Usually, you check the specifications before you buy a new hard disk or a USB disk. But often these specifications are written in a technically clever way. These specifications often do not match the real hard disk performance when you use it in your system. But you can use a third party benchmarking tool to find out the actual realtime hard disk data transfer speeds and performance. HD Speed is such a benchmarking tool which you can use to determine hard disk speeds.
HD Speed is a free Windows application that can be used to determine the hard disk, optical disk or USB disk read and write speeds. It can find both the sustained and burst data transfer rates for your disks. It features a real-time graphical display that indicates the read and write performance. It supports various modes of testing the data transfer rates like read, write, read + write, read + write + verify etc.
You can download HD Speed from the Steelbytes website. It is available as a standalone portable application, so it does not require any installation. It supports all the versions of Windows starting from the antique Windows NT4 to latest Windows 7. You can extract the contents from the zip archive to a local folder and double-click on HD_Speed.exe to run it. In the start, it would show only removable disk drives in the list. If you want to perform the tests on a local hard disk, then you have to run it with elevated privileges (right-click on it and choose Run as administrator).
Using HD Speed is very simple. Just select the target disk from the drop-down listbox. If your hard disks do not appear in the list, then click on the elevation icon (yellow-blue colored armor icon) next to it and HD Speed would start with elevated privileges. You can choose to either test the sustained data transfer rate or burst mode data transfer rate. To test data rate in the burst mode, check the checkbox labeled Test burst rate. You can select the block size to test but it is better to keep it at Auto. You can also choose various test modes like : read, write, read + write, read + write + verify etc. from the drop down list at the bottom-left. When you are ready, click on the Start button to begin the test.
It is a good idea not to use your computer while the test is being performed (especially do not use the target disk). The test would take many minutes to complete depending on the size of your disk. The real time test data is shown in a nice graphical display. The red line shows the current data transfer rate and the pink link shows the average data transfer rate. You can compare the speeds of two device by testing them one after another and noticing the change in the graph.
Conclusion: HD Speed is a free, lightweight and portable application that can be used to benchmark your disks, including hard disks, optical disks, USB disks and more. You can also compare the speeds (data transfer rate) of two or more disks using this simple application.
You can download SpeedFan from http://www.steelbytes.com/?mid=20.