About ReadSpeed

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GRC's hyper-accurate, mass storage
read-performance benchmark
For those who don't already know, this “ReadSpeed” benchmark utility was created as a test platform for the new “bare metal” hardware mass storage drivers that Steve has developed for SpinRite. Feedback about the successful – and especially any unsuccessful – operation of this benchmark will help to finalize this new technology and will directly feed into SpinRite's release.

“ReadSpeed” identifies and benchmarks the continuous large-block read performance of PC (and older Mac) spinning and solid-state mass storage drives – HDDs & SSDs.

With great precision, as demonstrated by the benchmark result's high degree of repeatability, it accurately measures the time required to read one gigabyte (2^30 or 1,073,741,824 bytes) consisting of two million (2^21 or 2,097,152) contiguous 512-byte sectors.

Recognizing that modern spinning drives store many more sectors around their outer cylinder perimeters than their inner cylinder perimeters, ReadSpeed takes read performance measurements at five locations on each drive: at the drive's 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% locations. Spinning drives exhibit as much as a 50% reduction in performance at the end (inner cylinders) of the drive compared with their front (outer cylinders).

During the development of this benchmark, many of us who were testing it were quite surprised to discover that our solid-state drives (SSDs) were also not performing uniformly across their storage space. In the case of SSDs, many of us found that the front of the SSD – typically where the system's operating system is located – is performing much more slowly than the SSD's other regions. Since identical newer drives exhibit uniform performance, this appears to be the result of long-term usage and the storage management associated with wear leveling. We will be investigating this much further.

Getting up to ReadSpeed

“ReadSpeed” is an old school (very old school) MS-DOS compatible application. To be run, DOS must first be booted on a computer system, then the command ReadSpeed (with optional arguments) is issued to start and run the benchmark on all the system's drives. Unless overridden by command line arguments, its output will be displayed to the screen and logged to a file named “ReadSpeed.log” so that they may be retained and shared.

The easiest way to run ReadSpeed is to run GRC's “InitReadSpeed” Windows program. InitReadSpeed will reformat any USB-connected thumb drive, then make it directly DOS bootable by installing a copy of the FreeDOS operating system and ReadSpeed (RS). After booting the system with the InitReadSpeed'd thumb drive, ReadSpeed can be run with the “RS” command.

You may download the “InitReadSpeed” Windows program here:      [to be completed]     

If you already have the ability to boot a DOS-compatible operating system, you may download the ReadSpeed DOS program and run it under DOS:      [to be completed]     

Our ReadSpeed forums

You are invited and encouraged to check out our other ReadSpeed forums (see the links in the block at the upper left). Those forums will provide community help and insight into booting to DOS, running ReadSpeed, interpreting its results, and reporting any problems you may encounter.

If ReadSpeed has problems

ReadSpeed's “bare metal” hardware driver technology has been developed for the forthcoming release of SpinRite v6.1. If you are a SpinRite owner, you can help to assure that SpinRite will run at its new screaming speed on all your systems by assuring that ReadSpeed runs properly. Since it is our intention that SpinRite will be able to run on all systems and drives, we want to know if ReadSpeed fails to find or run on any of your systems' mass storage drives.

The ReadSpeed Problems forum is here to receive, diagnose and respond to reports of any problems with ReadSpeed.

  • Published
    Sep 17, 2020
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