Slow down writing to disk [resolved]

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Stoik
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Slow down writing to disk [resolved]

#1 Post by Stoik » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:49 am

Intense reading from a disk and writing to a disk can slow down the system to a crawl - very annoying.
A very common problem, I am sure that all of You are frequently annoyed by this !

Examples of heavy duty drive activity (reading and writing) that can take a while (e.g. several minutes or longer) :
- backing up a large number of files to an external hard drive,
- moving many files (e.g. videos downloaded from YouTube) from drive C to an external "videos" drive,
- unzipping a large number of files (e.g. with ExtractNow) that I downloaded from software sites (like PortableFreeware).

During this activity, my system comes to a crawl, the PC is practically "frozen".
Some common culprits are ruled out here (so it's the system itself) :
- I do not use any activity CPU priority tweakers that prioritize foreground activities, or background activities - for that matter,
- I do not use an ongoing anti-virus checker in the background (I check my files "on demand" after I uncompress them),
- I do not use an ongoing backup program (to an external hard drive), except for the normal Windows' Volume Shadow Copy - which is on
(I do want to have my System Restore function).

To alleviate this problem, I have applied a few workarounds (but with just very little relief) :
- I use Process Lasso to actually reduce the priority of some "heavy duty" programs (like ExtractNow),
- the FastCopy program allows me to slow down the copying and moving of files (this works pretty well).

But is there some solution that tackles this problem at it's source (where it is) : the reading and writing of files.
Does anyone know of a program that temporarily (e.g. on demand) slows down the reading and writing of files
in order to free up system resources for other activities (so that I can, e.g., read emails or news websites, while the "chore" is going on).

Creating such a program may not be as easy as it sounds, since slowing down disk activity will slow down my parallel browsing as well (e.g. news websites). So it would have to be a program that works a bit like Process Lasso, it should restrict the disk reading and writing that a single program can do, but leave it free for other programs. Process Lasso does a good job in controlling CPU and RAM, but not in controlling the disk reading and writing - so I end up with a low usage of CPU and RAM, but the PC is still almost frozen due to heavy disk reading and writing.

Of course, portable and freeware is what we prefer,
but out of a lack of options - any suggestion will go, including
installable software (we'll figure out some extractions) and shareware, etc.

Thanks !
Last edited by Stoik on Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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SYSTEM
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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#2 Post by SYSTEM » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:41 am

You can launch Process Hacker, right-click a process and reduce its I/O priority.
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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#3 Post by webfork » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:28 am

This is fantastic, thanks SYSTEM. I've been using Daphne for this function as described here for years, but it only controls process/affinity and not disk priority. It looks like I can set a low I/O priority and then check "save for <executable name>" and it will auto-lower it whenever Process Hacker starts.

Image

It however appear that Daphne is still useful to enable Affinity as Process Hacker doesn't have this capability.

There are at least 12 different programs running on my system that really have no business talking to the hard drive but for anything but the most basic of operations. This would be an excellent resource limiter.
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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#4 Post by h3kt0r » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:05 pm

This sounds strange to me. I regularly compress files/extract archives in the background
while watching movies or streaming videos and i don't have such a problem.
And my laptop isn't high-grade at all. I've bought it at the supermarket for 350 bucks.
From what you've told in your post, i'd say it might be a temperature problem.
Hard drives usually slow down whenever they get very hot.
Overheating is the n°1 cause for laptop failure and performance issues.
This is what i'm using to cool down my computer.
Average temperature is 31°C...

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#5 Post by Stoik » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:57 pm

Wow !!!

Lots of excellent responses and ideas in such a short time !

System,

Thanks for the excellent suggestion about I/O priority rather than CPU priority, I did not think of that.
I have the Process Hacker, but my current default "process tweaker" Process Lasso can also do this.

However, another interesting question comes up :
if I were to just do a simple copy and paste, for example I copy 50 gigabytes of movies and paste them onto an external backup drive,
which program would I need to tweak for I/O priority then (assuming, I am not using additional copy programs like Tera Copy of Fast Copy) ?

I was always wondering about which program does the basic copying and moving.
Somehow, it does not sound wise to restrict the I/O priority of "Windows Explorer" (currently "File Explorer").

h3kt0r,

Another good thought.

Somehow, it should not be like that, PCs are not like reptiles: for every 1 degree Celsius - the PC slows down by another 3 % ...
I would expect everything to function the same up to a certain temperature, and then above that threshold - shit can happen.
I had that experience with my laptop (Toshiba Satellite), it was crashing when I was playing high-resolution movies,
so I added a cooling pad - and the problem is all gone. But it was a "threshold triggers a problem" scenario.
My current temperatures average around 38 degrees Celsius, I wonder how You manage to have it at 31 degrees ?
You are not an outdoorsy Eskimo on Your veranda, are You ?

