One of the most important hardware components inside your computer is obviously the drive that holds the operating system. If you have Windows installed on a slow hard drive, it doesn’t matter how powerful the other components like CPU and memory are, the system will boot slower, load programs more slowly, and lag quite badly while multitasking.
This is a reason why high performance hard drives and especially SSD’s are so popular these days. It’s because upgrading just that one part can breath new life into a computer and make it feel a lot more snappy to use. The actual hard disk or SSD performance under Windows is determined by several factors so how do you know if your drive is performing well, needs tweaking or is even holding the system back?
Thankfully, the internet is full of websites to show you how well nearly every drive around can perform. Also, loads of programs are available that can give your hardware a performance test to see how well it’s doing. There are many paid suites around like PCMark or Passmark that can test the whole system, but here we list for you 10 free tools that are specifically designed for testing the performance of hard drives and SSD drives.
All tools were tested on Windows 10 64-bit and are also compatible with Windows 7 and 8.1. CrystalDiskMark
This is a very popular storage benchmarking tool because it’s versatile and can produce good results for just about everything from USB drives, to memory cards, RAMDisks, SSD drives and mechanical hard drives. CrystalDiskMark is very easy to operate too, just set the test size between 50MB and 4GB, the drive to test and the number of passes to run. More passes obviously should produce more accurate results.
Then click All to run a full test or any individual colored buttons below to run single tests. A useful extra option for SSD drives is whether to fill the test data randomly or with 0’s or 1’s. This will affect the results on drives with hardware compression such as those with Sandforce controllers. Portable, installer and custom skin versions are available.
2. ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark is a popular portable tool used by many hardware review websites and is also recommended by manufacturers such as Corsair to run speed tests on SSD drives. All the tests are sequential and are taken for read and write operations using block sizes of 512 bytes up to 64MB. A test file length of between 64KB and 32GB is also available, both are selectable from drop down menus.
Leaving Direct I/O enabled will rule out odd results due to any system caching. An I/O size of over a couple of Megabytes will produce virtually the same scores so probably isn’t needed for many users. Results can be saved out and loaded again at a later time. A look around the internet will likely find someone else who has posted ATTO results for similar hardware to your own.
Download ATTO Disk Benchmark (via Softpedia, the official site requires filling a form)
3. AS SSD Benchmark
AS SSD looks a bit like CrystalDiskMark and is designed primarily to benchmark SSD drives. It is another popular tool being used by hardware sites such as AnandTech’s SSD benchmark charts (which also includes ATTO) to show their results. The program uses incompressible data so some SSD’s will show much lower scores than usual if they compress their data.
Sequential and 4KB read and write scores will be shown along with access times and a final general overall score. The results can be changed to IOPS if you prefer from the View menu. A couple of useful additional benchmarks are available in the Tools menu like a Copy benchmark which simulates copying an ISO, game and a program, and also a read/write compression benchmark. AS SSD is also completely portable.
Download AS SSD Benchmark (website is in German, download link at bottom)
4. Anvil’s Storage Utilities
For an SSD or hard drive benchmark and test utility that really puts drives through their paces, they don’t come much more comprehensive than Anvil’s Storage Utilities. While being able to perform a complete read and write test using sequential and random operations, it displays a full set of results including response time, speed in MB/s and also IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second).
A total combined read/write score is shown in the yellow box. Also included are 3 extra IOPS tests, an endurance testing function and the ability in the settings to alter the amount of compression to use on the test file. More functions like a system information tab and a screenshot saver round off an impressive tool. Anvil’s Storage Utilities doesn’t seem to be developed anymore and the last version is from 2014.
5. HD Tune
HD Tune is probably the most well known hard disc drive benchmarking and diagnostic utility and will likely be in every tech users USB toolkit. The free version 2.55 is getting old now having not been updated since 2008 and might have minor issues with some of the latest hard drive models. Some functions like error checking and benchmarking should still work fine.
After a test, the benchmark result graph will show the minimum, maximum and average read speed along with the average access time in milliseconds and the burst rate. The block size can be changed in the options from 512 bytes up to 8MB and a slider can move between faster less accurate or slower more accurate test speeds.