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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Short stroking is the process by which the capacity of a volume is reduced in order to improve drive performance. There are benefits to short stroking any mechanical disk, regardless of whether the drives are used in any type of RAID array.

The platters in a mechanical hard drive spin at a constant speed, but the sectors located at the edge of the platter are stored in approximately the same area as those near the center. As a result, these outer sectors can be read faster (MB/s) than those near the center of the platter. This can be seen in any of the hard drive benchmarking programs, where data transfer rates taper off exponentially as the head moves towards the center of the platters. HD Tune is a popular choice for benchmarking hard drives.



By creating a small partition at the "start" (outer section) of the drive platter, you force the operating system to use only the fastest area of the drive, improving data transfer rates (for both read and write operations.)

An additional benefit of this process is that by limiting the data to a small section of the drive, the head does not need to travel as far to access data, and access times can be reduced significantly.

The effects of this can again be seen in the drive benchmarking tool, where the data transfer rates will now be more consistent across the partition, and access times will drop significantly.

(note this benchmark is on a RAID-0 pair of drives as opposed to the single drive above - meant to illustrate the more consistent drive transfer rates and subsequent higher average, and noticeable drop in access times)



There is no specific percentage of drive capacity for best result - every user should decide for themselves how much capacity is required to meet their needs. Partitions ranging from 10-25% are common, and as one would expect, slightly better results can be seen from smaller partitions.

Note: you can partition and use the remaining drive space for additional storage, but be aware that any time that storage is accessed, you will lose the performance benefits of short stroking. In practice, this works well as during most application use, the storage partition is not frequently accessed.

So, to experience the benefits of short stroking yourself, simply create a small partition next time you initialize a drive (this can also be done when building a RAID array, where you can specify the volume size) and install your operating system to this smaller partition. In almost every case, the first partition on a drive will always be located at the outer edges of the platters.

Thanks to the_beast, who has posted much of this information across multiple threads over the past few weeks. I wrote this by distilling a bunch of his posts down to a single document..

..a
 

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Nice job
 

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thank you for actually explaining what the heck Short Stroking is (aside from innuendo jokes) in the beginning in a concise manner.

I dunno how many articles I've skimmed that don't bother to point that out. totally didn't help when i was trying to figure out what it was in the first place
 

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Mostly curious about how much this would help with random access times.

If i had 2 500gb spinpoint f3's in raid0 with a 125gb partition on both how much faster would it be?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Firestorm252 View Post
thank you for actually explaining what the heck Short Stroking is (aside from innuendo jokes) in the beginning in a concise manner.

I dunno how many articles I've skimmed that don't bother to point that out. totally didn't help when i was trying to figure out what it was in the first place
as above.

seems like a great way to get extra performance...
 

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Quote:
I wrote this by distilling a bunch of his posts down to a single document..
Uh Oh, Better get the release forms ready!


Good job on the synopsis!


I hope I can keep track of it to point somebody in the right direction.
 

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I did this, vista boots a lot quicker.
 

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Is there anyway to, if I take everything but OS and games off my hdd, to move those applications to only the outer edge without reformatting/reinstalling windows?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, you can shrink your primary partition then create another with the now unallocated space. Partition Magic will do it, gparted may as well. In theory the OS (Vista or 7) will as well, but they don't allow you to move data around as well as the third-party tools.
..a
 

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Great writeup, your concise synopsis made it very easy to understand the basis/fundamentals of short-stroking. +rep

I've always put my OS/programs on their own smaller partition for the purpose of performing fresh OS installs without affecting my storage. Apparently I've been short-stroking my HDDs for a while now without knowing it. Great to know.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by eflyguy View Post
Yes, you can shrink your primary partition then create another with the now unallocated space. Partition Magic will do it, gparted may as well. In theory the OS (Vista or 7) will as well, but they don't allow you to move data around as well as the third-party tools.
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So if I shrink that partition, it will move everything to the outer edge using one of those tools?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
As long as it is the first partition, yes - the "start" of the drive is the outer portion of the platter(s).

Honestly, the access time benefits would still apply if you used the "end" (inner) portion, but you'd need more physical distance to get the same capacity, so the partition would be physically wider and therefore have longer access times..
..a
 

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Yes, GParted is a very fine tool to do this. I first learnt how to use it when creating a double boot system on my netbook for a XP/Ubuntu system.

Anyway, just a quick addition to what eflyguy has said. The reason that the outer parts of the HDDs are read quicker is because they have a higher tangential velocity. v = w*r, so the further the partition is on the disk (towards the outer edges) the faster it will be (just the quick "science" behind it for those who have not gotten there in school yet)

Just a quick question though, in a RAID 0 array, the "apparent" beginning of a partition displayed with, for example, GParted, is going to be the outer edges of BOTH (or whatever amount) the HDDs? No need to worry of it being located on multiple discs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yup - just "staggered" by stripe size - i.e. the first (stripe size) of data is on the first track on disk 0, the second (stripe size) of data on the first track of disk 1, then back again (for a 2-disk RAID-0 array)..
..a
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by eflyguy View Post
As long as it is the first partition, yes - the "start" of the drive is the outer portion of the platter(s).

Honestly, the access time benefits would still apply if you used the "end" (inner) portion, but you'd need more physical distance to get the same capacity, so the partition would be physically wider and therefore have longer access times..
..a
Thanks for the info, I got to try that

+rep
 
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