you use it adds to the startup cache filling your ram and pagefile with garbage you hardly use. There is another thread here about how to clean out the programs preloaded at start up and preventing windows from filling it back up.

This comment only applies if the slow files are programs - I use perfect disk too and I have begun wondering if letting it stash the most used files at the end of the drive to minimize fragmentation is a mistake. All the files for a given program should be contiguous on the disk to minimize load time. Stashing the latest files at the end of the drive spreads the program all over the disk. Windows adds to this problem by putting common dll's in the system32 directory.

The other possibility is that as you get used to the speed of a new system you expect more. It makes the system seem to get more sluggish as time goes by.

If in doubt about hardware performance run a speed test on the HD. Sisoft Sandra Lite (free) has one as part of it's toolset and there are stand alone HD tests.

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