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Hard times inside Apple’s forgotten App Store

Are you one of the many iOS users that ignores the row of apps at the bottom of the message composition window?

Once the appeal of sticker packs wears off, there just doesn’t seem to be much inside Apple’s forgotten App Store for Messages.

In between the hype and the reality…

Apple introduced the App Store for iMessages to its customary forest of hype, as industry watchers predicted great things.

Forrester analyst, Frank Gillet said:

“Opening up the iMessage and Phone apps to third party developers is… a big deal, enabling Apple to offer a more natural fluid experience to customers that builds on chat innovations pioneered by WeChat and others.”

There sits the shadow…

Did it work? It seems fair to ask when you last heard of something you absolutely had to download from that store, or when you last actually used an app that wasn’t GIPHY?

I’m willing to accept that some U.S. users may use Apple Pay Cash to send payments via messages. Nice for you. But let’s just note that it has been over two years since that service was introduced to the U.S. and it still remains unavailable anywhere else.

Which doesn’t bode particularly well for international introduction of Apple’s popular Apple Card credit card.

Take the time to rifle through the contents of the app drawer (which is what Apple calls that row of apps at the bottom of your Message composition window) and you might find a few stars, beyond #Images and Apple Pay.

Power in the darkness

Exploring the store is a somewhat dispiriting experience.

You’ll find apps you know to be really useful on your other devices, only to discover all they offer via the iMessage App Store are a few sticker packs and the occasional relatively useful function.

It’s a place of inspirational darkness, within which you may find a small handful of stars to illuminate the space.

Game Pigeon, for example, is one of the better items you’ll find, in part because it actually does something. The app consists of a vast collection of games (including mini-golf, Checkers and Chess) that you can play with your friends using Messages.  

You may also come across a smattering of tools for knowledge workers, particularly Dropbox, which lets you find and share items with others via Messages.I do find it interesting that there is no iCloud Drive Stickers app to do this, you still have to access the content in Files before you get to share it via the Share pane.

That lack of integration between Files and iMessage makes me question if even Apple  takes its iMessage apps seriously.

Other apps you may find useful may include: iTranslate, which makes it easier to write a foreign language when you need to; Scheduling apps like Doodle, Open Table or Polls With Friends; List apps such as Loopy Lists.

But it’s all a little vacant.

Apple’s forgotten App Store

The overwhelming perceptions I get when I visit this particular App Store are those of inattention and absence.

It feels a little like wandering through an abandoned home.

You can still see how it was laid out. You can still perceive the glorious optimism that went into building the place, but somehow those dreams were shattered as the inhabitants learned that it takes more than this to change hope into reality.

Realistically, the truth seems to be that App Store for iMessages hasn’t moved on much since I curated this collection of iMessage apps in 2018. (With the possible exception of Business Chat, which is actually useful.)

It feels like a lost opportunity.

Given the highly secure nature of iMessages it did once seem possible some developers may have attempted to create highly secure enterprise collaboration systems that used them. Perhaps they did.

So, what would the weakness of the product be?

Perhaps because Messages remains resolutely closed to other platforms.

We are where we are, of course, so let’s hear it for the iMessages App Store: Apple’s forgotten place where all the useful apps sit sad and surrounded by endless collections of sticker packs. Weeping for the cross-platform solutions they should have been. Perhaps you’ll hear them next time you get a message. Or perhaps you’ll tap the App Store icon in the App Drawer and visit with them for a while.

They don’t seem to get many visitors, these days.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Good tech talent is still hard to find (how to bridge the gap)

In today’s era of digital business, companies are intoxicated by the potential of technology-driven transformation. Manufacturers eye the internet of things (IoT) as a springboard for predictive maintenance and new product-as-a-service revenues.

Retailers are wielding big data analytics to drive new customer experiences and increase sales while players in banking, insurance, and pretty much every other industry are making a beeline to machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and reimagine key business processes.

[ IT skills: Guide to top big data certifications ]

The possibilities are endless, and the future of digital business seems bright. Yet a persistent trouble spot remains the serious shortage of IT talent, particularly among candidates with proven expertise in coveted skills in areas like cloud, security and AI.

