Hard drive speeds

Doing some yearly IT maintenance over January. Upgraded my main hard drive from 200 gig to 500 gig (it was getting full). This contains all my photos, 18 years of email (includng gmail backup), steam games, all my documents etc.

I do two backups. One to a second hdd within the desktop (every midnight). The other to an external hdd enclosure I bring in every couple of weeks from home. The backup is of the entire system using ‘rsync’.

The only problem with the USB enclosure is that it is very slow. So I bought an esata pci card and connect via that instead. This increased my speed from about 1MB/sec over USB2 to 57MB/sec over esata. That is an increase of 50 times!

I also noticed that my internal hard drive is much faster than a few years ago. Old notes suggest I was getting about 54MB/sec in 2003, but the newer hard drives are giving me 96MB/sec.

The sustained write speeds are slower than hdparm. The external esata actually rsyncs at about 30-40MB/sec  (not 57MB/sec). But now I can update the backup in minutes, not hours.

All measurements are using hdparm under linux.


[email protected]:/home/schuller# hdparm -t /dev/sdc1

/dev/sdc1: Timing buffered disk reads:  290 MB in  3.01 seconds =  96.22 MB/sec

In summary: if you are using external hard drive enclosures, make sure you connect via esata.

What about NAS? They are great in theory, but very expensive compared to a generic esata/usb enclosure.

3 thoughts on “Hard drive speeds”

  1. 1MB/s is USB1 kind of speeds – I’d suspect that there was something not well configured…

    I’d be interested in the numbers you can get with bonnie++ – if will give you more meaningful data than hdparm.

    Regarding NAS, the main benefit (as I see it) is that the storage is easily accessible from multiple locations from a simple, standalone network device. There’s no comparison between a NAS device and an esata enclosure – they don’t do the same thing. Instead, compare NAS and the cost of purchasing (and running) a separate computer on the network.

    (log-in-to-comment is a real pain in the neck – could you change it to something a little friendlier? 🙂 )

  2. For a single user a NAS doesn’t really make much sense. But of you need to share data then a NAS is easy. Also, the ability to use RAID so that a drive failure doesn’t cost you data might be an important consideration.

  3. Jonathan: I tried your advice but the output of bonnie++ is an absolute joke. If bonnie++ can’t give me logical readable output then it is broken.

    Tony: In this system I have 2 full backups (1 offsite) so I can survive drives dying. I suspect we need to get a NAS here in the office though.

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