About ReadSpeed

  • SpinRite v6.1 Release #3
    The 3rd release of SpinRite v6.1 is published and may be obtained by all SpinRite v6.0 owners at the SpinRite v6.1 Pre-Release page. (SpinRite will shortly be officially updated to v6.1 so this page will be renamed.) The primary new feature, and the reason for this release, was the discovery of memory problems in some systems that were affecting SpinRite's operation. So SpinRite now incorporates a built-in test of the system's memory. For the full story, please see this page in the "Pre-Release Announcements & Feedback" forum.
  • Be sure to checkout “Tips & Tricks”
    Dear Guest Visitor → Once you register and log-in please checkout the “Tips & Tricks” page for some very handy tips!

  • BootAble – FreeDOS boot testing freeware

    To obtain direct, low-level access to a system's mass storage drives, SpinRite runs under a GRC-customized version of FreeDOS which has been modified to add compatibility with all file systems. In order to run SpinRite it must first be possible to boot FreeDOS.

    GRC's “BootAble” freeware allows anyone to easily create BIOS-bootable media in order to workout and confirm the details of getting a machine to boot FreeDOS through a BIOS. Once the means of doing that has been determined, the media created by SpinRite can be booted and run in the same way.

    The participants here, who have taken the time to share their knowledge and experience, their successes and some frustrations with booting their computers into FreeDOS, have created a valuable knowledgebase which will benefit everyone who follows.

    You may click on the image to the right to obtain your own copy of BootAble. Then use the knowledge and experience documented here to boot your computer(s) into FreeDOS. And please do not hesitate to ask questions – nowhere else can better answers be found.

    (You may permanently close this reminder with the 'X' in the upper right.)

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” locates IDE, SATA and eSATA drives – spinning or solid state – connected to IDE-emulating (legacy) or AHCI (modern) PCI motherboard and add-on controllers. It benchmarks each drives' continuous large-block read performance at five locations across the drive.

With extreme precision 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 much more data around their larger outer cylinder than around their smaller inner cylinder, ReadSpeed measures the performance 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). And during the development of this benchmark, many of us were quite surprised to discover that our solid-state drives (SSDs) were not performing uniformly across their storage space. 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 use 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 rs (with optional arguments) is issued to start and run the benchmark. Its output will be displayed to the screen and logged to a file.

The easiest way for Windows users to run ReadSpeed is to run GRC's “ReadSpeed” Windows program. It will reformat any USB-connected thumb drive, make it DOS bootable by installing a copy of the FreeDOS operating system and some miscellaneous DOS programs including RS.EXE -- ReadSpeed for DOS.

You should obtain “ReadSpeed” for Windows from GRC's ReadSpeed web page.

On that page, Linux users without access to Windows can download a bootable drive image which can be written to USB with Linux's 'dd' command, and anyone who already has the ability to boot and run DOS can download the “RS.EXE” DOS program from that page at GRC.

Our ReadSpeed forums

Please 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 threads, dialogs and community are here to receive and help you to diagnose and respond to reports of any problems with ReadSpeed.

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