Use HD_Speed application for quick disk performance report

There should be no shortage of disk performance tools for the administrator’s arsenal. In this blog post, IT pro Rick Vanover shows how to use the HD_Speed tool to report on disk performance.

I am always on the lookout for a good freeware utility. Recently, I came across the HD_Speed utility from SteelBytes. HD_Speed is a standalone (no installation required) tool that does just that; reports on drive speed.

HD_Speed is a standalone Windows program that reports on local drives for their speed in Megabytes per second. There are options to change local drive and specify a different block size. The block size defaults to automatic, which does not give much help in running a test. Different hard drives will have different block sizes. The test that will deliver the highest throughput with HD_Speed will be to specify a block size in the interface that is the same as the Windows drive letter being tested. Figure A below shows a specified drive letter (E:\) running HD_Speed with the 8K block size that matches the disk geometry: Figure A

Figure A

That same drive tested with a different block size will yield wildly different results. Specifically, a smaller block size test configuration than what the actual volume contains will represent a lower throughput. This is shown in Figure B below: Figure B

Figure B

The option to log results to a file is helpful, as every pass is represented in the file that was recorded with HD_Speed. This file is kept in the running directory that HD_Speed was running and is a simple, easy to read file.

There are a number of tools that administrators can utilize to measure disk throughput, namely IOmeter. I recommend keeping HD_Speed handy as one of the tools to benchmark storage, both in normal operations as well as when things are perceived to be slowed down.

How have you used HD_Speed? Share your comments below.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

Editor's Picks