Optimizing hard drive for use with WDTV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 04-12-2009, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,
What tips do you have for optimizing your external hard drives for use with the WDTV?

I'm using a 1TB Cavalry drive (formatted NTFS), and the load times are too slow. When I originally formatted it I just used the default (Windows-recommended) settings.

I don't plan on using the drive for anything else except for movie and thumbnail storage for the WDTV (I don't use it for music, either).

Would a different formatting method produce faster recognition and load times?

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 35 Old 04-12-2009, 09:32 PM
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I don't think there is much you can 'optimize', except defragmenting the drive now and then. NTFS is fine, other supported file systems won't be faster.
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post #3 of 35 Old 04-12-2009, 10:54 PM
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you should get a 1TB HDD with low seek-times

larger HDDs nowadays come with fewer platters with greater areal density, which is great for file transfer speeds but is slower in terms of seek-times.

i would recommend the 3.5" 7200.11 Seagate 1TB (not the 7200.12, and make sure the 7200.11 is the latest revision that isn't the batch that has a high failure rate), or the 1TB WD Caviar Black
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post #4 of 35 Old 04-13-2009, 02:02 AM
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Hi,
I'm also using a 1TB drive, NTFS formatted with default Windows settings. That means a 4kB cluster size.

Some people (*) here have claimed that formatting with 8kB cluster size gives faster results with the WDTV + 1TB disks, but I have not seen any hard evidence (measurements) from those posters to substantiate that claim. Although it's true that larger cluster size theoretically can provide faster read/write speeds if working with large files.

If you do in fact only store movie files + thumbs, you could try a larger block size, like 8kB or even 16 or 32 kB, and then run some tests.

I googled this topic, and found e.g. this discussion: http://club.cdfreaks.com/f34/formatt...n-size-266774/

BTW, what operations exactly do you find slow now, and how long do they take?

(*) EDIT : e.g. see this post: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...postcount=5024

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post #5 of 35 Old 04-13-2009, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swashbuckle View Post

you should get a 1TB HDD with low seek-times

larger HDDs nowadays come with fewer platters with greater areal density, which is great for file transfer speeds but is slower in terms of seek-times.

i would recommend the 3.5" 7200.11 Seagate 1TB (not the 7200.12, and make sure the 7200.11 is the latest revision that isn't the batch that has a high failure rate), or the 1TB WD Caviar Black

Why not the 7200.12?
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post #6 of 35 Old 04-13-2009, 07:04 AM
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[quote=Fallguy;16253943]Hi all,
What tips do you have for optimizing your external hard drives for use with the WDTV?

I'm using a 1TB Cavalry drive (formatted NTFS), and the load times are too slow. When I originally formatted it I just used the default (Windows-recommended) settings.



I have the same drive, it is indeed very slow to load any movie (ISO or AVI), usually take 20-40 seconds, except the very first movie after power off/on. These movies used to load very quick before the first pre-release. They also load quickly on my 320gb drive (WD) on the current 03 release.

If no other 1TB drives has the same problem, or it persist after formal FW release, I may have to replace it.
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post #7 of 35 Old 04-13-2009, 07:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred_be9300 View Post

Hi,
I'm also using a 1TB drive, NTFS formatted with default Windows settings. That means a 4kB cluster size.

Some people (*) here have claimed that formatting with 8kB cluster size gives faster results with the WDTV + 1TB disks, but I have not seen any hard evidence (measurements) from those posters to substantiate that claim. Although it's true that larger cluster size theoretically can provide faster read/write speeds if working with large files.

If you do in fact only store movie files + thumbs, you could try a larger block size, like 8kB or even 16 or 32 kB, and then run some tests.

I googled this topic, and found e.g. this discussion:

BTW, what operations exactly do you find slow now, and how long do they take?

(*) EDIT: e.g. see this post:

Thanks for the responses. My HD usually takes about 1.5 minutes to be recognized, than another 1-2 minutes to scan. Not terrible, but still too slow for me. BTW, drive is new and will be regularly defragged.

That's interesting about the cluster size. I'll do some experimenting tonight and see if there is a noticeable difference.
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post #8 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 03:28 AM
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I'm starting to wonder about this more and more...

Here's another user (Rob100) claiming the benefit of larger cluster sizes + WDTV:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...1&postcount=90

However, that was in combination with non-official firmware, so not sure if that's 100% representative.

