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Thread: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

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    Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Hi all,

    Hoping you can help me with my Seagate external HDD in Vista 32bit business. It's nicely plugged into a USB 2.0 HDD and in the past it's worked pretty well. Recently however it's become an absolute nightmare - it's so slow that often I think it's crashed.

    When reading from the drive it's generally ok - occasionally it 'lags' and displays only half the contents of a folder before it catches up and shows the rest, but it's alright for something on USB. The problem is writing - if I drag a file across in explorer it'll just pause - under advanced in the pop-up box I'll have 'Time remaining: calculating...' for ages.

    General drive performance is poor too - it'll often freeze if I say want to rename a file in explorer. Due to Microsoft's infinite wisdom, this will of course cause the whole computer to pretty much freeze...

    Finally writing in other programs is also painfully slow - Lightroom in particular will take hours to send files across, far slower than an explorer transfer without the 'calculating' lockup.

    I think I've found the source but I'm not sure what to do about it - the drive is always being accessed, even just after boot it'll whirr away endlessly. However I have no idea what could be causing this - I've made sure that my defrag program is set to defrag only when I tell it to and there's nothing else that I could think of to cause 100% HDD access. Performance and resource manager says that 'svchost.exe' is reading the disk pretty much all the time - there's a screen dump below:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3539833...75566/sizes/o/

    By the looks of what it's reading it seems to be doing a scan - but the D: is my internal HDD and I've checked defrag and AV programs - neither should be running...

    What's going on pals, and how do I sort it out? System rollback? Reformat?

    Any help appreciated!

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Disable search indexing.

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Is H: the external drive? The System process is writing to H:\Documents\My Received Files\New Folder\DCIM\66\bknwrstle.flv with a thread response time of 129 seconds. That's probably your puppy - I'd investigate what is creating and writing to that file.

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    It does sound like indexing is doing a number on the hard drive. My advice would be, NOT to disable indexing. But leave the USB HDD plugged in over night and let Vista index the whole drive.

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Yes, H:\ is the drive and the responsetime sounds about right. Search indexing sounds a likely culprit - it would be run through svchost wouldn't it? I'll certainly leave it on overnight and see if it sorts itself out. Is there anyway I can tell for sure that's the problem, other than leaving it to index the entire drive (about 120gb full atm) and hoping it goes away?

    Is search indexing a good idea also? I rarely search to be honest... does it do anything else? Does it take up space on the c:\ - I created a 30gb partition for my OS drive and it's looking a little tight atm despite all my scratch files being elsewhere. If I've created a huge search index that I very rarely use I'll probably delete it and just put up with the time taken for the search every time I need it, but if it does other stuff I should probably leave it be.

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Search indexing shouldn't be *writing* that .flv file, it should be reading.

    I'm guessing you have Lightroom setup to backup your data to the USB drive, right? If so and you have a pretty large media store on the PC the only things you can do are

    1) stop Lightroom backing up to USB or
    2) live with it until the catalogue is completely copied.

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    The flv was copied manually - actually a little while before I took that screenshot.

    LR isn't set to backup to the HDD - I use the HDD as a dump for files when I'm finished with them. I'll copy from camera -> laptop HDD, work on the files there, then send them to the external HDD when I don't need to edit them anymore.

    The HDD has just stopped whirring - maybe all files are indexed. I just stuck a few albums of mp3s over onto it and it's a lot snappier. I'll give it a defrag + optomise and I'll let you know if the problem re-occurs.

    Cheers!

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    The indexing service wasn't reading the H: drive, so it's not directly responsible. The only way I can see it being indirectly responsible is if it somehow blocked up with an on-access virus scan and the file you were copying at the same time. It's potentially possible that your AV tried to scan the file as it was being indexed; at the same time you tried to copy the file so the AV tried to on-access scan it again and couldn't because it was already being accessed. At least, I think that's possible...

    Anyway, congratulation's on your patience for just sitting there and waiting - not sure I could've done that!

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    You said "in the past it's worked pretty well," was this also under Vista? If the problems have only started recently, I'd be inclined to suspect the hardware.

    The manufacturer's drive-checking utilities might not work properly with a USB drive, so if there's any way you can remove it from the enclosure and temporarily connect it up to a motherboard port (not convenient in a laptop, admittedly), that would be a good way to go. You could also run chkdsk x: /r (where x is the USB drive letter) and see if Windows finds any bad sectors.

    External HDDs tend to lead a hard life compared with their internal counterparts, so it would obviously be a good idea to make sure all the data on the drive is either backed up or dispensible...

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Yeah, it worked pretty well on Vista + XP.

    I really don't think it's a hardware problem - the drive is just being used by something which is causing it to be really slow when I want to use it. Me having paid for the damn thing I think I should get priority...

    However it now seems to have settled down - the indexing is a task that would take up a lot of HDD resources and then cut out when finished, so that sounds sensible. Strange that it doesn't give my own use priority, but then this IS Microsoft we're dealing with...

    I'll definately be getting another HDD as backup, or maybe online. I'm done with DVDs, I do stitched panoramic photographs which can end up at 2gb each - DVDs are just too small. Online sounds awesome, but I don't like the fact that I'm not in control and I currently live in China, so net access isn't great - assuming the site's not firewalled...

    I'll shout out if the problems come back - otherwise we seem good for the moment! Thanks all.

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Quote Originally Posted by brammers View Post
    I do stitched panoramic photographs which can end up at 2gb each - DVDs are just too small.
    Dual-layer Bluray's take 50GB a piece, and while they're not cheap the rewriteables might be a viable alternative: although I have to admit I've started using USB drives for all my backups recently. I'm hoping BD prices come down over the next 6 months though: if they do then I'll seriously think about using them...

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Can I give this a top?

    I've got myself another HDD as backup, but the original seems to have chosen this moment to totally conk... The orignal problem's come back with a vengeance.

    If I plug it in then the system just hangs. To restore the system, unplug it... Same on shutdown - the system won't shut down until I unplug the HDD. Tried different USB ports... Totally at my wits' end.

    Anyone ever had such poor responsiveness in a HDD before? Although there's not that much critical data on there, I'll be mightily pissed if it dies a death literally moments before I back it up..............

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Have you tried to access it via another method? Maybe a Linux Live CD or something? But it does sound like the HDD has just given up.

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Way ahead of you Singh400

    Took it to a friend's XP laptop - the HDD is perfectly fine. Absolutely no problems whatsoever - I copied all the data across to my new HDD and both of them were perfectly snappy.

    So the problem's with my machine. Short reformatting Vista, any way to see what's causing the machine to lock when I add the USB HDD and reset that?

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    Re: Awful USB HDD performance under Vista

    Gah - now the new one's not being detected on firewire or USB... I think I give up. Does anyone else have such awful problems using Vista and external HDDs or is it just me? If it's just me than I think I'm going to have to reformat - I have had Vista up for 6 months after all....................

    Not impressed.

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