How to speed up a slow external hard drive

The external hard drive is an interesting complement for all types of users. Both for those who need to move a large amount of data between devices for any reason and for those who want to make backup copies of their data. However, in all these cases we are talking about processes that need time to execute that copy of files. And when the external hard drive loses speed, the problems start. So let’s see what we can do to make our slow external hard drive work as it should.

Find external hard drive errors

The first step we must take is to check the hard drive, since the drive could have errors in its file allocation system that cause this slowness. To do this, we can use the Windows error checking tool or use one of the many applications on the market.

We may need to restart your computer if errors are found and cannot be fixed. In this case, once we restart the computer, it will automatically start the disk repair application before starting the operating system and it will take care of repairing those errors, which can serve to speed up performance.

Defrag external hard drive

All hard drives, both internal and external, have a file system made up of small units in which they store files. We can see it as a great library, in which each file is a publication that consists of a certain number of volumes, depending on its size.

The problem is that this “library” is not always well organized, but the new “books” are placed where there is free space and not always next to each other. Something that causes us to have to waste more time looking for the next volume. Well, this is exactly what happens to our external hard drive, especially if we use it frequently and with files of different sizes. This is what is technically called fragmentation and it can slow down the operation of the disk.

Luckily, all operating systems include a “librarian”, who is responsible for placing each volume in its place and one after the other, thus speeding up the process of accessing files. We are talking about the disk defragmenter that, after executing a disk analysis, proceeds to organize the indexes of those files and their location, in order to achieve the greatest efficiency.

It is a slow process but the truth is that it is worth it, as a first solution to speed up the external hard drive. Of course, we always talk about traditional hard drives, platter and reading arm, because SSD hard drives should never be defragmented.

Connectivity Matters Too

Although these solutions that we have discussed are of an internal nature, there are also solutions that we can execute from outside. One of them is to check the USB connectivity cable, since a cable in poor condition can be the cause of these problems, as well as the loss of data in the process of using the hard drive. So it doesn’t hurt to try the external hard drive with another USB cable different from the one we use and that should have the quality corresponding to the port to which we connect it. That is, if we use USB 3.0 ports, it will be essential to use this type of cable so as not to lose transfer speed during the use of the disk.

However, not everything is a matter of cable, but it can also affect the port to which we connect the disk. Something to which the same thing that we have just commented on regarding the USB standard to be used applies. But there are also times when one of the USB ports starts to fail or perform less than it should, so it doesn’t hurt to connect the hard drive to some other port with the same cable and see if this solves the problem.

The more full, the slower

External hard drives, just like internal ones, have a bad habit of losing performance as they fill up. Fortunately, this process is not sequential but exponential, so the performance loss is not noticeable until the disk reaches approximately 90% capacity.

And it is that to organize the files in that “library” that we talked about before, you also need to have some free space to find a place for the last items to arrive. Something important in the usual conventional external hard drives, but key in SSD hard drives.

So, if your disk is more full of this level of security, it will be necessary for us to delete some of its content. A good solution is to use the Windows space cleanup, which takes care of seeing what unnecessary files are present on that drive and can be safely deleted. If this remedy does not release all the space that it should, we will have to do the process manually, deleting those files that we do not use, the backup copies that have become old or any other content that we no longer use.

Looking for unwanted visitors

As the last piece of advice that we can offer you if all of the above fails, it would be convenient to check if the external hard drive has viruses or other elements that could harm its content. To do this, we only need our favorite antivirus, and it is also advisable to use an antimalware application that thoroughly checks the hard drive in search of this type of unwanted element.

If your external hard drive is clear of these visitors, it’s time to consider reformatting the product or even disposing of the drive. And it is that a hard disk that starts to go slow for no reason is a sign of a possible failure, which can end up causing the loss of the data that we have inside it if, finally, it produces a fatal failure.

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