Also, I suspect that fragmentation can easily interfere also with testing... If you have a full, possibly fragmented drive, and then reformat with larger cluster size, any witnessed speedup may come from the fact that the drive is now defragmented. That's one reason to keep doubts on this anecdotal "evidence" (with all due respect )

I'm away from home, and also my 1TB drive is half full already, so I can't test it anyway... I don't have any place to backup the data to reformat the 1TB

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post #9 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 04:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanylapep View Post

Why not the 7200.12?

it has slower seek times than the 7200.11 1TB
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post #10 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 04:59 AM
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Hi,

I also had severe problems with long seeking times with a WD My Book 1 TB (home edition). With seeking i don't mean the indexing process for the media library, or the drive's random access read time, which is usually in the region of 8-15ms [this will barely be important for use with the WDTV, except for heavily fragmented data]. I'm talking about the time period between plugging in the drive (flashing usb-icon on WDTV) and the first time you can access it via browsing the folders.

My experiences:
- no probs with fat32 (concerning seek time)
- converting fat32 to ntfs with 'convert.exe' from console resulted in very long seeking times - in the region of an hour with 100-150 GB data on the drive
- reformating to ntfs in explorer with default settings (4k cluster size) resulted in short seeking times, but only with few data on the drive (seconds for maybe 5GB of testmedia); With larger amounts of data seeking time increased, to maybe 2-5 minutes with 100-150 GB data
- reformating to ntfs on the console with 8k cluster size helped a lot, in my case (thanks for the tip in this forum) - now seeking takes 5-10 seconds, until i can access the drive with about 150 GB of files stored on it.
Loading of files (time period between pressing 'play' and start of playback) hasn't been an issue, in none of the setups (a few seconds, though). Could be annoying watching splitted videofiles - in this case, don't blame the wdtv/drive, join your files instead.

I didn't make accurate measurements or extensive field tests, these are just roughly estimated numbers. But, now, i'm happy with the drive/wdtv (regarding the seeking problem) - and i really haven't been before. I know, testing this may be quite an issue, if you don't have enough storage capacity to backup your data...
I tried out all three firmware releases (official, b-rad's, zorander's), the last setup described (8k cluster size) was tested with zorander's ext3-boot fw. But i don't think this makes a difference here.

So - from my side - thumbs up for the 'cluster size trick'. Hope the results are repeatable for other users trying it!

Greets,
Ben
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post #11 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 05:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred_be9300 View Post

Here's another user (Rob100) claiming the benefit of larger cluster sizes + WDTV:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...1&postcount=90

I did some more tests after posting that last night and it makes a big difference.

Best performance (*) was with EXT2, but you need to run modded firmware to support this and also you cannot hot plug/unplug the drive so I've gone back to NTFS.

* I can't put a figure on this, but the OSD came up quicker and the video file started playing much quicker.

I did reformat to NTFS using 8k clusters and my BD rip of TDK seemed to play fine, but I **think** 64k seemed quicker to start etc.

If I get time I will experiment more this evening and will happily flash to official FW to prove the point...
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post #12 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 06:34 AM
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hi,

I'm glad to read about your various experiences. It's useful for a lot of us, as 1TB drives will become more in use.

I searched back on the forum, to find other posters with this experience... I guess it's important to define the precise interactions that occur, and how long they take.

E.g. this poster (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...e#post16217792) saw an improved "recognition time" when reformatting with 8kb clusters.

So let's say this:

* FIRST SCAN: disk has no .wd_tv folder yet, and WDTV was rebooted before the test

- recognition time: from plugging in (on screen message = "no storage detected") to the point that WDTV usb icon blinks and on screen message = "scanning attached device")
- scanning time: from the message "scanning ..." until message disappears AND content available in the video "folder" view and video "all" view.

* UPDATE SCAN: unplug disk after first test. Wait 30 seconds. Plug disk back in.

- recognition time & scanning time: same as above


Anything else we could define more precisely?

btw, all these timings will be massively influenced also by
- number of total files and subfolders on disk
- number of video / image / music files on disk
- number of thumbnail images for video / music on disk
- whether or not media library is on
- the format type (NTFS, FAT, HFS, etc) & cluster size
- firmware version

See, measurements are never easy ;-)

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post #13 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred_be9300 View Post

I'm glad to read about your various experiences. It's useful for a lot of us, as 1TB drives will become more in use.

It's not only 1TB drives, the cluster size makes a difference to the transfer (read) rate even on my 120GB drive.

