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question about RAID and wearing out a hard disk

Last response: in Storage
April 4, 2003 8:51:06 AM

Recently I've noticed that my hard drive seems to be much slower than it used to be at accessing data. I have had my current disk for almost 5 years now and in that time I have written to and erased from it a great deal. It's only a 20GB hard drive and being an avid game player/media fanatic I have installed/uninstalled tons of games and had countless mp3 files, and movies stored on my hard drive. I was wondering if the current speed issue I'm experiencing is due in some part to my OS or is it possible for the sectors of a hard disk to get worn out over a long period of time? If so then I have 2 options when purchasing a new drive which brings me to my next question. I have a built-in RAID controller on my motherboard and I was wondering if it is possible to connect 2 hard disks to a RAID controller and treat the 2 disks as one partition? My thinking here is that if a single partition had twice the number of platters as a single hard drive partition and twice the number of read/write heads as a single hard drive partition then it would increase the speed of the partition somewhat. Is this bad logic? Please post any thoughts as I'm no expert when it comes to hardware and I'm trying to fix my computer on a student's budget so I need to save as much moolah as possible.

The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.
- Samuel Clemens
April 5, 2003 2:59:59 AM

Have you defraged this drive at all? That could seriously add to your performance issues. But also, yes, drives do eventually wear out, just like any piece of hardware with moving parts.
April 5, 2003 8:22:48 PM

Yes, with a RAID controller you can have 2 disks that will be seen as a single disk. I have 2 Maxtor D740Xs with 80GB each, and configured as RAID 0 I see it as a single 160GB disk. For best performance, its recommended that both disks should be identical.

It's not important to know all the answers, as long as you know how to contact someone who does.
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April 5, 2003 9:51:45 PM

Worn out sectors (if at all possible?) doesn't cause reduced speed but unrecoverable read/write errors. Try defragging the drive or buy a 'modern' faster one.
You may experience a sense of reduced speed simply because modern programs access the drive more often and the files are larger.

Regarding RAID, in general when RAIDing a number of drives you will see the drives as one single large disk which you can partition as you see fit. For most RAID modes it is preferred that the disks are identical. If they are of different size you will loose some capacity. Some RAID controllers also support JBOD. For further information read the RAID FAQ.

<i><b>Engineering is the fine art of making what you want from things you can get</b></i>
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April 6, 2003 12:02:08 AM

I defrag my hard drive usually at least once every 2 weeks so I don't think it's fragmentation. Particularly the problem that I notice most is that when I play certain massively multiplayer games I can hear the drive being accessed frequently and the times that it accesses the drive are the times when I see my framerate drop down to 10 or below. I have 256MB of RAM and I have a 32MB GeForce 2 video card. When I play a regular game with a graphics engine similar to that of the MMO games I play I seem to have less problems with the framerate. Is it possible more RAM would help? Also if I do go with the RAID configuration would it be significantly faster than the single-drive solution or not?

The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.
- Samuel Clemens
April 15, 2003 12:20:53 PM

the times that it accesses the drive are the times when I see my framerate drop down to 10 or below.

That'll be the system accessing pagefile.sys If you are using Win2K or XP you need 512Mb memory, minimum.

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April 15, 2003 4:40:13 PM

It also depends which Defrag tool you are using...

The default windows defrag tool does not reorganize the disk for you, it only consolidates the disk space. As you do updates and install/uninstall stuff you can get programs with their DLLS and other files scattered all over the hard disk. Even if the files aren't fragmented you still lose a ton of performance to the slowest of all HD functions --head seek-- as it thrashes around looking for files.

You need to get one of the more advanced Defrag tools like O&O or PerfectDisk. These will re-order the files so that all directories are contiguous as well as defragmenting the files and can even sort the directories themselves into order... Re-ordering a disk can be more beneficial than defrag and doing both can noticeably increase it's performance.

O&o's website is here:
<A HREF="" target="_new">;/A>

Also, if you are on NTFS and aren't keeping stats on disk usage, try this little trick...
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It's kinda like cutting in the afterburners.

--->It ain't better if it don't work<---