Spinrite 6.1 critical path?

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    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.

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New member
Nov 17, 2023
I'd like to dedicate a machine to Spinrite 6.1, both to run Spinrite on a lot of dusty drives, and thereafter for occasional "as needed" use.
The question is: How fast does that machine need to be for Spinrite to run optimally?
Is the bottleneck always the speed of the drive itself, such that any PC compatible made in the last 15 years will do?
Or, is there a processor speed below which I will see Spinrite's performance degraded by the processor?
Will more onboard memory make Spinrite run faster? Maybe not, but is there a minimum before performance is degraded?

If a drive is connected via USB, will USB2 result in slower Spinrite performance than USB3? (I assume so..., but maybe the DOS environment installed with Spinrite 6.1 doesn't have drivers that run USB3 ports at USB3 speeds?)

dedicate a machine to Spinrite 6.1
Steve has an official recommendation for a newly purchased machine he uses for dev purposes ( https://www.zimaboard.com/ ). It's a SoC style machine, but it is more than powerful enough for SpinRite up to 6.1. Steve has suggested that he might want a more powerful machine (more RAM and multiple cores/threads) for SpinRite 7 to reach its full potential, but that is still likely some time off, and $200 (or less) dedicated to a machine for 6.1 will probably last you a good long time and then find other uses too. You may want to read this thread as well: https://forums.grc.com/threads/will-sr-take-advantage-of-a-faster-cpu.1355/
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connected via USB, will USB2 result in slower Spinrite performance than USB3?
SpinRite 6.1 does NOT have any USB drivers at all. That will need to wait for SpinRite 7. In the mean time, it's entirely up to the BIOS of the machine to support USB. If you have an older machine lying around, USB 2 would get you by, but I wouldn't want to purchase anything new without USB 3 support.
Thanks- this is very helpful, and I'm appalled that I didn't find that earlier thread.
For what it's worth, I run Spinrite 6 & 6.1 on a dedicated, 15 year old Dell Studio small form factor running a Core 2 Quad Q8200 with 4GB. I have extension cables to get SATA and SATA power outside to make swapping drives easy. Fast enough for me as I just start it and walk away. You don't really need much horsepower, although I guess a faster CPU will take a less time, although ultimately you're up against the SATA bus speed limit. What's important is that the mobo supports legacy BIOS as Spinrite (at least, until version 7 comes out) has to run under DOS.
As it turns out, I ended up getting a Zimaboard, which works GREAT. Booted from Spinrite USB, no problems at all.
As it turns out, I ended up getting a Zimaboard, which works GREAT. Booted from Spinrite USB, no problems at all.
Yep. I'm using the ZimaBoards exclusively for all of my first-round testing. They'll also be the test bed for SR7 since they do UEFI. Since I didn't need the pre-installed Debian Linux I have installed a full FreeDOS system onto the board's inboard NV storage. SO that frees the spare USB for USB drive testing. :)