How to Test Disk Drive Performance (benchmarks) in Ubuntu?

A while ago I was quite obsessed with testing hard disk performance. I purchased a HDD those days and it was a , let's called it "A" (I don't wanna create a prejudice since this manufacture has some great products) HDD. Interestingly, one of my friends had a Samsung HDD with the same hardware specifications (RPM, capacity ...) except, the Samsung HDD had like 256Kb or more physical Disk-cache in it.

Now to this day I don't know whether it was the small Cache difference caused it... but I did noticed a little boot time delay (with MS Windows actually). I tested those both HDD in my PC and Samsung always seems to be slightly faster.

Then, since MS Windows doesn't come with a hard drive performance test or a benchmark suite in other words, I used a free utility and it actually showed that the model "A" (they're both 80GB and IDE ones) was in fact a bit slower!.

Disk utility that comes with Ubuntu...
I went to the store and they replaced the HDD like 2-3 times but all those brand new "A" models were all a bit slower than the Samsung ones. Now as said I don't know whether the Cache on the drive that caused it... but it was clearly visible nonetheless.

So, all I'm just trying to say is that, if you brought a brand-new PC then testing your hard drive performance can come in handy because it lets you compare the drives actual performance with other ones (you can find results of other drives of manufactures online easily) thus you can even ask for a replacement.

Sorry to drag you along this long... but all I'm trying to say is that, having a benchmark suite can come quite handy sometimes sine it helps you to go beyond your doubts :). Anyhow, unlike with MS Windows, now if you use Ubuntu as your main OS, then did you know that even without installing any third party utility, Ubuntu has a built in tool that lets you test disk performance with ease?.

It's called Disk Utility and RedHat seems to be the developer so it might be a default app that comes with Gnome classic desktop.

Main features...

*. Test Hard disk performance.

Remember, you can only perform Write Speed tests with HDD without any file systems on them...
*. Not just HDD... you can even test your Optical Drive speed and even USB drives as well.

*. Displays other information such as File systems, partitions and their sizes, capacity, etc.

*. HDD Smart tests.

*. Format, Delete, Edit or Mount/Un-mount file systems.

You can launch this utility by pressing "Alt" + "F2" keys and put the below command and press enter (or go to: "System" -> "Administration" -> "Disk Utility" from your desktop menu as well)
Once the program is loaded, select your HDD or optical drive, etc from the list to your left and then click on the "Benchmark" button to start the tests.

But remember, it has a limitation (oh great timing Gayan! :D). That is, if your HDD is formated and has a partition table on it, then this disk test utility cannot do Write tests. It can only only perform read speed of your HDD.

It can run your HDD's Smart (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) tests too
Anyhow, even after having this limitation, still, the reason that I wrote about this utility was because, you don't have to manually install any software since it's built into Ubuntu to do a basic read-test (or the complete benchmark if you have a brand-new HDD).

But there are quite a few that we can use to do advanced benchmarks in Ubuntu and I'll write about few of 'em in the future. If you already know about them (I'm pretty sure most of you geeks know :P), you're more than welcome to share it with me dudes (+ ladies too ;-)).

Anyhow, if all you want to is just perform a basic HDD read test + access other informations such as Smart feature (which is a special function that displays "warnings" just before your HDD is about to fail so you may have enough time to backup/recover the data, etc) then you don't have to get a separate one because Ubuntu Linux comes with a one of its own and it is certainly a pretty handy utility as far as I'm concerned. Good luck.


Anonymous said...

I built my Archlinux PC at the same time as this one, but with a Samsung drive. This one is now on its third HD, while the Samsung continues happily despite me keep changing the OS.

Gayan said...


Interesting! :). I did have few GRUB related issues in the past with Samsung drives... other than that they have some really good products in my experience too, lol.

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