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Windows 7: External HD slow and inconsitent to list files, normal or needsetting?

20 Oct 2014   #1

win7 64 bit
External HD slow and inconsitent to list files, normal or needsetting?

My Alienware M11x R2 hotrod has a new SSD. So I put my vast library of photos and CAD drawings on an external WD My Passport Ultra HD, 2.5" portable. Keeping it plugged in to the USB, I am expecting it to run like a hard drive where I can just go to it and open files.

The thing is cantankerous. It will often slow the computer and sometimes crash it. I formatted the little drive, and that seemed to somewhat reduce the crashing.

Almost every time, but not always, it will take a very long time to list the files in Windows Explorer. This will often crash Explorer, then eventually the computer.

Often frustrated as Explorer takes its time to list the files in a folder, I will just yank out the USB cord. When I plug it back it the drive seems to run at normal speed.

I talked to WD, I did install a new driver, which seemed to slightly improve the situation. But the situation does still remain.

So, is this normal behavior of a little external HD and I am overestimating the performance of this setup? Or is there a setting or configuration I have overlooked which I need to implement? Or?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2014   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Hello Interestor!

Which OS are you using? How old is the WD external My Passport? Has it done something like that before?
The problem you have could be caused by a few things. But before we start troubleshooting, make sure you have a copy of the information from the external drive on another device/PC/Cloud etc., just in case.
First option is that one or some of the files you transferred to the WD My Passport is/are corrupted (this could happen through the copying process, it's not necessary that the original file is also corrupted).
Another option is a bad connection. Try the drive with a different USB cable on a different USB 3.0 port for maximum speed.
Update your USB drivers if you haven't done so yet. See if the WD My Passport needs firmware update.
You could also check it's health, to see if the issue isn't in the HDD itself. You could use the WD Data Lifeguard software:
WD Support / Downloads / Other Products / Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows

I hope some of these steps have helped you clear the issue!
Best of luck and cheers!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2014   #3

win7 64 bit

Thanks CK_WD. Yes, I use Windows 7, the My Passport is a relatively new product, I have had it a couple of months, and it has always done something like that.

I used the drive right out of the box and it was slow to list files, so I formatted it. Since it remained slow after that, it seems unlikely caused by a corrupt file.

I do use various ports with no difference. They are USB 2.

All drivers are the newest since I installed a new SSD.

I just installed a new WD driver, though that seems unnecessary.

I am wary of installing excess software, though I could try this WD diagnostic program.

It is occurring to me that this is the nature of the beast and I have overestimated the performance of an external HDD. Though it does seem like Windows could "remember" the list of files in a folder rather than recalculate that every time.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

21 Oct 2014   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Hi again!

In my opinion this is not normal for an external hard drive. Sometimes there are also cases in which external storage devices or other peripherals have slow performance due to slow OS needing reinstal or clean up, a virus, a BIOS update that's needed or just faulty USB cable. For best performance nowadays such devices should be plugged in a USB 3.0 port.

As a last resort that comes to mind, you could try and enable the "write caching" to speed up the drive's performance. This is a process that first places the files you want to copy into a cache in the fast memory of RAM and then sends them to the slower-reading flash memory of the USB device. It enables the file dialogs to close up sooner. The actual copying takes just as long but it occurs in the background. Here's how to do it but keep in mind that if you do it, you should always Safely Remove Hardware before you disconnect the WD My Passport or you could suffer data loss:
1. Right click “Properties” on My Computer
2. Click “Device Manager” in the left pane
3. Double-click “Disk Drives”
4. Right-click the entry for the particular USB drive
5. Select “Properties”
6. Click the “Policies” tab
7. Select “Better Performance”
8. Click “OK” and close Device Manager

If you're worried about the WD Diagnostic software, it's official and the link I've put in my previous post is from WD's official website. This program can be used on any hard drive, not only WD ones. You're not obliged to use it, of course, it's just a recommendation.

