PC Hardware

Smart but a little slow

I’ve got a pair of Seagate ST3500630AS SATA hard drives – 500GB, 7200 RPM, 16MB cache. They’ve served me perfectly well until recently I noticed some applications loading exceedingly slowly, but not others. After a small file transfer took far longer than acceptable I decided to employ Sisoft Sandra to investigate.

The physical disk test took so long on my first drive that I tried cancelling, assuming it was going to fail, but luckily hitting the cancel button simply greyed it out until the test concluded successfully and reported its findings. Here’s a screenshot of my first disk’s speed analysis:


As is depicted in the graph, my hard drive (the red dot) is right on par with similar drives in terms of access (seek) time, but is extremely slow in sustained file transfers. For comparison, and to eliminate the possibility that the problem existed on my motherboard or elsewhere, I tested my second drive as well:


The red dot is missing from this graph for some reason but the numeric values in the legend show that while the access time on the working drive is similar (slower, actually) than the first drive, the Drive Index indicating the read speed is nearly 12 times faster! That’s a no-no.

While I’m almost positive the problem is with the drive itself, I’ve noticed some strange behaviour from my PC in general. It seems that applications that read from this drive will sometimes cause my computer to freeze up for a fraction of a second and my sound card will make a strange buzz or beep or will elongate whatever sound was coming out of it before the freeze. I also noticed the sound card making a buzzing noise while trying to copy a large file from that drive. Perhaps this is a power attenuation issue?

I’m kind of stumped here and a little concerned. This hard drive is only about 2 months old so it’s falls well within Seagate’s 3-year warranty, but what if the broken hard drive is a symptom and not the sole cause of my troubles? I’m really lucky not to have lost any data yet and I’m backing up my precious music collection this very moment, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll make it all the way through. This is my system disk too so if it goes kaput I’ll have to reinstall Windows. I’m also concerned that I’ll have to run some kind of rigorous diagnostic software that will stress my hard drive and possibly break it entirely.

Ideally I’d like to advance RMA a replacement, copy my old drive to the new one, and then mail back the broken one. I’ll report back on Seagate customer service. PC Village assures me they’re a very professional and especially punctual company. Wish me luck!

By brian

About Brian Damage:

Who is Brian really?
I live in Toronto, Canada, and work for an IT firm. That's about as much real-world info I'm comfortable divulging here. What you read on my blog is the real Brian, but, for the sake of freedom of speech, I feel most comfortable leaving a gulf between my cyberspace and meatspace personae.

Who is Brian at work?
My ridiculous job title is "Marketing Specialist" since I wear so many hats at work. I'm a technical writer, a specialist in enterprise search technologies, an electronic forms designer, a newsletter author, system administrator... but I'm in the Marketing department so for the time being I'm stuck with this inauspicious title.

Who is Brian at play?

Who is Brian