The 2019 State of the CIO confirmed that finding and nurturing the right skills to support digital transformation and the ongoing IT agenda is a significant hurdle for many IT organizations. Technology skills were the biggest gap — half of respondents cited technology integration and implementation skills as the most elusive — but finding people with the right set of soft skills in areas like change management, strategy building and relationship management was equally challenging.

Data science and analytics skills were flagged as the most difficult to find (42 percent) with security and risk management (33 percent), AI/ML (31 percent), and cloud services/integration (22 percent) not far behind, the 2019 State of the CIO survey found. Business process experts, cloud architects and data scientists were among the experts in high demand, but short supply.

While it’s hard to find tech talent now, the situation is likely to worsen, according to

 

In today’s era of digital business, companies are intoxicated by the potential of technology-driven transformation. Manufacturers eye the internet of things (IoT) as a springboard for predictive maintenance and new product-as-a-service revenues.

Retailers are wielding big data analytics to drive new customer experiences and increase sales while players in banking, insurance, and pretty much every other industry are making a beeline to machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and reimagine key business processes.

[ IT skills: Guide to top big data certifications ]

The possibilities are endless, and the future of digital business seems bright. Yet a persistent trouble spot remains the serious shortage of IT talent, particularly among candidates with proven expertise in coveted skills in areas like cloud, security and AI.

The 2019 State of the CIO confirmed that finding and nurturing the right skills to support digital transformation and the ongoing IT agenda is a significant hurdle for many IT organizations. Technology skills were the biggest gap — half of respondents cited technology integration and implementation skills as the most elusive — but finding people with the right set of soft skills in areas like change management, strategy building and relationship management was equally challenging.

Data science and analytics skills were flagged as the most difficult to find (42 percent) with security and risk management (33 percent), AI/ML (31 percent), and cloud services/integration (22 percent) not far behind, the 2019 State of the CIO survey found. Business process experts, cloud architects and data scientists were among the experts in high demand, but short supply.

While it’s hard to find tech talent now, the situation is likely to worsen, according to research from Korn Ferry Institute. The digital skills gap is hampering digital transformation at more than half (54 percent) of companies surveyed by Korn Ferry, and by 2020, the technology, media and telecommunications industries may be short more than 1.1 million skilled workers globally. By 2030, Korn Ferry estimates the deficit will reach 4.3 million people. The need for software development skills is particularly acute: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million more software development jobs than applicants who can fill them.

Filling the pipeline

SUSE, a provider of open-source Linux software, is grappling with a shortage of technology skills across a host of areas, especially given the shift towards a dynamic, hybrid, and multi-cloud application environment, said Melissa Di Donato, the firm’s CEO.

To remain at the forefront of innovation, SUSE is in constant need of tech skills such as general open-source software development, documentation, quality assurance/engineering, packaging and maintenance and support. Knowledge of containers is another critically important area as are roles that require layered skills — for example a software engineer who also has a command of networking. “There is a huge demand for such skills and a chronic shortage of supply,” Di Donato explained.

Related: How university partnerships are priming tech talent pipelines

To fill in the gaps in its talent pool, SUSE puts a lot of energy into fostering relationships within the open-source communities, leveraging what it calls SUSE ambassadors within these networks to help attract key talent. Specifically, SUSE leverages developer communities like Stack and Git in addition to specific job boards and its own career site to keep its pipeline flush. The company has also implemented a strong employee referral program while promoting extensively from within.

Yet even with a solid presence in all of these channels, recruiting remains a challenge, Di Donato says. “We have found that developers and engineers are spending less time updating their LinkedIn profiles and are increasingly limiting their professional digital footprint within developer communities,” she said. “Given this shift, it’s important for SUSE to play an active and influencing role in these communities.”

At LivePerson, a provider of conversational commerce and AI software, you would think ML and AI talent would be most coveted competency set, but that’s not where the company is struggling to find skills, according to Alex Spinelli, the company’s CTO. Given all the hoopla over AI and ML, universities have stepped up their curriculum in these areas, which has led to better prepared graduates, Spinelli said. At the same time, current software engineers are pretty good about self-training to keep current, and they have much of the AI/ML skill set covered, he added.

