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Thread: Copying files is really slow, is there anything I can do to speed it up?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    51.508056, -0.128056
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Copying files is really slow, is there anything I can do to speed it up?

    Recently, I purchased and installed Ubuntu on a WesternDigital 1TB mechanical hard drive.

    I've noticed that the file transfer (copy-paste) speeds are very slow compared to those in Windows 7.

    Creating a 1GB file:

    $ dd if=/dev/urandom of=file.junk bs=1048576 count=1000
    1000+0 records in
    1000+0 records out
    1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 109.908 s, 9.5 MB/s
    9.5 MB/s.

    Then I tried timing file copies using this bash script.

    It came out to 92 MB/s. I also tried it manually, about the same result.

    I tried copied a folder with many files in it.

    Yet this seems to contradict the disk utility benchmark. Maybe the disk utility benchmark tests are too low level?

    So after this, I had a look at Windows 7 and did a few tests there.

    Copying a large file

    Creating a large file

    So I did some searching. I was told to look at hdparm and set DMA to 1.

    $ sudo hdparm /dev/sda
     multcount     = 16 (on)
     IO_support    =  1 (32-bit)
     readonly      =  0 (off)
     readahead     = 256 (on)
     geometry      = 121601/255/63, sectors = 1953525168, start = 0
    Nothing about DMA in there. I tried this command anyway:

    $ sudo hdparm -d1 /dev/sda
     setting using_dma to 1 (on)
     HDIO_SET_DMA failed: Inappropriate ioctl for device
     HDIO_GET_DMA failed: Inappropriate ioctl for device
    Then I tried hdparm with the -I switch and I think it is being treated as SATA 2 rather than SATA 3.

    $ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda
    ATA device, with non-removable media
    	Model Number:       WDC WD10EALX-229BA1                     
    	Serial Number:      WD-WCATR9226341
    	Firmware Revision:  17.01H17
    	Transport:          Serial, SATA 1.0a, SATA II Extensions, SATA Rev 2.5, SATA Rev 2.6, SATA Rev 3.0
    	Supported: 8 7 6 5 
    	Likely used: 8
    	Logical		max	current
    	cylinders	16383	16383
    	heads		16	16
    	sectors/track	63	63
    	CHS current addressable sectors:   16514064
    	LBA    user addressable sectors:  268435455
    	LBA48  user addressable sectors: 1953525168
    	Logical/Physical Sector size:           512 bytes
    	device size with M = 1024*1024:      953869 MBytes
    	device size with M = 1000*1000:     1000204 MBytes (1000 GB)
    	cache/buffer size  = unknown
    	LBA, IORDY(can be disabled)
    	Queue depth: 32
    	Standby timer values: spec'd by Standard, with device specific minimum
    	R/W multiple sector transfer: Max = 16	Current = 16
    	DMA: mdma0 mdma1 mdma2 udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 udma5 *udma6 
    	     Cycle time: min=120ns recommended=120ns
    	PIO: pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4 
    	     Cycle time: no flow control=120ns  IORDY flow control=120ns
    	Enabled	Supported:
    	   *	SMART feature set
    	    	Security Mode feature set
    	   *	Power Management feature set
    	   *	Write cache
    	   *	Look-ahead
    	   *	Host Protected Area feature set
    	   *	WRITE_BUFFER command
    	   *	READ_BUFFER command
    	   *	NOP cmd
    	    	Power-Up In Standby feature set
    	   *	SET_FEATURES required to spinup after power up
    	    	SET_MAX security extension
    	   *	48-bit Address feature set
    	   *	Device Configuration Overlay feature set
    	   *	Mandatory FLUSH_CACHE
    	   *	SMART error logging
    	   *	SMART self-test
    	   *	General Purpose Logging feature set
    	   *	64-bit World wide name
    	   *	{READ,WRITE}_DMA_EXT_GPL commands
    	   *	Segmented DOWNLOAD_MICROCODE
    	   *	Gen1 signaling speed (1.5Gb/s)
    	   *	Gen2 signaling speed (3.0Gb/s)
    	   *	Gen3 signaling speed (6.0Gb/s)
    	   *	Native Command Queueing (NCQ)
    	   *	Host-initiated interface power management
    	   *	Phy event counters
    	   *	NCQ priority information
    	   *	DMA Setup Auto-Activate optimization
    	   *	Software settings preservation
    	   *	SMART Command Transport (SCT) feature set
    	   *	SCT Long Sector Access (AC1)
    	   *	SCT LBA Segment Access (AC2)
    	   *	SCT Features Control (AC4)
    	   *	SCT Data Tables (AC5)
    	    	unknown 206[12] (vendor specific)
    	    	unknown 206[13] (vendor specific)
    	Master password revision code = 65534
    	not	enabled
    	not	locked
    	not	expired: security count
    		supported: enhanced erase
    Logical Unit WWN Device Identifier: 50014ee2b108315e
    	NAA		: 5
    	IEEE OUI	: 0014ee
    	Unique ID	: 2b108315e
    Checksum: correct

    Any links, reading to do, anything will be appreciated, as my knowledge in regards to how Ubuntu deals with hard drives is non-existent.

    Hardware info: I am using an Asus P67 Sabertooth, and the hard drive is plugged in to the Intel SATA 3 controller port. The CPU is an Intel i7 2600 K, stock speed. I'm running Ubuntu 11.04 and Windows 7 x64.
    Last edited by mendhak; October 29th, 2011 at 09:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: Copying files is really slow, is there anything I can do to speed it up?

    I'm guessing it's an ntfs hd.
    Ntfs writing is fairly new to the linux world. Therefore the writing utilities that exist perform it very conservatively. If you do the same experiment with a fat system you'd get totally different results.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    51.508056, -0.128056
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Copying files is really slow, is there anything I can do to speed it up?

    Hi, the Windows 7 partition is indeed NTFS, but the Ubuntu partition is EXT4. I am dual booting rather than running a VM if that's what you meant.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Melbourne, Australia
    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: Copying files is really slow, is there anything I can do to speed it up?

    Set up cgroups and see if things improve:
    Regards, David.
    Please use the Forum search and Wiki search for immediate help
    Please mark your thread as Solved when appropriate
    New to technical forums?: How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

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