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How to Increase External Hard Drive Performance in Windows Vista and Windows 7

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In Windows Vista and Windows 7 you can increase the performance of external hard drive by increasing its speed in just a few easy steps.  This is possible because Windows Vista and Windows 7 operate external hard drives connected by USB differently than internal drives. By default, in Windows 7 and Vista, write catching is disabled so that you can safely remove the drive at almost any time. This works perfectly fine if you insert and remove your external hard drive very frequently; but if you have a large hard drive that you never disconnect from your computer write caching is still disabled which can decrease performance.

Follow the steps below to increase the performance of your external hard drives. The steps are same for Windows Vista and Windows 7 except the last few, but we will point out any differences in the guide below.

Step1: Click on the Windows start button, then right click on Computer and select Manage.

hard drive1

Step2: Click on Device Manager on the side menu.

hard drive2

Step3: Expand Disk Drives and select your external hard drive from the list.

hard drive3

Step4: Right click on the drive and select properties.

Step5: (Vista only) on the Policies tab, select Optimize for performance

Step 6: (Vista only) Next, check enable write caching on the disk and enable advanced performance as shown below

hard drive5

Step 7: (Windows 7 only) Click on Enable write caching on the device.

hard disk-4

hard disk-5

Step 8: Press OK and Reboot the machine to enjoy the increased performance.

13 Comments

  1. Chad Garrett

    December 15, 2009 at 6:32 am

    You'd better warn someone about the potential data loss issues. With write-caching enabled, you have to be absolutely sure that you use the Safe Device Removal rather than just simply unplugging the drive.

    For me, that's a performance penalty I'm willing to take.

  2. gregperry

    December 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Dittos Chad, man I would not even THINK about doing this. I recall the days of yesteryear when I had my externals set for Optimized Performance and a crash would happen or about a billion other possibilities (such as Visa rebooting on its own to install updates I did not want yet because I was running a backup or something) and I get back to my computer to find a trashed partition on the external drive because data only got written halfway. THIS IS DANGEROUS and I am shocked Microsoft still gives us this option as deadly as it can be for data,

  3. Dave

    December 18, 2009 at 5:39 am

    I am guessing that the same policy changes can be applied to an internal drive to enhance performance, without concern of loosing any data at shutdown, sleep, etc,

  4. roywhitethread

    December 18, 2009 at 5:55 am

    Thank you for this guide,but, for Step 7 only, my browser (IE8)only shows a red x.Can you please tell me how I can view Step 7?
    Thanks and regards,
    Roy Whitethread

  5. Chad Garrett

    December 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

    It's not just you roywhitethread, it looks like the file http://www.notebooks.com/2009/12/13/wp-content/… is just plain missing on their server.

  6. Josh Smith

    December 18, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Sorry about that, working on fixing it.
    Josh

  7. georgesteele

    January 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I think that to be complete, you would need at least a few benchmarks to illustrate the difference in performance. It seems to me that if, for example, the performance were to double, it might be worth the risk under certain circumstances. If you are talking a few percent improvement, it would be folly to risk the integrity of a backup device, possibly irrecoverably, for minimal gain. How much of a performance increase have you seen?

  8. georgesteele

    January 26, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I think that to be complete, you would need at least a few benchmarks to illustrate the difference in performance. It seems to me that if, for example, the performance were to double, it might be worth the risk under certain circumstances. If you are talking a few percent improvement, it would be folly to risk the integrity of a backup device, possibly irrecoverably, for minimal gain. How much of a performance increase have you seen?

  9. 1TB External Hard Drives

    September 7, 2010 at 7:46 am

    he software that comes with the FreeAgent is easy to use. It includes some simple diagnostics, and automated backup controls, including setting specific folders and backup times. The software also includes an encryption option. While there are several steps to the encryption and decryption process, it’s nice to know that if someone takes my drive, they won’t get my data. I tested the drives by backing up my 168GB of media, documents, pictures, and studio sessions on all the drives…

  10. ViosBlue

    November 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Hello There. I discovered your blog using msn. That is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your helpful information. Thank you for the post. I will definitely comeback.

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