The bigger problem is finding robust talent in the area of human computer interaction — specifically, people who understand how humans use and consume information and can translate that knowledge into appealing and engaging user experiences, he said. “During the whole mobile trend and web 2.0, a lot of technologists spent time thinking about user interface …, but as things have swung towards AI, ML and math, we now have a dearth of those other skills,” he said. Swelling interest in AI and ML have also kept technologists from focusing on how to build massively scalable systems, which is another skills area LivePerson has had trouble sourcing, he said.

Related: IT turns to employee resource groups to attract, retain tech talent

To keep its talent pool refreshed, LivePerson relies heavily on recruiting from target universities as well as on employee referrals. As part of the employee recruitment process, Spinelli believes it’s imperative to make the company’s values and mission clear. “People who share the company’s values can rise above the others,” he explained. “We have to make sure we find the people our mission excites because you make a better connection.”

Back to school

For many companies, the best solution for closing the talent gap is reskilling employees and filling much needed positions from within. Deloitte Consulting LLP has always made training a priority, but it recently released a new program to empower the next-generation workforce with much needed skills in areas like AI, ML, blockchain and IoT. The new Cloud Institute, part of the firm’s Cloud Practice, is a pilot program that includes a mix of instructor-led classes, e-learning and hands-on capstone labs to focus on reskilling and preparing Deloitte developers, engineers and architects with the skills they need to be fluent in cloud technologies, according to Ken Corless, CTO of Deloitte’s Cloud Practice.

One of the key differences between this and other Deloitte training initiatives is that the content and delivery is focused on where the employee wants to evolve their career. For example, if they want to be an AI developer, the platform will steer them to the necessary learning tracks and skills they’ll need to make that leap. Once the coursework is completed, the system updates that information on the human resource record, tags that employee with the skill set, and feeds that information into the staffing system so they could be tapped for new positions requiring those skills.

“We’re making a commitment to prepare them for the next better job and we hope that it’s with Deloitte, but if not, that’s okay too,” Corless said.

Given its brand recognition and company reputation, it’s not that Deloitte can’t fill its talent pipeline with new hires, it’s that the process is time consuming and expensive. In addition, Corless said the company has tens of thousands of talented employees so the best approach is to make the commitment to take them from the middle of the pack to the front edge of technology skills. “Even if we were to hire 1,000 people, it’s a drop in the bucket,” he said. “Leveraging the existing people assets we have is absolutely key to scaling our cloud practices with the changes coming this way.”



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The 6 Best External Hard Drives for the PS4

Today’s video games take up so much space that you’ll probably run out of room on your PlayStation 4’s included hard drive before long. Thankfully, the PS4’s support for external storage means you can expand this without much trouble.

We’ve collected the best external hard drives for PS4 below. Whether you’re looking for an affordable option or maximum storage, you’ll find something suitable. We’ll also show you how to start using your external storage.

1. Best PS4 External Drive Overall:
WD 2TB Elements



WD 2TB Elements


WD 2TB Elements

Buy Now On Amazon
$54.99

If you’re looking for a respectable amount of PS4 storage at a great value, the WD 2TB Elements drive is a great choice. It’s USB 3.0 compatible, so it can keep up with the demands of PS4 games. The slim form factor, measuring just 4.35 x 3.23 inches, means it can sit comfortably on top of your PS4.

2TB is enough for plenty of games, so it will be some time before you need to upgrade again. Those who have a ton of data on their system should consider getting more storage, but this is an affordable option for most players.



Seagate Expansion Desktop 8TB


Seagate Expansion Desktop 8TB

Buy Now On Amazon
$139.99

Need a massive amount of storage space for games? The PS4 supports external drives of up to 8TB, so the Seagate Expansion Desktop 8TB gets you as much storage as possible. It’s a desktop drive, so it’s not as portable as the WD Elements option.

This one measures 6.93 x 4.75 inches and is almost three times as deep. Because it’s not powered over USB, you’ll need to plug in the dedicated power cable. 8TB is a load of space, so only those who download dozens of games need choose this drive.

3. Best PS4 External Drive With Modest Storage:
Seagate Portable 1TB



Seagate Portable 1TB


Seagate Portable 1TB

Buy Now On Amazon
$49.99

Not everyone needs a ton of space. If you have a more modest game collection, consider the Seagate Portable 1TB for some additional storage. Early PS4s came with 500GB of space included; modern models have a 1TB drive in the box. This means 1TB will either double or triple what your system came with.

