I get the feeling that my hard disk is very slow. Is there a way I can verify and tune it?

You can use hdparm to tune your hard disk. On Debian, you would run

apt-get install hdparm

to install it.

hdparm --help

shows a list of all available options. To get more information about your hard disk, run

hdparm -i /dev/hda

This will look like:

/dev/hda:

Model=MAXTOR 6L060J3, FwRev=A93.0500, SerialNo=663214759549
Config={ HardSect NotMFM HdSw>15uSec Fixed DTR>10Mbs }
RawCHS=16383/16/63, TrkSize=32256, SectSize=21298, ECCbytes=4
BuffType=DualPortCache, BuffSize=1819kB, MaxMultSect=16, MultSect=16
CurCHS=4047/16/255, CurSects=16511760, LBA=yes, LBAsects=117266688
IORDY=on/off, tPIO={min:120,w/IORDY:120}, tDMA={min:120,rec:120}
PIO modes:  pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4
DMA modes:  mdma0 mdma1 mdma2
UDMA modes: udma0 udma1 *udma2
AdvancedPM=no WriteCache=enabled
Drive conforms to: ATA/ATAPI-5 T13 1321D revision 1:

* signifies the current active mode

To see how fast your hard disk currently is execute

hdparm -tT /dev/hda

The output:

/dev/hda:
Timing cached reads:   972 MB in  2.00 seconds = 486.00 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads:   72 MB in  3.08 seconds =  23.38 MB/sec

Now you can run

hdparm -c1 -d1 -X 66 /dev/hda

to tune your hard disk. The X flag stands for the transfer mode (PIO: 8; DMA: 32; U-DMA: 64) + the number of the mode (2 for udma2: 64 + 2 = 66).

Now run

hdparm -tT /dev/hda

again, and if you're lucky, your hard disk should have become "faster".

Falko Timme

About Falko Timme

Falko Timme is an experienced Linux administrator and founder of Timme Hosting, a leading nginx business hosting company in Germany. He is one of the most active authors on HowtoForge since 2005 and one of the core developers of ISPConfig since 2000. He has also contributed to the O'Reilly book "Linux System Administration".

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