4 Ways to Optimize External Hard Drive in Windows 10

How do you optimize external hard drive in Windows 10 when you feel your PC slower than before? In this post, you’ll learn how to speed up external hard drive on Windows 10 PC.


By Lucas / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Why does external hard drive slow?

For people who want more storage capacity or who need to transport sensitive data, an external hard drive is a useful tool. It is less expensive than a portable SSD. As we all know, an HDD is composed of magnetical disks, an actuator arm with read/write capabilities, and a motor that rotates the disks.

When a disk requires certain files, the arm will search all tracks for the data. The arm will quickly reach the target files if the data is placed systematically on the tracks; unfortunately, the HDD frequently saves data at random. The data files are divided. As a result, as more data is stored, the slower the HDD gets.

Other two factors that affect the speed of the external drive are the file system and the USB type. In all, the NTFS system is faster than FAT32 and it has fewer limitations than FAT32. And now most USB is 3.0, USB 2.0 has a transfer rate of around 480 Mbps, but USB 3.0 has a transfer rate of approximately 4,800 Mbps, which is equivalent to approximately 5 GB. USB 3.0's super-fast transfer speed is very handy when backing up or transferring huge amounts of data, such as an external hard drive.

How to optimize external hard drive in Windows 10?

Based on the above characteristics of the external hard drive, here are some methods to help you optimize external hard drive in a Windows computer, you can try some according to your situation.

Way 1. Change USB properties

When storage devices become sluggish, changing the device hardware settings is a fast approach to enhance performance.

Step 1. Connect your external storage device to your computer.

Step 2. Right-click My Computer or This PC, and click “Manage”.

Step 3. Select “Device Manager” and open “Disk Drives”.

Step 4. Right-click the drive for which you want to turn disk write caching on or off and click “Properties “.

Step 5. Click the “Policies” tab. And click to select “High Performance”.

Step 6. Click to select “Enable device write caching on the device” and click “OK”.

Better performance

Way 2. Convert external hard drive to NTFS file system without losing data

If the target external drive is using the FAT32 file system and there are no important files on it, you can choose to convert to an NTFS file system via Windows built-in tools. However, if you want to convert to NTFS without formatting the disk, you can try AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, a free disk manager for Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7/XP.

The “NTFS to FAT32 Converter” feature can convert disk between NTFS and FAT32 without formatting disk/drive.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant, select the disk and click “Convert”> “Convert to NTFS/FAT32”.

NTFS and FAT32 converter

Step 2. In the pop-up windows, choose “FAT32 to NTFS” and then click “Next”.


Step 3. Select the partition that you want to convert and click “Next”.

Choose partition

Step 4. Tick “check and repair partition before converting it” to check whether there are bad sectors on the partition. Click “Proceed” when everything is ready.


Way 3. Clean junk files on the external hard drive

If you have never scanned the external hard drive for cleaning junk files or you want to defrag your external hard drive, then we suggest you clean junk files first. The junk files will occupy the tracks of your files, which will let the arm spend more time seeking the needed data files. There is Disk Cleanup that can clean basic junk files on your disk. But it will dodge the system's junk files.

Therefore, we recommend you use AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to deeply clean your external hard drive. This tool can scan the selected drive and then list all removable files, users can directly clean all or choose some of them to clean.

Step 1. Open AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, and click "Free up" and "PC Cleaner" in turn.

PC Cleaner

Step 2. Click "Start Scan" in the new pop-up window to scan your computer for unwanted files.

Start scan

Step 3. After starting the scan, please wait for a while until the progress bar is loaded.


Step 4. Unneeded data will be automatically selected, you can directly click "Clean All" to delete them. If you still have other unnecessary files, you can tick the boxes of the corresponding files.

After scanning

Step 5. When you see a correct symbol displayed in the interface, you can click "Back" to leave the function.

Cleanup finished

Way 4. Defrag external hard drive

Defragment can reorder the data on the tracks to improve the speed of the hard drive. Usually, we advise you to defrag your external drive after cleaning the junk files. You can use the system's built-in tool by typing “Optimize Drives” in the search bar next to the Start button. Then you can select the target drive to defrag and optimize.

Optimize drives

Of course, you can also use AOMEI Partition Assistant to defrag your external hard drive.

Step 1. Right-click on the disk and select "Disk Defrag".

Disk Defrag

Step 2. Check the partition needed to be analyzed and click "Analyze".


Step 3. After the analysis is completed, the disk will be scored based on its fragmentation rate.

Step 4. Launch the defragmentation by hitting the “Defrag” button.


Step 5. Wait for a while, the program will defragment your hard drive.

Defrag complete

Ending lines

To optimize external hard drive on Windows 10 computers, these four ways are enough. If you don’t know how to speed up the external hard drive, then this post will help you a lot. AOMEI Partition Assistant is a multifunctional tool, as you can see, it can help you conveniently manage your disks and partitions. If you upgrade to the Professional edition, you can unlock more practical features like cloning disk, OS migration, MBR/GPT data-safe conversion, app/folder mover, etc.

In addition, there is the Server edition for Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012(R2)/2008(R2)/2003 users.

Lucas · Staff Editor
I prefer peaceful and quiet life during vacation,but sometimes I watch football match if my favorite club performs brilliantly in that season. And I love reading, painting and calligraphy, thus I send my friends festival handwriting cards every year.