Like the WD drive, this is a portable unit, so there’s no separate power cable required. It measures 4.6 x 3.15 inches. You might see a version of this drive that’s marked as an “officially licensed product” for the PS4. We recommend avoiding this, as it costs more than the above but is essentially the same product. You’ll get better value by avoiding the overpriced official drive.



KESU 500GB Ultra Slim


KESU 500GB Ultra Slim

Buy Now On Amazon
$36.99

250GB is the minimum size for PS4 external storage. However, 250GB isn’t much space for games, and buying an external HDD of that size isn’t cost-effective. Thus, we recommend you buy a 500GB drive at a minimum. Most 500GB external drives available today are from lesser-known companies, so you take a small risk buying them.

But if you want additional storage at the lowest possible cost, the KESU 500GB Ultra Slim is a solid offering. It’s about the same physical size as the other portable drives we’ve looked at. This 500GB drive won’t give you loads of space for games, but it’s the cheapest option worth considering.

If you can stretch your budget a bit, we definitely recommend looking at a 1TB drive from a trusted manufacturer like WD or Toshiba. You’ll get additional storage and better reliability for just a bit more cash. Plus, bear in mind that you can only connect one external drive to the PS4 at a time. It’s wise to buy a large enough device for your needs the first time to avoid data transfers down the road.



Silicon Power 4TB Rugged


Silicon Power 4TB Rugged

Buy Now On Amazon
$97.99

If you often travel with your PS4, you don’t want to have to leave any games behind. The Silicon Power 4TB Rugged is an option that’s built for travel and packs plenty of storage. This drive is a bit larger at 7.3 x 6.1 inches but has rugged features that make it worth a look for those on the go. Silicon Power’s drive includes shock and water resistance, so you don’t have to worry about bumps or splashes.

It’s cased in rubber to prevent slipping and features an anti-scratch surface. The unit also helpfully includes a slot for easily stowing the cable while traveling. Keep in mind that these durability features means it costs a bit more than other 4TB drives. It’s also available in a 1TB option if you don’t need as much storage.



SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable External SSD


SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable External SSD

Buy Now On Amazon
$89.99

If you’re interested in the fastest loading speeds possible, an external solid-state drive (SSD) is the way to go. SSDs are more expensive than HDDs but offer much faster performance. We recommended the SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable External SSD, although it is available in sizes from 250GB to 2TB.

In this case, 500GB is a good balance of cost and size. This is also a rugged drive, featuring water, dust, and shock resistance. The device measures 3.8 x 1.9 inches. We suggest this for people who don’t have a ton of games installed but want them to run quickly.

500GB isn’t a whole lot of extra space, but the games you run from the external drive will have a noticeable improvement. Remember that this won’t speed up the PS4’s operating system, though, since that’s still installed on the internal hard drive.

Other PS4-Compatible External Hard Drives

We’ve picked out the best external hard drives for PS4, but maybe you’re interested in something else or want to use one you already have. Thankfully, the requirements for a PS4-compatible external hard drive are pretty straightforward.

Any external drive that uses USB 3.0 or later and is between 250GB and 8TB will work with the PS4. Make sure it uses a USB-A connection and not the newer USB-C standard, which isn’t compatible with the PS4.

How to Set Up an External Hard Drive on PS4

Once you’ve got your PS4 external hard drive ready, it’s easy to get it configured. Your PS4 must have system software version 4.50 (which was released in early 2017) or newer to use an external drive.

First, connect your external drive to the PS4. Sony states that you must plug it in directly to the system, so avoid using any USB hubs. Once connected, you’ll need to format it (unless you bought a drive that was pre-formatted for the PS4).

To do this, turn on your system and go to Settings > Devices > USB Storage Devices. Select your device and choose Format as Extended Storage. Hit the Options button on your controller to show this option if it doesn’t appear automatically.

PS4 Format External Storage

That’s it; you’ve successfully added external storage to your PS4. The system lets you keep games, apps, downloadable content (DLC), and game updates on the external drive.

However, save data, themes, and captured screenshots/video clips will always save to the internal drive. The system will use your new storage automatically, but you can make a few changes per your preferences too.

Disconnecting the Drive Safely

It’s important to disconnect your external drive properly when you want to remove it. Disconnecting while it’s in use could damage your data. The system assumes the drive is connected, even when you power off the PS4, until you tell it to disconnect using the below steps.