I'll telnet into my WD TV (later tonight) and do a speed test with cluster size as 4k, 8k and 64k and let you all know...
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post #14 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 02:25 PM
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Okay, here are the tests. Clean format in all cases and only 1 file (approx 1GB). Also re-booted WDTV between each test.

120GB HDD:

4k NTFS = 31 Mbps
8k NTFS = 47 Mbps
64k NTFS = 41 Mbps

NFS share = 35 Mbps

FAT32 USB flash drive = 43Mbps

To be conclusive I'd want to perform each test several times and average out. Strange thing is that the sample file which had problems yesterday now plays okay on the 4k clusters, but the difference here is that there isn't already 100GB of other files on the drive. And yes the drive was also freshly formatted yesterday.

I'd also like to monitor CPU usage (load) when playing this file from the drive as I think this is part of the problem with the 4k clusters. I did start messing with 'top', but this was taking forever to perform all these tests and I need to get on with some other things!

Things I know for sure are that I have problems with a "fully" loaded drive using 4k clusters and it's fine with 64k clusters. I'm going to format with 8k clusters, load up and report back later...
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post #15 of 35 Old 04-14-2009, 06:05 PM
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Loaded up my drive (3GB spare) with 8k clusters and it's much (considerably) better than with 4k clusters, but still can take several (typically 3 or 4, but once took 20) seconds for the video to appear after the audio has started.

I'm going to try again with 64k clusters, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.
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post #16 of 35 Old 04-15-2009, 12:29 AM
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hi Rob,

thanks for sharing this interesting stuff :-)

can you clarify what test you did to determine the Mbps? (e.g. 8k NTFS = 47 Mbps).

Is that a local read test under custom FW? like "time cat file > /dev/null" ?

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post #17 of 35 Old 04-15-2009, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred_be9300 View Post

can you clarify what test you did to determine the Mbps? (e.g. 8k NTFS = 47 Mbps).

Is that a local read test under custom FW? like "time cat file > /dev/null" ?

Yes you've got it in one, not sure how accurate that is, but all I can say for sure is that we're on to something here!
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post #18 of 35 Old 04-15-2009, 03:18 PM
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Okay more info...

Tonight I took my all but 3gb full 8k cluster formatted drive and tested playback again and as last night video was slow to show and OSD overlay (the time/progress bar) showed up a second or two after that.

Before formatting with 64k clusters I removed 1 movie (approx 20gb) thus making the drive approx 80% full. This made a big difference to performance, no delayed video and OSD overlay was showing before the video started!

So I then formatted to 64k clusters and loaded the drive all the way up so there was just over 200MB (so full I couldn't turn the media library on) of free space and guess what... Everything worked great, no delays of either video or OSD. I then deleted approx 2GB so I could enable the media library and everything still worked fine.

Conclusion use 64k clusters
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post #19 of 35 Old 04-18-2009, 05:51 PM
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As background, I'm using a WD-TV with a Seagate 1.5TB USB drive. I'm using the drive to store my own BD's that I ripped to m2ts files (using TSMuxer and TSRemux). The HDD has approx. 40 video files and perhaps a couple hundred small files (Seagate utilities, WDTV added files, and a few jpeps). My PC is a quad-core HP media center PC running Windows Vista (32-bit). I found that I was getting frequent pauses in the video/audio on many of the videos when played via my WDTV. The cause appeared to be fragmented files. So over the past few days I tested a number of alternative defrag programs and have concluded:

Most of the defrag programs are worthless in dealing with large video files (10GB to 30G B). This is because many such programs only attempt to defrag individual files and do not really defrag and organize the overall disk contents. Such defrag programs appear to simply identify files that are fragmented then attempt to find a large enough block of contiguous unused space on the HDD to relocated the defragged file to. However, most of these program do not attempt, or at least are totally ineffective at consolidating the unused HDD space in order to accomodate the relocation of large files. I tested defragging my 1.5TB drive which still had about 500GB of available capacity. When I started I looked at a map of the disk usage I found the unused 500GB was scattered thoughout the drive with not a single contigious block of unused space more than a very few GB (well under 10GB) and this was after I had already run the defrag built into Windows Vista. Also it appears that the vast majority the video files already on the drive were fragmented. I then tried the following defrag programs and checked the results. All are the latest version and the trial versions are supposed to be full featured, but will stop working after the trial period unless you pay to register.
Diskeeper (trial version) - did little to improve the fragmented video files and did not consolidate the unused disk space into large contiguous block(s). Has lots of features but overall poor results

Auslogics Disk Defrag (freeware) - did little to improve the fragmented video files and did not consolidate the unused disk space into large contiguous block(s). Has good user interface and features but overall poor results.

