Review: Display hard disk activity and speed in a tiny window with My HDD Speed

Monitor hard drive speed and activity with this unobtrusive freeware.

My HDD Speed monitors all your hard drives in real time and displays read and write activity in a compact desktop window. My HDD Speed not only monitors mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs), but also the newer solid-state drives (SSDs). SSDs have ultra-fast read and write speeds, so if you've upgraded to an SSD-based system, My HDD Speed can tell you just how fast your new hardware is. Newer SSDs are even faster than the earlier generation, and My SSD Speed can show you the difference. My HDD Speed v2 has an upgraded installer and Windows 8 compatibility. We tried it in Windows 7.

My HDD Speed is portable, but the latest version includes an installer with optional extra software and registration, which we declined. We extracted the zipped program file and clicked it, and My HDD Speed's tiny window opened in the upper-left corner of our desktop (though we could drag it anywhere). This gadget-like display has a transparent background, so it blends in well. Our system has two disk drives: A single SSD as our boot drive and a much larger HDD partitioned into two drives. My HDD Speed displayed all three by letter, one above the other; each with a pair of arrows that would light up to show when data was being read or written to that disk. Each line also displayed both read and write activity in KB/s. Right-clicking My HDD Speed's window or its system tray icon opened a menu that let us rescan our drives, set our HDD refresh rate, and Autostart with Windows, among other options.

Of course, our "C" drive showed far more activity than our other drive, which is mainly for storing data and backups. But reading and writing some large packets of data (like a movie) gave us a pretty good visual indicator of what we already knew: Our 2nd-generation SSD boot drive might not match the latest SSDs in speed, but it kicks hard disk tail. My HDD Speed proved it.

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