Q: Is it true that certain parts of a hard drive are faster than other parts of the same drive?
A: We’re getting pretty tweaky here, but the outer edge of the disk in a hard drive is indeed faster than the inner part of the same disk. This is because hard drives rotate at constant speed, so the outside of the disk moves faster than the inside of the disk – about twice as fast. All other things being equal, the fuller a drive gets, the slower the access to the last data written will be, since the last data will be written closer to the center, slower moving section of the disk.
Some experts recommend only using half of a hard drive’s capacity so the data is “forced” to the outside of the disk – some even recommend partitioning the drive and only using the outer partition to ensure the data is in a limited, high-speed disk area.
We don’t go that far, but for critical hard drive speed situations, it does make sense to install the data you need to access the fastest (such as the samples for a large drum virtual instrument) on a clean, freshly formatted disk. This will ensure that this data is written on the outside portion of the drive, where you computer can access it the fastest. Likewise, if you are recording a high track count session, it’s best to do it on a freshly formatted drive so that the outside part of the disk gets used.