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#6 Post by Midas » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:08 pm

If you have memory to spare, my bet would be with a ramdrive. I recall some free offer that could read content from disk at system start and write its status back before shutdown -- Dataram, perhaps...

OTOH, keeping the system to bare minimums in terms of resident programs and services can do wonders for otherwise lagging systems.

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#7 Post by SYSTEM » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:53 pm

Stoik wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:57 pm
However, another interesting question comes up :
if I were to just do a simple copy and paste, for example I copy 50 gigabytes of movies and paste them onto an external backup drive,
which program would I need to tweak for I/O priority then (assuming, I am not using additional copy programs like Tera Copy of Fast Copy) ?

I was always wondering about which program does the basic copying and moving.
Somehow, it does not sound wise to restrict the I/O priority of "Windows Explorer" (currently "File Explorer").
It's indeed File Explorer that does the copying.

Of course, if you're using only few programs at the time of the copying, you can also increase their I/O priority instead of decreasing File Explorer's priority.
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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#8 Post by webfork » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:59 pm

Stoik wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:57 pm
I was always wondering about which program does the basic copying and moving.
I can't recall on which OS it appeared, but I know for sure at least on Win7 that you can run Resource Monitor (the "Disk" tab) and get some idea of what's doing all the writing. When writing and reading to magnetic disks, it's less important that one or two applications (e.g. UltraCopy or Explorer) are very active rather than 3+ programs as the bottleneck builds up. This is less of an issue on SSD drives, but there's still a performance hit.
Stoik wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:57 pm
I copy 50 gigabytes of movies and paste them onto an external backup drive
For external drives, it's ideal to use USB 3.0 tools as they handle duplex throughput, meaning programs that read the data after writing it (like Fastcopy with the "Verify" option enabled) won't consume all the resources that specific cable, eliminating another bottleneck.

The only other thing I could think of was make sure the device isn't moving even a little as modern magnetic hard drives will sense movement and pause, or "dock", themselves to avoid damaging the device in the event of an impact. This can result in a few seconds where the drive is essentially paused.
SYSTEM wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:53 pm
Of course, if you're using only few programs at the time of the copying, you can also increase their I/O priority instead of decreasing File Explorer's priority.
Good call. That could solve all your problems.
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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#9 Post by bitcoin » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:14 pm

sounds like your hardware is underpowered OP.

i bought a 4 year old Acer netbook off Ebay for about $125 - has 8 GB RAM and then i added an SSD to it and it can run with 5 open browsers, some of which have 500+ tabs, run all kinds of other programs too - PeerBlock and regular firewall also. Only thing that bogs it down is trying to convert media files to another format, then the CPU starts edging towards 100%.

if your OS drive is not an SSD you're losing a lot of valuable time.

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#10 Post by Stoik » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:33 am

bitcoin,

What does "underpowered OP" mean ?
I could not figure that out from the rest of Your comment (about Your Acer netbook etc).

The C drive on my Toshiba Satellite P875-S730 is an NTFS drive.
I purchased it with the Windows 8 OS built in. After a few tweaks to make the Windows 8 user friendly, I loved it.
I go with the brand as some sort of quality warranty, according to user reviews - at the time Toshiba Satellite was the best.
What is this thing with the SSD drives ? Are they taking over the world of laptops now ? (I have not been following that)
NTFS vs SSD - what are the pros and cons ? Why would a reputable company like Toshiba choose one over the other ?
I am not the kind of tech geek that assembles his own PC by choosing the best parts, I do not have the time or the inclination for that.
I just go out there and by the best laptop available (I like and need the portability), no matter how expensive it may be.
The only reason I am not buying a newer latop is not economical (like "save the money, your current laptop is working fine")
but the fact that I hate the general concept of Windows 10 as "the ultimate spyware" !
What do YOU think, bitcoin ?

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#11 Post by SYSTEM » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:58 am

Stoik wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:33 am
The C drive on my Toshiba Satellite P875-S730 is an NTFS drive.
I purchased it with the Windows 8 OS built in. After a few tweaks to make the Windows 8 user friendly, I loved it.
I go with the brand as some sort of quality warranty, according to user reviews - at the time Toshiba Satellite was the best.
What is this thing with the SSD drives ? Are they taking over the world of laptops now ? (I have not been following that)
NTFS vs SSD - what are the pros and cons ? Why would a reputable company like Toshiba choose one over the other ?
I am not the kind of tech geek that assembles his own PC by choosing the best parts, I do not have the time or the inclination for that.
I just go out there and by the best laptop available (I like and need the portability), no matter how expensive it may be.
The only reason I am not buying a newer latop is not economical (like "save the money, your current laptop is working fine")
but the fact that I hate the general concept of Windows 10 as "the ultimate spyware" !
What do YOU think, bitcoin ?
SSD stands for Solid State Drive. It's underlying storage technology, as opposed to traditional HDD ("Hard Disk Drive") or the very recent and even faster Optane. Compared with a traditional HDD, an SSD is much faster (especially with multiple parallel operations) and, important for laptops, shock-resistant.