Hold the PlayStation button on your controller to open the quick menu, then visit Sound/Devices. Select Stop Using Extended Storage here, and hit OK to confirm. Now it’s safe to disconnect your external drive.

PS4 Disconnect External Storage

Choose Where Games Install

If you like, you can choose where games install to by default. You can’t change this while games are downloading, so it’s smart to set this up as soon as you’ve connected your drive.

Visit Settings > Storage and hit the Options button on your controller to show a new menu. Select Application Install Location here, and set it to Extended Storage. This will configure your external drive as the default save location.

PS4 Choose Storage Location

Moving Games Between Storage Locations

To move a game between your storage drives, go to Settings > Storage and select the device that contains the game you want to relocate. Choose Applications from the data types.

Now press Options on your controller and select Move to Extended Storage (or Move to System Storage). Check all the games you want to move, then hit Move and confirm.

PS4 Move Saved Data Location

The Best External Drives for PS4

Now you have a great selection of PS4 external drives to choose from and know how to get extended storage set up. External drives are a great way to add more storage without much hassle, which is super helpful for anyone with a big game collection.

You might consider replacing your PS4’s internal hard drive


How To Upgrade Your PS4’s Hard Drive




How To Upgrade Your PS4’s Hard Drive

The PS4 makes it easy to add more storage space. Let’s look at what drives you can choose between and how the process works.
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as well. It’s not difficult and can give you even more storage. Consider pairing a modest internal SSD with a large external HDD for the best of both worlds.



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The 6 Most Reliable Hard Drives According to Server Companies

Is there anything worse than going to boot up your computer and realizing that your hard drive is dead? You can lose all your documents, photos, music, and more if your hard drive fails.

For that reason, many people want a very reliable hard drive. And who better to advise on hard drive reliability than a server company? Here we’ll recommend to you the most reliable hard drives, according to server companies.

How Hard Drive Reliability Is Measured

Before we get into the hard drive recommendations, you might be wondering how exactly we’re defining reliable. To find out which hard drives are least likely to fail, the best option is to look at a report which covers a large number of drives. And so we looked at the Backblaze Hard Drive Stats 2019.

Servers use vast numbers of hard drives, so server companies are really the experts when it comes to reliability. Backblaze currently employs a total of 108,660 hard drives for storage and has been collecting data on their reliability since 2015. That makes it one of the best sources of information when you’re looking for a reliable hard drive.

Now we can list the most reliable hard drives, according to the Backblaze report.



Western Digital 12TB Ultrastar


Western Digital 12TB Ultrastar

Buy Now On Amazon
$323.43

The most reliable hard drive is the Western Digital 12TB Ultrastar. This SATA hard drive comes in a range of capacities, starting at 1TB and going all the way up to 12TB. You’ll sometimes see this or similar models labeled as the HGST Ultrastar. But don’t worry, Western Digital owns HGST. So you can expect the same quality from HGST as you get from Western.

This model is aimed at the enterprise storage market with a focus on reliability over speed, hence why it is so popular with server companies. Inside the hard drive, the air is replaced with helium, which is lower density. That means the drive can run more efficiently with fewer issues, making it a top choice for people concerned with reliability.



HGST MegaScale DC 4000.B


HGST MegaScale DC 4000.B

Buy Now On Amazon
$99.99

A similarly reliable hard drive is the HGST MegaScale DC 4000.B, another enterprise drive from Western Digital/HGST. This 4TB SATA drive is designed to be efficient as well as reliable, using up to 45 percent less operating power compared to other 4TB enterprise hard drives.

This drive isn’t as fast as those aimed at regular consumers. But it makes up for that with features like Advanced Power Management, which should keep both temperatures and power usage low.



Seagate Exos 12TB Internal Hard Drive


Seagate Exos 12TB Internal Hard Drive

Buy Now On Amazon
$329.99

Seagate is a recognized and trusted hard drive brand, and their Exos 12TB Internal Hard Drive is a good choice for reliable storage. This one is an enterprise model too, coming in capacities from 1TB to 12TB. The SATA drive is hermetically sealed to prevent dust or other debris from getting inside the drive and causing problems.

