How to Optimize External Hard Drive for Performance?

Does your external hard drive transfer files at a slow speed? If your answer is yes, you can refer to this guide on how to optimize external hard drive for performance and learn three practical ways to get it done effortlessly.


By Hedy / Updated on May 12, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

Is it necessary to optimize external hard drive Windows 10?

"Hello, I recently installed Windows 10 on a computer with 1 internal HDD (C:/) and 1 external USB HDD (D:/). I want to defragment my external drive as I did with no problem in older operating systems. Can someone instruct me on how to optimize external hard drive, or do I need to switch to a third-party tool? Thanks to anyone who has some insight on this."

--- From Microsoft Community


The speed of your external hard drive may be affected by many factors such as interface stability, the number of files, and the file system. When you find your external drive performs more slowly than before, you'd better optimize external hard drive Windows 10 to improve your work efficiency. You can try some useful methods shown below to optimize your disk without much effort.

How to optimize external hard drive for performance?

This part is going to show you how to increase the performance of your external hard drives by defragmenting your external drive, turning on write caching, as well as changing to the NTFS file system. Let's get started.

▶ Way 1. Defragment an external hard drive

Is it good to defragment an external hard drive? The answer is up to the situation. If your external drive is an HDD, defragmentation is worthwhile, but if it is an SSD, defragmentation is not recommended because the lifespan of an SSD will decrease a lot after defragging.

Besides, if the external hard drive is seldom used, it is not always necessary to defrag external hard drive Windows 10; in such a case, only a little difference can be noticed. If you need to use your external hard drive every day, fragmentation will help a lot. Now, let's see how to optimize external hard drive via disk defrag.

Step 1. Input "defragment and optimize drives" on the taskbar, then press "Enter".


Step 2. In the new pop-out window, select the target drive and click "Optimize" to defrag it.


▶ Way 2. Enable write caching

Write caching is used to improve performance by collecting the writing commands and sending them to the storage device by using memory (RAM). Caching these commands allows the PC to temporarily save them until they write them into external storage devices.

Note: Please pay more attention to the data loss or data damage caused by power failure or hardware failure because data retained in RAM has not been written into external storage devices yet at this time.

Follow the steps below to see how to enable write caching to optimize external hard drive Windows 10.

Step 1. Press "Windows" + "R" to open a "Run" window. Type "devmgmt.msc", and then click "OK" to open Device Manager.

Step 2. Choose your hard drive from the "Disk Drives" option in the left menu.


Step 3. Right-click on the hard drive and then click "Properties".


Step 4. In the Properties menu, click "Policies". Tick "Better performance (default)" and click "OK".


▶ Way 3. Convert to NTFS file system

The file system of your external hard drive has significantly affected file transfer speed. Compared with FAT32, NTFS seems to work faster in file copy and file transfer. Therefore, it's a nice choice to set NTFS as your external drive file system.

Firstly, you can format external hard drive to NTFS file system, doing so will erase everything on your external drive. If you don't mind data loss or have backed up your important files, follow the steps below:

Step 1. Press the "Win + E" keys to open File Explorer.

Step 2. Choose "This PC" from the left pane, right-click the external hard drive and select "Format".

Step 3. Under the File system section, select "NTFS". Tick "Quick Format" and click "Start".


If you don't want to face the risk of losing the files on your external drive, the best way to optimize external hard drive Windows 10 is to convert FAT32 to NTFS without formatting with a third-party file system converter. AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, the reliable FAT32 to NTFS converter designed for Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista, lets you complete the conversion with only three clicks.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Right-click the external hard drive formatted with FAT32, choose "Advanced" and then click "Convert to NTFS".


Step 2. In the small pop-out window, click "OK" to continue.


Step 3. Then, click "Apply" and "Proceed" to commit the operation.


Bonus tip: Replace the old external hard drive with a new one

If the external hard drive is old and has been used for a very long time, it certainly becomes slow. Therefore, you can replace the old one with a new one to get better performance. To keep the data on the original disk, you can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to clone the hard drive with everything on it. Follow the stepwise tutorial to see how to optimize external hard drive for performance by changing the old external drive into a new one.

Download Pro DemoWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Connect the new hard drive to your computer and open AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. Go to "Clone" and "Clone Disk".


Step 2. When selecting the cloning method, choose "Clone Disk Quickly" that will clone only used space to another disk.


Step 3. Select your external hard drive as the source disk and click "Next".


Step 4. Then select your new drive as the destination disk and click "Next". Don't forget to tick "Optimize the performance of SSD" to make SSD 4K alignment if your new disk is an SSD.


Step 5. Then, you can resize the partitions on the new drive. Select the one you like and click "Next".


Step 6. After reading a note, click "Finish" and then click "Apply" to commit the operation.



From this passage, you have been shown three ways about how to optimize external hard drive for performance. Besides, an additional option is provided by suggesting you clone the old drive to the new one. By the way, AOMEI Partition Assistant can help you resize/move partition and wipe a partition for reuse to manage your disks and partitions in a better way. For Windows Server users, the AOMEI Partition Assistant Server is worth using.

Hedy · Staff Editor
Hedy is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is very good at solving problems of partition management, and she wants to share all the problems she had already solved to users who met the same questions.