NTFS is at a higher layer. It's a file system (specifically, the name stands for "New Technology File System" - although NTFS originates from 1993 and the name is no longer accurate today). An NTFS file system can be stored on a HDD, an SSD, an Optane drive or anything you desire.

Most laptops allow you to replace the hard drive, so you should be able to replace your HDD with an SSD without buying a new laptop.
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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#12 Post by bitcoin » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:31 am

Stoik wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:33 am
bitcoin,

What does "underpowered OP" mean ?
I could not figure that out from the rest of Your comment (about Your Acer netbook etc).

The C drive on my Toshiba Satellite P875-S730 is an NTFS drive.
I purchased it with the Windows 8 OS built in. After a few tweaks to make the Windows 8 user friendly, I loved it.
I go with the brand as some sort of quality warranty, according to user reviews - at the time Toshiba Satellite was the best.
What is this thing with the SSD drives ? Are they taking over the world of laptops now ? (I have not been following that)
NTFS vs SSD - what are the pros and cons ? Why would a reputable company like Toshiba choose one over the other ?
I am not the kind of tech geek that assembles his own PC by choosing the best parts, I do not have the time or the inclination for that.
I just go out there and by the best laptop available (I like and need the portability), no matter how expensive it may be.
The only reason I am not buying a newer latop is not economical (like "save the money, your current laptop is working fine")
but the fact that I hate the general concept of Windows 10 as "the ultimate spyware" !
What do YOU think, bitcoin ?
OP is you, the Original Poster or thread starter

what i was trying to say is that even a cheap used 4 year old refurb netbook computer that you can buy off of Ebay for $125 can do all of these things with no problem - transfer or copy files while doing 5 other things at the same time.

Also, an 256 GB SSD only costs about $60-$70 new these days and for the money its well worth it - buy one of those and watch your file transfer problems go away

NTFS is just a file system and yes Win10 is spyware

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#13 Post by h3kt0r » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:55 pm

Stoik wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:57 pm
My current temperatures average around 38 degrees Celsius, I wonder how You manage to have it at 31 degrees ?
You are not an outdoorsy Eskimo on Your veranda, are You ?
Hey, i'm not a liar ! Have a look by yourself :
Image

The fan is rotating at half its maximum speed. At wintertime, the computer can get temperatures as low as 27°C on average.

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#14 Post by Stoik » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:00 am

Thank You all for the excellent ideas.

I will soon change the title of this post to [resolved], but only after "the dust settles down" - since comments are still pouring in at high speed.

System's suggestion to tweak I/O priorities of programs (see above) has largely resolved my problem. With (in) Process Hacker and Process Lasso I reduced the I/O priorities of programs that do lots of writing (e.g. uncompressors, copiers and movers), and I increased the I/O priorities of programs that I do not want to "stutter" or "freeze" (e.g. file explorers - such as XYplorer, and my main web browsers).

As a long-term solution, I will look to replace the C drive (is NTFS) in my laptop with an SSD drive. I just wonder how Microsoft licenses that Windows 8 that I have. It was paid for when I purchased my laptop as part of the total price. But I wonder if it is licensed "per user" (meaning, no extra fee for the new SSD drive), or "per hard drive" - in which case I would have to pay again to have the Windows 8 registered. Besides, I do not have a backup Windows DVD at all (they stopped issuing them with new laptops some years ago), I gues I would have to use some OS imaging/backup program and transfer that image to the new SSD drive, but then the "register Windows" popup may occur on first launch. Do You guys know the status of such Windows licensing from personal experience when installing new C hard drives ?

