Windows: If you'd like the speed of your mechanical hard drive to be closer to SSD speeds, short-stroking your hard drive is your best bet. These steps can get your hard drive up to speed at the cost of some memory.
Short-stroking lets your mechanical hard drive access files faster by keeping your most important files — like your OS and apps — stored in its best performing sectors. You can use the other partition for storing other, less speed-reliant files as well.
Your hard drive will get a significant speed boost as long as it's reading from the fast partition, but it comes at the cost of storage. Keep in mind that the fast partition will be much smaller than the actual size of the entire hard drive. Here are the steps to finding your hard drive's sweet spot and setting up short-stroking:
- Download and install HD Tune. It has a free demo that allows you do what you need for this. To run the tool, you'll need an already installed and functional operating system.
- Connect the drive you want to short-stroke to your machine as a secondary volume and run HD Tune's Benchmark test. You'll see your hard drive's transfer rate (the blue line) creep down as the test runs.
- When the test is complete, look at the graph and find a point where you see a significant drop off in transfer speed. Every hard drive is different, so look at your graph closely to identify your hard drive's sweet spot.
- Once you find the sweet spot, that point is the size you want to make your main partition. So, for example, if you see the speed drop off significantly at 100GB, you'll want to make a 100GB main partition.
You can make a partition two different ways:
- Fresh Windows install: When you're asked to select a drive during the setup process, click "Drive Options (advanced)" and then select the drive you're short-stroking. Here you can create a partition the size of your hard drive's sweet spot.
Windows already installed: Boot into Windows on the drive you're short-stroking. Click "Start", type
Disk Management, and press Enter. The Disk Management utility will launch and you can right-click the drive and select "create a new volume". Then input your hard drive's sweet spot size to create the partition.
With the partition made, whatever you store in it will be accessed faster by your hard drive because it doesn't have to move the arm as far to get to it. You can use the other partition for storage, but using both partitions forces the mechanical arm in your hard drive to go back and forth more often, slowing everything down.
It's not quite as efficient as an SSD, but the folks at PC World found that their average transfer speeds increased by a solid 56 per cent. Check out the video above to see a demonstration