Is write caching 'on'-necessary on a hard drive?

  theDarkness 17:32 12 Nov 10

In all my connected hard drives 'properties>policies' options, I can choose to enable or disable hard drive caching. Windows states that when on, the drive may perform better, at the expense of potentially lost data, if a computer power problem/loss occured whilst writing or reading. With my windows hard drive, I have a partition with my documents, so therefore the drive is split into two. I have noticed that I can even switch caching on or off on either partition individually, despite being on the same hard drive.

What I am wondering is how much of a performance difference in general caching can really make? In windows caching is always set to being on, but I have decided to switch it off, particulary for my usb hard drives, so that I can disconnect at any time safely whilst not in use. Should I see a big difference in performance if my windows partition's caching option is permanently off? At the moment I see nothing, but then I do not use many programs that require great performance. Would that be the only way to notice a difference? If so then I will leave the option off on all hard drives. Does anyone even bother changing their hard drives caching option? Thanks for any help/info they can add to this topic :)

  bremner 11:47 14 Nov 10

I would rather ensure the integrity of my data than have a hardly noticeable (if at all) increase in data read writes

  Terry Brown 20:26 14 Nov 10

With the caching on, windows will always finish saving to a harddrive before it shuts down, with it Off, this protection is not offered and it is possible to lose data and/ or corrupt your hard drive.

  CurlyWhirly 10:05 15 Nov 10

If true then that makes the statement in Windows false i.e. that having write caching ON is MORE risky !

  bremner 12:43 15 Nov 10

Windows will complete the writing of data before shutting down whether caching is on or off.

The problem comes with an unexpected power outage. If the data has been cached i.e. not written to the drive ,it will be lost.

  theDarkness 23:18 16 Nov 10

I had my (rather old) desktop system on for a fair while in my test - but with a day or more of usage, I can now definately state that for the windows drive with write caching off, the system eventually became much slower. Most noticable when trying to do too many things at once. By default for the windows drive (and any other internal drive), caching is always on, so I will leave it on.

I think for any usb external hard drives, I will leave caching off however, as accidentally pulling the cable out at the wrong moment and losing data is just too risky (at least, around here it is anyway-and Im much more likely to do that than to "accidentally" pull any pc mains plug out to lose any internal hard drive data). coincidentally, in xp it would seem that by default, write caching for usb drives is normally off anyway. Perhaps I shouldnt ask too many questions or go changing too many settings! thanks

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