New Harddrive = better performance?

bfisher

Active Member
I have an old PC (5 years old) that I use for my automation server (I use HV Pro for all critical automation, but PC logs everything, and acts as my media server with JRiver Media).

I had to replace the OS with XP (long story) and am now convinced the biggest bottleneck on the PC is the harddrive. I am considering replacing the main harddisk with a faster one: New Egg Harddrive

Before I go through the time/expense (mostly the time) of doing this - looking for feedback from someone more knowledgable... will replacing the main hard disk with a faster one help?

Spec:
HP Pavilion 8575c
Intel PIII - 555 MHz
256MB Ram
I've added a second hard disk for my music (80GB 7200 rpm).
I don't know what the original hard disk is, but I'm betting it's slow

Thanks in advance.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Have you done any benchmarking to see where the bottleneck really is? If you are running XP I would look first at the RAM. Things will be sllloooowwww with only 256MB. I bet that would make a bigger diff than the HD.

Edit: Actually, with the low ram, you are probably caching/swapping a lot and the HD would make a diff there, but ultimately with more RAM, you could alleviate that anyway.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Defreagment the disks, and pick up additional memory in my opinion first. 256 is low (exceptionally low with XP). Try to get that to 512MB if you can and it should work better.

Probably a bigger increase than replacing the hard drive.

However, for cases where the machine is getting old like that, it may be worth swapping out the drive anyway. Sooner or later the drives go and easier to do it on your schedule. Plus you can usually get a $30 or so 80-120GB drive from circuit city or bestbuy if you are willing to deal with rebates. Whatever you buy I would try and make sure it is 80GB or higher (the other stuff is probably going to be rather old itself).
 

WayneW

Senior Member
That hard drive price (for the capacity) seems like a poor value, but I haven't shopped for drives that small in a while. I usually look for something around $0.25 per gigabyte. But a huge hard drive give you other hassles with an older motherboard and bios, so investigate first.

Based more on a hunch than facts, I would consider upping the memory first. It would also be easier than replacing your primary hard disk.

Watching your computer boot should display the hard drive model number. Or you can use a freeware program called aida32 to learn a lot the easy way. Aida32 is abandoned now, but you probably can find a download someplace. The version I have (the last I think) is 3.85. I can email you the English version (under 3 megs) if desired. If your second hard drive is faster, have you moved your swapfile to that drive?
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Another simple thing to check is to make sure you actually have enough hard disk space available for the swap file size that is required.
 

bfisher

Active Member
thanks for the excellent feedback. I rarely use this PC, but it's always on. Maybe 2-3 times per week I might use it to manually select a music playlist, but 99% of the time - my HVPro manages it so I don't notice it's speed. I guess I really noticed the slowness of it since I had to reinstall Windows...

As for the feedback - I checked and this beast can only handle 384 MB RAM, but it's pretty cheap to increase it with another 128MB RAM (<$40). I need to pull open the box though and make sure that it has a slot free (that they didn't use 64MB RAM and fill up the 3 slots - if I remember right it came with 128MB and I added 128MB).

I didn't think to move the swap file, so I just did that and hope that gives me a little bump in performance (for free! ;) )

Thanks for the quick help! I think I'll fix RAM before messing with the hard disk.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
The biggest bottle neck sound to me like it's age. What CPU does this machine have. If it's a slow CPU you can throw RAM and hard drives at it all day long and it will not get much faster.
 

rocco

Active Member
bfisher said:
I had to replace the OS with XP (long story) and am now convinced the biggest bottleneck on the PC is the harddrive.
bfisher, what was the OS that you replaced? I have found that a default XP upgrade uses much more CPU than an earlier OS, and I alway turn off some of the more processor-intensive bells and whistles on sub-gHz machines.

Here is a nice list of those functions in XP that tend to drive you to more expensive processors: http://www.musicxp.net/tuning_tips.htm
 

WayneW

Senior Member
rocco said:
Wayne, what was the OS that you replaced?
not me.... bfisher was the OP
I need to pull open the box though and make sure that it has a slot free
Use aida32 or another memory analyzer to see what slots are full before you mess with opening the case.
 

bfisher

Active Member
I upgraded from Win2000. I rarely interface with this computer - it just sits in my automation closet and plays music when asked, and I back up laptops to it, etc. so speed isn't critical. Sometimes I might use it manually to download a new program to my HVPro or something.

I like the list of tuning suggestions. I've done many of them, but not all. Will go through the list again.

Thanks for the help everyone!
 

Mike

Senior Member
Another thing to consider: Go back to windows 2000. For that level of machine, you will get more performance from 2000 than XP, even with upgraded ram.

If you don't need to use XP, this might be a better option (and you should already ahve the license to do so). However, there might be a reason why you need XP...
 

Skibum

Senior Member
I agree with what Rupp said.... :)

The biggest bottle neck sound to me like it's age. What CPU does this machine have. If it's a slow CPU you can throw RAM and hard drives at it all day long and it will not get much faster.

Don't throw any money at that machine...
 

bfisher

Active Member
thanks for the additional feedback. At this time, you've convinced me to stick with what is in it... and when it dies (or I have a new feature that I need a good PC for), then replace it.

For now - it's fine for what it does... play music (can support 3 simultaneous music streams) and log activities occuring in my house. It's only really used a few hours a day, and very rarely is someone directly touching it (my HV Pro box controls JRiver Media Center) to get annoyed with it's performance :) I was considering upgrading it a little to get a longer life out of it... but it's not worth it.
 
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