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  1. #1
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    Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    I've got A Dell Optiplex GX620 (all updates from Dell installed that I could find) with XP Pro SP3 (all updates applied), and am having a problem with severely slow write speeds on a couple of Western Digital SATA drives.

    After suspecting that something was quite wrong with the write speeds of these two drives, I used a program called DiskTT to test the write speeds.

    The boot drive in the computer, a Western Digital WD800JD (80 GB), has a sequential write speed of 42 MB/sec and a sequential read speed of 45 MB/sec.

    A Maxtor 7H500F0 500 GB drive installed in the PC has a sequential write speed of 62 MB/sec and sequential read speed of 60 MB/sec

    Now enter the two other WD drives, a WD5000AAKS (500 GB) and WD3200AAKS (320 GB). Both of these drives have a sequential write speed of 1.2 MB/sec (yes that is correct), and a sequential read speed of about 40 MB/sec. It takes forever to write anything to these drives.

    I have moved the drives to different SATA ports, taken all drives out but the boot drive and one of the the AAKS drives, swapped SATA cables, but the write speeds for the drives do not improve. I've gone through the Dell BIOS, but haven't seen any settings that would affect this.

    Finally, I put the two AAKS WD drives in an external enclosure that has both eSATA and USB connections. When connecting via eSATA, the drive write speeds are still dreadful. When connecting via USB, the write speed jumps to 20 MB/sec, and the read speed drops to 20 MB/sec.

    So, it seems that since the drive write speed jumps up when using the drives with an external USB enclosure, that there is some driver or incompatibility issue between the WD AAKS family drives and XP/GX620/Intel Express 945 chipset. I booted up XP in safe mode, but the problem was not solved.

    WD tech support told me to run their drive diagnostic program, which shows no issues with the drives. Beyond that, they were of no help. WD has no firmware updates for these drives.

    Has anybody seen anything like this? I'm not sure what else to try, other than replacing these with Maxtors, since the one Maxtor I have seems to work without issue in the PC.

    Thanks!


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  2. #2
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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    What are the drives formatted as? I thought I read fat32 is slow on large drives.

    I have a GX620 at work (which I'm using right now) but I don't have a hard drive over 80 Gig to test out.


    Last edited by pulse; 11-30-2009 at 12:09 PM.

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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Quote Originally Posted by pulse View Post
    What are the drives formatted as? I thought I read fat32 is slow on large drives.

    I have a GX620 at work (which I'm using right now) but I don't have a hard drive over 80 Gig to test out.
    The drives are formatted as NTFS. The Maxtor 500 GB works fine, so it doesn't seem that the 500 GB size should be an issue.


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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Found this in a review:

    As other's mention, on motherboards which only support SATA/150Mbps (and not SATAII/300 which this drive supports), you will need to jumper pins 5 and 6 - See 'Opt1' configuration at the bottom of this page on the WD website.

    Might be worth checking on this.



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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Quote Originally Posted by kansascy View Post
    Found this in a review:

    As other's mention, on motherboards which only support SATA/150Mbps (and not SATAII/300 which this drive supports), you will need to jumper pins 5 and 6 - See 'Opt1' configuration at the bottom of this page on the WD website.

    Might be worth checking on this.
    The motherboard does support SATA II, but I did try the pin 5-6 jumper anyway just to see if it would help. Unfortunately, there was no change, except that the BIOS identified the drive as SATA 1.5 instead of SATA 3.0


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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Do the drives work ok on another machine?


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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Quote Originally Posted by TykeClone View Post
    Do the drives work ok on another machine?
    I don't know yet. I don't have any other SATA PCs at home. I'll try on my Dell Optiplex 755 at work tomorrow.


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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Are there any events in the system event viewer that might be associated with the drives?



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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Quote Originally Posted by jbhtexas View Post
    I don't know yet. I don't have any other SATA PCs at home. I'll try on my Dell Optiplex 755 at work tomorrow.
    If you have bad results with another computer I would try to 0 fill the hards drives, to see if that might get some better performance out of them.

    Also it might be worth it to try a computer that has vista in it to see if it is a XP problem.



  10. #10
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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    I stopped by Fry's last night and picked up a cheap Samsung 500 GB SATA drive and installed it in the GX620. Same problem...dreadfully slow write speed. So, that left me with a working 80 GB WD (boot drive), a working 500 GB Maxtor, a super-slow write 500 GB WD, a a super-slow write 320 GB WD, and a a super-slow write 500 GB Samsung.

    Next, I enabled all 4 SATA ports on the GX620, and hooked up the three "slow" drives (along with the boot drive of course). Still no success. I occasionally use a little utility called HotSwap to facilitate hot swapping. I shut down the 320 GB WD and the 500 GB Samsung with HotSwap, switched their SATA connectors, restarted the 500 GB Samsung, and scanned for new hardware. XP reported that new hardware - a 500 GB WD - was added and ready for use. Not correct!! I rescanned for new hardware again, and this time XP correctly identified that the Samsung was attached. I ran the write test, and the Samsung was working perfectly! Next I restarted the 320 GB WD, and rescanned for new hardware. It was correctly recognized, and the write test worked fine as well!

    I tried similar procedures with the 500 GB WD, but unfortunately, could not overcome the write speed issue.

    I brought all three drives to work today and connected them up, one at a time, to my Optiplex 755. The 500 GB Samsung and the 320 GB WD are working fine. However, the 500 GB WD still has the dreadfully slow write speed on the Optiplex 755 as well.

    So, I really don't know what is going on. I just don't know enough about the SATA protocol.

    Just some thoughts...

    Do the drive and the SATA controller/XP negotiate a transfer speed? It almost seems that way.

    Does the SATA controller somehow write something to the drive that causes it to only transfer at certain speeds?

    I don't have access to any Vista PCs to which I can connect the drives. All my PCs at home are XP, and we are skipping Vista at work, but don't have any Windows 7 machines yet.

    There are some occasional errors in the event log...controller error when writing to HardDisk1. I'm not sure which one is considered to be hard disk 1. There are also a bunch of SideBySide errors, which I don't know how to fix. This is very interesting, because on the WD 500 GB drive with the poor write speed, there is a Windows folder, that has a lone winsxs sub folder, with what looks to be some SideBySide items. This drive is a data drive, so I'm not sure how this got on there. I don't hook these drives to my laptop, but the event log in my laptop also has a bunch of SideBySide errors.


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  11. #11
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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Very odd. You could check out the chipset and SATA updates from Intel, since they are more up to date on Intel's site than Dell's support site.



  12. #12
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    Re: Computer issue: Dell+XP+WD SATA = Poor write performance

    Quote Originally Posted by pulse View Post
    Very odd. You could check out the chipset and SATA updates from Intel, since they are more up to date on Intel's site than Dell's support site.
    I did go to Intel's site and downloaded an update for the chipset. The latest updates are listed as being for developers/advanced users. The readme file indicated that there would need to be some configuring done, so I didn't proceed. I will have to investigate that more to be sure that I can configure everything I need to.


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