Smart Defrag (freeware) - did little to improve the fragmented video files and did not consolidate the unused disk space into large contiguous block(s). Has good user interface and features but overall poor results.


Diskmajik (trial version) - slow to defrag but the results were slightly better than the above programs. The program did consolidate some of the usused disk space into somewhat larger contiguous blocks but still left most of the video files fragmented. Has good user interface and features but overall poor (or slight better) results. My search for a good defrag program continues.

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post #20 of 35 Old 04-18-2009, 07:34 PM
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Try Perfect Disk. It's not free, but it has done a good job for me for years. A trial version is available on the website of the developer.

http://www.perfectdisk.com/
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post #21 of 35 Old 04-19-2009, 02:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Jones View Post

My search for a good defrag program continues.


Try JKdefragportable at portableapps.com - it's the one i use and i'm a happy camper! (although i don't have such huge files).
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post #22 of 35 Old 04-19-2009, 03:14 AM
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what i have been doing is when my 1tb is full (leaving 4gb for media library), i copy the entire disk to a newly formatted hard drive. (using the 64k allocation recommendation).
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post #23 of 35 Old 04-19-2009, 04:37 AM
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Rob100, did you do your tests with 1.02.04?

Several people have commented that 1.02.06 is faster in recognizing and scanning the disk. That's the problem with FW under development... every measurement can (might) be quickly obsolete

As for defrag. I've noticed the WinXP defrag will consolidate free space, if you run it several times in a row... Even when it says defrag is not necessary, it will defrag a bit more at every run, and consolidate free space more and more.

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post #24 of 35 Old 04-19-2009, 06:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wicker_man View Post

Try JKdefragportable at portableapps.com - it's the one i use and i'm a happy camper! (although i don't have such huge files).

In fact I started running JKdefrag (not portable) a couple of hours after making my original post last night (its now been running for 10+ hours). FYI - This is a freeware program that is claimed to handle large files and will consolidate the unused disk space. I downloaded it from HERE. It has the least friendly user interface of any defrag software I have used (such as needing to start from a command line prompt if you just want to defrag a specific HDD (rather than having it defrag every drive on your PC), but if it actually does do a good job then it will be a keeper. I'm guessing that it will take 18 to 24 hours to complete the first run on my USB drive and from the description of the approach it uses, it will probably need to be run at least a 2nd time to fully defrag all of the large files on my HDD. I'll be updating my earlier post after I see how well it does.

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post #25 of 35 Old 04-20-2009, 03:17 AM
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Hello Ron Jones!

Thanks for very interesting topic!

Have you tried Contig + Powerdefragmenter GUI for it?

I think these two small utilities can help you!
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post #26 of 35 Old 04-20-2009, 03:21 AM
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Forgot to tell where to get described utilities...

Contig can be downloaded here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/s.../bb897428.aspx

(also contains description of the program)

PowerDefragmenter - is just a GUI for Contig, because it is command line based. Can be downloaded here:

http://www.softpedia.com/progDownloa...oad-20185.html

Just unzip all files into the same directory and run PowerDefragmenter.exe, then follow onscreen instructions.

If you select TriplePass(TM) Disk Defragmentation, defragmenter will go through the disk three times, consolidating more and more free space.

Hope my post was helpfull...
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post #27 of 35 Old 04-20-2009, 04:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Jones View Post

It has the least friendly user interface of any defrag software I have used

...and that's why i recommend the portable one, which has one of the simplest gui options available, a dummy like me can use it!
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post #28 of 35 Old 04-20-2009, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by wicker_man View Post

...and that's why i recommend the portable one, which has one of the simplest gui options available, a dummy like me can use it!

Btw, have tried it, but without success, because the main goal - consolidate a free space wasn't achieved. Is there is any options to tell it to consolidate, or it's (theoretically) done by default?
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post #29 of 35 Old 04-20-2009, 05:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOKIA_LMT View Post

Btw, have tried it, but without success, because the main goal - consolidate a free space wasn't achieved. Is there is any options to tell it to consolidate, or it's (theoretically) done by default?

I have no idea
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post #30 of 35 Old 04-20-2009, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred_be9300 View Post

Rob100, did you do your tests with 1.02.04?

No I am running WDLXTV 0.4.3.2 which is based on 1.02.03 which is by far the best firmware for me at the moment.

1.02.04 has broken rewind
1.02.06 is unstable and subs are awful, but that's not for discussion here!
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