I suppose if the WD DLG software doesn't show you much information to work with and the Performance upgrade doesn't work, you could try the external drive on another computer to see if the issue persists there also. In the case that it does you could either contact WD customer service for further troubleshooting (now that we've eliminated certain options), or you could RMA it. Since your WD My Passport is just a couple months old, it should undoubtedly still be in warranty.

This is how to RMA it:
WD Support / Warranty Services / End User / Product Replacement for End Users

Cheers and best of luck!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2014   #5

win7 64 bit

Thank you. Well I do use another little portable HDD where I put movies and programs. It has fewer files but performs similarly. When I find a folder with numerous files, it will take a long time to show a thumbnail for each file. Again I am surprised Windows doesn't' just "remember" these thumbnails.

And I do know that it always takes 2 seconds for the external drive to awake when called.

I have spoken with WD. Ineffective.

The "better performance" option sounds remarkably risky for such an innocuous term. Now what about "indexing"? I see options for this but it has never been clear to me how it should be set. Are those options affecting my performance? Sounds like maybe.

Copying files is not the problem, it is listing them in Explorer. Here is a common scenario: I want to make a small .jpg, to send in an email, of a normal big photo. I go to Explorer, it will list the little drive's top folders quickly, second level of folders comes quick, next level a bit slower, then to list individual files in there can take minutes, then if I want thumbnails it is another several minutes, I choose a file and it pops open quickly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Oct 2014   #6

win7 64 bit

CK, you mentioned errors when copying; how often does this happen?

Also, what about Indexing?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Oct 2014   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Hi again,
I'm sorry for the delay to answer!
First of mentioning, if your other hard drive performs similarly as the WD My Passport then it makes me think that the issue is most probably in your OS/PC.
Secondly, about indexing, simply put, that is the method through which Windows Explorer constructs an efficient search catalog. The search indexing service scans through the files and folders on the Windows system and records information about them in an index file. By default this is enabled. Sometimes by disabling it, searches and icon appearance may happen faster. This link may help more to clarify:
Indexing Service (Windows)
If you want to disable Indexing this is how to do it:
1. Go to Start
2. Run
3. Type services.msc
4. Disable and Stop Windows Search
5. Ensure that the Startup type is set to disabled to prevent Windows from starting it again automatically.

About the copying, sometimes when copying large files at once, they could get damaged along the way or they might not end up exactly the same. Sometimes on byte-to-byte level there could be differences, sometimes these differences end up in corrupted file. Also, the issue could occur if the file system on the drive you're copying to is damaged, or it has bad sectors on which the system is writing on. Many people prefer using specifically designed copying programs which use different copying mechanisms from Windows. But most such problems occur when copying to an external storage device as it is USB powered.

Good luck!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Oct 2014   #8
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

CKWD I'm not understanding.

How does disabling Indexing speed up a search?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Oct 2014   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Hi Layback Bear!

Well, turning off Indexing on the hard drives or at all is a very simple way to boost the PC's performance, not just the Search.
Basically, it has to do with the way the process happens. It also depends on the CPU, if it's powerful enough like i5 or i7, indexing can be kept on as disabling it wouldn't make that much of difference. Of course, it's enabled by default so disabling it is optional to every person.
Windows indexes files on the hard drive and stores them in memory to speed up its' built-in search. But if you rarely use Windows search, turning off indexing to free up memory and CPU power would increase the PC's performance.
The example I've given is to retain the search functionality, but not to use indexing for better overall performance, meaning – completely disabling it. Since we've continued with examples, here are other ways to disable indexing under different circumstances:
1. Type in Start "Indexing"
2. In Indexing options under Modify you could choose which one to be or not indexed.
Or for a hard drive:
1. Right-click on Properties on your Disk C:
2. Under General unmark "Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties" for Windows 7 and 8
3. It would take some time before all indexing changes are applied

I hope I've made things clearer.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 External HD slow and inconsitent to list files, normal or needsetting?

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