How To fix slow hard drives

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 3, 2006
Updated • Jun 13, 2019
Windows, Windows tips

If you think that your IDE hard drives are slower than advertised you may want to check the transfer mode setting in the Control Panel or Device Manager to make sure it is set to the correct value.

  • Windows XP users can do so by going to Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager.
  • Windows 7 users need to click on Start > Control Panel > System and Security > System > Device Manager instead.
  • Windows 8 users need to go to the desktop, press Windows-C afterwards to open the Charms Bar, select Settings there and then Control Panel.  Then when it opens System and Security > System > Device Manager.
  • Windows 10 users may use Windows-X to load the Device Manager.

Click on IDE ATA / ATAPI Controllers and right click the primary IDE channel (and secondary IDE channel if you have hard drives connected to it too) and select properties from the menu. Select advanced settings from the tab and check the setting under current transfer mode.

If you see Pio or a low Ultra DMA mode you might want to try the following fix to increase the speed of your drive(s).

check hard drive mode

Note: You should know the maximum DMA mode value of your hard drive. Windows reduces this value after six read or write errors and will not automatically rise it again. This could mean that your hard drives are running in a lower mode than they are capable of.

Fixing slow hard drives

The first option is usually faster and you should use it if possible.

  • Open Administrative Tools in the Control Panel. The easiest way to find it is to switch to small icons and select it from the display there.  Open Computer Management from the menu.
  • On Windows 8 or 10, you may also use Windows-X to open the special menu and select Computer Management from the menu.
  • Select System Tools and then Device Manager.
  • Expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers menu.
  • Double-click the controller that you want to reset (the one showing a low DMA or PIO mode).
  • Select the driver tab.
  • Click uninstall.
  • Once the process completes, restart the PC.

Windows will re-enumerate the hard disk controller and reset the transfer mode of all connected devices to their default values.

Use the Registry option only if the method above does not work:

  • Open the Windows Registry. Use Windows-R to bring up the run box, type regedit in it and hit the enter key afterwards.
  • Navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEMCurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}
  • You find a list of subkeys, e.g. 0001, 0002 and so on. Click on them to see their values. To verify that you have located the correct subkey, verify that the DriverDesc value for the subkey contains the string value "Primary IDE Channel" or the string value "Secondary IDE Channel."
  1. Backup your registry right now:
  2. Delete MasterIdDataCheckSum and SlaveIdDataCheckSum. This resets the number of read and write errors.
  3. Create the Dword ResetErrorCountersOnSuccess and give it the value 1. The transfer mode is only lowered if you have six consecutive read or write errors, before it was cumulative (alltime).
  4. Add the value ffffffff to the following keys if they exist:
  • MasterDeviceTimingMode
  • MasterDeviceTimingModeAllowed
  • SlaveDeviceTimingMode
  • SlaveDeviceTimingModeAllowed
  • UserMasterDeviceTimingModeAllowed
  • UserSlaveDeviceTimingModeAllowed

Restart your computer and look in the device manager if you see any changes. This method works well if you have problems playing DVDs and you experience a stuttering, or if you notice that your hard drives are slower than usual.

How To fix slow hard drives
Article Name
How To fix slow hard drives
Find out what you may do to fix hard drives that operate slower than they should on devices running Microsoft's Windows operating system.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

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