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
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
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.