What is Hard Disk Buffer Size and Why Does It Matter?



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We often see the size “HD Buffer” or “HD Cache” on hard drives with their other specifications. Many users are not familiar with this part of the specification and often ignore it when purchasing. In this article, we will inform you of the functionality and necessity of this specification.

PCs are complicated machines filled with dozens of small components that all work together. From your CPU and GPU to your hard drive and memory, every small piece of your desktop or laptop must come together to perform operations and applications. Everyone who has worked with PC hardware knows the most important specifications of the hard disk, such as capacity, read/write speed and disk speed. However, there is a less known and often overlooked feature that can really affect the speed of your hard drive: the size of your cache. Let’s take a quick look at what the disk cache is and how it works.

Is the size of the disk buffer critical?

The answer is not easy and depends on the situation. In some cases, the size of the buffer may be useful, but its use is often limited to a specific situation. Whenever a user writes large files, the transfer rate is limited to the spindle speed and the cache memory does not increase it in any way, so in this scenario the size of the cache memory becomes unnecessary.

However, if you transfer small files that are smaller than the cache size, the player deliberately changes the order of the files to increase efficiency, and the transfer speed is increased. Therefore, buffer cache sizes cannot be completely removed from the equation and are continuously increased in future disks.

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If you want to buy a hard disk and you are not sure which specifications you want to take into account, the first priority should be “RPM”, which defines the read/write speed of the hard disk. Secondly, you should worry about the price at which you get this disc, if the price difference between two discs is significant and the only difference is the size of the buffer, then you get the cheapest, because you will notice almost no difference between the two.

How does it work?

Part of the RAM used to speed up access to data on a hard disk. Memory can be a part of the hard disk itself (sometimes called the hard disk cache or buffer) or a universal memory in the computer reserved for use by the hard disk (sometimes called the floppy cache). Hard disk caches are more efficient, but also much more expensive and therefore smaller. Almost all modern hard disks contain a small amount of internal cache.

A floppy disk cache works by storing the most recently recovered data in the RAM cache. When a program needs to access new data, the operating system first checks if the data is in the cache before reading it from the hard disk. Because computers can access RAM data much faster than from a hard disk, caching the disk can greatly improve performance. Many caching systems also try to predict what data will be requested next in order to be able to cache this data early.

Although caching improves performance, there is some risk. If the computer crashes (for example, due to a power failure), the system may not have time to copy the cache to the disk. In this case, any changes made to the data will be lost. Normally, however, the cache system updates the hard disk frequently, so even if you lose data, it won’t be much. Caches that work this way are called recovery caches. Another type of hard disk cache, called a write cache, eliminates the risk of data loss because it only caches data for read operations; writes are always sent directly to the hard disk.

https://www.seagate.com/as/en/support/kb/detecting-buffer-or-cache-size-in-ata-hard-disk-drives-203631en/



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