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Me and my friend have same laptop. Both have the same specifications, but a game's performance on his laptop is lag free. Well, the only difference is in our hard drives. He has a hard drive which is almost empty (270/290 GB) with four partitions and I have (180/290 GB) with only one partition. My friend suggested me to clear up for some hard disk space. Maybe it will do something. But before wasting my time deleting stuff from my laptop, I wanted to ask if this will help for my game performance? I know laptops are crappy but I can live with (15 - 25 FPS).

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It's possible that disk fragmentation may impact game performance, but I would check other possible causes as well - what programs run in the background, are graphics drivers updated, etc. In the case of laptops, sometimes power settings will cut back on performance to increase battery life, for example, some laptops have two GPUs, one uses more battery but offers better performance, the other is less powerful but offers more battery life. Your laptop power settings could choose the worse GPU over the other. –  JohnoBoy Mar 18 '13 at 7:40
    
@JohnoBoy Well, for laptop power, I am using Balanced settings. My Laptop says it is better to be at Balanced to increase battery life. You recommend Disk fragmentation and Maximum power settings ? –  Heart Mar 18 '13 at 7:46
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The hard disk will only directly affect loading times. Assuming the game will only load stuff between maps/levels, you shouldn't see any performance hits when playing. Though, if you have a low amount of memory, you can be affected indirectly since you'll probably be hitting the page file. –  Jeff Mercado Mar 18 '13 at 8:14
    
If you have the power cable connected, the battery life is not affected by the power settings, because it is not used. The power is split between charging the battery and powering the laptop, the current does not go via the battery to the rest. You can set the power plan to performance when connected with a power cable and to balanced when on battery. –  Kevin Mar 18 '13 at 11:35
    
@Kevin thanks i will use power cable and max power settings. –  Heart Mar 18 '13 at 12:00
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1 Answer

up vote 10 down vote accepted

A hard disk is responsible, but only in a few specific ways:

  • Loading times. The time it takes to start the game, or load resources from disk (for example when entering a new map or region) are directly related to Hard Disk speed. If you've ever played on a machine with an SSD, you'll know all about this. Hard disk performance is the bottle neck here, so however fast your machine is otherwise, loading time will be governed by your Hard Disk speed.

  • Auto-save lag. This works in the same way. If you have a game that auto-saves regularly for you, a slow HDD could cause extra lag when this happens, although this depends on a few more factors too.

  • Paging/Virtual Memory. If you're on a machine with a low amount of RAM for the game you want to play, some of the game may be loaded into virtual memory on the Hard Disk. This will nuke game performance, as reading/writing from disk is about 100 200,000 times slower than from memory. Check your memory usage when you're playing your game, if it's very high then your machine might be putting some of your game's resources in virtual memory.

The latency of RAM compared to a Hard Disk is visualised nicely in this image (zoom all the way in on the top left of the image).

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+1, however, to address the question more directly, lack of free HDD space should only ever be a factor when a drive is over 90% full - for a drive that is only ~30% filled, deleting data is unlikely to be beneficial. Though defragmenting or performing other maintenance may be of use. Or, of course, the drive itself could be failing. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 18 '13 at 10:31
    
@LessPop_MoreFizz A full disk can be a problem, but (AFAIK) the page file should not get fragmented, unless you grew it once your disk was already very full, so fragmentation will only affect the first two issues. –  fredley Mar 18 '13 at 10:44
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this is true. The point here is that even if OP's performance issues do fall into the 'hard drive is the problem' categories, utilization is just not the issue. Fragmentation could be a factor, or a failing drive, but deleting data is just not going to be useful in the specific case described. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 18 '13 at 10:59
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@LessPop_MoreFizz Agree. Deleting data is almost never the correct solution. The number of times I've heard "My computer was running out of memory, so I deleted lots of files but it's still slow"... –  fredley Mar 18 '13 at 11:01
    
So, what should i do for my hard drive ? Any software to fix it ? Because default program in windows gonna take hours for cleaning my drive. –  Heart Mar 18 '13 at 12:03
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