The Exos is more responsive than other enterprise models, too, with speeds of up to 261MB/s. It can also handle a massive workload of up to 550 terabytes per year. For reference, that’s around 10 times as much work as is possible on a standard desktop hard drive. The Seagate Exos comes with Advanced Write Caching, resulting in a 20 percent boost in random write performance.



Toshiba 14TB SATA 512e Enterprise HDD


Toshiba 14TB SATA 512e Enterprise HDD

Buy Now On Amazon
$389.95

The Toshiba 14TB SATA 512e Enterprise HDD is a solid enterprise hard drive. It comes in a 14TB capacity, although there is a 12TB version as well if you don’t need quite so much space. This SATA drive has a helium-sealed inside using precision laser-welding technology. And it has a lower operational power profile, keeping power usage down.

It is rated for a total transfer of 550TB per year, which is surely enough for any home user. There’s also Advanced Format Sector Technology, which should prevent data loss if the power to your system gets cut off unexpectedly.



Seagate BarraCuda Pro 8TB


Seagate BarraCuda Pro 8TB

Buy Now On Amazon
$274.99

The Seagate BarraCuda Pro 8TB is the updated model of one of Backblaze’s most reliable drives. This SATA drive comes in sizes from 1TB to 14TB. And there’s an option to include data recovery in your purchase. If you’re looking to store your files safely, the data recovery option can give you peace of mind.

As it’s not exclusively an enterprise drive, you can expect excellent responsiveness as well as reliability, with a transfer rate of up to 250MB/s. The BarraCuda is a power-efficient model, using as little as 6.9W of power. The drive is rated for a workload of up to 300TB per year, so it should fit the needs of most users.



Seagate ST4000DM000


Seagate ST4000DM000

Buy Now On Amazon
$99.55

A more affordable alternative to the Seagate BarraCuda is the Seagate ST4000DM000. As it is designed for desktop use, it comes in smaller sizes. This particular drive comes in sizes from just 500GB up to 8TB. So, it’s a good choice for those looking for a smaller capacity SATA drive. It was one of the earliest 1TB-per-disk hard drives available and has had plenty of years on the market.

Models up to 6TB come with 128MB of cache, but the larger 8TB drive has 256MB, so it should have improved write speeds. Even though it’s a consumer product and not an enterprise one, this drive still offers solid reliability. If you’re looking for a reliable drive, but you don’t want to sacrifice consumer options like a two-year warranty and a larger cache, this model is an excellent choice.

The Most Reliable Hard Drive for Your System

The majority of the hard drives we’ve recommended here are enterprise models, meaning they’re intended for use in servers. They are incredibly reliable, but you might sacrifice some speed for that reliability. There are other options out there, too. Consumer-grade drives from companies like Seagate are also highly recommended.

To learn more about what to look for in a hard drive, see our guide to things you must know before buying a new hard drive


Buying a New Hard Drive: 7 Things You Must Know




Buying a New Hard Drive: 7 Things You Must Know

Buying a hard drive is easy if you know some basic tips. Here’s a guide to understanding the most important hard drive features.
Read More

.



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7 Effective Tools to Increase Your Hard Drive Performance on Windows

Windows has a (deserved) reputation for slowing down your computer over time. Admittedly, Windows 10 is much better than its predecessors, but the problem still occurs.

Thankfully, you can speed up a hard disk using HDD optimization apps; a few different tools are available.

In this article, we’re going to look at which utilities can improve the speed and efficiency of a hard disk. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Windows Optimize Drives

optimize drives windows defrag

Let’s begin with a mention of a native Windows tool—Optimize Drives. It can analyze your system for defragmentation issues, then fix any problems it finds.

Unless you’d fiddled with the settings, it should already be running on an automatic schedule. To check, head to Start > Windows Administrative Tools > Defragment and Optimize drives.

Highlight the drive you want to fix, then click either Analyze or Optimize, depending on the function you want to carry out. To make sure the scheduling is set up correctly, click on Change settings and tick the box next to Run on schedule.

Performing disk defragmentation is less critical on SSDs than HDDs, but Microsoft still recommends running the tool once per month.

2. Disk SpeedUp

disk speedup hard drive speed

Disk SpeedUp is a third-party tool that can boost an HDD’s speed. It will analyze, defragment, and optimize any drives that are connected to your machine.