And, finally, bitcoin's comment "your hardware is underpowered" tickled my interest. I initially understood it as electric power. I wonder if that can play a role. Namely, I have another little problem/nuisance that is unresolved, and my web searches for a solution once revealed someone mentioning "not enough electric power". My laptop has a strange problem of not wanting to start in two out of three attempts - regular rhythm as clockwork. When I press the power button on the 1st time, I get a blue screen message "error loading ... (something)". then I press the power button to turn if off, press again to turn it on the 2nd time, and get a blue screen message "error loading ... (something else this time)". I turn it off, and the 3rd attempt to turn on the PC succeeds as if nothing happened previously. The "something" in the error messages above varies all the time, although some things do seem to recur from time to time. Because of the varying nature of the error messages, I had a hack of a time doing a web search, but using the few recurring themes and this description revealed absolutely nothing, except some guy suggesting that is was an electric power problem. Well, having the laptop battery in or out (or whether it is full or low) makes no difference. Switching the power cable with my twin Toshiba Satellite laptop (same model), or using different power outlets in different buildings, made no difference either. The startup problem only occurs when I shut down the PC and do a Start via power button, it does not occur (ever) if I use the PC's Restart function (e.g. after installing some software). Eventually, I bypassed my problem by using Windows Hibernation instead of ShutDown. The PC wakes up from hibernation much faster (than from being shut down) anyways, and with hibernation plus wake-up I never have the problem that I described above (even if I unplug the PC from power while "asleep" - with the battery out, and then reattach it back to the power cable). Only once in a while I do a Windows Restart to "refresh" the system. So, I almost forgot about this problem until I saw bitcoin's words "your hardware is under-powered". I wonder if the amount of electric power in the system could play a role in my freezing problem, how could one tell that the system is under-powered (what are the symptoms) ? Sounds a bit unlikely, You would think that electric power would have to be the most consistent thing in the world for PCs. OK, I know that the PC's temperature can affect the PC's performance, but is electric power in the system something You experts ever look for (as a factor affecting the PC's performance) in those diagnostic programs like AIDA ?

Thanks, again !
Last edited by Stoik on Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Slow down writing to disk

#15 Post by SYSTEM » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:47 am

Stoik wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:00 am
As a long-term solution, I will look to replace the C drive (is NTFS) in my laptop with an SSD drive. I just wonder how Microsoft licenses that Windows 8 that I have. It was paid for when I purchased my laptop as part of the total price. But I wonder if it is licensed "per user" (meaning, no extra fee for the new SSD drive), or "per hard drive" - in which case I would have to pay again to have the Windows 8 registered.
Windows licensing is usually tied to the motherboard. Replacing the hard drive doesn't require you to buy a new Windows license.
Stoik wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:00 am
Besides, I do not have a backup Windows DVD at all (they stopped issuing them with new laptops some years ago), I gues I would have to use some OS imaging/backup program and transfer that image to the new SSD drive, but then the "register Windows" popup may occur on first launch. Do You guys know the status of such Windows licensing from personal experience when installing new C hard drives ?
Indeed, you need to use an imaging program for that. Also, you may need to first shrink your Windows partition so that it's small enough to fit to the SSD (SSDs cost more per gigabyte than HDDs and thus usually have lower capacity).

You won't get the "register Windows" prompt if you replace the hard drive without changing the whole PC. I didn't get one when I upgraded my desktop PC from a HDD to an SSD.
Stoik wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:00 am
And, finally, bitcoin's comment "your hardware is underpowered" tickled my interest. I initially understood it as electric power. I wonder if that can play a role. Namely, I have another little problem/nuisance that is unresolved, and my web searches for a solution once revealed someone mentioning "not enough electric power". My laptop has a strange problem of not wanting to start in two out of three attempts - regular rhythm as clockwork. When I press the power button on the 1st time, I get a blue screen message "error loading ... (something)". then I press the power button to turn if off, press again to turn it on the 2nd time, and get a blue screen message "error loading ... (something else this time)". I turn it off, and the 3rd attempt to turn on the PC succeeds as if nothing happened previously. The "something" in the error messages above varies all the time, although some things do seem to recur from time to time.
BSODs with varying messages are often a sign of hardware issues. I myself got some when I overclocked my RAM a bit too high. You could try to run Memtest86.
Stoik wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:00 am
Because of the varying nature of the error messages, I had a hack of a time doing a web search, but using the few recurring themes and this description revealed absolutely nothing, except some guy suggesting that is was an electric power problem. Well, having the laptop battery in or out (or whether it is full or low) makes no difference. Switching the power cable with my twin Toshiba Satellite laptop (same model) made no difference either. The startup problem only occurs when I shut down the PC and do a Start via power button, it does not occur (ever) if I use the PC's Restart function (e.g. after installing some software). Eventually, I bypassed my problem by using Windows Hibernation instead of ShutDown. The PC wakes up from hibernation much faster (than from being shut down) anyways, and with hibernation plus wake-up I never have the problem that I described above (even if I unplug the PC from power while "asleep" - with the battery out, and then reattach it back to the power cable). Only once in a while I do a Windows Restart to "refresh" the system. So, I almost forgot about this problem until I saw bitcoin's words "your hardware is under-powered". I wonder if the amount of electric power in the system could play a role in my freezing problem, how could one tell that the system is under-powered (what are the symptoms) ? Sounds a bit unlikely, You would think that electric power would have to be the most consistent thing in the world for PCs. OK, I know that the PC's temperature can affect the PC's performance, is electric power in the system something You experts aver look for (as a factor affecting the PC's performance) in those diagnostic programs like AIDA ?
No. "Lack of electric power" only causes stability issues on PCs which have been overclocked to the extent that voltage regulators can't keep up with the load. It's not something that would occur on a regular laptop.
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