It has a few more features than the native Windows tool. For example, Disk SpeedUp can automatically shut down your computer after the defrag process is complete. You could fire it up before you go to bed and come back to a fresh computer in the morning.

Disk SpeedUp also has better visuals than the Windows tool. The defrag map is more intuitive, and there are more graphs and data for you to dig into.

Anecdotally, many users have claimed that Disk SpeedUp is faster than the Windows tool. Naturally, your mileage may vary.

Download: Disk SpeedUp (Free)

3. Windows Device Manager

device manager write caching

If you want to increase a disk’s read/write speed, another Windows tool worth using is Device Manager. You can use it to make sure Write Caching is turned on.

Write caching lets your computer store data in a cache before it is written to the hard drive. Because a computer can write data to a cache much more quickly than to a hard drive, the overall read/write performance of the hard drive is improved.

Remember, however, that data in a cache is only temporary. If your computer suffers from a sudden power loss and the data in the cache has not been transferred to your hard drive, you will lose it.

To turn on write caching on Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the Start menu and select Device Manager.
  2. Click on the + next to Disk drives.
  3. Right-click on the drive you want to change.
  4. Click on Properties.
  5. Select the Policies tab at the top of the new window.
  6. Mark the checkbox next to Enable write caching on the device.

4. IOBit Advanced SystemCare

iobit systemcare speed up hard drive

An important aspect of giving your HDD a boost is to make sure your system stays “clean.” That means you need to stay on top of temporary and duplicate files, make sure your RAM and CPU usage is optimized, and keep your registry as tidy as possible.

One tool that can perform all those HDD optimization tasks is IOBit Advanced SystemCare. A free version and a paid version both exist. The free version includes all the features we just mentioned. The $20 paid version adds deeper registry cleaning, real-time monitoring, browser optimization, and system boot optimization.

Download: IOBit Advanced SystemCare (Free, paid version available)

5. Razer Cortex

razer cortex speed up hard drive

If you’re wondering how to speed up a hard disk even further, check out Razer Cortex. The tool is specifically designed for PC gamers who want to squeeze every drop of juice out of their systems. It can help you achieve higher frames per second and reduce game loading times.

The HDD optimizer is split into two parts—System Booster and Game Booster. They combine to give an HDD boost to all users.

The system part of the tool will clean junk files, your browser history, and your system cache. The gaming part will defragment game files (as long as they on an HDD rather than an SSD), optimize your system’s configuration for gaming, and disable background processes that can impact a game’s performance.

Download: Razer Cortex (Free)

6. Windows Disk Management

disk management partition manager windows

The last native Windows utility that can improve the speed and efficiency of a hard disk is Disk Management. You can use it to repartition your drives.

Using a greater number of partitions is one of the most oft-overlooked ways to speed up a hard drive. Broadly speaking, the more partitions you use, the more organized your data is. As a result, an HDD’s head does not need to move as far to access the data and read times are reduced.

To repartition a hard drive using Disk Management, follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click on the Start menu.
  2. Select Disk Management to open the tool.
  3. Right-click on a drive and select Shrink Volume.
  4. Right-click on the freed-up space and choose New Simple Volume.
  5. Choose how large you want to make the new volume.
  6. Select the drive letter for the new volume.
  7. Choose a file system for the new volume.
  8. Click on Finish.

The new volume will appear in File Explorer > This PC.

7. Ashampoo WinOptimizer

The final tool that can give your hard disk a health increase is Ashampoo WinOptimizer. The tool brands itself as a “Swiss army for your PC.” It’s a fair description.

In terms of improving hard drive health, it can schedule maintenance and optimization tasks, scan for junk files, fix broken registry entries, and clean your browser cookies. The tool offers both a one-click fix and user-controlled corrections.

Separately, you can add additional modules to the app. There are 38 to choose from, covering tasks such as service management, start-up tuning, process management, privacy tuning, and much more.

Download: Ashampoo WinOptimizer (Free)

More Tips on How to Speed Up a Hard Drive

The seven tools we’ve explained in this article will go a long way towards speeding up your hard drive. They can give both SSDs and HDDs a boost.

If you’d still like to learn more about how to increase a hard disk’s speed, check out our other articles on quick fixes to make your Windows PC run faster


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